Pomp and Circumcision
Belle graduated from high school. And as the closing strains of “that song” – arguably and most famous/recognizable processional in the world – wafted through the auditorium’s sound system, there was a momentary catch in my throat.
Closing strains. Oh and yes, I and Belle’s family and friends, all twelve of us, caught only the closing strains of P & C because we were seated in an “overflow” area, not in the gym where the ceremony was held. We had to (or got to, depending on your POV) watch the ceremony via closed circuit transmission to a screen in the school’s auditorium, “we” being we who had arrived before the ceremony started but could not find a parking place and had to circle the school and park a bazillion miles away and then be bussed back to the school….. There were over one hundred of us we’s in that situation. So, who gave out more tickets than the place could hold?
Oy vey. Our peanut gallery seating did have its charms, as we got to make snarky comments about it the ceremony because there was no one to object and no one to embarrass (what with Belle being on stage with the other valedictorians in the gym). While the audio transmission was (unfortunately) adequate, the video took colorful license, and we were treated to the sight of the various speakers, musicians and vocalists turning from green (“Martians!”) to blue (“Breathe! Inhale!”) to yellow (“Jaundice!”) to red (“OMG, the diplomas are being handed about by munchkins!”).
Re my comment as to the unfortunate audio clarity: no one really needs to clearly hear yet another painfully botched rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Why it is played on such occasions (why it is played at all, anywhere) is beyond me. When I am anointed Grand Bahoobie of the Planet, the only person allowed to sing the SSB will be Aretha Franklin.
And the speeches. There should be no speeches, by the adults, unless they are under one minute and include fart and/or elephant jokes. Okay, let one of the Vals do a brief speech for/to/about their class – I suppose you have to have that. But keep it short; get ’em graduated and out of there. Just ask those around you, as I did: who ever talks about – who ever can remember anything about – the speeches given at their graduation ceremonies?
Ah yes, the grad speech thing. If you’re the poor schmuck lucky student chosen to give it, say a few kind and funny things about your fellow students, but not at the expense of the elders in the audience. As we were leaving the school – after the ceremony, after the graduates and their families and friends shared congratulations and took pictures before the grads were whisked off to the all-night grad party – I ran into BTY, the girl who’d given her class’s commencement speech. BTY was one of Belle’s fellow valedictorians, and I knew her and her parents from when she and Belle had been on the freshman volleyball team. I congratulated them all, said BTY must be proud of her accomplishments, and complimented BTY on her speech…which, I added, I can’t resist picking one nit with it. That part where BTY commented on how their class’s parents and grandparents misunderstood and mislabeled their generation, and about how “our parents and grandparents don’t understand our technology”? Ahem. Your parents INVENTED THAT TECHNOLOGY.
I got a laugh and a wink from her father and a high five from her mother.
Q: How does every French joke start?
A: By looking over your shoulder.
* * *
We are Americans in Paris, and that’s no joke.
By we I mean Belle and I. There is, of course, a story behind this.
Most college bound high school students take two years of a foreign language, to meet the minimum college entrance requirement. Five years ago, the summer before she was to enter high school, I made a deal with Belle. If she stuck with one language for all four years, after her graduation she and I would travel to a major city in a country that spoke that language.
She’d been thinking of taking Japanese, which Liberty High School offered at that time. But budget cuts be praised, the school no longer offered Japanese. She decided to take French.
Despite a slew of AP classes and other responsibilities Belle stayed with French up through her Junior Year, and signed up for French 4 her senior year, even after finding out her favorite French teacher, the one she’d had for French 2 and 3, was to be transferred to another school (that damn budget thing again) and thus French 4 would be taught by the teacher she had for French 1 – the same teacher who taught both French and German, the same teacher who, three years earlier, had announced to her French 1 class’s parents on Back to School Night that she really didn’t enjoy teaching French, and that her first love was her German classes. 
Mais oui, I digress.
Day 1 of Belle’s senior year: the students pick up their class schedules, and Belle finds out that there will be no French 4. The look on her face when she returned home that afternoon with the news….
I assured her that she had fulfilled her end of the bargain, and, quelle fromage! she and I were going to Paris in June 2014.
And so, we are here, having more fun than you can possibly imagine , or possibly lying in some Parisian alley, sleeping off a baguette and brie hangover.
This très peu message was written in advance, assuming I would not have time to post, what with being busy with all things French, including appreciating ces romantiques français hommes.
Bon voyage, mesdames et messieurs, and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 Something I never thought I’d find myself thinking…but I had no desire to travel to Japan.
 As you might imagine, MH and I were less than impressed. I think I may have muttered some “____ nazi” comments under my minty breath.
 Go ahead, cyber-slap me.