How the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Make Me Feel Old

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The other day, I was talking to some friends of mine.  They are both male and both are teachers, although they haven’t been teaching long.   I’m guessing they are in their mid-20s.  At one point in the conversation, I realized they are probably at least 10 years younger than me, which is fine – I don’t have hang-ups about my age.  What we figured out next, within the context of our conversation, however, was utterly shocking to me.  These two, professional grown men were not alive when the first television run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles first aired.  I had never imagined a day when grown adults would be younger then Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello.  It’s absurd.  Can the TMNT really be that old?  Can I?

I remember being nine-years-old and watching every day of the 5-episode mini-series that was the first airing of TMNT.  After that, I didn’t really care too much about them, but that first week was something special.  There was suspense, drama, action, and an evil brain (named “The Brain”) that lived in the belly of an animated, giant, bald man-type thing.  My brother and I spent the weekend playing out various plot-lines in our grandparents’ back yard.  It was everything a bad children’s Saturday morning cartoon should be, except it aired every day for a week.

Like He-Man, Rainbow Brite, and Alf, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bring me instant nostalgia.  I can accept the fact that my students don’t know who the Smurfs are.  But to think that grown men couldn’t have experienced the birth of the TMNT in the sewers that winter, simply because they weren’t alive, is unfathomable.    If I go the hospital any time soon and the doctor there doesn’t get a Doogie Howser joke, I may have to walk next door to rent a room at the nursing home.

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