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Texas | Columns | "Quips and Salsa"

The pen is sillier than the sword

by Jase Graves
Jase Graves

For those of you who don't know, my more respectable gig for the past quarter century, or so, has been teaching college English. (Scary, I know.)

Teaching English is sometimes like teaching a teenager to drive a car—including the sensations of intense frustration, looking away in terror, and dreading a catastrophic pileup of letters, words, and sentences.

Take, for example, these 100% real writing samples I've collected from my students over the years. I truly love them all—the students, I mean.



These first specimens come from the "unintentionally violent/gruesome" category:

"In the second stanza of the poem, the speaker is telling a little boy to stop crying while he's getting his head shaved off."

I think I had that hair style once.

"Many people think of organ donation as a grouse disfiguring procedure"

I'm not sure what that writer has against grouses.

"Pet owners should not use toothpaste made from humans as it could give the pet an upset stomach."

Student writers are always looking out for their pets—unless the pets are grouses.

"During the process of trying to find a cure, I had undergone several colonoscopies, which is where the doctor incinerates a small camera up the patient's gluteus maximus and takes pictures of their Colin."

Who's Colin, and where is he, exactly?



The next group comes from what I call the "tru dat" category:

"All men have an air around them that the majority of women I know would disagree with."

My wife and daughters would concur with that sentiment, especially after I've had Mexican food.

"Some areas of the medical field reek more than others."

Just ask Colin.

"I figured that my brother could teach me to drive, and we would get our brother-sister bonging time while learning from each other."

What a brother!

And speaking of bonging,

"With his thought-provoking verses, Wordsworth is often known as the Pot of Nature."



Maybe after a little bonging (or Wordsworth), you'll appreciate these next few from the "Is this a dream?" category:

"His liver broke all of the promises she made to him."

Apparently, he turned to alcoholism—and his liver identifies as female.

"In the summer time, my pet coon, Moon, loved to climb up my leg and onto my shoulder to watch me wash dishes while wearing shorts that was very uncomfortable."

Is this racoon wearing Daisy Dukes?

"My grandmother was a small, bluish, gray headed woman that was always cheerful and witty."

Commas and hyphens are important, especially when describing blue grandmothers.

And speaking of grandmothers,

"I will always be touched by my grandmother's Sunday dinner."

Somebody grab the Pepto!



While we're on the subject of touching, these next few come from the "unintentionally erotic" category:

"As I jumped from cement block to cement block and headed toward the front steps, I could hear something rutting under the porch."

And speaking of rutting,

"As we opened the door, I heard a screech-like noise. I humped with terror."

No comment!

"When I stepped onto the green, I was ready to probe myself to everyone at the tournament."

Finally, some golf worth watching!

"When he got his divorce and started dating, more problems aroused for Dad."

I'll bet they did.

"After all of the sightseeing, we were hungry, so we found a spot to feel our bellies."

Whatever floats your boat, I guess.



Finally, these last few come from the "fun with invented language" category:

"During Geoffrey Chaucer's time, the Medieval Church and some of those associated with it were put on a pedal stool they didn't deserve."

Is that like an antique unicycle?

And my personal favorite,

"My father was always cheap, so we had the most dreaded fishing boat that didn't ever want to crank. That day, for some reason, it crunk on the first try!"

That was one crunk fishing boat!



I hope it's obvious by now that teaching English is not all fun, games and pedal stools.

But the love teachers have for students does make the job rewarding—just not enough to feel our bellies.

Jase Graves
"Quips and Salsa" 10-3--22 column


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