Zonk gradJune is graduation season. Lots of speeches are given to mark the passage from one stage of our lives to the next with an emphasis on the future and the many possibilities for the graduates.  My wife and I both earned some new notches on our education belts this year so we got to listen to some of these speeches, but honestly I can’t remember a word anyone said.  Soon enough though, I’ll be part of another graduation ceremony, but without cap and gown or pomp and circumstance. And I guarantee I’ll remember it.

This year we all graduate from Zonkaraz, a course of study I proudly say none of us completed in four years. The tuition was cheap when it started, about $5 a class, payable at the door. The vast majority of us majored in music; some of us focused on ballads – Different Song, Fill Me Up, and Blues in Mind – others on rock ‘n roll – California, Drivin’, Willy Mountain. This band has so many songs and so many styles to memorize, but we did. Just say hey, hey, the month of May and we all know it sleeps inside our bones (or was that the monkey man…?) Well, your hair’s still long and you know what your smokin’, right?  Watching an audience that can mouth every lyric of a band that plays all original music is a tribute to the relentless hours of study we all put in.

Most of the music majors minored in dance. The Zonkaraz dance was rarely a flamboyant thing. Usually small steps side to side with knees bent and just enough shoulder sway to keep the arms swinging, but just as every Red Sox fan knows when to pump a fist in the air during Sweet Caroline, every student of Zonkaraz knows to do the same for Jack Frost. The small step of the Zonkaraz dance may have its history and roots back to the Blue Plate, a venue looking high over Holden, with a floor that moved so much that perhaps the smaller step was spontaneously generated as an act of safety.

A Zonkaraz education wasn’t limited to just music and dance. The unintended goal was to educate the whole person. The band and crew joined the audience as they took on some very challenging courses in Mergers and Acquisitions involving the student body. Zonkaraz was the best wedding band that hardly ever played weddings. Paul and Linda, Walter and Valerie, Tom and Sue, Matt and Judy, Bobby and Debi and me and Pam all met and married while being schooled and, even though there were many other relationships that did not work out, that also was part of the education.

This June 22nd Zonkaraz will offer its final post-graduate course in essential American, outdoors boogie and blues at Indian Ranch in Webster, MA. The prerequisites for this course are few – positive energy, willingness to give and receive big hugs and active dancing shoes (don’t forget the orthotics!).  During this course you will learn just how much fun you have had with your fellow classmates, the reduced flexibility that comes with age and the discovery your memory is better than you think. At the end of class you will know that you have completed a course in life through the hallowed halls and somewhere over the rainbow of Zonkaraz University – my alma mater.



3 Responses to “Graduation”

  1. Janice Harvey Says:

    I suspect I earned a Phd in determination having hoofed “thumbed “or taxied my way to the Last Chance Saloon weekly, rain or shine, to hear my favorite band. I plan to pomp and circumstance my arse off on the 22nd. SEE YOU THERE, CLASSMATES!

  2. susie Says:

    well,that made me cry! i do not do well with endings,little brother.
    very well put,as i’ve come to expect. i love your thoughts and insights put into the written word.

  3. m2smith Says:

    Hey Big Sis – it’s your fault – you told me to talk to your friend Paul if I needed a job…

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