Thursday, June 26, 2008

Graduation Day - Part One

Mid-June always brings with it a feeling in the air that reminds me of graduation. In particular, graduation from junior high (now they call it middle school) and high school. And it puts me in a certain mood.

I'm going to talk about high school graduation today.

Our graduation took place not on our high school football field or in our auditorium, but at the Hollywood Bowl. It was a school tradition. Perhaps it was because only a fool would be out at night in the neighborhood around my high school, but for whatever reason, we had the supposed privilege of our commencement exercises taking place at the Hollywood Bowl.

I wasn't even planning on participating until my parents found out and forced me to get my cap and gown and promise to be in the ceremony. All I could think of was escaping high school, the sooner the better.

The ceremony was rather uneventful for the most part. At one point the principal, Dr. Davis, made a mistake by inadvertently using a word that was supposed to be saved as a cue for us to stand up. In context we knew it was not time to stand, yet some people just heard the word and stood, so that caused a few others to stand up and it wound up with half the graduating class standing up and the other half motioning them to sit down, and everyone looking at each other sheepishly.

Then there was snickering when the Pillsbury Homemaker of the Year award was announced. And when the Sears Boy of the Year award was announced, derisive calls of, "Hey boy!" emanated from the audience. The poor parents.

The only enlightening moment of the entire ceremony came when one of our brighter and more accomplished students gave a speech. She introduced herself as Fujie Ota, pronouncing her first name as "Foo-jee-eh," which is proper (and she ought to know, right?). Well, we all looked at each other in astonishment because all through high school we had called or referred to her as "Foo-jee" without the "eh" at the end.

Finally I heard my name - only once since I won no awards - and I marched across the stage to receive my fake diploma. I received it with a big smile. I was soooo happy.

Afterwards I ran into Denise Chin. She was crying because it was an emotional occasion. I was grinning from ear to ear because it was an emotional occasion. We bid each other good luck, me feeling not an ounce of sadness, and went our separate ways.

I figured anyone I really wanted to see I would still see after high school so why be sad. I was too happy at the prospect of not being confined and watching the clock any more.

Well, I never saw Denise after that and at times I do wonder what happened with her because she was a nice person. Maybe she will Google her name and come to this blog one day. Foojee-eh was also a nice person and again, maybe she will google her name (or my name) and arrive here.

What did we do to celebrate our freedom? My buddies and I did what we usually did, we had a rendezvous at Bob's Big Boy on La Cienega Boulevard.

Here's a YouTube video of a song that takes me back to those days.

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