I attended commencement this past Friday, which is unusual for me. Under normal circumstances I stay far away from campus over commencement weekend, and for good reason. This is a weekend on which noise is made and the lawns of law-abiding citizens are vomited upon. I do not have a lawn — I live in an apartment building, which is good because plants, including lawns, are not one of my areas of strength — but you hear things, sometimes. I know someone who knows someone who lives near a bunch of frat houses at a large southern state school in Alabama and she has a pair of “condom tongs.” I guess we should be glad the kids are using protection though, right? And indeed who among us has not, at some point, thrown up on and/or gotten it on near someone else’s lawn?
The reason I attended this time was that my cousin was graduating from the business school. Normally there is a sort of natural antipathy between business school types and people like me — or perhaps antipathy is a strong word. A kind of mutual incomprehension. They condescend to us and we secretly suspect that their discipline has no content. But never mind that right now. I approve of commerce. I do not doubt that business schools are teaching something. I have no idea what it is, but I’m sure it’s something.
Anyway, I genuinely like my cousin and wish her well, so I went to the business school commencement. There was what I suppose was intended to be an inspiring speech by a guy who runs some large company, in which he used phrases like “taking the initiative” and “growing a business” and mentioned “leadership” a lot. I was not inspired, but I was not the target audience, so I’m sure it was fine. People seemed to like it.
There was a brass quintet! My aunt (my cousin’s mom) is also in a brass quintet and she and I both cringed a little at the volume of the sound – they’d miked the quintet, which, being a brass quintet, was plenty loud to begin with. (My aunt plays the French horn.) But we were outdoors in a tent, so I guess they were worried the sound wouldn’t carry. It did, I assure you.
There is no real point to this story, other than the brass quintet. My aunt and I do not see eye to eye on many things. She is a creationist, for example. She also believes that the government destroys everything it touches and I . . . I am a state employee. As of August, I will be teaching at a public university. But we can have a meeting of the minds as far as music is concerned.