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!"