Thursday, December 21, 2006

Graduation Fun

My sister Meghan graduated from Elgin Community College tonight with an Associates in Art.

Graduation ceremonies are such dreaded events. Generally speaking, they are long, stuffy, boring, and far too serious for my liking. Obviously with these preconceived notions I was not looking forward to Meghan's graduation tonight. I am fully aware that my sister has done a great deal of putting up with me over the last twenty one years so I decided the least I could do was put up with some inadequate speakers and a parading of strangers to see her walk for graduation.

The fun began about two hours before the ceremony when my mother insisted we leave an hour and a half before the ceremony began to ensure we obtained good seats. I calmly explained to her she was a raving lunatic, but in the end I could only convince her to wait and leave an hour before the ceremony. When we arrived into the nearly empty auditorium with 40 minutes to go till the ceremony started all I could do was shake my head, and be grateful I had brought along a book to read.

The first indication I had that this was going to be no normal graduation ceremony came from the large older woman sitting two rows ahead of me. I heard her squeeky voice exclaim excitedly at the arrival of a friend of hers. She got up out of her seat, shook the person's hand, and then plopped back the floor. If you haven't guessed yet, these seats where of the likeness of that which you would find in a movie theater. The ones that flip up when no one is sitting in them. That is a hard concept for some. Upon getting up, her seat returned to its upright position and so when she went to sit down she went straight to the floor. The man behind her (clearly one of her family members) reached over and hoisted her up off the floor.
"I don't know how it happened!" she exclaimed.
"The chairs are spring loaded!" he replied horrified.
"What?! I've never heard of such a thing."
Who needs a book with that kind of entertainment.

Ladies and gentlemen, this was just the beginning. The graduates filed in and the speakers took their seats on the stage. A woman sat in the front lefthand corner of the stage facing the audience. It took me a moment to realize she was there to translate the speeches into sign langauge. Oh that's nice. Sign language is so fascinating, I should really learn. The president of ECC stepped forward to begin the ceremony with an introduction and the sign language lady stood up and began.
I know absolutely no sign lanuage, but I have seen many a sign language translator before, and this display was like nothing I have ever seen. This woman was dancing. Break dancing. The full body heaves her body was going through went along perfectly to the soundtrack I was playing in my head for her. Track 1 was Workin' at the Carwash. And she was working. Her facial expressions were probably the greatest things I've ever seen. They in no way matched the words that were coming out of the actual speakers mouth. In fact, if I didn't know any better, I'd say she was mocking him. I just kept thinking WHY DIDN'T WE BRING THE VIDEO CAMERA?! It reminded me of a mime who had downed two bottles of NightQuil before attempting a performance. I just cannot believe that the motions she was making matched in anyway to the actual words that were spoken. You know how in the YMCA dance people extend their arms and point while bouncing their arm up and down, moving from one side to the other? She did that. More than once. She also did what I can only describe as picking up an invisible rope and, tying it into a lasso, and tossing it around the large woman two seats in front of me who could not operate her chair. I have no idea what any of the speakers said, but I clearly remember the sign langauge lady cocking an imaginary rifle and firing off two rounds.

My brother and I put forth our best efforts not to laugh outloud, but we had the entire row of chairs shaking from our stiffled laughter. My mother shot us dirty looks for the first few minutes, but she too could not resist outright laughing at the gestures coming from this woman. Eventually I realized that the only way to keep myself from laughing outloud or wetting my pants was to stare down at the ground. I tried. I really did. I just could not stand not knowing what crazy thing she'd do next. I had to watch her. Her whole body swayed back and forth with every movement. The one instance when her gestures actually matched up with the speaker was when I nearly lost it. The commencement speaker was talking about her days as a freshman and how she used to walk through the halls not talking to anyone and staring at her feet. The sign langauge woman stood in place and sped walked looking down at the ground. That's right, speed walking in place, head down. I bet you didn't think that was possible. Oh but it is.

When the sign lanaguage lady began to flash gang signs the soundtrack in my mind switched over to P. Diddy's Shake Ya' Tailfeather. I feel like if someone had taken the time to clear her some space she would have been on the floor doing the worm. No such luck. She did continue to entertain us, however, by leaning back, criss crossing her arms back and forth, and contorting her face as though she were on 8 mile trying to spew out some wicked rhymes. Can you believe this was a free show?

The speeches ended with an awesome send off consisting of the sign language lady putting her hands together and out in front of her like the diver from Mousetrap. Shen then swerved them back and forth as if parting through an invisible crowd. This was quickly followed up with her casting an invisible line and reeling us all in one by one. Fantastic! Bravo!

Did I mention the ceremony ended with large tables full of cookies being wheeled out into the auditorium? That was just icing on the cake. What an awesome night. Way to go ECC, you guys know how to entertain.

Oh yeah, and congratulations Meghan!


Anonymous said...

Bridget===Whore I loved this post. LOL!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Holy shit. I thought I was cynical. Bridget, I never knew.

onewomanwonder said...

I wish I could have been there! I for sure would have peed my pants or laughed out loud! Congrats for not doing either one!

Maggie said...

I am sorry I missed this. I'm sure that you are going to share on Christmas Eve. Please!!!
And where has ricardo tubbs been-under a rock?

Bridget said...

Yes Ricardo, where have you been, and who the heck are you?

Anonymous said...


Bridget said...

You are so clever.

Anonymous said...

ok. that was mean of me. i throughly enjoyed your post, and you need to find someone who has it on tape.

Anonymous said...

the ceremony that is.

Bridget said...

My brother and I do a killer reenactment.