I just got back from a family trip to Walt Disney World. Truly the great American pilgrimage. And if there's a better way to feel like a kid again, I don't know what that is.
They call the park the "Magic Kingdom," and it really is-- if only because of its ability to yank back to the surface all of that childhood innocence laying dormant in the depths your jaded adult soul. I mean, when you're there, you actually fall into believing that Chip and Dale are legitimate celebrities, not some guys in fuzzy suits. Talk about magic.
Unfortunately, that time-transcending magic ran out at about 1:17 on the Tuesday I came back to school. Not because I was back at work, but because of a tragicomic exchange I had with a group of students.
Here's the deal: I was talking to a student right after class. Now, this student is definitely Big Man on Campus: the star quarterback, varsity lacrosse player, brilliant student. Amazingly, he's also just about the humblest guy you'll ever meet.
So, he and I talking in the doorway, and I notice that two female students are waiting in the hallway. When I asked my student if these two girls were waiting for him, he confirmed that they were. So I say, as a joke, "What are you, the Fonz or something?"
"You've heard of the Fonz, right?" I ask all three of them.
"I think so," one girl hazards. "He was on that 70's show, right?"
"Well, yeah," I say, thankful that this pop culture icon is not lost on the youth. "It was on during the 70's..."
"No," the girl corrects me. "I mean the show called 'That 70's Show.' Wasn't there a character called Fonz?"
"No, that's Fez!" I'm crushed at this point. "The Fonz was on 'Happy Days.' It was like, the number one show for years. Please tell me you've heard of it!"
"Well, when was it on, again?" the other girl asks me.
"Late 70's, early 80's," I answer. And this is where the magic officially stops.
"Are you kidding me?" both girls answer. "We were born in 1991!"
That's the rub with teaching high school kids, I guess: you're getting older, but the kids keep getting younger.