We went to a graduation night. A proud one. A lot of caps and gowns, plenty of cheers from the audience. The people walking across the state got a piece of paper saying “You finished this part of life.”
They all had earned a graduate degree. They all walked out with Masters, Specialists and Doctorates. Impressive. There were over two hundred there to graduate.
My wife said “That’s a lot of term papers!”
I know it takes a lot a lot of work to earn a graduate degree. Those kids had missed a lot of parties.
They stayed home studying.
The speaker said something about only 12 percent of the population holds a graduate degree. We were in the midst of a bunch of intellectuals.
Afterwards, I watched a thousand hugs and handshakes, plus ten million photos. Everyone was smiling.
Then we went to the Golden Corral Restaurant for dinner. It was already after eight o’clock. We were running late.
I sat there with my wife on one side of a table. The new graduate sat on the other side. Both were busy talking about the future. The graduate was excited and she should be. She had plenty of reasons to be proud.
I started watching the table across from us. My guess, they had never been to a Graduate Student graduation.
You could tell.
It was not their clothing, it was not the tattoos, although I did wonder what ever happened to “A-M-A-N-D-A.” Someone had put her name on his forearm, between his wrist and elbow, Old English Letters, two inches high. I hope he was eighteen.
It was not even the piercings, The family had a lot. The ten year old had one in his eyebrow, the one sporting AMANDA had one in his lip and another in his ear.
It was not even the high school aged redhead who handed over the six month old baby for grandma to feed.
It was the looks in their eyes.
We were at a Golden Corral, a giant buffet of fried food, cheap steaks and a hundred different desserts. A restaurant using cholesterol for invitations while giving heart attacks away as souvenirs
I just watched.
They gobbled the food like it was their first meal in weeks. They told each other this was “all you can eat, go get some more.”
They kept on eating.
“Fill your plate. Get some crab legs and chicken tenders, try another piece of steak. Get me a vegetable or two on the plate. When their plate was empty, they pushed it aside. They huffed and puffed back to the serving line, returning with more.
“Hurry before the buffet closes. It’s late you know.”
I wanted to say “It never closes.”
I was in my own little world, looking and thinking about where we were twenty minutes earlier and where were sat now.
I learned a long, long time ago, there is the pleasure of an education.
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