“If You Get My Drift”
As a teacher of writing, my life is full of unexpected chortles; sometimes, I get to chortle when students with visible thongs and bra straps complain about not being taken seriously. Other times, I get to chortle because students write crap without thinking about what they’re putting on the paper.
I’ve documented this phenomenon in a previous post, but them students, they just keep coughing up new gems for me. And now that I’ve been on summer break for a few weeks, I’ve gotten all melancholy and find myself pining for some crap writing (y’all bloggers aren’t doing the job for me, so tone down the polished rhetoric, would you?). At such junctures, I breathe deeply, do a couple yoga poses, and then take a look at the cover of my gradebook, which is littered with phrases from student papers, jotted down as I wipe tears of chortle from my eyes.
For your edification, then, I offer up three student dookies:
On a final exam, one fine young 17-year-old wrote: “My grandpa is Norwegian, married to a woman who is half-Norwegian, so every Christmas we have lutefisk and Swedish meatballs…”
Shall we presume she thinks Norwegians are Swedish? Even further, I’ll bet she thinks Canadians are Americans who live in a region with better beer and more talented improv comedians.
Final exams also yielded this unproofread delight:
“I spent a lot of time in my swimming suite…”
…leaving me certain that I have been rooked my whole life; I mean, every time I’ve gone swimming, there has been only one measly pool–okay, maybe with a hot tub on the side (aka Bacteria Stew)–but a whole suite of pools? With valet and room service and a minibar? And really fluffy towels? And thick Turkish robes? And 148 channels? And a blow dryer? And how dangerous and futile is that: blow drying one’s hair whilst in the pool? Can I just swim all night, from pool to pool, marveling at how the children are asleep in one pool, but I’m still awake and watching Weeds over in mine?
Lastly, I was sorry to read that the family of one of my students is imbued with a thread of obsequiousness:
“My uncle Roger is syncophantic.”
Interestingly, this student’s paper, up until this point, had been about her uncle’s struggle with hearing voices, suffering from depression, and waging a war with mental illness. But suddenly, with spell-checker plugging in its guess at how to spell something like “schizophrenic,” her uncle’s problem became more benign; at worst, he was crippled by the illness of being an overly-attentive “yes” man.
Ah, I’m feeling much better now, having reviewed those. It’s possible I might now find the heart to go outside and drink a mojito in the sunshine. And if I ever write about that experience in a composition class, I’ll be sure to tickle the instructor by typing about “how affective a German drink can be for relinquishing in a lounge chere.”