It was a choice experience to be on the phone with my big time Hollywood friend, who laughed out loud as she recounted her recent evening perusing an old yearbook. Specifically, she was inspired to whimsy by my laughable senior portrait and the pitiable quote beneath it.
No one ever told me. They just said "submit this form with the quote you want under your picture." They neglected to inform me that no matter what I said in that space, it would inspire ridicule and chagrin for me and all who read it forever.
Of course, looking into the future is not within the teenage skill set. Given that, we should all look back with an eye of forbearance, if not total forgiveness--not my strong suit. Or maybe I'm particularly rankled by the exceptional stupidity of my own quote and am seeking some kind of justification. But the fact remains: the nature of the senior quote is such that there is almost no chance of success. Your shout-outs will remind you, heartbreakingly, of how misplaced your loyalties were. Your attempts at wit will make you wish you had been born before Prometheus tainted man with humor. Your attempts at wisdom will be the fodder of a thousand derisive scoffs--most of them your own.
My thoughts turned, as usual, to the poor unfortunate young ones. I thought: "It behooves those of us who look back and cringe to make at least a token effort to warn and instruct those who follow in our callow steps. The graduating seniors of the present and future need to know the senior quote is a doomed endeavor. There is an almost microscopic range of possibilities that will not embarrass you later." I thought of making a list of suggestions, such as:
Keep it simple and humble! In fact, just say two words, THANK YOU. Such a quote would be unimpeachable. Better yet, leave the space blank. 100% of your classmates will envy you for eternity.
But then, of a sudden, I realized something important. The relatively innocent distemper of having said something idiotic is a damn sight less acidic than many of my other regrets. So much so, it's almost sweet. And the ability to look back and grin at the idiocy of the people you hated or cared about--what daintier plum does the American High School experience have to offer?
Hence, I invite you to take a moment and remember your senior quote. See if you can forgive yourself. Then, have a look at those of your classmates. Enjoy a hearty chuckle. I promise, the haunting sense that you've not come very far since then only follows you in the dark for a few nights, after which you can wallow like a self satisfied swine in the folly of your now distant cronies. I hope they do the same with mine.