Gen-X References My Kids Don't Get

by Katy Clark
Originally Published: 

I gave him a hug, the young 22-year-old who was graduating from college. Arnold (not his real name) had worked for me at the university since he was an 18-year-old freshman. And here he was. Going out into the real world.

He told me about his new job in Milwaukee.

“Oooh,” I said excitedly. “Did you know that Milwaukee has a statue of Fonzie?”

“Who?” he replied.

“You know, The Fonz?”

Blank stare.

“From Happy Days?”

Blank stare. Followed by a polite smile.

What is it with young people today? How can they NOT know who Fonzie is?

But they don’t. And as my kids, ages 10 and 7, have proven over the years, there are many more Gen-X references that today’s young people don’t get. Here are my Top 10 (11, if you include the Fonz: Ehhhhhhhh!):

1. “Da plane, da plane.”

I say this pretty much anytime I hear or see a low-flying plane.

2. Children of the Corn

Whenever my kids get unruly, I call them Children of the Corn. I think my son believes I’m talking about candy corn. But I’m not.

3. “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.”

Every time my kids complain, I say this. In a whiny voice.

4. The Sanford and Son theme song

If I walk into my kids’ rooms and they are disaster areas, I automatically sing the Sanford and Son theme song. You know the tune, too:

Bum bum bana, bum bum bana bana ban, bum bum bana!

5. “Calgon, take me away!”

When life gets to me, I’ve been known to look up and say, “Calgon, take me away!”

“Who’s Calgon?” my son asks.

6. “Just Say No.”

This one is still useful, especially as my oldest heads to middle school next year. So what if he doesn’t know who the heck Nancy Reagan is?

7. “He likes it! Hey, Mikey!”

I say this whenever one of my kids tries a new food and likes it. “My name is NOT Mikey,” my daughter has told me indignantly on several occasions.

8. “Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?”

C’mon sing with me. I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper, wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too? Be a Pepper, Drink Dr. Pepper!

9. “I’m just a bill, and I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill.”

When I get the mail, I sing this. And yes, I fully realize that the bill the song refers to is NOT the same as the electric bill or credit card bill. But I’ll still sing it, thank you very much.

10. “Time to make the donuts.”

“What time is it?” my kids ask.

“Time to make the donuts!” I reply with glee, laughing at my cleverness.

Blank stares followed by eye rolls, folks. Blank stares followed by eye rolls!

Now it’s your turn. Ask yourself: What are the Generation X references that you know and love, but your kids don’t get?

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