or JD*, which is big fancy Latin for a law degree and my sister evidently just got one which is why I found myself outside the Marriott Center this afternoon, standing in a long line. BYU breaks their graduation over two days. Day one is the pep rally, aka commencement. Day two is the shout-outs, aka convocation. Today was the pep rally and BYU invited Dick Cheney, or he invited himself. In any case, I had a ticket and he was supposed to speak.
And because he was coming the not-so-Secret Service also came. They were milling about looking like standard cops except for the big patch on their arms which said “Secret Service.” Also, they brought airport-style metal detectors with them and it was because of that, that I was standing in the long, long line. A line that did not move fast at all.
That wasn’t a big deal, though, because it was nice and sunshiny outside and there were a lot of people to entertain me. I’m easily entertained, or so I’m told. Forty-five minutes and a double scoop of orange sherbet later, I made it to the front of the line. There at the checkpoint the very,very Secret Service man told me to turn on my digital camera. He then looked at the viewfinder while waving his hand in front of the lens. Satisfied, he waved me through the checkpoint. I guess when you make camera bombs, you break the viewfinder on the camera.
We arrived three hours before the scheduled start. That advance arrival scored us seats in the furthest nosebleed section, one row from the wall. (Fast fact: though we were in the nosebleed section, none of us actually contracted nosebleeds.) Normally, I might be miffed at our suboptimal seating, but the event planners had included a stylish, translucent gift bag under each seat. Inside was a bottle of water, a homemade brownie, a bag of pretzels and a card of BYU trivia.
You might have guessed that that got me thinking. How do you make and deliver 22,700 brownies? The logistics are tricky. Do you make the brownies yourself? If so, how many mixes and ovens and cooks do you need? Do you call ten bakeries and have then do the baking? Who wraps them in cellophane? Who puts them in the bags? Do you assemble the bags in a big warehouse and then truck them to the Marriott Center for delivery? How many trucks would you need? Do you assemble on site? How many people do you need for assembly and distribution? It was all very interesting.
Five minutes later, having finished thinking about the brownie bags, I got up and walked around the inside of the Marriott. People were still flooding in, not yet cognizant of the baked treats awaiting them. I walk down nearly to the floor of the Center and yelled at my sister, who was busily not answering my cellphone calls. She looks over. I snap a picture. She looks annoyed.
I return to my stratospheric seat where I am once again impressed by the event planners. This time they’ve organized a variety of entertainers for us restless seat-sitters. (Speaking of Latin, those Romans were on to something with their panem et circenses.) Vocal Point. The Young Ambassadors. Some dancing group. I would have found it all rather amusing were it not for the giant man in the next row down who insisted on standing up, right in front of me, obscuring my view completely with his hulkish frame. Fuming, I passive-aggressively brainstormed clever things I could lean forward and hiss at him. “Hey buddy, you make a better door than a window.” “Hey you! Down in front!” “Move, or I’ll rip your arm off.” As it was, I said nothing, largely because the man might take offense at my comments and then try to hurt me (ordinarily that wouldn’t be a problem, but remember, I’m temporarily physically weaker from my recent bout of Top Stop food poisoning.)
The gods must have heard my prayers, because, as if on cue, Mr. Big and Tall decided to find another seat just as the ceremony began. We all stood. The deans filed in. Surprise! President Hinckley showed up! Then Mr. Cheney and his entourage of even-more Secret Service arrived.
Guess what? Cheney got an honorary degree complete with a nifty turquoise hood. Then he spoke and made us all laugh and like him. Did I record Cheney’s speech and transcribe it for you? Yes.
I understand that a few not-so-bright BYU democrats in the graduating class boycotted the commencement in favor of their own anti-commencement featuring the eminent Ralph Nader. Some choice immortal words for those geniuses, “[you] chose… poorly.”
* also, Doctor of Jurisprudence