It was a perfectly logical reference. It was the perfect reference, really. That was why the resulting exchange was so horrifically inexcusable.We had been discussing personal writing. The student had already scored points with me by mentioning that she regularly jots down notes in her journal — I smiled and told her that such action was my first foray into what has turned out to be a career.

“It’s important, though, to think about other people from time to time.” She tilted her head and waited for me to continue. “Whether you consider other characters in fiction or you turn your attention onto other people for observational writing, it’s key to get out of your own head sometimes. Otherwise you’ll internalize so much, tuck yourself so far from outside contact, that you’ll turn a little too Angela Chase. You might as well have a narrator speaking aloud the thoughts in your head.”

And there it was: a furrowed brow.

“Angela Chase?”

I swear I felt my hip tweak. No, no, no. Not yet…

“You’ve never seen ‘My So-Called Life?'”
I knew that I was speaking to a youngster, one eager to finish a Career Day assignment and still too young to legally drive. But this was a travesty, utterly deplorable. High school without the most desperately angsty, gorgeous depiction of high school I’d ever seen?

She actually shook her head. She did not know Angela Chase. Claire Danes was probably just another movie star. She never wanted to send a thank-you note to Winnie Holzman. She had never swooned over Jordan Catalano —

Hold it.

“Have you ever heard of 30 Seconds to Mars?”

She nodded her head. “Jared Leto’s band.”

(Small blessing: at least she didn’t say anything about seeing Lindsay Lohan with an Echelon bracelet on PerezHilton.)

“Well, OK. Um. See, before Jared Leto was in the band, he was on this television show, where he played a guy named Jordan…”

I felt my youth slowly ebb away.

Dated and out of touch. At 25. It’s all downhill from here.