Thursday, May 10, 2007

And Don't Carry a Credit Card Balance. If You Believe in Marriage, Marry Money. At Minimum, Date Money.

Last night we had a hail and farewell dinner for the Media Studies seniors. It was pleasant, as such things usually are. Massive hope and massive college debts. Who wouldn't be touched?

The Dean's office sprang for just enough to take the whole lot of them to an Ethiopian restaurant for a free feed clutched from big shared platters of veg, meat, gelatinous mysteries slathered over a huge round of spongy bread. No cutlery need apply. People were running their fingers through the food the way a crazy lady would run her fingers through her hair.

I am sure we are all now infected with one another's folly and misfortune. We have all become a colony organism.

One thing was missing because no one thought to think. And that would be each teacher standing and saying drunken sentimental things about the students. (Make that me. I'm sure every other teacher would have supplied sober dry taciturn wit, the affection glimmering beneath.)

Anyway, we didn't engage in that particular ritual, which I think the students missed and would have liked because they can cheer and jeer and hope not for the first time and won't be the last time that the faculty actually do know something, and it all wasn't nonsense.

What would I have said? Well, 50 years ago I would have advised the young women to become exemplary wives and mothers and the young men to die for Sparta. And then I would have said, "Tonight we dine in hell. But that's only if your wife never learned how to cook."

I remember that advice when it was given 50 years ago. Which I didn't take, nor my wife either.

That is still a viable approach. Count on their contempt and advise them to do the opposite of what you want them to do.

But these our students are not contemptuous. Some are skeptical and more are cynical, but they are not hard. They seem to understand that we were doing our poor best.

So, speaking sincerely, now in 2007 I would probably begin my homily by recommending that the students build a house for Habitat for Humanity, mentor a slum child, walk a precinct for a political candidate of their choice....

Hey, wait. That's advice for me. That's what I should be doing.

So we get to my real REAL advice.

Think, young student. What advice would you give these friends, these classmates, some of whom you like and some of whom you don't but all of whom are going to be out there in the big world for the next hundred years, building it up or breaking it up?

Practice your speech looking unto a mirror. Shut up. Take your own advice.

It's the Jujitsu Golden Rule. Tell unto yourself what you would tell unto others. Don't waste your time telling it unto others. Others never listen.

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