'Class of '06, [Insert Bon Mot Here]'

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Sunday, May 28, 2006

Graduation time, and every university with pull has lined up a Boldface Name to give parting words of wisdom. Take notes, future stars: The 2006 All-Celebrity, All-Purpose Commencement Speech :

Thank you for inviting me to be here with you today, and thank you for this doctorate you're going to give me. Now I can get out of this dead-end job; get a real career going for myself.{1} Thousands of commencement addresses are given every year, many by people with greater eloquence and more original minds than I possess.{2} For a guy who barely made it out of high school, I find it incredibly ironic that I am standing up here as a doctor.{3}

The only thing about high school I remember is my senior prom. . . . If what I remember is true, it is very possible that some of you are my children, especially you with the blue eyes and freakishly gray hair. Let me just say that if that is true, for legal reasons I can't say whether you are my children, but I'm bursting with pride today, and I'm sorry for not being around for the last 20 years.{4}

I know what many of you are thinking right now. You're thinking, "Oh, I shouldn't have drunk that much last night. . . . Please God make it short." No. I wrote it and you're going to listen to it.{5} For all of you, I bring a message of great hope: There's life after English Comp. Someday you'll appreciate what you've learned here, you'll make your teachers proud. I know the professors who taught me English marvel at my way of words.{6}

I remember a French professor who tried to let me down gently by saying, "Mademoiselle, your talents lie elsewhere."{7} I was supposed to be a concert pianist. . . . I thought, "I'm going to end up playing piano bar or teaching 13-year-olds to murder Beethoven or maybe playing at Nordstrom, but I'm not going to play Carnegie Hall." And I went to my parents and I decided that I had better find something else to do.{8} A little spunk presented politely but effectively can do wonders in getting a job and getting ahead.{9}

Dream your dreams and try to live them. For life's largest disappointments are not rooted in failures or mistakes. Anybody who's lived long enough has made a fair share of both.{10} As a preacher once said in my spiritual counseling: A successful life does not mean lavish material wealth. It means richness in relationships -- freedom from paralyzing anxiety -- opportunity to learn and grow intellectually and the comfort of knowing that God is with us always.{11}

I'll leave you with a quote you should all know by now, feel free to chime in . . . It's by Eminem: "You better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go! One shot, do not miss your chance to blow, 'cause this opportunity comes once in a lifetime."{12} Twenty-five years from now, when you're nominated for some high position, these are the people the press is going to track down to find something embarrassing about you. So my advice is this: Today is a good day for all of you to agree among yourselves that what happened at Georgetown stays at Georgetown.{13}

1. Billy Joel, Syracuse University, May 14

2. John McCain, Liberty University, May 13

3. Lance Armstrong, Tufts University, May 21

4. Anderson Cooper, Yale University, May 22

5. Ted Koppel, St. Mary's College, May 13

6. President Bush, Oklahoma State University, May 6

7. Hillary Clinton, Long Island University, May 14

8. Condi Rice, Boston College, May 22

9. Katie Couric, Oklahoma University, May 12

10. Bill Clinton, Tulane University, May 13

11. Sheila Johnson, Trinity University (Washington), May 20

12. Jodie Foster, University of Pennsylvania, May 15

13. Chief Justice John Roberts, Georgetown University Law Center, May 21


Last week, when we reported that the National Park Service had started charging wedding parties up to $250 to have photos taken at monuments, one bride groused that they'd never do this to a bunch of fifth-grade tourists!

Uh, think again. Local photographers who specialize in the classic group-photo-at-the-Capitol genre have been told that they, too, will have to pay. Valerie Le Febvre complains the new fees will force her small Alexandria studio to nearly double what it charges for panoramic group shots. She fears tourist groups she's worked with for years will now scuttle the tradition.

NPS spokesman Bill Line noted the fees were mandated by Congress to cover the agency's costs in overseeing shoots so that groups don't conflict with each other. "It ensures some continuity," he said. Still, industry groups are challenging the policy. "You can't do a group photo in the hotel," Le Febvre said. "What they want is a picture in front of the Capitol."


"An Olympian, huh? . . . Well, can you catch?"

-- Nationals Manager Frank Robinson, meeting speedskater Joey Cheek at a Greater Washington Sports Alliance party Thursday night. This was just hours after a mortifying near-loss in which he was forced to replace fumbling catcher Matthew LeCroy mid-inning with Robert Fick, who promptly missed a wild pitch. After the Nats rallied to beat the Astros, 8-5, the coach recovered enough to laugh about it.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company