March 5 … Accept with the Left

Accept with the Left

Here’s Grendel from the 1966 Obediah Brown yearbook (to see individual images click on slider in middle and move left or right:

Greg: And we were rock stars, at least on our own little stage of garage bands in Rhode Island. We were getting gigs playing fraternity parties at Brown. Plus we already had some bookings for over the summer, a couple of weddings and a regular gig at a little club in Pawtucket.

Del: We planned our work and worked our plan, hit the beach all day, get the perfect tan.

Then nighttime comes, get the guitars out, make a lot of noise, make ’em twist and shout

Greg: All that was left was graduation day. The day before we were rehearsed by the football coach, Umberto “Bertie” Zimino. Tough guy. Kindof talked like a gangstuh, but he did tell us something we never forgot.

“Youse guys gotta remembuh one ting tomorruh. When your name is called, walk toda stage and accept your diploma wid your LEFT HAND and shake wid da RIGHT. Sum dumfuk always messes it up, you’re dat dumfuk, they’ll tink Zimino didn’t do his job and I will track you down and I will make you pay.”

Scared the shit out of us, but we didn’t forget to accept with the left and shake with the right.

Del: That advice has stood me in good stead for all those trips to the podium I’ve made.

Greg: Del and I thought Zimino’s passion was so absurd that the night before graduation we wrote a song about it.

I still live in fear of Zimino showing up at the front door one day, screaming “I told ya to accept widah left!!”

Two Paths

Greg: BUT our plan developed a little glitch about ten minutes after we accepted with the left…

photo of person holding graduation cap and diploma
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on

Del: After the ceremony, everyone was milling around, shaking hands, and inevitably, there’s that moment when you open up your diploma to admire your name in fancy calligraphy … but mine was blank, with a little note telling me to see the principal, the beloved Mr Stinchfield. I track down Stinchie and learn that it’s school policy not to award diplomas or release transcripts unless a student’s account is completely up-to-date. I was a scholarship student, so tuition was not an issue, but that my mother, good ol’ Mom, had not paid my bursar’s bill, for books, cafeteria, sports equipment, and incidentals for more that two years! Moreover, she’s been aware of the situation for over a year and has done nothing about it.

Greg: You looked like you had seen a ghost when you came back from that meeting.

Del: Money was always tight at our house, but we just lived with it. I hadn’t now how bad the situation was until now. I was hoping the earth would just swallow me whole. Trudd-dd-yy!! No wonder she didn’t come to the graduation.

Greg: Del just drifted off. I tried to get him to stay for the reception, but he was inconsolable. I told my Dad about the situation. He liked Del and understood the situation with his Mom, The Tart. He assured me that something could be worked out. Later, I saw him talking to Mr. Stinchfield. It took a few weeks, but Del eventually got his diploma in the mail.

Del: Looking back with a half century of hindsight. That’s when I first had a hint that our two roads were diverging, although not in a snowy wood, but on a perfect spring day in Providence, RI. Greg’s path through life would be different from mine. We might be best friends. We might be in a band together. We might be making music, but we were on different paths. He always had a safety net, always would. I would spend my life skating on thin ice.

Well, here the story of my state; it looked like I won’t graduate.

Mr. Brewster had my back, but it’s a loan that I’ll pay back

Don’t know how I’ll get the dough but I sure don’t like this taste of crow.

It seems it all comes down to bucks, I guess it’s fair, but I think it sucks.

Copyright ©2022 Stephen Morris & Greg Morrison

5 thoughts on “March 5 … Accept with the Left

  1. This song was written about 50 years after the actual event which is still etched in the puckered folds of my aging neo-cortex. I re-wrote these lyrics as a poem and submitted the finished piece for the annual Poem Town competition recently, and was turned down! Guess I won’t be accepting with the left this year.

  2. I’m learning more about members of my high school class now 57 years after graduation than I ever knew when I saw them every day in school! Keep on rocking with songs, stories, thoughtful commentary and all the rest. Love to start my day with your posts, some of which I play over and over depending on the music

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