Short Subjects


Thirteen years ago this month, I graduated from high school. It should have been June, but I made a couple of mistakes and had to take two courses over in summer school. This seemed like a huge problem at the time, but it really didn’t affect my life negatively in anyway. And, since the classes were a lot simpler and shorter during summer school, my grade point average improved. The four weeks of summer school were actually a pleasure compared to the nightmare of high school, but then I guess everything was a pleasure when compared to nightmare of high school.
Still and all, my English teacher for that short time, Mr. Watson, truly was an inspiration to me. The class consisted of reading four books, one per week, with discussions, watching the film adaptations, and finally a short test. This was a breeze to me, and I got to read, and see, Equus, Butterflies Are Free, Deliverance, and Being There. The latter two remain favorite books of mine, and, since I was kind of stuck in a sci-fi rut back then, nothing like I ever read before, especially in class.
I didn’t really belong in summer school. Mr. Watson knew this, and even told me as much. Most kids there were struggling through his program. The lack of education that they were given has continued to bother me and my bleeding-heart to no end. They weren’t necessarily slow, but they sure were ignored. I, on the other hand, was just a slacking, intelligent, middle-class white kid who had too many absences to pass two classes. The shock of possibly not graduating had forced me to pay attention to my future for a bit, and I seized the opportunity to get something out of my punishment.
So I talked to Mr. Watson. We discussed the books while others were reading silently. I would finish each book before Tuesday just so I could chat with Mr. Watson. He was funny, an iconoclast, startlingly bright, and, dare I believe, aching for someone else to talk to during the three-hour classes.
I swore to visit Mr. Watson again the next year to thank him. But life passes, and, thirteen years later, I don’t think I could even recognize the man if he were next to me. I’ve yet to seize any other opportunity that life throws my way, and I’m still a slacking, intelligent, middle-class white kid. At the least, however, I want to thank the man and let the world know that I still remember him fondly, for just the few weeks that we got to know each other.