2010 - Spring - I'd Never Do That Entry
Heritage Heretic - 1. Heritage Heretic
"Trey, honey, are you sure you want to do this?" his mother asked as he finished packing the boxes in the back of his pick-up truck a full hour before school and the dreaded carnival.
"I'm sure mom."
"I'm not sure I like you spreading our personal business around the community like this."
"It's not our personal business. It's a matter of public record, sort of."
"No it's not."
"There is a record of it somewhere and people other than me and you, dad, and her know about it. That makes it rather public don't you think. And those people won't give me any information, information that is about me and in my opinion is not theirs to keep away from me. What if I have some terrible disease coming my way? I have the right to know mom."
"And she has the right to privacy."
"No. No. No. She gave up any rights to anything when…" Trey threw the last box in the truck and went back into the house, silently fuming. He and his mom had been having this particular argument since the day he turned eighteen and would continue to have it, it seemed as they were clearly on opposite sides of the fence. He gathered up a few last things and then waited until his mom entered the kitchen before exiting. He kissed her on the cheek as they passed. "I have to go so I can get set up. I love you mom. Really I do, but you aren't going to change my mind on this. People need to be aware."
"But why you?"
"Why not me?" He smiled at her and slipped outside.
The truck rumbled to life, and his mom wiped a tear from her eye. She had honestly hoped he would have dropped it, but the boy was headstrong. She had to give him that and while she may not have given birth to him, she had raised him from the time he was born, so she was responsible for shaping him into the man he had become. She may not like some of his choices, but she was pretty proud of the man behind them.
Students had voluntarily grouped themselves by ethnic origin or other aspect of their heritage and put together a display which was supposed to be both informative and interactive. There were rules on the types of displays and Trey and read them very carefully - very, very carefully - and he felt his display was within the rules, just barely, as he draped the black cloth over his assigned table in a long row of tables in the gym and started putting up the informational tri-fold boards about adoptee's rights or lack thereof. He took the planter he had prepared and stuck the single bare branch in the dirt. On the planter it read An Adoptee's Family Tree. He smiled wanly, and unpacked the next box.
Because the rules did state that each table must be manned by at least two people, Trey did have a partner in crime, Daniel, who was walking up now with yet another box. "You are absolutely positive this is in the rules? I got my mom to donate like four cases of condoms. And if I get in trouble she's gonna be pissed at both of us."
"Yep, she considered it a good cause, if it's legal and all, and she said to make sure they all got out to the kids, but I could keep a few." Daniel winked then dropped the boxes he was carrying on the floor by his feet before leaning over to kiss his boyfriend, who reciprocated freely.
"Well if nothing else that should make our table popular with a certain crowd."
"Hopefully the crowd who needs it," Daniel agreed as they both exited the building and made their way to the student parking lot to finish getting the rest of the boxes. They had just about finished getting the table set up when their classmates began to show up to put the final preparation on the other tables. Trey and Daniel covered theirs with a second black sheet and sat on camping stools grinning like they had a big secret as their classmates gave them odd looks when they passed their table.
The homeroom bell rang, and all the seniors filed out of the gym so they could be counted as present for the day, then the entire student body would be taken to an assembly on diversity before being dismissed to 'enjoy the festivities'. The seniors, however, had to man their booths for the first hour of the day while they were being judged then they could take turns keeping them manned the rest of the school day while they checked out their classmate's booths. The non-physical ones like Trey and Daniel's were inside. The seniors were excused from the assembly first so they could go man their booths. Trey and Daniel did not hurry to their spot in the back of the gym as they were as prepared as they were going to be and it would take a few minutes for anyone to get back to them anyway, even the judges always seemed to start in the front and work their way back. This was why they were still standing near the gym doors when the first of the freshmen darted out of the auditorium and out the front doors into the sunshine whooping as they went. Daniel chuckled as the sophomores and juniors headed to the gym shaking their heads and grinning. Trey elbowed Daniel, "They'll be back."
"Yup," he agreed as he remembered his freshman year and the way he hurried out to the games only to realize he couldn't play any until he visited the inside booths to get tickets. It sucked but that was how the system worked.
"Are you ready?" Daniel asked Trey. "This is your show."
"It's just as much yours as mine, but people sort of know about you."
"Yeah," Daniel grinned as he unbuttoned his shirt to reveal the t-shirt underneath, "Let's do it."
"Oh my God!" Sarah Lee Hendrix gasped from the booth across from them, "You guys are going to be in so much trouble when a teacher comes this way."
"Probably," Trey told her as he stepped around the side of the booth to hand her a pamphlet on adoptee's rights issues, a game ticket, a button that read, 'I could be Trey's sister' and a condom. Then he took in their entire table from her perspective. The bottom cloth was black and the lettering was in yellow paper letters. To one side was a heading that read Open Minds Open Records and to the other was Bastards of the World Unite.
One of the tri-folds had information about the lack of availability of adoptee records and how this denied an adoptee their heritage in many ways. The other explained how having illegitimate children indiscriminately and not knowing who the father of your child could be, in a way, worse than adoption because there were no records. In small letters on the table top were the slogans, Legitimacy is for Wimps on the bastard side, and My Records, My Choice on the adoptee side. There were pamphlets concerning Adoptee Rights and Planned Parenthood.
Daniel's t-shirt said, "Do you know where your Bastard is?" in gold letters on a black t-shirt. He was wearing black Dickies, and passing out their handouts to passerbies. Trey's own t-shirt simply said, Are you my bio-mom? in big letters across his chest with a little bird looking up at an elephant. Across the bottom in smaller letters it read, Sealed records Suck. They both had Bastards Unite emblazed on the back.
Trey was satisfied with how it looked and with the presentation over all. Daniel looking all cute in black didn't hurt any.
"I would never do that," Sara Lee said.
"Do what?" Trey looked at her, "Admit you're a bastard? Admit you're adopted? Admit you don't know who your birth mother is or who donated the sperm that you grew from? Be glad you don't have to. Really be glad you don't have to go through the hassle of trying to get records from the government or need medical information that might be vital to your health. Yeah, I'd never do it either, given a choice, but you know what? I wasn't. So here I am. I'll tell you one thing. I'll never do it to a kid of mine though."
"Trey, you're gay." Sara Lee reminded him.
"Don't even get me started on Gay Adoption Rights," Trey said as he gave her a look.
"So, does this mean you are for or against adoption?" Amanda asked as she walked up accepting her handouts from Trey.
"I'm totally for adoption. I got a totally cool mom and dad out of the deal. It's just I'm insanely against sealed records for adult adoptees or sealed medical records at any time for anyone. I honestly think that everyone involved at the birth should be on a first name basis and should share information at least for the sake of the child they share."
"I would never do that," she said with a shake of her head. "Once the baby is with the adoptive parents, I mean, you know, they have it. You know? It's their problem."
"But what if you found out that you had cancer? Did you know that some forms of it run in families? How about heart disease? Wouldn't you want your child to know that he or she may be susceptible to these things? Adoptive parents need to know, adoptees need to know. Did you know I can't even fill out a medical history for my doctor that involves anyone but me? How can he advise me?" Trey took a deep breath. "Look, I'm sorry, I don't mean to rant. It's just been difficult dealing with all the idiots who keep telling me that according to the state I'm still a child, and always will be. I just want to know who I am."
Amanda smiled at him. "Well that's easy - you're Trey - our favorite queer!" Then she smacked him on the chest.
"Hope you don't get in trouble over all the cuss words."
"I'm counting on it," he winked, "you know there is an anti-discrimination rule in the handbook that states they can't discriminate against me based on any aspect of my heritage, and this is a big part of mine. I'm a bastard. Daniel's a bastard. It's a fact of life. Bastards happen. We are preventable. Use a condom. Take a pill. Just say no. Whatever it takes."
Amanda just tweaked him on the nose and grinned before walking off. Sara Lee headed back to her booth too, which, oddly, was on Norway. Trey sighed and made his way back over to Daniel who ordered him to sit on the camp stool and look pretty for a bit. "You can present to the judges when they come. It was your idea."
It was only fifteen minutes later when another senior came walking quickly up to their table.
"The judges are coming here, now. Seems some frosh ratted you out on language."
Trey just stood up and stretched, grinning like the Cheshire cat. Then he bent over and rummaged through his backpack for the student handbook he had stashed there for this purpose. He had put sticky notes on a few pages and highlighted certain passages so he would be able to find them easily, even with steam coming out of his ears.
"Mr. George and Mr. Sullivan, I should have known."
"Hello Mr. Thompkins, Ms. Smith," Trey said as he laid the book down behind the tri-fold on adoptees' rights. "How can we help you?"
"You can explain your booth, Trey?" Ms. Smith, one of the teachers in the social sciences department, asked him.
"Well, Daniel and I were discussing our heritage and discovered we had something huge in common. Neither one of us knows who our biological father is. And while that might not seem important to you, it seems extremely relevant to today's assignment. We are bastards by the historical definition, as recorded by Webster. The term was being commonly used as early as the eleventh century. However, there are even biblical references, but they are historically questionable, although it's said that Jesus was a bastard too. Although he was also adopted, it was sort of an open arrangement." Trey grinned and leaned across the table to hand the teachers the pins he had stashed behind the tri-folds just for any adults that might come by. These read I'm not Trey's bio-mom or I'm not Trey's bio-dad. He held one out to each of them. "Wear if you dare."
Mr. Thompkins did not take the button, instead he puffed up and turned red in the face. "Now see here, young man, these words are obscene and will be removed immediately!"
"With all respect, sir, no can do," Trey shook his head, "you see these words are protected by law, and I'm not just talking the first amendment, which is sort of thin ice in the public school system. And I know you might find this difficult to understand, being as you teach math and all, but I'll try to make it clear. See there is this law called the anti-discrimination code. You cannot discriminate against me based on my race, ethnicity, national origin, creed, or even my sexual orientation in this school, and I say that my being a bastard ties in tightly with the majority of those facets of who I am. Now prove that it isn't."
Maybe it was because Mr. Thompkins looked like he was about to explode, or maybe it was for some other reason, but Ms. Smith, touched him on the arm and cleared her throat. "Why don't we all go down and talk in a less public setting? I'm sure one of your classmates can sit here and hand out your literature until you return. Is there anyone you prefer?" Trey looked at Daniel who nodded to Freddy at the booth beside theirs. They had also planned for this.
"Fine but I'm not wearing the shirt," Freddy said, "nor am I claiming to be a bastard. My mother and father were well married before my birth. That is part of my heritage: Christian. Marriage then babies. Just say no."
"It's all good, we got a shirt you can wear," Daniel said as he held it up. As the rest it was black with gold lettering, it read: Some of my Best Friends are Bastards across the front and Bastards Unite across the back.
Mr. Thompkins exploded.
Half an hour later they were still sitting in the office with Dr. Milstead, the principal, and the cultural studies teacher, Mr. Tisdale. Their parents had arrived and were backing the boys up fully in their assertion that being a bastard could be considered a heritage of sorts, although it was not the one they attempted to teach to their sons. The parents agreed that basing their heritage project on being a bastard was, as Trey had presented, within the rules, as the students had been given.
Mr. Tisdale was silent on the subject.
Dr. Milstead wasn't quite buying it; however he had stopped talking expulsion and had moved on to suspension. Mr. and Mrs. George wasn't backing down. Ms. Sullivan didn't look very happy, but she wasn't giving an inch either.
"Both of these boys are honor students, Dr. Milstead. Trey requested an alternate assignment and his request was denied, in writing," Mr. George pulled a piece of paper out of a folder he had brought with him to the meeting and passed it across the desk, "see here, that's his signature, is it not?" He pointed to Mr. Tisdale.
He and the boys had talked a lot about this happening over the past few weeks he really understood where they were coming from and while he didn't completely agree with their methodology he did agree that they had a right to make a statement and if necessary a stand. So, he took a deep breath and continued speaking in a calm, but firm manner keeping his focus on the principal, as he was the one here who could actually make a decision and hopefully it wasn't just the boy's future at stake.
"Cultural Studies, as a class, has been difficult for Trey over the past few months, but he's hung in there and managed to give Mr. Tisdale the information he wanted up until this project. Trey was so torn over it and angry. He's adopted. But he only found out a couple months ago, and to be honest, we weren't the ones to tell him. I know we should have told him when he was much younger, but we didn't. The whys of the situation don't matter now, it's a fact of his life. Anyway, when he turned eighteen, he tried to find out about his birth parents, but those records are sealed -- permanently it seems. When the state informed him he was then and is now forever considered a child in the case he went a little ballistic. That was about the same time this project was assigned. His mother and I were just glad he didn't turn to drugs or alcohol. We asked him if he wanted us to come down here and talk to you all, but he waved us off. He said that he and Daniel had come up with an idea that would serve his purpose and fulfill the requirements of the assignment. I asked to see what they had in mind and read over the proposal. It looked sound." He paused for a moment, and then turned to Daniel's mother who was sitting on the far side of Daniel at the conference table.
"Victoria, I think you really need to sit down and talk to Daniel about his father, not mother to son, but adult to adult. Any information might be better than not knowing. I know I'm not a therapist and I know it's not my business but after all this business with Trey…" he shook his head, "well I'm all for open adoptions now, whereas when Trey was born I didn't want to know anything about his birth mother. I'm sorry I did my son that disservice." Then he focused in on Mr. Tisdale, "I'm not so sure I shouldn't be suing you for his therapy bills."
"Me?" the man fluttered.
"Yes, you!" Mr. George ground out the two words and the vessel on his forehead that Trey had grown to fear over the years popped up under the skin just a little. "Cultural Studies my ass. I've seen some of those assignments you've given these boys. Trace your family tree back four generations. Do you realize that most of the kids in this school could never do that? Four generations is during World War II for these kids. There were lots of bastards born during that time frame. I don't know who my great-great grandparents were. Not their full names. One might have been Native American and one might have been French. Four generations is a long time for people who were scattered across a globe three times since then. Can you name your great-grand grandparents?" His wife reached over and touched his knee. He took a deep breath and turned his attention back on the principal once again not giving any of them time to speak.
"Since the flower-power generation we have become a bastardized nation with no established paternal lines and step or half relationships sometimes twice removed becoming the norm. You will not marginalize, ostracize, or otherwise dehumanize my son for accepting who he is and embracing it with enthusiasm. And you don't even have to like it. His right to be a bastard is protected by law. Now is this meeting over or do I need to call my lawyer?"
"There is no need for your lawyer, Mr. George, I just fail to see how the boys should go unpunished for the use of an obscene word in our institution when the rules are very clear on the matter," Dr. Milstead said with a shake of his head.
"Would the school's stance be the same if the boys' chose another aspect of their cultures to look into for their heritage day assignment?" Ms. Sullivan asked. "If bastard were replaced with witch or queer, would it make a difference?"
"How is that even similar?" Mr. Tisdale asked back, "The assignment was to look into your family's background and choose some part of that to share with the other students. Are you homosexual as well? Are you pagan? Is this something you have passed down to your sons for generations? That was the assignment."
"The boys have adopted paganism as their religion as my husband and I are Baptist and our church believes they are sinners going to hell," Mrs. George said quite honestly, "my husband and I do not believe that Trey and Daniel are going to hell, but we can see where they would be uncomfortable attending services. We discussed it and while we don't like it, we believe they need some form of religion and back them in their faith while we continue to pray for them in ours."
"And I agree with that." Ms. Sullivan agreed, "I raised Daniel Catholic. He prefers not to be Catholic right now. I pray for him, and no I am not homosexual and I resent your making that remark, Mr. Tisdale. I raised Daniel to be a good boy. Why he's homosexual I do not know. Maybe it was because he didn't have a father in his life like they say but that is his business and not yours."
"The point we were trying to make, Dr. Milstead, and that everyone seems to be missing, is that Trey is adopted." Daniel said after his mother had finished. "He has no heritage except the ones that he adopted."
"But I do have something in common with a large group of people, a culture of other people who are out there." Trey said softly, "Adopted people."
"And bastards like me," Daniel said with a smile, "sorry mama."
"People who don't know where they are from. But do know where they are going. Thanks to the people in their lives: like my adoptive parents and Ms. Sullivan. You see, Mr. Tisdale, one thing we did learn in your class… culture and heritage isn't always about genetics and family trees. You can adopt it too."
It was about then the walkie-talkie screeched. "We have a situation in the gym Dr. Milstead."
Dr. Milstead picked it up and pressed the button, "I'm in a conference."
"Yes, it's about that. You might want to come look."
"I'll be right back. No one go anywhere." He said as he got up and left the room. A few minutes later the secretary came in and asked them all to go to the gym posthaste.
"Do either of you know what this is about?" Mr. George asked the boys.
Trey looked at Daniel and shrugged. "No sir," they said pretty much together.
When they arrived there were hundreds of students sitting on the gym floor between the displays, many of which were covered with sheets. They weren't saying anything, just sitting quietly. Dr. Milstead was standing just inside the door looking at the sea of seated students, mostly upperclassmen.
"Do you care to explain this?" he asked Trey and Daniel when they arrived.
The two young men looked over at their friends in amused astonishment. "What's this about?" Daniel asked Tyler, who happened to be nearest.
"We're all bastards too. If you two get in trouble, well, we just want you to know you're not alone. You know -- solidarity bro!"
Trey laughed. "We didn't do this, Dr. Milstead. I guess everyone decided we are all in the same boat, being bastards and all. It's a cultural thing: equal rights, equal treatment. Sort of like a civil rights issue, but a cultural one. You kind of have to be part of it to understand."
Mr. Tisdale shook his head, "Now look here, there will be none of that. There will be no cultural revolution over bastardy. It's… it's…"
"Happening?" Daniel supplied as he sat down with his friends. A few girls in the back started singing We Shall Over Come.
Dr. Milstead shook his head trying to suppress laughter. "I think the boys are right Mr. Tisdale. It's happening. I guess we can be thankful the media didn't show up."
"I knew we forgot something!" Tyler said to the girl sitting next to him who just shook her head and laughed.
"Alright, in light of the cultural setting, and the fact that some education is taking place, for today, and today only the display stands, however, if at any future date I see any visual reference to this particular display in any form there will be no mercy." Dr. Milstead looked at Trey and Daniel, "Is that understood boys?"
"Yes sir, completely sir," each said in turn as he nodded in agreement.
"Now all of you get up off the floor and finish with the day or I'm going to send you all back to classes!" Dr. Milstead tried to sound mean, but he was grinning too large to pull it off.
Ms. Sullivan grinned at her son and gave him a thumbs-up. He grinned back.
Mrs. George hugged her son, who hugged her back. "I'm so proud of you, Trey. I could have never done what you did today."
"And I could have never done it without you."
There really is a World Heritage Day. In 2010, it is celebrated on April 18th.
Information concerning adoptee/adoption rights can be found at Bastard Nation.
2010 - Spring - I'd Never Do That Entry
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