For our Class Day speaker, I don’t want David Gergen ’63. Nor anyone else who is now serving or has ever served on the Yale Corporation. Nor anyone named Beinecke.
I don’t want as a Class Day speaker someone who already makes regular appearances at Yale. This includes current faculty. And Tom Wolfe GRD ’57 and Sam Waterston ’62 are strictly prohibited — those guys just won’t leave us alone.
When you asked me if I preferred the Class Day speaker to be a Yalie, I answered with an emphatic “NO!” Perhaps too emphatic. I apologize for this. I shouldn’t have threatened you with anthrax. But I was afraid that if I said yes, you’d feel so much undue pressure to book someone related to Yale that we’d end up with the chief master’s aide of Trumbull College.
The fact of the matter is, last year they did a pretty good job. Too good a job, in fact. Coming after last year’s lineup of Dubya and Hillary, even Gandhi resurrected from the dead would seem blase. But that doesn’t mean you should just give up trying, that you should curl up and die and leave us with Kurt Schmoke ’71.
The Class of 2002 needs you to really put some effort into this, because other things aren’t working out so well for us. Thanks to Sept. 11, many of us have been forced to forgo our I-banking dreams to start careers as assistant managers at our neighborhood Applebee’s. And on top of that, Guster is playing at Spring Fling. Guster. I don’t know who’s playing at Harvard’s spring concert, but their commencement speaker has more musical talent in her conical brassiere.
Please, we’re begging you. Save our senior year.
Whoever you get, make sure they’re famous. Bragging rights are important here. Even if I insist she was a dynamic speaker, my friends back home wouldn’t be impressed if I said, “Jewelry historian Jivan Astfalck spoke at my graduation.”
Also, if you are able to narrow down your search to one or two really good people, it’s important that you lobby them effectively. Don’t let them slip from your grasp. You must convince them that Yale is where they want to spend their May 26. I suggest you use my patented techniques of persuasion:
Class Day Committee: General Powell, we’d really like you to speak to the Yale graduating class.
Colin Powell: Well, I appreciate the thought, but I’ve already been asked by the University of Wyoming at Laramie.
CDC: Wyoming?! Dammit, do you know who we are? Snap out of it, buddy. Yale! That’s big time.
Powell: Well, I don’t know —
CDC: Need some convincing? What if we told you we had photographs?
Powell: Photographs of what?
CDC: Think of the something in your life that you are extremely ashamed of but have never told anyone about for fear of ostracization and/or prosecution.
Powell: Okay —
CDC: We have photographs of that.
Powell: Good lord!
If you’re really stuck for ideas, I have a few. Here are some people I think would be good Class Day speakers:
1. Tony Blair: “I remember my university days like they were yesterday. This one time, I got completely snookered and ended up getting arrested for vomiting in the middle of Leicester Square. Oh, wait, that was my teenage son. Well, anyway, while I was still at Oxford Law I had no idea that one day I would become the American Presidency’s ‘yes’ man –”
2. Nelson Mandela: “Yes, I was the president of South Africa, and yes, I won the Nobel Peace Prize. But before that, I was imprisoned for 28 years, and I was married to a psychotic woman. Please stop complaining about not getting the job you wanted.”
3. The Rock: “When you get out there in that real world, you tell people to know their role and shut their mouth. And they’ll sit their candy asses down and listen to you, because they can smell — what Yale is cooking.”
Here are some people that would not be good Class Day speakers:
1. Brother Stephen White: “You are all going to hell.”
2. Pat Buchanan: “There sure are a lot of foreigners and Jews here today. That reminds me: what this country needs is a big moat along our southern border — “
3. Jeff Foxworthy: “If your full name is actually four last names followed by a Roman numeral — you might be a Cantab.”
4. Osama bin Laden. I don’t have any interest in hearing what he’d have to say, but I would definitely be impressed if you got him to come.
If none of my suggestions work out, I’ve got a solid backup idea: Gary Coleman. You know, the sole survivor of Different Strokes. Now that guy’s got a story. And it might be amusing to see him in a cap and gown. And I bet if you ask nicely, he’ll agree to say, “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Levin?” when he’s introduced.
I hope this helps. We’re counting on you.
The King of New Haven
JP Nogues is a senior in Davenport College. His columns appear on alternate Fridays.