(For those who haven't been following my memoirs, I had just moved to Bucksport before my senior year. I missed my old high school, even though it hadn't been easy being a pastor's kid in a public school.)
Even though I didn't have the label of "Preacher's Kid" anymore, I was still different. I was known as a Christian - a church kid - but it wasn't as hard as it was back in Skowhegan. No one really teased me or made things difficult because of it. They would just shrug their shoulders and go on their way. That was okay. I had some good Christian friends to hang out with.
There were a few times when I had to stand strong.
During the summer, when I was painting for the school district, some other kids on the job stopped for a smoking break (which happened quite often). They tried to get me to stop, even if I didn't smoke. They said it made them look lazy when I got so much more done than they did. When I refused, saying that I wasn't right to not work when I was being paid to work. They accused me of being paranoid. I had never heard the word and had to ask what it meant. (I'm not crazy, but a fearful respect of authority is a good thing.)
Another time, while I was going through the lunch line to get my usual cup of salad, carton of milk, and bag of cheese puffs; a big, rough-looking boy behind me kept bumping me and trying to urge me to go faster. All he had on his tray was a carton of milk, but I noticed a couple of ice cream bars in his coat pocket. After I paid, I lingered while picking up a straw and napkin to see if the lunch lady would notice. She didn't. I should have been brave enough to confront him, but I wasn't - but I did tell on him. . . and was scared for the next week wondering if he knew it was me that snitched on him.
I don't often get upset, unless I feel I've been treated unfairly. One day, the school surprised the students with a rock concert. It hadn't been announced until that morning. My friend, Kerry, and I didn't want to go. Since we classes after the concert, we couldn't just go home early. We went to the principal's office and asked if we could go to the library at the other end of building instead. (It seemed fair and sensible to us.)
We were excused from the concert, but not allowed to go to the library. We had to spend that time in the home-ec room - which was right next to the gymnasium - right next to the rock concert. We might as well have attended! We couldn't study. We couldn't even talk to each other because of the noise. What was wrong with us spending that time studying in the library? It wasn't as if the elderly librarian wanted to attend the concert or that we were scheming to do some mischief while everyone was busy. It was ridiculous. Oh well, it only lasted an hour, and we survived.
I mentioned in a previous post that I took a bunch of English classes to fill up my schedule. One of them was Black Lit. It was interesting, and I enjoyed it, but one test put my honesty to the test. For some reason, I didn't finish reading the book we had been assigned. (I don't even remember which book now.) I knew we had a test over it the next day, but I figured that I had read enough of it to pass. (Note to any students - read ALL of the book!) One question asked "What happened to ____ on the last page?" My heart sunk. It must have had a surprise ending .... oh well, I'll get that one wrong.
Well, the teacher had to leave the room, and the girl in front of me turned around and asked me if I knew what happened at the end of the book. I shook my head. She asked someone else. They whispered, "He died." Now, I had a dilemma. I knew the answer, but it would be cheating. So I wrote -
The man died, but mark this wrong
because I didn't finish reading the book.
I heard someone else say it.
The following day, when our test were returned, the girl ahead of me asked what I got for a grade. My paper was lying face up with the teacher's note written at the top. I had gotten an A and all the answer correct. The note said,
Thank you for being honest.
Next time, read the whole book.
The girl saw his note and my note. She looked me in the eye, shook her head in disbelief, and said, "Thanks for not telling on me."
Later, I had the blessing of talking with some of my classmates, and they thanked me for being different, for living as a Christian. It made them think about God and their spiritual life. Pray for Christian kids in the public school. It's not easy to stand strong for their beliefs.