Wednesday, June 21, 2023


A friend asks what we remember from our high school graduations. And he speculates that it includes pompous music, academic gowns, and proud relatives. Which, of course, is entirely wrong. One person I know remembers, acutely and in very great detail, that he was stoned out of his gourd the entire time. Here it is, decades later, and every detail is etched in his memory. And it lasted for hours!

No, he didn't grow up on Holland, where weed is a thing.

However, I did grow up over there -- we moved to Europe when I was a tyke -- and quite remarkably I do not remember drugs being used at our high school at all. Tobacco was, not surprisingly, a thing. Both Eindhoven and Valkenswaard had a rich history in cigars, which were manufactured there in great number and kept our sailors and captains of industry despoiling the colonial world richly wreathed in comforting smoke.

Several of us graduated three months later than everyone else, due to reasons. No, we hadn't knocked over the local friet-kot; medical, or family tragedies. Reasons.
Imagine a table, with gentlemen between teenage years and nearly a century of age sitting around it, smoking cigars and drinking coffee. It was very dignified. Lasted about an hour and a half. No music -- although one of us did sing a couple of verses from Gaudeamus Igitur, because of tradition -- and the clinking of coffee cups.

In conversation one chap did bring up sports, but he got shouted down by the adults. We were all adults. Some of us freshly minted. But the gravitas of adult conversation does not encourage silly boys games, and we were conscious of that.

When the cigars and coffee were done, we took our diplomas, shook the hands of the headmaster and other teachers present, and left.

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