The old expression “adding insult to injury” might well have been coined with parents of high school seniors specifically in mind. Bison Daughter is in her senior year, and the nightmare of college selection is already fully upon us. The process is bad enough, what with the visits, the applications, the application fees, essays, and meaningless letters of recommendation dragged out of the hands of recalcitrant teachers, but when you consider that “success” merely triggers the sure and certain expectation of the forcible anal rape of your bank account for the subsequent four years, the fun factor really drops off.
Considering that, maybe I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to receive the package of glossy brochures from the school outlining all the wonderful things I might want to buy to commemorate said daughter graduating high school. For a start, there were rings. Lots of rings. Gold and silver and who knows what else, with blue stones, pink stones, green stones, engraved names, commemorative symbols and all manner of decorations. None of them seemed to cost less than a couple of hundred dollars, but you could drop a cool eight hundred, if you so desired, on a gold “Heritage Collection” ring. No need to stop there though – you could drop several hundred more on custom made class tags. You could buy class jewelry, apparel and commemorative pictures too.
But that’s not all. Just in case your friends and family aren’t aware that your little darling is about to leave high school you can order beautiful custom announcements, with ornamentally sealed envelopes, to be sent far and wide to broadcast the news. It really wouldn’t take much to spend well over a thousand dollars on commemorative graduation crap.
Remember – this is high school we’re talking about here, not college. You know what it takes to graduate high school? Show up until you’re eighteen, don’t be as thick as pigshit, and turn in a bare minimum of work. Unless you have a medical reason that gets in the way, (and there are people with real challenges, let’s be clear), about the only way you can fail to graduate is either to be a moron or to simply not bother to do the work. And since high school graduation is a pre-requisite for almost any job that offers any kind of a future, choosing not to do the work kind of puts you in the moron category too. So, in summary, you’re either “high school graduate” or “moron”.
So when a parent spends a couple of grand sending out gold plated notes, buying class jewelry and holding a party to celebrate little Johnny graduating high school, they are basically saying “Look, look! My kid isn’t a complete moron! Isn’t it great?!”
I suppose I should have seen this coming, in a land where graduating kindergarten is celebrated with a straight face as a rite of passage. It’s just one more facet of the “You’re all winners, everyone gets a trophy” mentality. And if it was just a fun “throw your cap in the air, celebrate with your friends” event I’d be all in favor. Parents with cameras, kids in gowns, cake afterwards – it’s all good stuff. But four figure jewelry bills and personalized gold embossed stationery? Are you kidding me?
It all makes me wonder what’s in store if my offspring manages to graduate from college? How expensive does that catalog get? If high school graduation (or “my kid’s not a moron”) merits a grand or two in cash outlay, I can only imagine the options available for the college graduation celebration. Maybe there will be personalized airplane banners, to be dragged over the ceremony by a gold-embossed biplane. Custom silver braided cakes, where a live dwarf leaps out and presents your college graduate with a platinum and diamond commemorative tiara. A fleet of Bentleys to hand deliver invitations to the graduation ceremony simultaneously to fifty of your closest friends and family. A choir, resplendent in robes custom-made in your college colors, to sing congratulations to junior as he takes his first shit after graduation. And what about post-graduate degrees? If Bison Daughter gets a doctorate I’ll have to file for bankruptcy, or face the shame of having her be the only not arriving at the ceremony in a silver carriage drawn by unicorns.
In the end Mrs Bison and I decided to go for a simple cap and gown, for twenty eight dollars I believe, and to keep our bank account as plump as we can, in anticipation of the financial ass-rape that college will for sure bring. I suspect, however, that we are in the minority, given that Jostens, a large purveyor of high school graduation crap, announced this week that it is being bought for $1.5 billion. That’s an awful lot of rings, shirts and tacky announcements, but unless either the moron count of kids in our schools or the good taste of their parents increases significantly the company apparently has a solid gold future.