My 15-year-old self had a silly secret crush at Wheeler Hall (High School)
Shad 8 Black
HUSKEY TRAILWAYS (SEPT 2006 THRU MAY 2007)
SHAWN OWENS; 14-year-old, African-American, an eighth-grader; homophobic Christian. I always looked up to Senior J for one year between September 2006 to May 2007. Senior J slowly became one of my very few acquaintances in my teen years. We first encounter on a bus trip (on the semi-weekly weekend). We would stay at the Boys’ Dormitories for sports on the weekend. Dorm students go back and forth between home locals and the boarding school.
My Childhood HOME (RIVERVIEW, MO) JUNE 2007
KIM: “You know, I don’t believe that going back to MSD is the best option for you this year!”
My younger self, who was just 14 at the time, was giving her an odd look.
SHAWN: “Where will we be going? Where?!”
KIM (being provocative): “Harvest Christian Academy for the Deaf! It’s located in Georgia! We could move and live there!”
FLASHBACK: PARKER BAPTIST CHURCH – MORNING
Pastor Paul is a tall, white, forty-year-old man in a church pantsuit.
Pastor Paul is a tall, white, forty-year-old man in a church pantsuit. Every Sunday and Wednesday, Paul preaches at Ephraim Baptist Church for the Deaf in the basement of the Parker Baptist Church.
PASTOR PAUL (Talking to Kim): “Good Christian school in Georgia. You can transfer him there. He’ll be happier to fit in.”
Kim also thought I would be happier in Georgia, but I told her I wasn’t ready to leave my new friends behind in Missouri.
MY Home (JUNE 2007)
Refusing to obey Kim instead of moving out of Missouri. I had thrown the chairs through the windows, damaged household property, etc. That way, I would know that NO one wants to buy the house as bad as it looks. I remember my mother gave up trying to sell the house as much as she thought we would move out soon. I won and stayed in Missouri, which was a ridiculously idiotic choice. As an adult, I realized I should’ve listened to her because I fuckin’ HATED Missouri! I didn’t even think twice. Mom was right the whole time! She does know what was best for me! I should NOT have chosen Missouri over Georgia, but it’s too little, too late now! Why didn’t I think of moving out at the time? I would’ve gone straight to Atlanta, Georgia!
TATE HALL – MY BEDROOM (FALL 2007)
Look at me sulking because I selfishly got what I wanted.
WHEELER HIGH SCHOOL (2007 THRU 2008)
My 15-yr-old self had learned a valuable lesson after realizing my foolish mistake of disobeying a parent to avoid living in Georgia. I remembered walking with my head down in hallways, classrooms, and everywhere at Missouri School for the Deaf. I couldn’t focus on my academic performance in the first year of high school. I was mistaken for making friends there; all I cared about was being famous, but I was NEVER a popular kid. I was a fuckin’ mess. That’s what I was. I had already become a social pariah. In fact, NO one liked me, and NO one wanted to befriend a homophobic Christian.
Almost no one believes in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many Deaf teens complained about me the whole year at the boarding school. They thought I was the most boring kid they had ever met. I always spoke of entertainment books and movies in every dialogue, and that was all I ever did. I wasn’t good at playing football or basketball. Well, I was good at one thing: track-and-field. I could be the next Jessie Owens because it was a good start, but I NEVER go along for the next three years of high school.
I became increasingly thrilled about seeing Senior J in high school every day for the rest of the year. I thought of him as an older brotherly model, an example to follow, a geek buddy, and a fantastic listener. I thought we were getting along as homies for the rest of our lives! Boy, I was so wrong!
A Jewish deaf girl named Madison Travers strongly disapproves of me by saying that I “blah-blah too much” about Senior J. It was because of this that my coon ass got me into trouble.
CAFETERIA – AFTER LUNCH
SENIOR J (Only to Shawn alone in the empty cafeteria): “It’s incredibly embarrassing that you brought up Chris Brandon and I in front of everyone. In addition, I never engage in any kind of sexual experimentation with other people. Put an end to this insanity right now!”
I hid my disappointment with a cocky smile as if it didn’t affect me. I know I was wrong to spread misinformation.
SENIOR J (angrily insulting him in American Sign Language): “I’m NOT a fan of clout-chasing just because you wanted to be popular. What an idiot!”
15-YR-OLD SHAWN: “Nah. I only rehearse one of my best punchlines from movies, so I could be popular.”
SENIOR J (He scoffs at me): “I bet no one would care!”
I couldn’t wait to get him out of my eyesight so I won’t feel intimidated again when returning to the Wheeler Hall building.
INGLE AUDITORIUM – WHEELER HIGH
No one went to class after lunch. Everybody went to the stage show. In the dark, I sat alone in the middle of crowds. I didn’t actually watch the full performance of a glee club named SIGNING EAGLES. They sang something of a twentieth-century theme.
15-YR-OLD SHAWN (eye-rolling): “It’s the dumbest play I ever have seen.”
FIRST FLOOR – WHEELER HIGH SCHOOL
I got stressed out over how to win Senior J back. I’d been stalking him on the first floor and saw him walking towards the other side of the hall, hugging Chris Brandon and Asian Deaf Girl in entwining arms. I repeated, arms in arms while they walk!
I walked too close and went behind them and got closer. Three Deaf teens moved their heads towards me at the very end of the hall, and the available flight of stairs led up to the second floor.
Shawn (to Senior J): “You know what? I thought you were sort of adorable.”
Three faces were open-mouthed and wordless.
Chris Brandon (shockingly, he asks me) “Huh?! WTF! Are you bi?”
SENIOR J’S LOCKER – FIRST FLOOR (25 MINUTES LATER)
After surviving one class to go home on Friday, it was time for Deaf kids to ride back home this weekend. My 15-year-old self went downstairs to check on Senior J on the first floor, seeing him again. Now, it was only two of us who were alone when everyone left the building. I stalked him while collecting something from the locker. I knelt down next to him.
15-YR-OLD SHAWN (sighing in a long defeat): “Are you doing ok after what I did today? I know it’s too weird talking to you, but…”
I was acting weird around him, ugh, not again! I hated myself doing that. As an adult now, I wondered why I did that. I was so stupid.
SENIOR J (uncomfortably, he told me in ASL): “Leave me the hell alone!”
He just walked away from me as far as he could. I stood alone while being left behind in the empty cafeteria after experiencing my first confrontation with him. The first reaction I got was ashamed. The second time it happened, I was left standing in the empty hall of Wheeler High School.
HUSKEY TRAILWAY BUS – REAR KITCHEN – 2:15 PM
I put my traveling bag on the lower side of a Huskey bus with five doors opening that probably looked like a trap door or an opening hatch. It looks like a sliding compartment of luggage storage inside the bus. I don’t know if that’s the right word to describe a door where traveling bags are stored.
I decided to find the best seating in the middle area of the transit bus so I could watch the older male teens in the front seatings as they soon discover their seats in front of a bus operator. When Senior J drags himself onboard, his facial expressions groan in disgust after seeing me putting up his traveling bag in the overhead compartment. Senior J was only a few inches across from me but didn’t put the portable bag above me. He wasn’t happy that he couldn’t sit in the middle anymore. Maybe I stole it from him. LOL.
TWENTY MINUTES LATER
I had caught Senior J ranting off to one of his peers and complaining over my behavior, of course. That’s when I became a social pariah all over again. This was the moment I wished I had killed myself, but I didn’t. All Deaf friends of Senior J excitedly reacted to his complaint details. So they started asking me: “Are you gay?” or “Seriously, come on, tell me!”
SENIOR J (Looking at him directly in the eye): “I thought you said you despise gay people. But now, you, like me, what the fuck?”
I was already humiliated, of course. It wasn’t until it got to the point that the bus found its very first stop in a half-hour. The bus driver had to find a parking lot behind a fast food restaurant as it was time for Senior J to go home. He walks towards me, where he previously put the traveling bag on a ceiling shelf. That was only why he put a traveling bag on the overhead shelf a few inches away from me, which was odd. Senior J wasn’t sitting next to me, though.
The last words he told me when throwing a bag over his shoulder. Senior J turns his head over at me on his left side while getting off the bus.
SENIOR J (His hostile face kills everything): “Do not even try looking at my ass! Faggot!”
It was as if the best quote no one could ever forget. I hurriedly walked toward Senior J by kicking him in the butt crack! My 15-yr-old self finally had an explosive fit of wrath as I quickly left my seat.
10045 MCCARTNEY LANE – RIVERVIEW, Missouri – 9 PM
Finally, I own up to what occurred back on the bus. My mother couldn’t extract the answers from me because she noticed how upset I was. Why, clearly, she cared about me.
15-YR-OLD SHAWN (wailing aloud): “I don’t want to go back again! I wanted to quit high school! Everyone knows the truth! I’m really ashamed of myself!”
10 MINUTES LATER
Mom called Pastor Paul right away, and of course, he would come and see me. I told Pastor Paul what happened on that bus. I pretended to agree with him that this was a sinful nature of same-sex attraction, so Pastor Paul and my mother prayed my sins away. Then one Sunday afternoon, I told my mother I didn’t want to go back to school again on Monday because I was too embarrassed to think about Senior J being mad at me. She insisted I go through with it. And I did. I was so, so, so emotionally traumatized that I managed to survive. I’m surprised that I didn’t kill myself over this. I mean, I would have!
SENIOR J GRADUATED ON MAY 18, 2008 (3 PM), TWO MONTHS LATER
At Senior J’s graduation, I offered his sincerest condolences to him about my inappropriate behavior in March 2008; nevertheless, he ignored me in gloomy silence and told me again to forget about the incident and move on. Since he left for college all by himself after graduating from high school, I haven’t had the chance to catch up with him. I spent the second year between 2008 and 2009 all by myself since he had graduated high school by then. I was afraid that I would be alone.
15 years later
Senior J and I reconnected on Facebook in 2017, and we became friends later. We don’t really chat that much. He’s doing fine with his life now as an adult. He’s having twin babies with his wife. We forgave each other and moved on. While writing this blog, I’m struggling with Writer’s Block Syndrome. Blogging about it made me uncomfortable because I didn’t know what to say. So leave it at that.