Though never agrarian in any sense, I felt it would do me some good to take a class in Horticulture in 11th grade. All Ag classes were taught in an annex of the Senior High building which had a greenhouse attached to it. I showed up the first day and was introduced to our teacher, a nice-looking lady who appeared to be in her early 50's. Her name was Mrs. Raddatz and though her hair was a bit grey, I quickly grew to like her. Instead of individual desks, our classroom had eight long tables; two people could be seated at each one. As was typical of me in those days, I chose a place in the back row. I wound up having my own table as we had a small class, about seven people.
I deflated a bit on that first day when the teacher told us that every Monday we would be required to water the plants placed high in the concourse. I didn't like the idea of the students sitting in the concourse (they were in study hall) seeing me with a watering device. They might think I was a femme. I always first sought to water the plants that were the furthest from the study hall kids. On occasion, I got stuck doing the ones closest. I shouldn't have worried, though. There was a guy who came off as much tougher than me named Butch who didn't seem to mind the task.
Butch ultimately come off as too masculine, however. He'd frequently pick on a guy who sat at the table behind him. His name was Matt and he dressed, well, fabulously. It was obvious he was gay, but I had no problem with his gentle soul. When Butch derided him, Matt typically ignored it.
One great aspect of the class was being able to get up and walk around the greenhouse.
That kind of hands-on thing wasn't typical of other high school classes. One morning, as class was about to start, the teacher gave me a note that said I was to report to the administrative offices. It had to do with a recent appointment I'd had with the counselor.
You see, the teacher I had for my Video class had noticed that while other students spent lots of time talking to their peers during downtimes, I was content to just sit in my seat. He thought there might be something wrong with me being a loner, so requested that Mr. Timm see me. I talked to Timm one afternoon and he said that there was nothing wrong with being on the quiet side, that he had the tendency to be this way himself, that the world would be much too rowdy if everyone had an outgoing personality. Timm made me feel that I was just fine being who I was. I never went up to Opprecht, the Video teacher and confronted him on what he'd done. Hell, that'd be going against my MO.
One other note about the Video class: there was a Jehovah's Witness girl named Jina who was in a more advanced class in which students were required to lip-sync to a favorite song of theirs. Now, for this to make sense, you have to realize that Witnesses believe that they will live forever in paradise on Earth. The song she chose was Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven on Earth". Ridiculously appropriate, I thought. I used to fantasize about what song I would sing if I took the class. It would mostly likely be a Beatles one as I was big on them back then.
Anyway, someone in the admin offices apparently wanted to go over one more thing in regards to the issue, but I didn't want to miss a minute of the Hort class (I was really concerned about getting good grades at that time), so ignored the request and watched one of those filmstrips that were so prevalent in 80's high schools.
One afternoon, as we broke for the greenhouse, a classmate named Ben was trying to get through, but a girl named LeJeanna was blocking his way. After a beat, he said, "Move out of the way or I'll boof you". I just saw her working at ShopKo last week and couldn't help but think of that incident when I saw her.
A number of years later, while attending college, I was watching Jenny Jones. A man came onto the stage whose name was Mattress Fever. He looked familiar, so I stepped close to the screen. Oh my god, it was Matt from the Horticulture class. He had apparently changed his name. We all watch talk shows from time to time, but never expect to see anyone we know on them. I was glad to see that he was doing well and still dressing fabulously. Butch, I'm sure, would have a different reaction, but there are few things grander than being exactly who you are.