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5:34 a.m. - 2002-05-31

DAT'S MY NIECE! SHE BE A GRADJIT!

So last night my niece graduates from her high school.

We go to the graduation, getting there with five minutes to spare, which was just enough time to get situated and see all the family and pretend that I don't mind being associated with these dweebs in public.

My 14 year-old nephew goes to hug me and I kinda gently pushed him away like the pervert he is and told him he was "too old for hugs from Uncle Bob in public" and shook his hand instead.

This is like ... the fifth time I've told him this. It's been a while, but I can remember when I was 14. I remember that had I EVER hugged a man in public when I was 14, it would only be because somebody was holding a gun to my head and forcing me to do it. I would have never willingly been caught dead hugging a man. Can you imagine the grief I would have had to endure, being seen hugging a man in public?

Knowing him, it probably couldn't tarnish his dweeb reputation one iota.

Alright, that's cruel. He is my nephew.

But not my blood nephew. So I can say this crap.

So both Susie's Dad from California, his new wife and Susie's Mom are there. When you get her Dad and Mom in the same building, her Mom ends up acting like a total baby. She cannot BELIEVE that her children still want anything to do with their father after he walked out on them 22 years ago. I can't believe it either, but my disbelief stems from the fact that they would actually wanna pile one more dweeb onto the dweeb pile that they refer to as their immediate family.

I shake her Dad's hand and say "How you doin', Steve?"

...His name's Bob. It's my own personal dig on the guy. It's not much, but it satisfies me that I pretend to not even remember the guy's name every time I see him which has been a total of four times in 16 years, three of those times in the last two years.

Anyway...the graduation starts. And it's long and boring. One kid gives a speech. My evil Mother-in-law leans over and says "That's George!"

I fought the urge to scream out "HI GEORGE!!!"

Apparently, George was recently on the teen version of "Jeopardy!" and did quite well for himself, bringing home something like $30,000. Once she told me that, I remembered him, because it was a big deal around here. Most of the kids in our city are uneducated hillbillies and the fact that George made it to the big city and impressed America with his knowledge of geography and potpourri, he put our city on the "Jeopardy!" map.

So...he was the one celebrity making a speech at the graduation. Which was kinda sad. At my sister's graduation, Al Gore spoke to the class. I don't remember who spoke at my graduation because I was just anticipating getting laid afterwards.

After SEVERAL boring speeches, the diplomas start getting handed out.

Before they hand out diplomas though, it is ESSENTIAL that the principal reprimands the audience and tells them all to hold their applause and to show respect for the graduates by NOT yelling and NOT whistling and NOT acting like a complete fucking idiot when your friend or family member walks across the stage.

The first girl to receive her diploma has people screaming and hollering and stomping their feet.

The next guy has a man two rows in front of us screaming "Dat's my cousin! Dat's my cousin! He a gradjit!! He da smartest membah ub my fammy!!"

The guy KEEPS doing this, well after the cousin has left the stage and returned to his seat. The entire auditorium was silent as we all waited for Mr. Excitement to catch his breath. Even the principal was glaring at the guy and the activities came to a grinding halt as this fucking dick kept hollering out shit while his family members all laughed and cheered him on.

I fought the urge to get up and slap him in the back of the head. And to yell "HI GEORGE!!" because...man...that urge kept growing stronger for some reason.

Now, I had made a $10 bet with Susie on the way to the graduation that her brother, the Coke-slurping, $1,100-owing, nerdy loser brother, would scream when our niece's name was called. She took that bet because she thought her brother had more couth than that.

...Guess who's $10 richer?!?!

If you guessed "Uncle Bob", you're one smart little diary-reading bitch!

("Bitch" meaning "Good person")

My original bet was that he would jump up, scream, remove his shirt, wave it around in circles over his head and have painted "We love you Niece" on his fat gut in lipstick.

Luckily I didn't bet he'd do that or I'd be $10 in the hole.

Anyway, they called my niece's name and sure enough, the brother-in-law yelled, whistled and did everything we were told not to do, totally disrespecting the graduating class.

I'm such a stickler for authority figures. I didn't even smile when they called her name.

Which reminds me...is it just me or does EVERYONE feel sorry for these kids who get NO applause or anything when they walk across the stage to receive their diplomas?

Some kids bring an entire cheering section for their graduation while others might get a proud Mom halfassed quietly clapping. I always feel like those kids are going to walk across the stage, receive their diploma, pose for a quick photo and then walk to the other side of the stage, pull a pistol out from under a robe and blow their brains out because they were so incredibly unpopular that nobody rooted for them when their name was called.

At my graduation, I was one of those people. I just brought along my family who are law-abiding citizens. They didn't applaud. My drunken girlfriend at the time yelled "Way to go Bobby! Y'all, I'm soooo drunk!!"

...Which, of course, made me horny as hell to hear. Then again, I'd get horny listening to a baseball game over the radio back then. It didn't take a whole helluva lot to make me horny in high school.

As SOON as the ceremony was over, my mother and brother in law were OUT the door to avoid having to even look at her ex-husband. I'm sure my brother-in-law got chewed out on the way home for not telling her that her ex was going to be there. I actually felt a tinge of sorrow for him.

They left so quickly that I couldn't get a picture of them.

I know, I know...I told you guys you'd get a picture of them and I really truly thought that I'd be able to snap one of them with my niece or something. But they were gone before the graduates caps came floating down out of the rafters after they had thrown them in the air.

So...

I'll give you the only thing I could manage to get.

A video capture of them singing the Alma Mater at the end of the program.

I had to be really discrete about this. I videotaped the whole ceremony from my seat and when the Alma Mater was sung at the end, I pretended to scan over the entire audience in attendance when I was trying to just get a decent shot of them.

It's not the greatest shot in the world. My brother in law actually wore a tie so he looks somewhat civilized in the photo.

Anyway...here it is.

My mother and brother-in-law.

I know...it sucks as a photo. But my intentions were good. I fully intended on getting a great shot of them outside. I'll have to wait for Susie's dad to leave town before that happens though.

We were all supposed to go to Olive Garden afterwards for dinner, but Andrew was being fussy because his Grandpa that he hasn't seen since he was five weeks old kept wanting to hold him and Andy don't play that game. I kept trying to tell the man "Andrew's very shy around others and doesn't like to be held."

But Grandpa thought he knew best and that he was his grandfather and Andrew would warm up to him instantly.

Andrew burst into tears and writhed out of his arms within five seconds.

I smirked and made a mental reminder to buy the kid something to reward him for that one.

So I told them that since Andrew was fussy, it'd probably be best that we didn't go to Olive Garden with them where they would have their usual "Who Can Make The Biggest Salad?" contest and hoot and holler and act like mentally challenged halfbreeds in the middle of Olive Garden.

That's it. My graduation story.

Kinda boring, I know. But this weekend will be spent with the in-laws for the most part and I'm sure something more exciting will happen than that.

I'll keep in touch.

Peace out.

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