A Splendid Occasion

We’re back in Gotham, and will be resuming normal operations shortly. We were away on a whirlwind trip to the Midwest for the happiest of reasons: the graduation, with honors, of our daughter Chloë from the University of Michigan.

We almost didn’t make it. We were scheduled to fly to Detroit on a 4:30 p.m. Spirit Air flight out of Laguardia Airport, but the flight was canceled at the last minute — apparently due to inclement weather, although as far as I could make out there was nothing worse on hand than a bit of drizzle.

This news, of course, threw my lovely wife Nina and me into a bit of a panic: not only was the commencement ceremony slated to kick off at ten o’clock Saturday morning, but we had also arranged to meet our son Nicholas at the airport in Detroit (he’s at school in Boston, and was flying in from there). We briefly considered hopping in the car and driving all night, but found that there was a six a.m. flight the next morning, and we managed to arrange seat for ourselves. Meanwhile, Chloë found a friend who was willing to make the forty-minute drive to the airport to pick up her brother.

We rose at 3:50 Saturday morning and headed back to Laguardia, and did, this time, actually get onto the aircraft, only to be told that the support crew had overfueled it — which meant that we had to sit on the tarmac for an agonizing half an hour while the excess was removed.

But finally, through sheer determination and a callous disregard of local speed limits, we did indeed make it to Ann Arbor’s Michigan Stadium — the famous Big House, where football teams come from all over to see their hopes dashed at the hands of the merciless Wolverines — in time for the ceremony.

The day had started off cold, damp, and grey, but just as the exercises began the clouds slid aside, and the warm spring sun began to shine. There were about 5,000 seniors down on the field, and there must have been about ten times that many of us in the stands. The commencement speech was to be given by former President Bill Clinton, and to honor the occasion a small plane circled the stadium, towing a banner that said “CHOOSE LIFE — NOT HILLARY AND ABORTION”.

The band played, there were inspiring talks by some remarkable students, comparatively dull speeches by various deans and regents, and, I must say, quite an uplifting spiel by Mr. Clinton, who provided the prospective graduates with an unvarnished assessment of the unprecedented difficulties and opportunities they would face in an increasingly interdependent global society, and exhorted them to embrace their responsibilities as citizens of the world. And then the moment came: the awarding (en masse, as to have done so individually would have taken several days) of the honors and privileges, etc., of graduation. Mortarboards flew skyward, a tearful stadiumful of spectators kvelled as one, and it was done.

The rest of the weekend passed in pleasant and convivial relaxation and enjoyment. There was ample feasting and drinking, plenty of strolling about the attractive campus and lying around in the warm sunshine, and the whole town was full of beaming graduates in black gowns and blue-and-maize tassels. It was delightful.

Our brilliant, beautiful daughter is now an alumna, with a bachelor-of-science degree in neuropsychology. Chloë, there was never a prouder father; even two days later I feel as if I might float right off my chair as I write. Congratulations! My heart is bursting with admiration for what you have become, and I love you more than words can ever tell.

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4 Comments

  1. Congrats to your daughter, and to you! It’s great you could be there.

    Posted May 1, 2007 at 7:06 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Thanks, Richardson, and thanks for stopping by.

    Yes, we barely made it, but I’m mighty glad we did.

    That’s a fascinating website you have over there, by the way, for those of us who are curious about what is arguably the world’s most insular nation. Keep up the good work!

    Posted May 1, 2007 at 11:11 pm | Permalink
  3. MikeZ says

    Well that is good news, indeed! Congratulations are in order for all involved!

    – M

    Posted May 2, 2007 at 8:15 am | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Thanks, Mike! As a native of Ann Arbor, I’m sure you recall what commencement weekend was like. We had a blast.

    Posted May 2, 2007 at 10:10 am | Permalink