Select Page

From Webster’s College Dictionary:

double entendre n. a word or expression used so that it can be understood in two ways, esp. when one meaning is risqué.

Book projects/reports are due next week. For most, this is not news. Of course, these four had no idea this was coming. Well, maybe they thought they might have heard something about this, but lets face it, there’s a lot to think about when you’re a thirteen year old boy.

Anyway, with a due date of next Monday looming, and a social calendar similar (I’m sure) to that of a presidential candidate, today they finally launched into action. They assured me they had everything under control. All they really needed to do was finish a, get started on a project choice, finish their, start a book, find a book.

After a quick huddle, the four asked to visit the library. I gave them a hall pass and wished them luck.

Fifteen minutes later they were all back in my room, books in hand.

But . . . something was wrong. They just couldn’t settle down.

I gave them the look.

I shushed them.

I called them by name.

Then I realized my teacher/superhero senses were buzzing like crazy. This wasn’t your normal disruptive student chatter. It was laced with something more. Something not quite right. Those chortles weren’t the innocent results of good clean humor. No this was different.

This had the sort of tone you’d expect when somebody finds skin in a National Geographic magazine.

And they were passing a book around.

Nope. Definitely not good.

I walked forward and immediately recognized the book they were passing was way below their reading level. It was something you might easily find in a second grade classroom. This kid was obviously trying to get away with reporting on an easy book, hoping/thinking he could get cite some loophole in the assignment criteria.

“Ok guy’s. What’s going on?” I said. “And S_____, you don’t actually think that book is acceptable for this project, do you?”

Horrible Harry and the Purple People(Snorts and chuckles from the group)

I dismissed his protestations handily. That’s right—I mocked him. He really didn’t put up much of a fight.

“Ok, all right, Mr. Wondra,” he said. “But you have to read this! It’s SICK!”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s disgusting! Read it!”

I could tell he wasn’t backing down, so I took the book.

The group, indeed now half the class, tittered on the edge of their seats.

The title of the book was, Horrible Harry and the Purple People, by Suzy Kline. Pictures by Frank Remkiewicz.

“Read the first two pages!” By now S____ was practically frothing at the mouth. “How can they have this stuff in school!”

I opened the book to the first page. Everything was what you’d expect from an elementary grade storybook—large font, short sentences, easy words.

The first chapter was titled “The Purple People.”

I’ll never forget my last week in second grade.

It was strange.

It was wild.

It all started when Harry showed me his brand-new ruler.

“Hey, Doug,” he said, “have you ever seen anything like this?”

I took his ruler and rubbed my hand over it. “Tough wood. It’s a lot better than the plastic ones we use at school. I like that row of purple monsters painted at the top.”

I looked up, deadpan. S___ was about to explode.

“What?” I said. “I don’t get it.”

“But . . . th . . . I mean!”

“S___” I said seriously. “Will you please tell me what is so funny about a ruler?”

He didn’t have the guts. Neither did anybody else.

A pitty. Would have been a great class discussion.