Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Cum is not always a bad word...

Last night, while quaffing too much wine and getting overly emotional about musical selections on iTunes, I ran across an article about a woman from Charleston, South Carolina who purchased a $70 cake from a Publix supermarket.  Cara Koscinski's son, Jacob, had just graduated from homeschool "Summa Cum Laude".  Just as an aside, I didn't realize Latin superlatives were a thing for people finishing high school.  But apparently, this young man graduated with highest honors, finishing with a GPA of 4.79.

Koscinski had used Publix's online ordering system to acquire the cake.  When she typed in "Summa Cum Laude", the system automatically censored the word "cum".  So Ms. Koscinski, thinking that a human being would be looking at the comments section on the order form, explained that the word "cum" in this instance was referring to the Latin phrase, not the disgusting slang term for semen.

Unfortunately, whomever decorated the cake was lacking both critical thinking skills and the powers of observation.  The person decorated the cake and wrote "Summa --- Laude", omitting the word "cum".  Koscinski's husband, who picked up the cake at the store, did not look at it before it was presented to Koscinski's son, who was reportedly "humiliated" when he saw it.

Few things here...  First off, it was a very stupid mistake.  I don't blame Ms. Koscinski for publicizing this or even speaking to the manager about this oversight.  The online ordering system obviously needs to be updated in some way and the bakery employees need training.  Clearly, the person who decorated the cake was either working on autopilot or needs to be educated about Latin phrases that might be requested for decorated desserts.  At the very least, the rest of the world deserves to have a good laugh at the stupidity of this error.

Secondly, I kind of think Ms. Koscinski's anger is a little bit out of proportion.  I mean, as sad as it is that apparently no one else at that particular Publix has ever ordered a cake with "Summa Cum Laude" on it, the error is kind of funny.  And if Jacob was really "humiliated" by a mistake that wasn't his fault, he's probably going to have a tough time of it in the real world.  When it comes down to it, it's just a few dashes of icing that will be eaten, anyway.  Evidently, the young man felt he had to explain the term "cum" to his grandmother and why it would be censored on the cake.  Kind of makes me think he must come from a very sheltered family who doesn't eat a lot of cum.

And finally... if there's one thing to be learned about this story, it's that whenever you purchase a decorated cake, it pays to look at the finished product before you leave the store.  It might also be a good idea to order the cake in person or skip the grocery store bakeries and patronize a small business instead.  Actually, just reading about this reminds me of our wedding reception and how I wish I'd used a small catering service in town instead of the one offered at Virginia Military Institute.  I think I would have been much happier with the results.

Ms. Koscinski did get an apology, a gift card, and a refund from Publix.  They also offered to remake the cake for her.  She declined, stating "You only graduate once."  That may be true, but Koscinski's son will probably be cumming for the rest of his life.  At least he'll have a funny story to share about it.


  1. I read about the cake, too, and thought it was hilarious. if the kid was truly humiliated, he is growing up to be one special snowflake, or else he's a "highly sensitive child." (I'm not fond of that designation, by the way. Sensitive children and adults have probably existed forever. It's just today's world that thinks there should be major accommodations made for those who are "highly sensitive." Kindergarten teachers and, to a lesser extent, first grade teachers have been dealing with overly sensitive children (though the "highly sensitive" lobby hates when they're referred to as "overly" sensitive," as that would imply something is wrong with them. Most of those who claim heightened sensitivity want all the perks of a disabling condition with none of he stigma. I personally think it's bullshit) have been dealing with sensitive kids for eons without needing a name for the condition. The goal was usually to have taught them to roll with the punches more effectively by second grade at the very latest.

    i conceded that some kids in particular are more sensitive than others, but if what it ultimately comes down to is increased time on the SAT or ACT for the more sensitive in our midst, I'm not in favor of it.

    1. I have a feeling it was the mom who was really "humiliated". But it sounds better to pin it on her teenaged son.

    2. I think those honors designations (magna, summa, and simple cum laude) are silly for high school, anyway. I also, even though I was a beneficiary of the system, oppose a grading system of honors courses in which grade points awarded for honors courses can exceed 4.0. Honors students will have to deal with a maximum of 4.0 in university anyway. Take honors courses if you so desire, and don't if you don't want. (I also don't think parents should be allowed to force their children into honors courses.) Universities will weigh the difficulty of a student's coursework against the courses he or she has taken. Grade inflation for honors courses is unnecessary.

    3. I don't think they did the Latin honors at my school. We had a valedictorian and a salutatorian and people who were in the honors societies. That was about it. I was not in that crowd myself. :D


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