The first thing you notice is the clothing choices of college students or lack thereof in some cases. You've got different colors for hair, piercings of all kinds, and strange pairings for clothes on some students to say the least. Young people today have more tattoos than I ever remember seeing in my youth, and while body art can be very cool I am faced with the dilemma ,"Do I look at these people or attempt to read them?" I'm a shorts and T-shirt kinda guy, and I have been known to wear shorts to a funeral...unfortunate but true. My fashion sense is kind of a cross between Charlie Sheen from "Two and a Half Men", before he went all "Winning-Tiger Blood Guy", and Jeff Spicolli from "Fast Times at Ridgemont HIgh" because I'll come out of a shirt in a heartbeat if the situation presents itself. It's a sickness, and I always say, "I got a little redneck in me, and a whole lot of old school Fultondale." With all this being said I have to qualify it all by saying that the people I have met so far have been amazing, and a kinder/nicer bunch I don't believe you could locate. I have truly been accepted as one of their own. To me that is quite an honor.
A funny thing has also happened in this culture clash. I've had many students say things like, "My Dad likes it so you'll love it" and "My Grandparents went there, and you and your wife will have a blast." I hear "Sir" and "Mr. Perry" a lot, and I always turn around and look my father. I'm just "Chris", and "Mr. Perry" is and always will be my father to me. I even have the kids I have the great opportunity to coach call me Chris. I overheard this conversation behind me during my first semester back at school, "We had to spend the weekend with my parents, and there was nothing to do. The only movies my Dad had on DVD were Gladiator, 300, Forrest Gump, The Dirty Dozen, and John Wayne movies. It was really horrible." The other guy then said, "That really sux, I hate those movies." I thought to myself, "Well those are some of my favorites, your Dad and I would get along famously." Being the outgoing guy that I am I turned around and in my best Maximus Decimus Meridius voice said, "Are you not Entertained!" This was of course lost on these young men, and I got that look that says, "The old guy has lost his mind, and cracked under the pressure." I found it amusing, however.
I've been compared to Bruce Willis and even Vin Diesel by fellow classmates, and while I'm not complaining there was not a Brad Pitt comparison in the bunch. One time in particular a friend in class says to me, "The first time I saw you, I thought, What the Hell is Stone Cold Steve Austin doing in History Class." Being compared to an old retired wrestler is interesting to say the least. Since my return to school I have become a complete HIstory nerd, and this is quite a change. I'm the guy who took a pool cue to the side of the head in a 1992 bar-room brawl, played in his last two football games wearing a cast covering a broken hand, and used to be quite adept at chasing criminals. These days I'm an Uber Dad/History Geek who loves to tell stories, read poetry, and spend quality time with Thucydides. I guess I'm kind of a Dreamer that is looking for that certain something that maybe all of us are looking for but have a hard time finding. I believe I'm on the right track however.
Going Back to School has had quite a positive impact on me, and I believe it is one of the better choices that I have made in my life. I know now that I believe Robert Frost is awesome, I wish I could have gone back in time to talk to Sylvia Plath and prevent her unfortunate demise because that gal defined tortured genius, and Henry James is one of the best storytellers I've had the pleasure of reading. All of this would have went un-noticed if this old guy wouldn't have went back to school. I guess an old dog can learn new tricks, and this old dog certainly has done just that.