One of my students asked me to help him choose a topic for his history paper. It had to be about “anything since World War 2”. A lot has happened since then, I told him and started brainstorming.
“Margaret Thatcher?” I suggested.
“I don’t like her,” he said and I knew then it was going to be a difficult task.
“Tony Blair?” I asked.
“Who is that?” he peered over his laptop at me.
“Thatcher’s more liberal replacement as Prime Minister,” I said. “Did they not cover that in your history class?”
“Grumble,” he muttered.
“Nixon?” I asked. Then I had an idea. I should also mention that my superintendent was visiting with another student while I had this conversation.
“Studebaker, television, North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe…?”
He looked at me with the look my students give me when they think I’m being embarrassing. So I kept going.
“Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom, Brando, “The King and I,” and “The Catcher in the Rye,”
Eisenhower, vaccine, England’s got a new queen, Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye!”
“What are you saying?” he asked.
“It’s We Didn’t Start the Fire,” I cried. “Billy Joel? Come on!”
By this time I was dancing, he was horrified, and the superintendent may have been questioning his choice in hiring me.
“I think I’ll just do The Catcher in the Rye,” he said and put his headphones back on and began typing.
I happened by later as he was typing away and swear I heard a few notes of Billy Joel from his computer.

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