A student pointed to a phrase in a reading assignment--je ne sais quoi--and asked me what it meant. I performed an exaggerated Gallic shrug and said, "I don't know what."
"Well, okay, then I guess I can look it up."
It took a little while to unravel that misunderstanding, the latest in a long line of misunderstandings in my classes, most of which remind me of the ever-increasing age gap between myself and my students. Here are some things my students found utterly unfamiliar in recent classes:
The Cold War.
"Fran" as a unisex name. (The fact that my parents are Francis and Frances may make me especially sensitive to this issue, but seriously: they've never heard of a woman named Fran before?)
Chuck Yeager (despite the fact that his name is attached to an airport just down the highway).
The fact that The Godfather was a book before it was a movie.
"Not with a bang but a whimper."
And that's how I'll go out one day, carrying immense amounts of increasingly irrelevant knowledge in my woefully overcrowded brain.