|A Robe Looks At 40
April 30, 2022
To Whom It May Concern:
I, doctoral robe for David Fleming, reached a milestone today.
Based upon my shaky calculation, my owner donned me for the 40th time this weekend for a Commencement ceremony. Before you proclaim, since many of you know the good doctor turned 60 this week, that he must have been a child prodigy to earn it by 20 (as if!), let me also tell you that he used me also for the 39th time today. For the second straight year, SMC resorted to two ceremonies, breaking up a former bigger one Commencement by schools to allow for more guests.
Breaking it down, I might be able to clarify:
Three times I have been worn twice on the same day: 2021 and 2022 for SMC in this new model; 2010 at Dr. F's Alma Mater, West Virginia University, one for his former graduate school (as he was the speaker) and the same day, one for his nephew's undergraduate ceremony.
Interestingly, I was ready to be worn in 2010 when he left Davenport two days before the ceremony. So that could have made today 40 and 41. Both the doctor and I fretted we would not get me back as I was already on site for the ceremony.
Similarly, I was ready to be worn in 2015 when his parents died days before the ceremony. (Yes, late April is a weird time emotionally in this family).
He wore me for about 4 minutes in 2020 when SMC went virtual and our speaking sections were recorded.
He didn't even wear me for for his own doctoral ceremony at Indiana University. I certainly didn't want to ride in his car for 6 hours to be strutted out. (Have you ever heard the music this guy listens to? 6 hours?)
Some years when he was at Davenport University, I came out 5 times a year, as there were regional Commencements to cover almost 30 bustling campuses.
For at least one year, Davenport had 3 ceremonies that required our presence. Eventually, they held just 1 ceremony. By this point, it's a blur for all of us involved to remember the specifics of the contraction.
At one of the 40 ceremonies, we learned after the fact that someone on the stage had worn a bullet-proof vest under the robe because of death threats. Doc joked that he wished he'd known ahead of time so that he could get a bullet vest. As if that would have saved me!
I have participated in ceremonies so short, because of small number of graduates, that Doc's reference to drive-by ceremonies seems a tad crass. Maybe he was the one that had the death threats.
We have been worn in high school gymnasiums, hockey arenas, theaters, and outdoors. Ah, to breathe when outdoors. 2 times out 40 I have enjoyed a breeze.
Commencement speeches in my experience total more than 40, since some ceremonies have had more than one. The best ones have been from students. Even one of today's caused tears to trickle onto my hood, and idiot Fleming lost his place in the script. Note to SMC staff: from now on, put someone else, anyone else, between the student speakers and the provost. For all those non-student speakers, can't remember anything you said, even the one that went for 23 minutes. Hey, the event is for the kids in the plainest gowns, not the gasbags in the pointed hats.
So, why I am writing you all? Sounds like I have had a pretty good life, all things considered?
I just endured my 40th ceremony and I still have never been dry-cleaned. Fleming tripped one year and ripped the bottom of the zipper, but he is too cheap and/or lazy (I go with the later) to get me fixed. I probably only have a few of these left. Someone spruce me up.
Sincerely, the robe.