Tomorrow afternoon you are going stand in an auditorium with a thousand other kids your age. People will speak. Some parents will dab tears. Others will be elbowing their way to a prime position in order to take a photo with their zoom lens. I don’t need to tell you which group I will be in. Though we have threatened to bring air horns, posters painted with glow-in-the-dark paint, and start the wave when your name is called, we probably won’t. Probably. Then at some point you will flip your tassel and walk out of the stadium while Pomp and Circumstance plays. One of the few pieces of music that is tied specifically to an event, like the Wedding March. Whenever you hear that music you will think back to your own graduation day, high school or college.
I can’t hear the song Copacabana (aka Lola to me) by Barry Manilow without thinking of my best friend Jessica who went to Catholic preschool/kindergarten with me. We used to take the bottom of our t-shirts and tuck them into the neckline and out the bottom, turning our shirts into makeshift halter tops. We would stand on the top of the giant metal slide that was erected on asphalt and belt out the lyrics, “Her name was Lola. She was a show girl.” Then we’d run down the slide in our rubber-toed Keds. No one would use the slide properly in the summer since the hot metal would burn the back of your thighs- the seventies were not known as an era of safety-consciousness. It’s a miracle we all survived, really. You kids today don’t know how lucky you are.