Offen: My commencement address

May. 04, 2014 @ 11:21 AM

Dear soon-to-be college graduates,

Thank you for selecting me as your commencement speaker this year once you found out that you couldn’t get Miley Cyrus.
I know you have asked me here because you believed I could offer all of you some pertinent advice about life, since I have been living for some time.
I have, in fact, been around since there were land lines. And carbon paper. So, yes, I have learned some lessons from all these years — particularly from 1976 and 1993, not so much from 1981 — that I would like to impart:
• Never use the word impart. No one really knows if it’s a real word and if you say it more than three times in a row, very quickly, it sounds like absolute gibberish. Actually, even saying it one time in a row isn’t that good.
• Don’t text while eating nachos.
• Speak softly and carry a big stick. It’s particularly useful if you are batting cleanup and the bases are loaded.
• When you’re changing your passwords on your online accounts, write them down somewhere for God’s sake. If you don’t, like some people I could mention, you’ll never remember that your Amazon password was the first letters of all the words in the chorus of “With a Little Help From My Friends,” plus the !, the #, the * and the %. And a couple of capital letters thrown in there.
• To thine own self be true, even if you don’t know what thine means.
• Find your own path, but make sure it has parking nearby.
• Follow your dreams, although that doesn’t mean that in the decades to come you should be buying pants with a 29-inch waist just because you used to have a 29-inch waist.
• Seize the opportunity, but make sure to pay for it first before you leave the store.
• Of course, if you prefer and are just a little pompous, you can also carpe diem, as long as you have carefully wrapped the diems and remember where you put them.
• Never, ever refer to your followers on Twitter as “tweepl.”
• When living at home with your parents before finding a job and beginning your career, try not to make fun of them for always reading obituaries and asking you how to upload photos or what snapchat is.
• Never send a text to someone sitting right next to you.
• If you can’t find a job after graduation, don’t hesitate to take an unpaid internship. It’s a great idea unless you actually have to pay for something, like food.
• Remember that tattoos are forever and you may have to explain them to your own children.
• Never use the salutation “dude” to anyone old enough to remember land lines or carbon paper.
• Finally, always remember that actions speak louder than birds, unless you have a parrot.
Neil Offen can be reached at