My Rejected Ivy Oration

I’m here today because I know that we are all a little anxious about graduating and I thought that I might help demystify the future—the great unknown.
By Nicole J. Levin

Good afternoon, fellow students, fellow parents [gesture to stomach and wink], professors, and fellow Former Massachusets Governor Deval L. Patrick ’78. There are some important people here in the audience that I would like to point out. One of them is my mother, and one of them is Abe Liu pretending to be my mother. Abe, this speech is for you [wink to imply that I’ll be waiting in Widener after my speech].

I’m here today because I know that we are all a little anxious about graduating and I thought that I might help demystify the future—the great unknown. I have here my very own pack of Tarot cards. You’re welcome, Folk and Myth concentrator! I didn’t want your education to seem totally useless.

I will now perform a reading for the Class of 2015. But first, we must summon the spirits. [Pull out flask and turn to Class Day Speaker—can it be Tina Fey, please?] I’ve been rude, Tina, would you like a sip from my flask? No? Well, then. Here is our card of the day, our future [pull card]: The King of Death. Oh. This one must be for Yale. I’m kidding; it’s for all of us. But let’s try another. Hmmm…. Okay, let’s see: The Devil, The Hanged Man, Judgment, Instruction Booklet, Cabot House. Oh. Wait. This one looks good. The Knight of Pentacles. Let’s go with this one. What does this mean? Let’s consult the spirits [struggle to open flask, take a gulp. It’s juice!].

According to the spirits [and]: The Knight of Pentacles sits upon a plough horse in the midst of a field, engaged in the often toilsome, routine efforts required to realize the dreams of his heart. He carries a single gold coin. Okay, so the future’s not too bad. We all have a single gold coin. Ladies, we only have 78 percent of one. And we’ve also got a horse. Again, ladies, only 78 percent of one. It’s not going to win the Kentucky Derby, but hey, I bet it can “Lean In.” [Alt: But hey, that’s a lot of meat!]

Plus, we’re all employed! We’re all farmers! So I was right, Gail, from Office of Career Services, you can get a job without even applying. But you were also right, Gail, from Office of Career Services, my resume had numerous, glaring typos. That was a good catch. [Alt: Scream hysterically for 20 seconds.]

[Looking at empty wrist, pretending to have a watch.] Okay, time’s up. That will be roughly $240,000 for the group reading. No. I don’t take Board Plus. I don’t care how many Odwalla bars you’re going to have to buy. Okay. Fine. Since I’m feeling generous, why don’t you guys all just “owe me”? Just off the top of my head, here are some requests:

I would like someone to fix the broken elevator in the Ridgely swing space, preferably before I move out. I would like one of you to cure cancer. And I would like one of you to reintroduce Polio via a highly effective anti-immunization campaign, and then I’d like for two of you to cure it again, falling in love as you work together to fight America’s most crippling disease for the second time. Now, I want a fourth person to convert his or her story into a dramatized five-part period show that will run on HBO. I will star.

I could go on. And I will. One of you needs to perfect time travel so that I can relive Freshman Formal. I’ll need a second person to come with me so that I’ll have a date. Preferably one of the 15Hottest, but I’ll take anyone in the top 35. A couple of you should start lying to the Bureau of Labor Statistics so that unemployment doesn’t seem so bad. As for the environment, don’t worry about it. Class of 2016, this is all on you, suckers!

I know it’s a lot to ask. But there are about 1,600 of you. So if you all just divvy up the work and take one problem each, it should be totally manageable. It will be just like Ec 10 again. I will seduce my TF, and he will report me to my Freshman Dean. For the record, Ben, TF-student relationships are totally fine; the administration just “frowns upon them.” Also, if your “fiancé” really did love you, she should have been cool with it. But I digress, these favors are important; not just for me, but for all of us. They will make the world a better place. You can trust me—I know. I go to Harvard.

You see, it’s just like the reading said. We are all farmers. We are all slowly plowing the land of the great unknown, planting the genetically modified seeds for our future children, polluting the Gulf of Mexico with our pesticide overuse.

[Switch to a British accent to sound smarter.]

And the world might be full of cards we don’t quite understand: Death, The Devil, B+. But we have our gold coin, and we have most of our dead horse, so eventually, we’re going to toil, we’re going to work hard, and we’re going to fix my elevator.

Or at least, you guys are. Because, as a leader, I delegate.

So thank you, Class of 2015, in advance. You have to do all these things now, because I already thanked you, and I’m not taking it back [cry to elicit sympathy from the captive audience].

But before I go, as a token of my gratitude, I would like to leave you all with a little gift—some words from the people who have had the greatest influence on my time here at Harvard: Das Racist, the three-man musical group who performed at Yardfest our freshman year and which has since broken up.

“I’m at the Pizza Hut. (What?) / I’m at the Taco Bell. (What?) / I’m at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.” That’s from their 2009 hit song, “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.”

I don’t know how this is at all relevant to our lives or graduation, but I like it, and I’m pretty sure that section kid can come up with something.

Thanks again, Class of 2015. Congrats! I hope that lots of distant relatives send you very generous checks. You all deserve it. Especially me. I worked hard on this speech. [Flip off Senior Class Committee and angrily knock down podium.]

Nicole J. Levin is a Government concentrator in Dunster House. She’s seeking employment and can start anytime.

Year in Review