One Person at a Time
Now nobody calls him `crazy' Luc Baxter. He's just Luc, a five-foot eight inches tall blond sixteen year-old boy, deep blue eyes and a smile that would melt the coldest heart and has done that on many occasions.
When you're monitoring the halls and Luc walks by you here comments like "He is so hot!" "Hi, Luc. You are such a babe!" And that's usually from some football jock. I'm joking! Unless you are talking about Brad Summers, the most popular football captain – what a hunk! If there was a Luc Baxter fan club Brad would be the president.
Luc is one of the most talented students this school has ever known. He sings, plays drums, guitar and keyboard. His favorite instrument is the keyboard. There is only one student who tops Luc in music ability – Matt Eastman. If Luc is extraordinary Matt is beyond extraordinary.
You are probably saying to yourself, "Okay, okay, but how did Luc become known as `Crazy' Luc Baxter?" Well, I will get to that in a sec but knowing the history is vital to understanding why Luc did what he did.
I'm gay. I don't flaunt it but I also don't deny it. I'm a teacher. I'm told one of the best. I've never had a complaint about my sexuality by any parent or student. I guess it's partly because I'm a nice person and a good teacher and I've strived most of my adult life to set a good example to others.
I counseled many teens that were gay, bi or straight. I think in ways those are the hardest years. Because of this Eddie came to me right after he came out to Luc.
The day after Luc knew Eddie had come out to me. He puttered around in the classroom until everyone had gone. I guessed that he wanted to speak to me. He hadn't spoken so I knew something was really bothering him.
"Luc, is something troubling you?" I asked.
Luc look at the floor, then around at the room, out the windows. He sighed. Looking down he spoke softly, "Yeah."
When he looked up I answered, "What's the problem?"
He sighed, "I'm trying to keep from crying, cuz – "His eyes filled with tears and his bottom lip began to quivered.
I figured he too was going to come out to me. So, I waited patiently.
"Sorry," he sniffed, "I love him. He's my best friend, but I don't want to be his boyfriend and I know he's hurting and that's ripping my heart out. Please Mr. Petri, what do I do?"
Luc and I talked for several hours the gist of what I told Luc was that Eddie was having a hard time with life – he'd come out, his parents had gotten a divorce and right now what he needed was a friend. "Luc, he knows how you feel but just be there as a real friend. Maybe you can even help him find someone."
That's exactly what he did. He found Joey Benson for his best friend Eddie. They were a perfect match.
Joey and Eddie decided not to hide the fact that they were a couple. That didn't settle well with Garrison Gordon. He was about six-six and all of 280lbs, boisterous, self-centered bully. In typical bully style Garrison Gordon decided to start harassing Eddie and Joey and that didn't settle at all well with Luc.
You have to realize Luc Baxter was well liked and Garrison Gordon was not liked by many. Gordon didn't like that people liked Luc.
"Hey, Gordon!" shouted Luc.
Gordon looked at Luc who was standing twenty feet away from him in the hall. The other students in the hall went silent and stopped to see what was going on.
"You've been messing with my best friend, Eddie and his boy friend, Joey. Word of warning – don't."
"Oh you mean the two fags."
I have never seen Luc so angry as he walk towards Gordon.
"You know what they say about homophobes like you. They say that they are simply suppressing their own homosexual desires. What are you jealous that Eddie has people who love him and you don't?"
"Shut up you little faggot!" said Gordon took a swinger at Luc which was blocked by Coach Masters.
"Luc are you crazy?" yelled Coach Masters, "This is not the way to handle this!"
"Yes, it is because – because I'm crazy Luc Baxter! I want to handle it now! He might hurt me but I don't care cuz he's hurting my friends and I won't have it. Make him promise not to hurt my friends! Do it!" shouted Luc angrily.
"I ain't promising you shit, Baxter," shouted Gordon. By this time I had a firm grip on Luc. He tired to get free but when he realized it was me he stopped.
"Come on Luc. It's not worth it," I said. He was still angry but cooperative.
"It's not fair and it's not over," he mumbled.
"Luc, you have my permission to go play the keyboard." I knew it would calm him down.
"Maybe later. Thanks," he said and walked off.
I was hoping that would be the end of it. I was half right. The next morning as homeroom started we heard over the school audio system.
"Good morning, Worthington High faculty, and students, this is crazy Luc Baxter, Yeah crazy is the right word. I just did a crazy thing. I locked myself in this room where our principal makes his announcements every Monday. Then I threw the key out the window. Now that is craaaaazzzzzzeeeeee!" He laughed but it was a nervous laugh.
He continued, "I'm in a pack of trouble for being in here and messing with the school audio system. Technically, I'm exercising my right to freedom of speech. My intention when I came in here and threw the key out the window was to exercise my right to freedom of speech to get even with another student who I had an upset with. My intention was to publicly humiliate him using this system because he hates the way a couple of my friends are. I don't understand why he hates them. They are definitely not a threat to him or anybody else."
A few moments passed by. I knew he was thinking.
What followed was an incredible dissertation on freedom of speech, responsibility and tolerance.
"Freedom of speech is our right. But along with that right or any right comes responsibility to use that right to further good not bad. If I use my freedom of speech to humiliate that student then I am no better and no different than he was when he tried to bully and to humiliate my friends. I know I have a lot of friends. I know I could be persuasive and turn them against this person. Some of them I may have already turned against him so I ask you to listen to me now – I was wrong. I may have the right to speak but I do not have the right to destroy another person for my self-gratification or even my own beliefs."
"We and I definitely include myself, need to learn, no that's the wrong word," he paused, "We need to practice, yes, practice tolerance and caring for others."
"Last year I had an upset with Tom Bedford. Tom and I are friends now but there was a time when we weren't. Tom was picking on some young freshman a third his size. Tom and I got into to it. I verbally sliced and diced him and served him up for lunch. And you thought the cafeteria served hamburgers that day - nope it was Tom Bedford's ass. Oops, I'm not supposed to use that word - ass. Darn I said it again." Kids inmy class laughed. Truth is I totally humilated Tom - I won. I got patted on the back by lots of people. I was a hero. I was flying high so full of myself about how I had toppled a guy twice my size without laying a hand on him."
"Then I got home and my Dad asked me how school was. I told him all about how I was a hero. He said, "I can see you're pretty proud of yourself." "Yes, Dad I am."
"What my dad said next shocked me, "I wish I could be proud of you too, but I'm not."
"What do you mean Dad? I stood up for the little guy against the bully."
"And that's commendable, son, but what I am ashamed of is the method you used. All you did was to prove you're a bigger bully than the bully. You didn't better things. You possibly made an enemy. What's going to happen the next time? Did you change his attitude so there won't be a next time?" That said he left me to sit and figure things out."
"I figured out you can't make people wrong for their actions cuz nobody likes to be wrong in the eyes of others. I think that is human nature. Like my dad did with me – Dad didn't say I was wrong he said he wasn't pround of me and the way I had handled things. I had to figure out I was wrong and once I figured that out I had to figure out how to make things right."
Luc went on for twenty minutes. Even though the bell had rung for first period no one in my classroom made any effort to leave. Some of the stuff he said was funny and definitely he got some laughs. Luc had proven yet again he had charisma and incredible insight.
The thing is he got other students thinking. And of course in the end Gibson Gordon became a member of the Lucas Baxter fan club.
The key was found. Luc got a three day suspension the excuse being `Rules are rules'. No one I knew both faculty and students thought it was fair.