Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Commence Reacting, Coronavirus Class of 2020

Thank you for that warm introduction, Dr. Principalperson. And thank you for your bravery. Some would consider it pretentious of non-medical professionals such as yourself to still want to be addressed as “doctor” during these pandemic times.

What did you say, Dr. P? Huh?

Oh, seems I’ve muted everyone’s microphones for my portion of the Zoom graduation ceremony.

See that, my dearest beleaguered faculty, our hardest-working custodial staff, and most of all, you -- The Coronavirus Class of 2020. The ability to click a button and shut up your alleged superiors is just one feature of COVID-19 life that’s not too shabby.

Now let us ponder that phrase: “alleged superiors.”

A few of you may be asking “Why the adjective?” Given our country’s methods of teaching to the standardized test and the sorry state of Common Core educational standards, more than a few of you are now asking, “What’s an ‘adjective’?”

Class of 2020, I say “alleged superiors” because this pandemic has taught us that we need to rewrite the definitions, rewrite the rules and rewrite our commencement addresses because no one this year should be quoting Dr. Suess’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

I’m not saying this novel coronavirus has leveled the playing field, the ostentatiousness of Dr. Prinicipalperson being a perfect example. But it has definitely raised and lowered some of us in the power rankings.

Meat processing workers – up. Instagram fashion influencers – as down as my sweatpants with the elastic waistband that met its match in Lockdown Week Six.

Grocery checkout clerks – visibly up. Hedge fund managers – still obnoxiously rich but now without an audience to show it off to, so cue the sad trombone sound effect (wah wah wah waaaaaah).

Barbers and hairstylists – I’d tip my hat to you but I don’t want what you’d see to scare you from taking my appointment. Land-grabbing, regulation-abusing, ethic-bending builders of luxurious urban contagion incubators – your day of reckoning is at hand.

Finally, Ernesto – the driver from Drizly who delivers my weekly supply of liquid medication: You. Are. A. God.

So where does the pandemic leave you, Coronavirus Class of 2020? Up or down? Are you going to forever remain one with your couch, watching hours of mind-numbingly awful TikTok lip-sync and dance videos? Or, will you create the next hot app that helps so many mind-numbingly untalented singers and dancers believe in themselves? And how much will you sell it for? My tipping point is around $3.99.

Whatever you do – don’t start a podcast. If you do, you will become yet another reason life needs a universal mute button.

What I can tell is this: no one has the answers. No one. Not mom and dad. Not Dr. Anthony Fauci – now there’s a REAL doctor, Principalperson. Certainly not me.

Even under the best of circumstances, neither the so-called experts nor the self-proclaimed experts can predict the future with 100% accuracy. Look at Dewey versus Truman. Look at Clinton versus Trump. Look at the smarty-pants who forced kids like me learn the metric system back in the 1970s. Oooh, Celsius is the future, they said. Not in ‘Murica, buddy. Not here.

We can hope. We can research. We can plan down to the smallest detail. Sometimes, we even can execute that plan to perfection. But sometimes the result will still stink on ice. Then, the best we can do is react because our reaction is all we can truly control.

Some will react with grace and humility. Some will react with denial and anger. The best of us will think before we react. We will think about how our subsequent actions or inactions will affect not only us but also how they will affect others. Or we could be selfish and vain faux patriots yapping about “my rights” from our uncovered yappers, screeching and spitting right into the face of some poor hourly worker trying to make a living. Remember that your rights are also their rights -- unalienable rights, if you paid attention in history class. Unalienable rights that notably put life before both liberty and the pursuit of buy-one-get-one half-priced Jell-O shots. Now that IS ‘Murica, buddy. Right here.

So for those of you who have resisted using the mute button on me or switching apps to watch just one more TikTok, let me close with the words of a doctor. A real fake doctor, Principalperson – the psychiatrist to the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, Dr. Sidney Freedman, who wisely said, “Ladies and gentleman, take my advice: pull down your pants and slide on the ice.

Zoom commencement photo by Mohammad Shahhosseini on Unsplash


  1. Perfection!!!!
    I bow to you, Dr. Uncool, and I say, “Thank you.”

  2. That's "Fake Dr. Uncool," to you! Thanks for reading, Julie!


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