As a teacher of writing and literature, my life is filled with gratifying moments. Last year, one of my male students, a wrestler, became so enamored of slam poetry that he started to write it on his own, and now, at college, he continues to do so. A young woman competed in National Novel Writing Month and produced her own novel, bringing a copy to school to share with classmates. Another won a prestigious Young Playwrights contest, and saw her piece produced professionally at a local theater.
Sometimes, though, I am gifted with moments while reading student papers that shine in their ridiculousness. I thought today I’d share some of those hilarious (and true!) writing bloopers that have kept me laughing over 20 years of teaching public high school.
In no particular order:
1)I hate English because I’ll never use it in my real life. This is one of my all-time favorites. The student meant that he or she will never have to write literature analysis papers or dissect an author’s intent or audience. But it sounds like the student will never speak, read, write, or communicate in any way using our mother tongue. What will he or she use? Sign language? Pictographs? A system of sophisticated grunts? Come to think of it, I think I’ve seen that last one in class.
2)Salem is full of satin lovers. This comes from analysis of The Crucible, Arthur Miller’s analysis of witch hunts and the doings of the devil in a small 1600s-era Massachusetts town. I’m pretty sure the writer meant to use the word “satan,” but thanks to spell check, I’ve seen many, many student papers that discussed the luxurious fabric instead of the demon. I doubt that the people of Salem loved satin. I don’t think it existed then, but even if it did, they were Puritans. They sought out uncomfortable clothes and ate turnips. Luxury was not part of their experience. Unless the devil made them do it.
3) Hester’s pubic shame. Ah, The Scarlet Letter. Hester Prynne, standing on the scaffold in shame, the huge scarlet A sewn on her breast for all to see. Thanks to spell check, though, her public shame takes on a whole different layer of meaning. Not altogether inaccurate, either.
4)The great whores migrated west, causing a great depression. Back to the Dust Bowl we go, where prostitutes apparently flooded California. Were the whores fat, or simply good at what they did? We may never know. I believe the student meant to use the word “hordes” but this colorful description is so much more visual. I picture Tom Joad’s jalopy loaded down with painted ladies, swaying across the dusty roads, causing everyone in Oklahoma to be extremely sad because they left.
5)Bubble, bubble toilet trouble. Those witches in Macbeth..always clogging the plumbing. Well, if you ate nothing but newts and frogs, I guess your digestion would be delicate too.
6)Lice and in-your-endo. This is such an unpleasant prospect that I cringe every time I read it. Lies and innuendo are uncomfortable, but not as bad as having bugs crawling up your butt.
All in all, teaching kids to write can be rewarding, but as you can see, I’ve failed miserably with some of my students. In closing, I leave you with a poem by poet/teacher Taylor Mali:
The Impotence of Proofreading
Has this ever happened to you?
You work very horde on a paper for English clash
And then get a very glow raid (like a D or even a D=)
and all because you are the word¹s liverwurst spoiler.
Proofreading your peppers is a matter of the the utmost impotence.
This is a problem that affects manly, manly students.
I myself was such a bed spiller once upon a term
that my English teacher in my sophomoric year,
Mrs. Myth, said I would never get into a good colleague.
And that¹s all I wanted, just to get into a good colleague.
Not just anal community colleague,
because I wouldn¹t be happy at anal community colleague.
I needed a place that would offer me intellectual simulation,
I really need to be challenged, challenged menstrually.
I know this makes me sound like a stereo,
but I really wanted to go to an ivory legal colleague.
So I needed to improvement
or gone would be my dream of going to Harvard, Jail, or Prison
(in Prison, New Jersey).
So I got myself a spell checker
and figured I was on Sleazy Street.
But there are several missed aches
that a spell chukker can¹t can¹t catch catch.
For instant, if you accidentally leave a word
your spell exchequer won¹t put it in you.
And God for billing purposes only
you should have serial problems with Tori Spelling
your spell Chekhov might replace a word
with one you had absolutely no detention of using.
Because what do you want it to douch?
It only does what you tell it to douche.
You¹re the one with your hand on the mouth going clit, clit, clit.
It just goes to show you how embargo
one careless clit of the mouth can be.
Which reminds me of this one time during my Junior Mint.
The teacher read my entire paper on A Sale of Two Titties
out loud to all of my assmates.
I¹m not joking, I¹m totally cereal.
It was the most humidifying experience of my life,
being laughed at pubically.
So do yourself a flavor and follow these two Pisces of advice:
One: There is no prostitute for careful editing.
And three: When it comes to proofreading,
the red penis your friend.
Keep on proffing your peepers!