Sunday I attended commencement, where F and I at last realized our longtime dream -- formulated even before we went off to our separate graduate schools -- of being employed by the same institution and sitting next to one another in the ranks of faculty, flasks hidden in our hoods. Bourbon in mine, pear vodka in hers. Because we are old and boring now, and because commencement commences rather early in the morning, we did not get schnockered, but we did at least pull off a ceremonial toast.
It is delightful and astonishing to me that this extremely implausible scenario we invented has in fact come to pass. I did not think all those years ago to imagine an infant waiting at home for me, and getting things in and out of one's hood while sitting in a small folding chair is more difficult than I had anticipated, but all in all the whole thing was shockingly in line with our original predictions. Well done, us.
In the evening we celebrated M's newly minted master's degree by gathering in his backyard in our fancy outfits and taking photos. Then we lined up and had our own tiny processional around and around the garden. This was very festive and included both my infant in arms and a medium-sized dog frolicking about and nipping at his owner's heels. Steve, who has no fancy outfit, stood on the sidelines and clapped as we passed.
I find that I like other people's graduations quite a lot more than I liked any of my own. It is very satisfying to be part of the ceremonial furnishings. I used to like to say that I would choose my graduate program on the basis of its regalia, but of course I did not, and now I have robes that are not particularly flattering to my delicate complexion.
That said, it certainly could be worse. I am not actually redheaded, but have that sort of generally gingery coloring that graces many merely russetish-haired people with redheaded relations, and pale skin that can look dangerously like a cheese if threatened. There are colors that would be an unmitigated disaster. The "Sunburst Sandweave" yellow of Johns Hopkins robes, for instance, would be spectacularly dire.
Although it's a bit difficult to imagine who would be truly flattered by that particular sallow hue. Idris Elba, perhaps.
That's cheating, though, isn't it? I mean, are we seriously proposing that Idris Elba would be ill served by some other school's regalia? I think not. Still, if your school's robes look bad on Clive Owen --
-- and, as you can see, they do -- then I think we can agree that it is a bit much to ask most ordinary mortals, particularly a set of ordinary mortals united by the sartorially unpromising quality of having a doctoral degree, to manage better.
Someone (STEVE) should make a virtual makeover type of application, but for regalia. In the meantime, this page is fun for browsing. Mouseover action! Enjoy yourself over there. There are some real horrors. I am sorry for your fate, poor University of Texas at Dallas graduates. If only you had known.