Friday, September 12, 2008

All dressed up and nowhere to go

I'm wearing my brand-new suit today because I've been feeling a bit glum and I thought my mood might be improved if I dressed like Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday (except without the hat that looks like a chimney or the cigarettes that smoke like same). The whole suit-as-mood-modifier strategy was working pretty well until I actually mentioned Rosalind Russell and His Girl Friday and encountered blank stares. How can no one remember Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday?

My students this morning also demonstrated no familiarity with The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and when I told them the movie was the source of the famous "Don't need no steenking badges" line, they looked dubious. Everyone knows that line comes from a Mel Brooks movie! What does Bogart have to do with it?

Yesterday my freshman humor class was befuddled by a joke subtly referring to Monica Lewinsky, and on Tuesday they were reading a satire of hard-boiled detective fiction and had to ask for the meaning of the word "gams." I wanted to say "Ask your father," but given that my students seem to be getting younger at a rapidly accelerating pace, I probably ought to say, "Ask your grampa."

For those who don't have a grampa close by, "gams" are what Rosalind Russell has in His Girl Friday, back in the day when no self-respecting woman would step out in public without a complete set. She definitely didn't need no steenking badges to sharpen up her mood. She just donned the perfect suit, took her gams out for a walk, and wowed the world.

I'm not sure I'm quite up to that this week, but if this suit doesn't help, nothing will.

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