From the Oklahoma Daily–Ouch

Around Norman: Old folks keep OU students young
Staff column

January 22, 2004

Cody A. Cundiff
Norman’s population is like browsing my CD collection. At first glance, you see OutKast, Coldplay and The Darkness. The new stuff, the freshmen. Take a closer gander. You discover way too much Neil Diamond, with some Springsteen and McCartney thrown in for good measure. The classics, the senior citizens.

It would be a little too easy to jump right out and say that college kids provide most of the fauna in Norman. ‘Cause yes, Dave, college kids do account for a large percent of the town’s population. However, here’s a just-invented statistic that they don’t put on billboards or in OU’s college welcome booklet. For every college kid in Norman, there’s one senior citizen to match, a well-aged and Social Security-prone doppelganger.

Surely you’ve seen them; they aren’t hiding. Retirement villages, funeral homes and Hallmark are their hangouts. Granted, they don’t stay up all night at Bison Witches, but they do get up hours before the rest of us to get a jump on the day’s Bingo games.

The real reason why Norman drivers are so bad? One old codger for every freshman. Eighty-five percent of Norman drivers are either World War II veterans who last piloted a bomber with Snoopy against the mighty Red Baron, or they’re some ex-pom girl slash-band senior ’03 from Bartlesville High School who is used to “driving fast.”

I’m a Golden Girls fan as much as the next guy, but some times it’d be nice to drive somewhere in town without getting stuck behind Sofia, desperately looking out over the dashboard in a vain attempt to make out what street she’s on. It’s Robinson, grandma.

Ask any college guy or gal living in an apartment and you’ll find that half the apartment’s leasers, if not owned by OU and therefore foreign, are senior citizens. Like mole people, they live around and below us, preventing us from playing our music too loud or even watching a DVD in full DTS surround sound mode.

The Greatest Generation, yet they’re unable to drive above 15 mph or allow the occasional loud music. But perhaps we identify with them more than we allow ourselves to think. We have little or no patience for little kids (by little kids I mean anyone between the ages of 15 and 19), we have a strong dislike for modern pop music or hip-hop, and we’re even particular about what we watch on TV, with Conan our generation’s Carson. Are we getting older?

The world around us sure seems to be getting younger. Walking around the mall, or even listening to what’s on the radio, never felt so old before. It seems like even the new musicians are younger than we are.

This is why we need the Neil Diamonds of this town, the old folks who live below us and drive in front of us. They’re here to remind us that we’re not old, that we still have some youth left. We need them to be old so we can feel young. So next time you’re complaining that someone’s driving to slow or taking too long in line, remember, they were young once, too. That, and they’re about one good scare away from a heart attack.

— Cody A. Cundiff is a film and video studies senior. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at

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