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Entry 6 -- Disappointment in Metal Shop

Sixth period on the days that I had biology lecture and no gym was that I had metal shop instead of health sixth period. I picked to take metal shop so I could work on making my "bent." A bent is a recumbant bicycle. I bet you didn't know that all the human powered vehicle speed records are set by people racing recumbent bikes. Of cousre those stuffy old assholes who run the Tour de France think that a bike has to be an upright and they won't even let "bents" in the race. It just goes to show you.

Anyway, I barely made it to shop because I had to dig in my locker to get out the plans and instructions for making my own "bent" from two discarded bike frames and other parts.

Then shop began as boringly as any other class does at the beginning of the year. Only this time the shop teacher whose name was Mr. Rossy sat and told us all about safety so I guess it was kind of worth while. Then he asked each of us to help clean up the lab and meet one on one with him to discuss our first project.

That was how I learned I could not make my "bent" in shop class. "Are you sure you can afford all the materials?" asked Mr. Rossy. I said I'd find a way to pay for them. He asked how. I felt like telling him with money. I'd have to work, beg my parents, use my holiday presents etc... Adults can be so stupid some times.

Anyway, Mr. Rossy said I couldn't work on my "bent" in metal shop. He said that even if I built the bike, I'd have trouble riding it on school grounds. There were safety issues. If I made the bike at home there would still be safety issues, but at least it would not be a school project. In other words, some asshole could sue the school.

Well, that left me with a second choice project, an organizer, a set of shelves with baskets. I'd get to build the shelves and make the baskets. My first job though would be transcribing the plans and getting the project more or less cut in half because there was a limit to the size project you can make in metal shop.

Well, I'd paint the organizer light blue and put it in my room which is light blue with fancy multicolor paint effects. Maybe I'd paint the organizer burgundy (Those girl color names come in handy some time) but painting was a long way off.

Meanwhile, I sat at the drafting tables with a boy from the country. Long ago, or maybe not so long ago, Greenup was a very rural county and a lot of people lived in the hills. They had scruffy farms and worked in town or in the mines when coal cost enough to justify mining. The country boy had on overalls and a chambray shirt and real work boots that looked like they'd done real work. He had big rough, red, cracked hands and watery blue eyes and a mop of blond hair that no one had bothered to cut for a while and when it did get cut, his feamle relatives probably bobbed it.

"Can I see what you're working on?" Country boy asked.

I showed my diagram to him. "That's real purty," he whistled.

"It's a lot of work," I told him.

"I know. My pa said this course was harder than algebra. What do you think?"

"I had algebra last year and it was hard, but it gets better the more math you have," I told him.

"You like math?" Country boy sucked on his lips.

"Yes. It's my favorite subject."

Country boy shook his head. I did not tell Country Boy that I planned to be an engineer some day. Then Country Boy told me his name was Steven. He was also a ninth grader. He hadn't gone to school in town, except that there's one high school for the whole county. I felt bad for Country Boy having to ride the bus some good forty minutes twice a day. I got to ride my bike to school.

Also, I wondered what Steven thought when I told him that I'd only lived in Greenup three years.

"Does your dad work in the auto plant? My pa does."

"No, my dad's got his own print shop. He came here with a friend to open a business. We do signs, offset, banners, calendars. We even do computerized lay out. My stepmom knows desk top publishing. She taught herself."

"My mom babysites," answered Steven. "She also does painting some time."

I knew Steven lived too far away for me ever to go visit him. I also knew Joshua wouldn't be interested in him. Joshua's parents were rich snobs. Maybe I could introduce Steven to Lenny though. Lenny for all his lack of social grace was no snob.

I mused on all this as I worked on my drawing and then the bell rang. I was glad I'd see Steven again in two days. I've always wondered what it was like to grow up as a country boy.

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