Elvis, revisited by a non-fan

Amy O’Leary

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(Cue Pomp and Circumstance music.)

“Good afternoon and welcome to the graduation ceremony for the class of 2020. Welcome pooped principals, frazzled teachers and staff. Greetings relieved parents, family and friends. And finally, to the class of 2020, looking so ready to take on the world in your caps, gowns, masks and gloves, welcome!”

This will be the very last time you and your classmates will all be together, sitting so quietly and listening to someone’s mother give you advice on how to live your life. But since it’s me, and I’ve got your attention, sit up straight and stop fidgeting!

You were probably expecting the CEO of a Fortune 500 company to give you advice today. Sorry, but they called and cancelled. That’s why I am here. I am plan ‘B’. And it might interest you to know that I have been the CEO of my household for decades and I’ve never had a strike, a merger, a recall, or a hostile takeover bid under my watch. So let my being here be lesson #1; always have a plan B. Be adaptable.

I have to ask all of you: What was it like? What was it like to have your parents drop everything to bring you the homework that you forgot? Your gym clothes? Lunch, or a $5 iced coffee mocha? How about when they spent hundreds of dollars on prom outfits that will be worn once, hair dos, manicures, pedicures, false eyelashes, tuxedos, expensive meals. We were glad to do it for you. But those days are over. The buck stops here, sunshines. Your parents have done everything they were legally supposed to do with you — raise you, feed and clothe you, keep a roof over your head, make sure you got an education. Starting now, the struggle will be real, people! You are adults now. You have been catered to, there have been over 900 pictures of each of you on social media marking every accomplishment, whether real or imagined, big or small. Well now it’s time to take care of yourself. Here are but a few pearls of wisdom.

Always wear train wreck undies. If you don’t know what that means, ask a Baby Boomer.

Don’t be afraid to say no. It takes practice and it gets easier over time. If you add a ‘thank you’ after it, it’s less painful for both parties. You should be saying no quite a bit during your lifetime.

When in doubt, go without. This can apply to buying clothes, cars, eating food at a potluck, and dating.

If something seems too good to be true, it is. It really is. Walk away.

Learn how to say please and thank you in 3 different languages. Learn 4 good, clean jokes. Learn to sew on a button and hem pants. Learn to make a decent sandwich, an omelet, and a killer dessert.

Write thank you notes.

Take great care of your teeth and feet.

Live beneath your means. Never borrow or lend money — it rarely ends well. And don’t buy a boat. Unless it costs less than $500.

Binge watch old episodes of Judge Judy to see the preventable, sometimes laughable mistakes people make, and then don’t make them.


Travel. There is a whole big world out there for you to see. Life doesn’t end in your home town or state.

Whether you are planning on going to college, getting a job, taking a ‘gap year’ or getting married and starting a family, remember this: parenthood is the only job that is unpaid and with no time off. Gap years are off the table after parenthood, so plan accordingly.

Whatever you do next in life, it’s on you. And you are gonna make mistakes, and some of them will be doozies. But don’t blame anyone else for your troubles except yourself. Learn from them and move on.

Listen to that little voice inside of you. That gut instinct that tells you right from wrong. It’s there for a reason. Remember that.

Don’t ignore the senior population. They have been through more life experiences than you ever will. And they did so with grace and acceptance. Talk to them.

Be nice. Act decent. And call your mother from time to time.

Thank you. Merci beaucoup. Gracias. Danke schoen.”

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