February 26, 2022 at 1:35 a.m.
Mr. Watson, our biology teacher, was in possession of far more brains than were allowed under both state and federal law. At least, that is what we students thought.
I actually looked forward to biology class at the beginning of the year. This was because I had peeked ahead in the textbook to see what was in store. Way at the back of the book was a chapter titled simply, “Reproduction.”
It was about time the school offered something that would be of interest to a 15-year-old guy. I was confident that somewhere in the words of that chapter, I would uncover clues to understanding the convoluted labyrinth that’s known as the female mind. Science would triumph.
Getting through biology class was a daily struggle. We were lectured about such arcane facts as the differences between autotrophs and heterotrophs. The functions of xylem and chloroplasts were explained to us in excruciating detail. In short, I learned a bunch of terms that, until this very moment, were totally useless in the real world.
Biology class became a slog, a perpetual haze of incomprehension. I nearly herniated my brain whenever I tried to actually learn the material. I could never understand why they tried to teach such things to a bunch of people whose chief concern was their current zit count.
At last, toward the end of the school year, we reached chapter 23. I wore a broad grin when I went to biology class that day. For the first time ever, I was looking forward to school.
Mr. Watson stood at the front of the class and plowed right into the chapter without so much as a blush. He spoke openly about gametophores and zygotes and meiosis. He held nothing back when he graphically illustrated the polymerization of DNA.
And that old familiar haze slowly descended upon my brain.
Across the aisle from me sat a hulking classmate named Brock. Brock was as strong as a bulldozer and had abs the size of water bottles. He was unfailingly successful in the athletic arena, be it football, basketball or tiddlywinks. He nearly decapitated me once during a game of dodgeball.
For some unfathomable reason, Brock was extremely popular with the girls. This despite the fact that he had the IQ of linoleum. It was just another example of how impossible it was to comprehend the mysteries of the feminine psyche.
Brock must have been up late the night before, no doubt canoodling with one of the many young ladies in our school who were vying for his attention. He yawned frequently; it was clear he had neither the inclination nor the intellect to absorb the materials being presented in biology class.
As Mr. Watson droned on and on, Brock leaned back in his chair and began to doze. I found this deeply irritating. Here I was striving to learn all that I could about this reproduction stuff, yet Brock found it so boring, so passé that he could nap through it. (I was also miffed that Brock hadn’t asked me to join his posse of wingmen.)
Since I was absorbing precious little from Mr. Watson’s lecture, I began to pass the time with a game. Specifically, I wadded up bits of paper and tried to surreptitiously flick them into Brock’s open mouth.
I found this sport highly entertaining. But before I could score a direct hit, the bell signaling the end of class clanged. As I got up to leave, Mr. Watson called me over to his desk.
Oh, no. Mr. Watson had seen me. Lord knows what sort of diabolical punishments lay hidden in the depths of his massive brain.
Once we were alone in the classroom, Mr. Watson looked me in the eye.
“I’m very disappointed in you,” he said sternly. “You can do so much better. Come with me to the blackboard.”
Mr. Watson erased his DNA molecule drawing and began to fill the space with equations about angular momentum and triangulation. He went on to lecture me about the importance of calculating apogee and the correct use of vector analysis.
I left the classroom with a new respect for the power of knowledge and a deeper understanding of target acquisition. And I was beginning to think that brainy old Mr. Watson wasn’t such a bad sort after all.
Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry currently works full time for the Dairy Star as a staff writer/ad salesman. Feel free to E-mail him at: [email protected].
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