I was there for the one in High School. They had it during the day, and put all the students into lines on the basketball courts outside the beat up old Assembly Hall. The courts were all broken wire fences and backboards without hoops and old, faded yellow lines painted to make the courts. At any rate, we're all standing there, and being told to tuck shirts in, straighten up, and all that shit. The principal, an old woman, passed my line, stopped in front of me, and said, "Where are your black shoes?"
"Um. I don't have any."
"They're part of the uniform," she said. "I won't allow you up on stage if you don't have the right shoes."
And that's pretty much how I ended up sitting outside the rundown assembly hall, watching people walk up on stage and get that High School certificate. You'll be unsurprised to learn that many people walked across in non-black shoes. Still, whatever, you know? Even then I had no time for that whole five second walk up stage, that whole look nice, that whole get a piece of paper kind of thing... I remember being given the option to go and ask some people in lower years for a pair of black shoes so I could go up on stage, which, hey, surprisingly, I didn't take, but not because it was ridiculous and faintly degrading to ask for shoes. I just didn't care enough about paper. They gave it to me after the ceremony afterward, anyhow.
Since then, I've just filled out the slip that gets degrees mailed to you. It's easier. I don't have to pay for that gown they make you wear, for example (does anyone not wear the gown?). I don't have to go and sit there and watch people get up on stage. I don't have to do the photos after. I don't have to do anything. And to be quite honest, I've let this attitude spread out to all kind of ceremonies, no matter their kind. I don't even like parades, to be honest. What can I say? But you know: I've been perfectly happy with this arrangement in my life.
Except now, apparently, I can no longer do this. My friends are most vocal. No more, no more, they say. You must go to this. It's pretty easy to ignore demands like that from my friends, but my grandparents, they are the same. No more, no more. They're closing in on ninety. It's easy to ignore them, as well. Likewise, it's easy to ignore my sister, who is in Florida, working on a resort, and obsessed with overweight Americans. But then there's my Mum, who says that she wants it, she wants to go and make me suffer, and make we walk up there, and all that complete and utterly ridiculous ceremonial shit... and she says it, just like that, I'll have you know. "Yes, Ben, I want you to go up there and suffer." And my Mum, she never asks for anything, never. She never makes demands at all.
So, yes, I am going to the Ceremony.