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29

May

Commencement address to the 8th graders of America

Congratulations on surviving middle school. I am sure it was horrible. As you continue your journey through the public school system, I would like to share with you one piece of advice: spend all of the money you are earning. Spend it recklessly and without shame.

Cynics will tell you that you should work hard and save for college. Well, maybe a cynic wouldn’t say that, but I wanted to channel Barack Obama so you all would find me wise and heed my message. More than that, I want to tell you the truth: you can’t. You can’t save for college. Well, maybe you can, but not in such a way that the misery to outcome ratio equals a rational decision. Assuming your priority is emancipation by way of car over saving for college, you’ll only have two years to play the part of “responsible teen saving for college” and you should play that part (your parent’s friends will find it adorable). In secret, you should start pissing it away on any cheap thrill you come across, for no other reason than that you can. If you find yourself, by nature, the squirrel type who likes to stock the acorns, spend it on an experience. Travel. Be the pompous fuck with a Parisian train station story for the first meal in the res hall. The point is, spend all the money. Spend it selfishly.  Spend it before the phrases like six-month emergency fund or health savings account creep into your consciousness and start fucking up your life.  Spend it before you have to start buying shit you don’t want to buy, like your first dustpan or an economy sized crate of toilet paper (assuming you don’t plan on abusing the building access from your student job and the fact that the janitorial staff, so blithely expecting more from humanity, leave stacks of it sitting in the bathroom).

Some of you ask why. I’ll tell you. The FAFSA was designed to have you put any expendable funds available towards your education. Realistically, you’ll cover your dorm expenses. I’ll admit that’s not nothing, but when your still-technically-a-stranger-slut of a roommate is having sex on your bunk bed you will be forced to recount the cost/benefit of your toils in context. No matter how many fish fry platters you scrape while your friends are getting hopped up on Mountain Dew and touching each other, all of it will be gone before you finish your first year. No matter how many Friday nights you spend letting other people’s kids throw up on you or Saturday mornings fashioning compressed lard into something called a “relish tray,” you will be peddling your own plasma for Ron Diaz by your third semester. Kids, that is a fact (save the brave few of you not reporting your tip money to the IRS, you should save that for toilet paper).

Make no mistake, you should exercise some responsibility. Don’t develop any spendy addictions to prescription pills or Swiss, vegan-certified beauty products that you can’t maintain once you’re in college.  You don’t need that. What you do need, and will highly value someday, is the vague recollection of a time where you didn’t have to shame-sign debit card slips for anything besides tampons and noodles.

Good luck and God bless.