Dear KU grads:
Well, here we are. It's been a crazy four - or five, or six - years, hasn't it? No matter how long it's taken, I congratulate you on getting through school much faster than Johnny Lechner.
You've probably heard about Johnny. He's the 29-year-old student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater who almost graduated this month after 12 years of undergraduate education - but decided at the last second to stay on so he could study abroad.
He reportedly has 100 more credits than needed to graduate - but college life is so much fun!
It's like the academic records of "Animal House" come to life ("Seven years of school down the drain.") Suddenly, all those 35-year-olds who used to play college students on "Beverly Hills 90210" seem a little more realistic. One hopes he hasn't been hitting on the freshman girls, who would've been around 7 years old when he started studying ... way back in the last century.
You can hardly blame him. In the last few years, the major media have inundated us with slogans like "30 is the new 21," and Time magazine last year had a cover story on twentysomethings moving back in with their parents while they try to "find themselves."
But it is, as other students on the Wisconsin-Whitewater campus have told the media, something of an embarrassment that Johnny's still hanging around.
Maybe this is the wrong time to bring this up to all you KU seniors. You are, after all, probably stressed out this week - there are finals to be taken, futures to get started, the departure from the Lawrence womb to deal with. You hear about Johnny Lechner, and you probably ask yourself: "How can I get a piece of that action?"
Actually, you can, and you can do it in a quite socially acceptable way. For one thing, there's graduate school. Yeah, a lot of people use it to "gain expertise" in their field of interest - suckers! - but a lot of other people go to grad school to put off that final entry into adult responsibilities. If you're lucky, your parents will pick up the tab.
The other option is simply to stick around. Look around downtown, and you'll figure out that an amazing number of people do this. Forget about that degree in history you've been sweating over; that restaurant job will pay the bills, if you have a roommate, and you'll be able to hang out at The Replay for a couple more years.
Understand that your grandparents, products of the Great Depression and the years afterward, will purse their lips and crease their brows as they consider your frivolity. But your grandparents were never much fun, anyway, with all their talk of responsibility.
Johnny Lechner understands that delaying adulthood is fun. But you can be smarter about it.
One thing though: It's still time to stay away from the freshmen girls.