Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 71byrpsuch©
Jeff and I drove back to school Thursday evening so we could spend two nights together before everyone arrived for graduation.
I tried to apologize for my extended family, but he told me not to even think about it.
"In fact, after meeting all those relatives this week, I think it's remarkable you even turned out human. Being selfish is light years ahead of any of them. And you've turned that around completely. You're an inspiring symbol of hope for the continuation of the species."
I'd come around to the idea that I was essentially a good person and had a lot to contribute to a relationship. The idea that I inspired hope for the continuation of the species was flat out absurd. It was so absurd I couldn't come up with a response.
I was surprised at how exhausted I was when we got home. We hadn't been involved in any strenuous physical activity. I never realized how much energy could be spent worrying about what plots might be carried out.
Friday I spent some time getting together all the paraphernalia associated with graduating. Jeff was gone considerably longer. He said he had all kinds of arrangements to work out.
The doorbell rang as we were discussing plans for dinner.
What a delightless surprise. My family had come up for a big party. They had rented a room at the Brass Rail; so much for spending the night with Jeff. We wouldn't be back from dinner until late.
The food was wonderful. The meal seemed endless nonetheless.
The most memorable event was before we ordered. Jeff and I saw Arnault come into the room and we both started to giggle and held each other while we shook from laughter until we could gain control of ourselves. My family thrilled to the rewards of Arnault's French-accent education.
My father took us all to breakfast and I was beginning to think his plan was to spend so much time with us we wouldn't have any time to spend alone.
The Goldberg family arrived at noon and we all headed to the stadium, the only place large enough for the expected crowd. Jeff had to go back to our place to get something. We wouldn't be sitting together in any event.
The ceremony started at one with Dr. Lloyd welcoming all to the festivities. He carried on with some fluff before he caught my attention.
"Our tradition is to start with the successful doctoral candidates and I shall not stray from that practice. I would like to say a few words about our first cnadidate, and that is a departure.
"This young gentleman has compiled a remarkable and unique academic record at this university."
I got chills. Who else could this possibly be about?
"He completed his academic stay here in just two years. I don't mean to say it only took him two years to earn his doctorate. He arrived a little less than two years ago as a freshman in our undergraduate program.
"He has garnered every honor he attempted. He is already considered one of the leading minds in his field. It is my great pleasure to present to you Dr. William Jefferson Goldberg."
I could see it. I could feel it in the crowd. Most of them didn't know a thing about him. They were trying to decide if this was a joke.
Then Jeff walked to the podium and the place was silent. I'm sure it was the shock of seeing someone they didn't think was old enough to graduate high school, let alone to earn a doctorate, and not the hideous tie he must have gone back for.
Jeff didn't think it was hideous, but it had so many bright colors it couldn't possibly match anything. I'm sure Jeff thought it was delightful. He loved bright colors. He must have bought it when I wasn't looking.
I would never have let him get out of the house with that tie, but I realized it was so Jeff that I should just enjoy it with him.
He disappeared from the podium and soon the undergraduate degrees were being handed out by senior members of the faculty. This was an honor customarily reserved for department heads, professors known internationally for articles and books they published and distinguished emeritus professors. It was cheaper to honor them than pay them more.
Near the end of the names starting with E the dean of the business school was announced. I thought it was kind of neat to be handed my diploma by the dean of my major.
When Demetrius Filos was called I ascended to the top of the stairs. His family stood and cheered as he was handed his diploma.
I walked toward the center of the stage, smiling and waving at my cheering family. The dean had nothing in his hand. Had I not graduated for some reason? I felt a moment of panic.
Then I heard Dr. Lloyd's voice.
"This presentation will be made by the newest member of our faculty, Dr. Jeff Goldberg."
He moved aside and there was Jeff, this time wearing a proper tie. I was too shocked to move.
"It is my distinct pleasure to award this degree to my fiancé, Ashley Fine, who, despite never having shown much interest in academic pursuits, has graduated Cum Laude."
He turned to me. "Ashley, you are amazing."
As I took the diploma he put his arms around me and gave me a steaming hot kiss which I returned enthusiastically. Sometime later I felt Jeff releasing me and I remembered where we were.
The whole crowd was cheering. The dignitaries on stage looked like their salaries had just been doubled.
Jeff kept an arm around me and turned toward the microphone.
"I predict that one, or several of the videos I'm sure were taken while I was occupied will be among the most viewed on YouTube this year. I also predict applications to the university will surge for years to come."
From the tumult that arose you would have thought John Kennedy had just finished his inaugural address.
I had no doubt of the sincerity of Jeff's kiss. I also would not have doubted he planned this as the greatest promo in the history of marketing.