Last Thursday, my younger brother Mark graduated from Monmouth University. This was enough to make me feel ancient, particularly because it serves to remind me that I’m now three years removed from my own graduation. But there was something else irking me that made me step back for a moment and think, “When did I get so damn old?”
AJ and I offered up our tickets to seats at PNC Bank Arts Center to aunts and uncles and opted to sit on the lawn and enjoy the sunshine. Maybe it was the setting or the beautiful weather, I don’t know, but everyone around us was behaving as though they were at a country concert, rather than a university’s commencement exercises. They were smoking, chatting, laughing, checking out the bevies of sorority girls who were dressed for a fashion show and just generally not paying attention. Were they not aware at the auspicious ceremony going on before them? Booing from angry graduates aside, I couldn’t even hear the governor’s address because everyone around me was generally acting as though they were at a picnic.
Just as I began to think, “These poor kids – they’ve worked so hard for this and here the people who have come to watch them graduate are acting like it’s a Kenny Chesney show,” the students began pouring into the audience after they walked across the stage. Fortunately, I’m not the only one who found this bewildering. This isn’t family photo time. Get back to your seat and watch your classmates shake hands with the president, just like they watched you!
Sometimes I worry that etiquette and common conduct have completely flown out the window. Most of the time, people prove me right. I’m happy to report that my brother, of whom we’re quite proud, behaved like a gentleman.
This totally earns me my official curmudgeon card. Sigh.