the schmooze
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York


It's college graduation time.  The commencement speakers have been chosen.

Bob Schieffer will be at R.I.T; Muriel(Mickey) Siebert (the first woman of finance),  will speak at Wagner College.

CNN's, Anderson Cooper has been selected to speak at Tulane University, and Suze Orman will speak to undergraduate students at Bentley College.  Brian Williams will be at Notre Dame, and Case Western Reserve chose Katie Couric.   Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the commencement seaker at NYU.  (The graduation takes place at Yankee Stadium.)

Shown below are some fascinating stories about commencement speakers:

   After months of secret negotiatoins, several hundred secret ballots, and a weekend retreat with Vice President Dick Cheney in his secret mountain bunker, a Class Day speaker was chosen, and it was me.  You obviously have madea grave error.  But it's too late now.  Solet's just go with it.

   As most of you are probably aware, I didn't graduate from Harvard,  In fact, I never even got a call back from Admissions.  Damn you, Harvard!  Damn you!  I told myself I would not get emotional today.  But damn it, I'm here, and sometimes it's just good to cry.

   I'm not one of you.  Okay?  I can't relate to who you are and what you've been through.  I graduated from the University of Life.  All right?  I received a degree from the School of Hard Knocks.  And our colors were black and blue, baby.  I had office hours with the Dean of Bloody Noses.  All right?  I borrowed my class notes from Professor Knuckle Sandwich and his Teaching Assistant, Ms. Fat Lip Thon Nyun.  That's the kind of school I went to for real, okay?

   So my gift to you, Class of 2003, is to tell you about the real world through my eyes, through my experiences.  And I'm sorry but I refuse to sugarcoat it.  I ain't gonna do it.  And I probably shouldn't use the word "ain't" during this day in which we celebrate education.  But that's just the way I play it, Homes....

   I'm sorry, graduates.  But this is a world where you aren't allowed to use your cell phone in airplanes, during live theater, at the movies, at funerals, or even during your own elective surgery. Apparently, the Berlin Wall went back up because we now live in Russia.  I mean just try lighting up a cigar in a movie theater or paying for a dinner for 20 friends with an autograph.  It ain't that easy....

   You're about to enter into a world filled with hypocrisy and doublespeak, a world in which your limo to the airport is often a half-hour late.  In addition to not even being a limo at all; often times it's a Lincoln Towncar.  You're about to enter a world where you ask your new assistant, Jamie, to bring you a tall, non-fat latte.  And he comes back with a short soy cappuccino.  Guess what, Jamie? You're fired.  Not too hard to get right, my friend....

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, Russell Baker,
gave a short and sweet commencement speech at Connecticut College in 1995.  The speech was titled, "10 Ways to Avoid Mucking Up the World any Worse than it
Already is."

What was his advice?

One:  Bend down once in a while and smell a flower.

Two:  Don't go around in clothes that talk.
          There is already too much talk in the
          world...Talking clothes just add to the
          uproar.  If you simply cannot resist
          being an incompetent klutz, don't
          boast about it by wearing a tee shirt
          that says 'underachiever and proud
          of it.'  Being dumb is not the worst
          thing in the world, but letting your
          clothes shout it out loud depresses
          the neighbors and embarrasses your

Three:  Listen once in a while.  It's amazing
          what you can might hear
          the footsteps of something sinister
          gaining on you, or a heart-stopping
          beautiful phrase from Mozart you
          haven't heard since childhood, or
          the voice of somebody - now gone -
          whom you loved....

Four:  Sleep in the's silly getting
          dressed up to go to that
          you can longer smoke, drink gin or
          eat bacon and eggs without some-
          body trying to make you feel
          ashamed of yourself, sleeping in the
          nude is one delicious sinful pleasure
          you can commit without being caught
          by the Puritan police squads that
          patrol the nation.

Five:  Turn off the TV once or twice and
          month and pick up a book.

Six:    Don't take your gun to town.  Don't
          even leave it home unless you lock
          all your bullets in a safe deposit box
          in a faraway bank.

Seven:  Learn to fear the automobile.
             It is not the trillion-dollar deficit
             that will finally destroy America. It
             is the automobile...future highway
             needs are terrifying.  ...when your
             generation is middle-aged,
             Interstate 95 between Miami and
             Fort Lauderdale will have to be 22
             lanes wide to avert total paralysis
             of south Florida.  Imagine an entire
             country covered with asphalt.  My
             grandfather's generation shot
             horses.  Yours had better learn to
             shoot automobiles.

Note:  Harry W. Gluckman agrees:  "Road
construction [in Florida] is permanent and
continuous.  Detour barrels are moved
around for your entertainment pleasure
during the middle of the night to make the
next day's driving a bit more exciting."

Eight;  Have some children.  Children add
            texture to your life.  They will save
            you from turning into old fogies
            before you're middle-aged.

Nine:   Get married...getting married will
            give you a lot more satisfaction in
            the long run than your BMW...
            What's more, without marriage you
            will have practically no material at
            all to work with when you decide to
            write a book or hire a psychiatrist.

Ten:     Smile.  You're one of the luckiest
            people in the world.  You're living in
            America.  Enjoy it...although I've lived
            through the Great Depression,
            World War II, terrible wars in Korea
            and Vietnam, and half a century of
            cold war, I have never seen a time
            when there wre so many Americans
            so angry or so mean-spirited or so
            sour about the country as there are
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe graduated from
NYU when tuition was $25 a credit.  She
wishes a "Mazel-tov" to all of today's



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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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