59: Graduation

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Opening dialogue by Scott
Title text: Opening dialogue by Scott


Megan and a young Blondie (in her first apperance) discuss their plans after college. The blonde doesn't know what she wants to do with her life, so she is going to go to grad school. Graduate school is the next level of education after undergraduate work, where students pursue a master's or doctoral degree.

Megan, on the other hand, has decided to become a lighthouse operator, a path that has become increasingly less traveled. Fewer people need lighthouses. Before GPS technology, lighthouses were invaluable markers of where the sea ended and where land began. Megan likes the idea of being the maid in the highest tower. Except where most fairy tales portray the maid in the tower as helpless, waiting to be rescued, operating a lighthouse is far from helpless. It can be one of the most needed jobs for seafarers to find their way safely back home.

Other comics with a similar theme about finding or taking unexplored paths, instead of fitting into the mold, include 137: Dreams and 267: Choices: Part 4.

Scott appears to be a friend of Randall Munroe. Comics 57 through 59 all have the title text Opening dialogue by Scott, forming a sort of informal mini-series inspired by him. They are:

As there already was a comic released on Monday that week, the first of these three was released already on Tuesday, then Wednesday and Friday. This may be related to the fact that this was the first week where the comics were not also released on LiveJournal.


[Megan and Blondie are talking.]
Blondie: What do you want to do when you graduate?
Megan: I want to become a lighthouse operator.
Blondie: Oh?
Megan: Yeah.
[Cut to scene of lighthouse with text overlaid.]
Megan: Lighthouses are built on interesting pieces of coast, so I'll have an interesting place to walk and swim, and great views of all kinds of weather. I'd feel good about myself and my work every single day.
[Cut back to the two girls.]
Megan: I'd get to be the girl in the tower, only I'd be the one rescuing people.
Megan: Why, what do you want to do?
Blondie: I'm going to grad school. I don't really know why.
Megan: Wanna come hang in my lighthouse over breaks?
Blondie: ...yeah.

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This is very likely not Miss Lenhart. Her hair is the same, but the official transcript simply calls her "blonde", she's clearly a somewhat aimless student and not a teacher, and the strip does not fit the pattern stated as a certainty on her character page, where she is specifically named in every appearance. Also, this is a very early comic where Randall likely didn't have future characters in mind yet. So, I'm removing her name from the transcript. - jerodast (talk) 14:38, 21 December 2012 (UTC)

Randall talks about Miss Lenhart only a few months later, in 135: Substitute. It's impossible for us to know whether he had her in mind or not at this time, but the character ambiguity is standard for xkcd (not less so in the early ones). Since she is at least relevant in any investigation of Miss Lenhart, I'll include her in the categories, and it'll be open for everyone to make up their own minds! –St.nerol (talk) 20:37, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Even teachers were once aimless students. Perhaps this conversation inspired Lenhart to be a teacher 18:23, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Well there is not reason to believe all blonde girls are Miss Lenhart, or a youngMrs. Roberts or her daughter Elaine Roberts. Hence a new character Blondie has been created after a discussion. And this woman is then of course her. --Kynde (talk) 05:26, 10 September 2016 (UTC)

Maybe I'mover-reading; but there is a bit of an implication that the asking girl is barely hiding her sense of superiority over the chosen profession of answering one. After all, lighthouse operations would seem an unambitious choice for a college graduate, and a profession not long for the modern world. However, surprisingly, responding girl provides a well-reasoned articulated explanation; all the more accentuated when contrasted with the aimlessness of the asking girl. Whatever superiority the asking girl may have felt at the start was clearly demolished by the end when she accepts a generic invitation to hang out at the lighthouse. Mountain Hikes (talk) 04:26, 31 August 2015 (UTC)