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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Caps, Gowns, and Cookies

So, after years and years of late night Spanish papers and five hour O-Chem exams, a large chapter of my life has come to a close. It has been said that the symbolism of graduation represents the end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood. This makes sense, especially in a Western culture like ours where there is no bar mitzvah for young men or QuinceaƱera for young women. But if our actions speak louder than words, then maybe--just maybe-- we really don't believe there should be a rite of passage. In other words, the words of the late Peter Pan in Hook said it best when he said "I don't ever want to become a man. Yuck! I always want to be a little boy and to have fun." Where does he get these crazy ideas? you might ask. Let me tell you my story.

So, today, I went with my lab partner (let's just call him Nick Candelaria for now) to pick up my cap and gown for graduation. I walked inside the building and was greeted by a very pleasant woman who told me I needed to wait by a table to be helped (of course she couldn't help me out, her job was to direct traffic, and by traffic I mean to two other people in the room with me). I approached the table and a man told me to wait. What I later found out was that he told me to wait because he was deciding if he was going to help me out or not. He eventually did. I told him my name and he handed me a packet with my cap and gown. He gave me some info about alumni stuff. Out of all of the information he told me about graduation, the only thing I remember him saying was, "..and don't forget to get some refreshments before you leave." Refreshments??? Well, okay Mr. Sir, I will NOT forget. As I walked out of the room, I saw two giant platters with a cornucopia of cookies, waiting to be eaten. So, giving in to my primitive instincts, I placed one of each of the six types of cookies on my napkin and left the building with a smile on my face.

As I was walking back to the lab I began to think of the symbolism of graduation. One thing kept coming to my mind: the platter of cookies; symbolism of innocence, of long summers with friends, of late night snacks and stomach aches, and of Santa Claus; all representations of childhood. Why would there be cookies and not crackers or fruit at this cap and gown pick-up? Were the cookies symbolic of what the university was telling me? What implications should I draw from this sign from the heavens, if one could call it such a manifestation? How do I become an adult while remaining a child? All of these questions plagued my mind. As I entered the elevator that took me back to the lab, I did what any confused child would do: I ate all six cookies. I concluded that the cookies served one of two purposes: 1) they were there to be comfort food for when the graduate became so confused at there being cookies there in the first place the only way to calm them down would be to eat mentioned cookies. In thing way, it was a manifestation of itself. Or, 2) they were just cheaper than fruit (the more likely explanation). In any case I learned a valuable lesson: although the coconut cookies may look tempting, just take another Snickerdoodle and walk away.