The last one was easy. Let’s really up the ante. We’ll have three rounds. Go!

Today we were talking about euphemisms. I’m starting to get them ready to read The Giver. (I’ll be talking soon enough about the end of The Outsiders and starting up the new novel. Dunno how that slipped by.) After explaining and exampling and such, I gave them seven examples to try to translate. The last one was “vertically challenged.”

“What do we have for this one?”


“VERTICALLY challenged, not mentally.”

“How about, stupid?”

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.” (Oh, sweet irony.)


1. OK. For one point, explain her thinking.

“What? Ummm…no.”


“Closer. A midget could be called vertically challenged, but not vice versa.”

“I was thinking clumsy.”

2. For two points, explain that one.

“Interesting idea…but no.”


Woo hoo. Finally.

I had watched a “vertically challenged” girl get all excited when she thought she had the answer to this one, and write it down quickly. But we got to “short” before I called on her. After all the nonsense answers I can’t remember, and the finishing up with that one, I noticed she looked a little down. I thought it was because she had thought of the answer so quickly and wanted to be the one to get it for the class, and I hadn’t called on her. But no.

3. And now for the Bonus Round, worth four points: “I thought it was gay.”

I probably looked like a dog tilting his head at you. Of course the mere mention of the word in any context brings snickers, but this one brought down the house. There must have been two or three minutes of: 1) me opening and closing my mouth wordlessly and making aimless motions with my hands, 2) the class expiring with laughter, 3) some kids demanding that she get detention for saying gay, 4) the poor girl looking sheepish at the havoc she has created, and 5) rampant speculation about the thought process it took to get to her answer.

After I finally calmed them down (a little Quiet Stick), and explained that her intention in saying “gay” was to answer the question, and not to insult, and besides, MYOB, we got her to explain her thinking. Another round of laughter ensued, and since it was the end of the period, I threw in the towel.

But the absolute best part? Someone else gave the same answer in the afternoon. Years and years of this one, and I have never gotten that answer. Now I get it twice in the same day. Only in junior high.

What do you think they were thinking?