Unbagging the Cats 1

Unbagging the Cats 1

Friday, December 16, 2011

An Unmentionable Crossword Faux Pas

Pardon me in advance if you find this tale to be offensive.

No, I didn't just say that to make you all curious so you would read it in its entirety. That's my disclaimer, up front. An indelicate subject will be addressed.

My students have been reading a subject-matter magazine that I receive through Scholastic Inc. I use it between units, to give them a taste of current happenings in the world of science. A plethora of on-line reproducibles is included with the subscription. For their assignment yesterday, I chose a quiz and a crossword puzzle.

One of the articles concerned a freshman boy who attends school from home by using a robot. He controls it with his mouse and directional arrows. It rolls from classroom to classroom, and has a screen with his face. He can talk through its speakers, and take pictures of notes on the whiteboard.

The reason the robot boy can't attend school himself is because he has polycystic kidney disease. He had a kidney transplant, and things were fine until his body started to reject the kidney. Now his meds weaken his immune system, and he needs to avoid contact with germs. And kids.

So...the crossword puzzle started out with the clue: a __________ was growing on Robot Boy's kidney. Now the obvious answer is "cyst," a four-letter word that starts with 'C'. The article even put cyst in italics when explaining the disease. And every student but one filled in the answer correctly.

I was grading papers at a good clip, churning them out, right on schedule to have only one set left at the end of the day. And then I saw it. The wrong answer. Instead of writing in C Y S T for that answer, one poor, misguided soul had scrawled another word. I choose not to write it here. But I'll give you a clue. Remember when Jerry Seinfeld forgot his girlfriend's name, and all she would tell him was that it rhymed with a part of the female anatomy? And after she stormed out in a fit of pique when he called her Mulva, Jerry had a sudden flash of insight, and rushed to the window to holler, "Dolores!"

The mistaken word is the diminutive form of the female anatomy part that rhymes with Dolores.

Seriously. I did a cartoon double-take. My eyes bugged out like they were attached to their sockets by Silly Putty. A titter started down in my throat, but I refused to let it out. Nothing else was amiss with the paper, so I chalked it up to an honest mistake. Not an attention-getting move. Nor a prank. The author of such a crossword faux pas would not say boo to a goose. Very polite. Never any trouble. No squeaky wheel there.

Of course I had to run tell a colleague about it before she left the building. She has that same student earlier in the day.

"Heh, heh!" I said. "I nominate you to give a lesson on the difference between a cyst and a you-know-what. And the worst part is, the kid thought that boy grew one on his kidney!"

She had a good snort. And said, "Well, that was a waste!"


Sioux said...

That's right. It was Delores and NOT Mulva.

This is one of the perks of being a teacher. You get a bit of levity on most days...

BECKY said...

OMG! I can't imagine that being "an honest mistake!" Maybe the student WANTED to shock you, and/or make you laugh so hard you fell off your chair and broke your arm?! :o

Linda O'Connell said...

One of our teachers got a note home that the boys were having thumb wars, 1,2,3,4, I declare a thumb war, 5,6,7,8,when did you last masturbate?

She gave the ten year old kid the talk. She asked if he had any questions. "Yes, why didn't you ever tell me THAT's what it's called? You always say, 'Don't play with yourself.' "
Faculty laugh of the day.

Bailey Hammond said...

Haha! I think I would have died from laughing. I really have no idea why that could have been confused with cyst. No idea. *giggles*

Val Thevictorian said...

Indeed! Every day I get a laugh. One young fellow told me he would someday like to accompany me on a picnic. It was hilarious. He drew a picture of us, complete with ants. I was wielding a can of RAID. Which tells me that my students know they can rely on me to keep them safe. Or at least pest-free.

There are only a few students who could pull off the "accidental" nature of such an incident. This was one. Creative spelling is a staple, and letters are not always precise.

I think they realize a fully-armed Mrs. Val is safer than a dis-armed Mrs. Val.

During a communicable diseases chapter, a section review question asked how to prevent AIDS. One student wrote: "Be monotonous."

Yeah. But imagine if Robot Boy suffered from polyc--tic kidney disease!