A couple of weekends ago, I found myself at a college commencement in Western Massachusetts cheering on one of the graduates, delighted to discover that the speaker was none other than the brilliant, beautiful and erudite Arianna Huffington. As witty, profound and inspiring as I found that address, I feel that the graduating class of 2013 might also appreciate a less-inspiring, more hard-eyed effort in the commencement address line. As I am unlikely ever to have the opportunity to actually address a graduating class (my hygiene lecture to the parolees of the local minimum security prison notwithstanding), and as the graduates of the class of 2013 will probably have plenty of time (between episodes of The Price Is Right) to peruse the pages of the Huffington Post, I offer my words to graduates as they leave the womb of college and are propelled, like all newborns, bloody and full of shit into the world.
You will eventually. Almost everyone does. Beat the rush! I mean, you don't want to be in a crowd giving up. That shit's depressing.
As a member of one of the preceding generations that has so badly screwed your generation (i.e., all of the preceding generations), I apologize for the world we pass on. We did not mean to leave you an Earth scourged by global warming; we meant to leave an Earth blasted into slag by thermonuclear war. That could still happen. You graduates in your black bathrobes and silly medieval hats will build the future, and most of you (like most of us, especially the Boomers) are deeply incompetent; I look forward to a nuclear holocaust kicked off by one of you thinking he was clicking the TV remote. The children are our future, and in the future we will all die. I'm surprised that more people haven't connected those two facts.
In the past four years, you mastered theory: literary theory, feminist theory, queer theory, the Big Bang theory (the TV show, not the scientific hypothesis) and other "theories" that don't actually require proof and in fact shrink from proof like a Mormon at Mardi Gras, unlike, just e.g., the theories of gravitation, evolution or relativity. ("TheoryLite®: now with 80 percent more bullshit!") Sadly, despite your mastery of theory, few of you have mastered a coffee grinder, because that will come in a lot handier in the next phase of your life, which we might call "The Daily Grind," but which you will refer to as "living in Mom and Dad's basement." But your grounding in theory (Hee! Grounding. See what I did there?) will not be wasted on your coworkers at Starbucks, even as they applaud your Lacanian/Marxist interpretation of the cappuccino maker's function and design by pouring hot lattes down your pants.
Coworkers at Starbucks, did I say? (Yup, right up there in that last paragraph. I'm old and forget things sometimes.) Ah, if only. The job market has not looked so bleak for graduating college students since the Great Depression, when snipers waited to pick off graduates as they left the Commencement stage. (That didn't really happen, but you don't know that, because you studied theory and not history.) Competition will remain fierce for today's most popular careers -- crash-test dummy, human shield and meat-source -- while unpaid internships will soon require you to pay them to hire you. (Update: these already exist, and not just in my newly-formed Floyd Elliot Institute For Cleaning My House.) Those skilled at remaining motionless might find work serving our corporate overlords as human furniture. (Blink and you'll miss it. Also if you go to the bathroom.) Those of you with two healthy kidneys have an advantage in today's job market.
As I look into your hopeful eyes (and think, "My, what a lot of transplantable corneas"), it saddens me to consider how many of you will fall victim to hope. When Pandora opened the box and all the world's evils flew out, the last thing to come from the box was hope, the worst evil of them all. (That's something you'd know if you'd studied classics instead of theory.) Little do you know that hordes of super-intelligent mutant raccoons have begun riding armor-plated wolverine mounts (in case you wondered what Hugh Jackman is doing nowadays) out of the woods to sack our cities, pillage our towns and strew our garbage about. Little do you know that Michael Bey has already begun pondering the script of Transformers 5. (Spoiler: so far he's got Explosions! Explosions! Hot babe! Explosions!) Actually, little do you know in general, because of all that theory.
So I say again: give up. Cower in bed whimpering. (Or whimper in bed, cowering. Your choice.) Teach English to Americans. (It's a dying language.) Become a hobo and hop a freight train. (They still run freight trains, right? I mean, you can't ship freight on the Internet, can you?) (No, I don't understand how the Internet works. Or freight.)
Now come get your $180,000 pieces of paper, Class Of 2013, then party with the parents! (While they are still proud of and love you.)