Tuesday, September 6, 2011

“Raymond Burr’s Legs”…Get It?

Sometimes being around students who are so much younger than I am makes me feel young…and sometimes it just makes me feel like an old fart.

I’ve been a college professor for about eleven years now, and most of my students are between 19 and 22 years old. The odd thing about teaching students who never seem to age is that it makes me feel that I’m not aging either…at least it has until recently.

For example, trying to think of pop culture references that we can all relate to in order to illustrate certain concepts or techniques gets harder and harder every year. The only references I can safely use now that I can count on to be familiar to almost everyone are The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars. But the only reason they work is because they’re classics and almost everyone has seen them. Trying to find a more recent reference has proven fruitless.

The last straw was earlier this week when we were discussing Stephen King’s wonderfully inspirational memoir, On Writing. Early on, he refers to a band he played in called Raymond Burr’s Legs.

Now, depending on how old you are, that band name will either (a) provoke an immediate lol moment (that’s “laugh out loud” for those of you old enough to get the band reference but maybe not young enough to get the texting reference) or (b) leave you hearing crickets chirp. This semester my entire class fell into the latter category. Not a single student got King’s humorous reference to the actor who played the wheelchair-bound lawyer on the TV show Ironside.

I shouldn’t be surprised. Ironside aired from the late ’60s to the mid-’70s—decades before most of my students were born. But this leaves me wondering what’s next? When is the other shoe going to fall? For that matter, how many of my students would understand that shoe cliché if I presented it to them?

I guess one benefit of acknowledging this distinction between my students’ age and mine is that I can stop trying to figure out what symbol I should get tattooed onto my shoulder. Instead I guess I’ll just sit at home and wait for my first issue of AARP magazine to arrive.

Is there a particular incident in your life that made you suddenly feel your age? Share it here...


  1. Another insightful post! It never occurred to me how Peter Pan-like a teacher must feel watching new sets of "Wendys" and "Johns" come and go each year. Reading this post made me realize how much older I am than you. When I think of Raymond Burr I think of "Perry Mason" and "Rear Window", both from the 50's!

  2. Leslie, I love your Peter Pan reference! Yes, that's it exactly. Wish I had thought of it while I was writing this post ;-)

  3. Just wanted to say thanks for you're wonderful comment on my website. It's always encouraging when you realize that someone is actually reading your words.

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