Friday, August 11, 2006


Thinking Old

I started teaching a graduate course at a private university one night a week eight years ago. Outside of marrying my wife, it was the best thing I ever did! First of all, I liked being called "Professor." It didn't make my any smarter, but somehow I felt more important. Who doesn't want to feel important?

Any way, the real benefit comes from relating to students and young people. I feel more in touch with the world than ever. You see, mentally I never grew past 21. Outside of acquiring more knowledge about a few things over the years, I still think I'm a young person. My students have problems that I can relate to and they can make me laugh. Sometimes I say things in class and they start laughing. At first, I thought they were laughing at me. Later, I learned that they (on occasion) think I'm funny. Good funny. That makes me feel "cool."

I teach two semesters a year and that means if a student takes both my courses, I get to know him or her pretty well over 32 weeks. Sometimes they ask me for personal should I name my baby Shaun or Sean? I picked the latter and so did she. It was a honor as well as a responsibility. What if the kid grows up and hates the way his name is spelled. The mother can always blame it on me.

But, the biggest reward came when three of my favorite students who had already graduated called me one day to ask if I would have a drink with them. It turned out to be more than one drink. That started "Wednesdays With Wally" and it is still going on after almost four years. Every Wednesday, one of "our three boys" comes to dinner and usually stays over. I speak to one of them every day on the phone. Even IM and texting on a regular basis. Since we have never had kids of our own, this is a windfall for which I cannot be more grateful. It does, of course, make for long Thursdays after partying late on Wednesdays. But, regardless of how I have to pay the price, it keeps me from thinking "old." More people my age should have regular contact with younger people. It's like a tonic that's effervescent.

I'll be posting more about "my boys" and the good times we share as they happen. BTW, if you're a young person, you might want to have a similar relationship with some older folks as well. And, if they "think old," get 'em to stop. They'll love you forever.

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