You know Crispin Glover’s character in Back to the Future? You know how he’s so completely clueless and naive and utterly out of sync with his peers’ snappy double entendres and slangy catchphrases that you just want to shake him, because he will never, ever get it and you fear that someday his ignorance will hurt him?

Well, I am that guy.

I just realized it this morning, although I’ve suspected for a long time. The smoking gun of my massive dork factor was a headline for this story from the New York Times, which read “Johnson was There, but Magic Was Clinton’s.” It caught my eye, of course, because it deals with one of my favorite subjects, the incandescent awesomeness of Bill Clinton and how he can show up even pro basketball players. But the headline made me realize something that had never before entered my head:

Magic. Johnson. The dude’s name is “Magic Johnson.” And he is legendary for his numerous exploits with the ladies. Which, presumably, involve his Magic Johnson. Wow. Never saw that one coming — no, sir! I was blindsided by the revelation.

And then I remembered what a more socially ept boyfriend used to joke about Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson, who’s edging towards seven feet tall: “They call him ‘Big Johnson,'” he would quip, and snicker. And I never really realized what was so funny, until now, because he was big, and his name was Johnson, right?

Come to think of it, I now also realize why the two lawyers who team-taught my Constitutional debate class back in 1989 were so appalled when I caught them whispering amongst themselves and said loudly, “Mr. Hardman, are you blowing Mr. Sparks?” (I knew “blowing” was somehow intimate and a little risqué, but at the age of fifteen I had no idea exactly how intimate or how risqué.)

I’m pretty sure that there are other examples — I feel on the edges of my consciousness some suppressed memories of times during my career as a college professor when I’ve made entire roomsful of 20-year-olds guffaw in shocked and salacious glee — but I’m going to try very hard not to remember them. Because then I might have to resign, and besides, I can’t tear the image of Earvin’s Magic Johnson out of my head.

Advertisements