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Hail the graduates, but demolish that basement apartment

April 14, 2019

As the temperatures smooth out to breezy, balmy conditions and the jackets come off, we recall that this time of the year is for many parents all about graduation.

Whether it’s grade school, high school, college or what used to be called reform school, we are all delighted in the completion of a worthy goal.

This is especially true of parents who have children finally finishing the end of the line at graduate school; that goal being for the parents to have some semblance of a life in the few remaining years left.

OK, forget the fact that the children have been in school so long, they are eligible for discounts on Medicare reimbursements.

And the parents have aged so much they resemble that famous black-and-white photo of the couple sitting on a sagging porch during the Dust Bowl era.

There is a vacuous look in the eyes of many mothers and fathers as they slowly make their way on artificial knees, hips and backs to their seats in front of the podium.

There is a different look to these parents. I know after years of paying tuition, by the time I reached the graduate school graduations, I felt like I had developed gills on the side of my body and was turning into some kind of scaly fish that would return to the ocean.

If that isn’t bad enough, the thought of listening one more time to the song for the processional march, “Pomp and Circumstance,” will have most parents signing commitment papers.

The papers are for themselves. I believe this is still covered under ObamaCare, on page 9,683, section 485, titled, Medical Coverage For Those who Don’t Care Anymore and Just Walk Around Mumbling in Sweat Pants All Day, Part B. I can’t tell you how much is covered since every other word in the ObamaCare bill is blacked out due to security leak concerns.

The song, “Pomp and Circumstance,” was written by Sir Edward Elgar in 1901. The title is taken from a play written by Shakespeare, which explains a lot.

One of the lines in the play, “Othello,” is, ‘Pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war!’ The fact that the music was written for the coronation of King Edward VII should speak for itself.

By the time a parent is sitting in the audience for graduate school commencement and hears this march, it is enough to set off every pacemaker in the first three rows and cause massive panic attacks, not to mention palpitations, excessive sweating and shrinking of the liver.

Sure, it has come to symbolize pride, dignity and a certain reverence for the whole educational process. But it’s hard to think about that as you watch your own son take the stage in the traditional cap, gown, and red high-top sneakers, along with green wrap-around sunglasses.

The moment of truth is upon you. The fork in the road so often quoted in these graduation speeches has been taken. I don’t know why that analogy with a fork in the road is so popular, especially since your child majored in subjects that only qualify him to be part of the crew of the Starship Enterprise.

Unfortunately for you that road may lead right back to your home, where the basement will turn into kind of a de facto apartment for the graduate. 

In the middle of the night you will hear bulldozers, Bobcats and cement machines working through the early hours bent on demolishing the basement as quickly as possible. Some are using shovels in a desperate attempt to fill it in. Not to worry, though, I think there is an app on your iPhone for this essential task.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.