Commencing To Give A Little Talk

by Calendar Hacksaw

As Prepared For Delivery, June 7, 1999
To The Graduating Class of
Piute Mountain School
Merle Haggard Civic Amphitheater
Twin Oaks, California

"President Hopkins, Trustees Varga, Hackel, Zanutto and Moody, Superintendent and Principal Shive, Members of the Faculty, Graduates and their Families, Alumni, Honored Guests, Al:

As I pulled off the Creek road and into the school driveway this afternoon, I noticed a feral house cat dragging a dead ground squirrel off the asphalt, and it seemed to symbolize why we've gathered here today. Like that cat, our young people are "hungry" for education and sometimes don't know where their next meal will come from. And like that ground squirrel, they're "dead meat" and "roadkill" if they stand in the way of a feral house cat. That's where the analogy ends. Take it or leave it.

I have to be honest; I wrote most of this speech on the back of an old Fence Post down at TOGS about 20 minutes ago, because I thought you deserved something better than a commencement address that was thrown together at the last minute.

You are each bound for new campuses now-Kern Valley or that other holding cell. Whether you made the right choice or not will become readily apparent the first time you set foot in a high school restroom. For most of you, it will be the last time you ever set foot inside such a demented and intimidating environment. You will instead learn to just "hold it" for up to 10 hours at a stretch, much in the same way Mrs. Moody contains her anger after reading Wayne's columns about his or some pig's testicles.

But today is a fine day for a grand celebration. You have achieved the unachievable, graduating as you are in a class of only a dozen or so, plus or minus four or five. Whether you attended Piute Mountain ever since kindergarten, or transferred here only last month following your release from the County Juvenile Work Farm, you will have this experience to look back upon with fond memories. You will take with you the lessons you have learned in Walker Basin, and they are lessons which could easily solve all the world's problems. There could be no "ethnic cleansing" in Walker Basin; there would be no one left! There could be no "teacher shortage," because all of you are teachers in your own way. There can be no "generation gap" when everyone's a cowboy regardless of age, sex or race, including the nerds, geeks, preppies, jocks, and aggies. We're all in this together, thank goodness.

So instead I hope some of you will go on to solve bigger problems; those that affect all of us here. We could sure use a cure or vaccine for Valley Fever. And how about Bubonic Plague? If we could rid ourselves of that pesky problem, ground squirrels would become popular as pets. And last-but not least-how about taking care of the dreaded Hantavirus? Would that be too much to ask of graduates such as yourselves, or do you have something more important in mind?

This wouldn't be much of a commencement speech if I didn't take the time to give you some sound advice, so I won't let you down. So here are three snippets of direction from ol' Calendar.

First, get a driver's license as soon as possible. Notice I didn't say "learn to drive;" I assume you already know how to do that. Knowing your parents and their careless ways, you probably crawled up on a John Deere or a dozer as soon as you learned to crawl, then downgraded to a dirt bike or go-cart soon after that. So, take Driver's Ed right away, and grab that learner's permit the first day you're eligible. Your parents are tired of dragging yer sorry butts all over the countryside. Besides, if we ever fight another war over oil, and you get drafted, and we win, you might be able to go all the way to Bakersfield on two-bits worth of unleaded, and that's what America is all about.

Second, always forge your own absence excuses. It's important that the Attendance Office get to know your handwriting instead of your parents'. Besides, mom and dad are busy and don't have the time to attend to every little task just because you have a stomach ache or unexplained puncture wound. It might improve your penmanship, too, which your teachers tell me is terrible.

Finally, get yourself a good set of plans for a small shed and start building it somewhere out in the south forty. You'll learn construction techniques, budgeting, and a whole lot of other life skills that most kids can't comprehend. By building a shed, you'll know what to look for when you eventually buy a house, and you'll also become a more interesting person to talk to. Believe me, there's a reason why no one wants to hang out with you except kids your own age or younger. And having your own shed will give you a place to do all that stuff you're not allowed to do in the house.

In closing, I would like to ask the following people to please stand up: Board President Hopkins, Trustees Varga, Hackel, Zanutto and Moody. (Pause while they rise) Ladies and gentlemen of the graduating class of 1999, your education at Piute Mountain School was entrusted to these five individuals by your parents and their friends, for better or for worse. In another four years, it will become your civic responsibility to vote for school board trustees. When that day comes, I want you to remember this day. I want you to think about what these people did for you, or to you. I want you to think long and hard about why they would give up so much of their "free time" to attend to your needs. Were their actions motivated by greed or selfish wishes? Did they suffer any lapses in judgement or ethics?

And when that big day comes, I want you to ask yourself why you're voting for school board candidates instead of being one yourself.

Because when it comes to high school restrooms, you deserve better.

Alright, you trustees can sit down now; the kids are tired of looking at your sour pusses.

See you at Team Penning, and don't forget the sunscreen. Thanks for having me; it's nice being had."

Calendar Hacksaw's e-mail addresses are and and he'd love to hear from you. In case you're new to Walker Basin and would like to read his past works, point your browser at They're all there; every last stinkin' one of them.

Last Month "Thunderhead" Next Month