by Levi Dayan
[originally published May 9, 2022]
Welcome back to the second installment in this new recurring column focusing on the most fucked up crazy shit that is almost certain to happen in the not-too-distant future. Folks, commencement season is fast approaching, and everyone’s dicks are in a tussle trying to figure out who the administration has tapped to follow in the footsteps of prestigious past commencement speakers such as Adlai Stevenson, Fareed Zakaria, and (no joke) noted white supremacist Woodrow Wilson. Fortunately, your dicks need not be in a tussle any longer, because through my acute ability to make predictions I’ve achieved access to a shortlist of potential speakers.
Though residents of the great state of Vermont only makes up 0.002% of the US population, Vermonters make up a whopping 40% of the Oberlin student body (according to a twitter poll). Considering all of the contributions Vermont has made towards making this campus its weird, quirky, granola-boofing self, it only makes sense that front-runner for this year’s commencement address is the single most prominent politician / former presidential candidate in Vermont history: Screamin’ Howard Dean. And if my knowledge and foresight of the future hasn’t failed me yet, all sources suggest that the former governor already has a speech prepared, which I’ve sampled below:
Today is the first day of the rest of your lives. The knowledge this sacred institution has imbued in your spirit is something that you will carry far beyond the great state of Ohio. You’re gonna carry it with you to New York. And LA. And Chicago! And Philly!! And Brooklyn!!! AND THEN YOU’RE GONNA GO TO WASHINGTON TO WORK ON THE HILL!!!! BYAAAAAH
Of all the potential commencement speakers, no one has bigger quirky Oberlin vibes than the original hipster coffee man Howard Schultz. The Starbucks CEO and former presidential campaign-considerer has already won over the board of trustees with his alternative union mitigation ideas, and it’s only a matter of time before he wins the hearts and minds of Obies with his charm, good looks, and indie sensibilities. And once again, barring an unprecedented failure in my prediction abilities that has only a 0.01% chance of happening, my sources indicated that Mr. Schultz also has a speech prepared, which I have once again sampled below:
Many years ago, I took a trip to Israel and I met this very wise pious, religious man. He taught me many lessons not about religion but about life, about morality, about honor. I hope it resonates with you. I’m Jewish, but this isn’t about being Jewish, not at all. It’s about humanity. He told me a story of how, when people in Germany and in Poland were sent to the concentration camps, they were thrown into rail cars and sometimes the journey was 8 hours, 10 hours, 15 hours no light, no water, no food. And one person for every 6 was given a blanket. And the person who got the blanket had to decide what to do with this blanket that I had for myself. And not everyone but most people shared their blanket with 5 other people. And the rabbi says to me take a blanket and go share it with 5 other people. And so much of that story is threaded into what we have tried to do at Starbucks, which is to share our cum rag. That’s what you people do here, right? Also if you join a union after college you will make me fucking cry.
Ron Howard is such an obvious choice for commencement speaker that including him here almost feels unfair. How any student could not have a commencement address from Mr. Howard absolutely make their time at Oberlin is stupefying. If his adorable grin, delightful cameo as a child star on the most heartwarming episode of The Twilight Zone, and role in directing the creepy live action Grinch movie have not already made Oberlin students transcend their earthly forms, a commencement speech surely wouldn’t hurt.
And, as a bonus, his 2020 film adaptation of Hillbilly Elegy was a huge inspiration on noted Oberlin alumnus, and fellow filmmaker named Howard, Howard Bongiovi. Without Ron Howard, Mr. Bongiovi says he “wouldn’t have realized” it was even possible to make a movie about “all the totally weird shit all the poor people are doing in Ohio.” So thanks for that, Ron!