A week from now, our younger daughter is going to graduate high school. There’s a lot of this going on these days. It’s that time of year. My Facebook feed is filled with examples of professional photo shoots of young women and men that look a lot better than my senior portrait. My senior portrait was taken in a photo studio, against a boring backdrop, and made to look like I was wearing a tuxedo. I was not wearing a tuxedo, but an ill fitting jacket, clip on tie and fake shirt front on top of the polo shirt I had worn to the photographer’s studio. The photographer was bored at having taken a million of the same pictures and was not looking forward to taking a million more. My generation’s pictures were not taken on railroad tracks or in gazebos, but in front of a Naugahyde backdrop in a fake tuxedo or off-the-shoulder shawl thing with fake pearls. Thanks to a photographer friend, our daughter got wonderful senior photos taken all around our little town. There was no off-the-shoulder thing or fake pearls.
Graduation season nowadays seems to be as frustrating for graduates as planning a wedding is for brides. This is not something to be taken lightly. This rivals coronations and royal weddings. As stressful as it is for the graduates, it is more so for the parents. For me to afford pictures, cap and gown, yearbook, class ring, graduation party, etcetera, I am going to have to either sell some organs (not the musical kind) or rob a bank. It better be a big and busy bank, too, because I just got the bill from the bakery for the graduation cake. My first apartment cost less than this slab of buttercream with my daughter’s name on it. I coulda saved a few bucks by meeting up with old friends Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines. At least I would be assured our daughter’s name would be spelled correctly. We have opted not to get the traditional graduation cake with a big mortarboard hat on it with the school colors. My daughter’s school colors are black and red and we all know what black and red frosting does to the mouth. I don’t want a house full of guests looking alternately like they have eaten coal or are bleeding from the gums. This is supposed to be a happy occasion and I don’t want it to look like the “Night Of The Living Dead.”
We have also chosen to make it a big pizza party. Pizza is easy. Pizza is inexpensive. Most people like pizza. When I was a kid, I went to a graduation party that was clearly more for the parents than the graduate. It was the first time I had caviar, and while I like caviar, I remember thinking I would rather have a hot dog and a Coke. Teenagers like hot dogs and Cokes. I imagine there are a few out there who like caviar, but they certainly were not in my social circles. Besides, a little tin of caviar costs a lot of money and that money can be saved for things like kegs in the frat house once the kid gets to college.
The guest list has gotten a bit of attention and I still don’t know how many people are planning on showing up. It’s an open invitation and folks are free to come and go as they please. A few folks are coming from out of town and I had to remind them there are some nice hotels in town. We have a very small house and I don’t think out-of-town guests want to be stacked like cord wood in our living room.
We never thought to have folks RSVP, and that is our fault. Well, sorta. We like living a little adventurous, so if you are in our area and notice a huge crowd, it is probably our daughter’s graduation party. I estimate that only about 40 percent of the guests will not get any food whatsoever and will leave angry, vowing never to visit our home ever again. That’s okay, because we told the folks we really don’t like but invited because we went to their surly daughter’s party four years ago to come late. I didn’t like their party anyway. They said I was too old for the bouncy house and my argument was “Who gets a bouncy house for a graduation party?” and they told me it was for the kids — even though there was only one child there and he was too preoccupied with eating the little chocolate seashells by the handful to even care about the bouncy house. We are not having a bouncy house. Nor are we having little chocolate seashells. I think it’s because the mean little boy with the bad attitude and the fudgy fingers ate them all at the last party.
We’re proud of our daughter and her accomplishments. She has done nothing but impress us each and every day. However, next weekend, it’s man against girl when it comes to the pinata she insisted on getting. It might be her party, but life lessons need to be learned.
Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.