Every now and then, my parents spoke to each other, probably ridiculing something about me I hadn’t notice that they did. But they did it in a different language. They had always done that. It never phased me when they did because they’d never tell me about it anyway. It was more surprising had they told me which language they actually used. That was what Science class was like in the 8th grade. 5th period Science was strange to me, but it also seemed strangely comfortable.
We would do different science labs on certain days, usually a Thursday. We’d be lectured the whole week before getting hands-on. Some of the labs could be done on our own, and we’d watch something interesting happen. Then wrote down the results after trying different things for different results, on Friday. The idea that a completely different result can be achieved by simply changing a small factor, was intriguing. It made me think about my family. Sometimes, we’d have labs that required a partner, but no one ever picked me. I thought I was a great student when it came to science, but that didn’t convince anyone enough to be less afraid of me. Every student usually was. There wasn’t anything I could ever do about that wouldn’t frighten everyone even more.
The point of the partners was probably to teach students the importance of teamwork which I thought was riskier because the grade was shared. Our teacher, Mr. Mackie allowed me to work alone during the partnered labs. He had noticed I was always the odd man out. But my grades were always among the highest in class. I worked hard for them. It was the only way I could make everyone regret never picking me. Teamwork taught me how disappointment from others I relied on could be avoided altogether. I just had to get everything right, and I’d be just fine. No punishments. Maybe the point of the partners wasn’t to show the value of camaraderie at all and just another way they maintained the school budget for the rat cadavers we got to dissect. I was fortunate to be allowed my own.
Aubrey Porter had gym (P.E. for Physical Education as we called it back then) during the same time period I did. 4th period before lunch. Mr. Yamato had replaced my Ms. Spittel, of whom was now Aubrey’s physical educator. I didn’t want to learn anything about Mr. Yamato’s physical self like I (along with every boy) had ached to learn about Ms. Spittel’s physical form. In comparison to last year, that hour had become an even more blessed hour for the pubescent boys that attended Rutherford. At least, those who had 4th period P.E. It was because a blossoming Aubrey Porter and an already blossomed Ms. Spittel was in the class 10 feet over. The warm-up exercises, the physical activities, then glistening sweat around their necks. It was like a three-course meal, I’d never had.
Mr. Yamato was a six foot two Samoan from Honolulu. Like Ms. Spittel, he wore shorts everyday that exposed long deeply tanned, muscular legs. He had the same shape my former grandfather had, because Mr. Yamato also had that oddly placed protruding gut, aside from appearing to in his mid-60’s. The oddest thing about him, was his accent. It was a deep New Jersey accent. I found it odd because older Asians I had met usually spoke terribly broken English. I began to understand that people could be mistaken for something else, just by their looks, people besides me. That old man with a New Jersey accent turned out to be an asshole, though.
I found him a reasonable man whenever he took attendance. He had us all sit as Ms. Spittel’s class began the famous warm-up jumping jacks. It was timed that way as though Mr. Yamato understood the injustice had he not done it. He would yell at a boy if he turned to look. In that sense, we all learned to look at a girl’s tits with our peripheral vision. It was a valuable skill in life. He may have been an asshole, but at least we knew he was one of us.