Bachelor Living

Farm Forum

Every morning the school bus zips by our driveway, hauling its precious cargo of undersized humanoids to that big brick institution in town. And as the bus hurtles past, I think “Ha! Better you than me!”

I harbor few pleasant memories of my scholastic career. This is because I detested school due to it being a total waste of my time. After all, I was going to be a farmer and what did a farmer need to know about stuff like gerunds or the French Revolution?

However, I will grudgingly admit that attending school gave me a front row seat to some societal changes. For instance, when I was a freshman it was federal law that girls wear skirts. Being forced to go around bare-legged during our harsh winters seemed cruel and inhuman. But that’s how I felt about pretty much everything regarding school.

I remember my sisters wearing slacks beneath their skirts as they waited for the bus in subzero cold. Said slacks then had to be removed as soon as they arrived at school. By the time I was a senior, gender equity had arrived and females could wear slacks whenever they pleased. Yet I gathered that it would be frowned upon for a boy to attend classes wearing a skirt, so this equity didn’t extend to all.

Hair standards also underwent a radical transformation. During my freshman year, a guy could be expelled if his hair touched his ears. Boys’ hair also had be neatly combed and plastered in place with Brylcreem or, if you were poor like me, 30-weight motor. We all looked like miniature Ward Cleavers.

A few years later, the issue of hair length had gone by the wayside and some guys had hair that was longer than any girl’s. This often made it difficult to distinguish between the genders. Thank goodness for the invention of facial hair!

Our choices regarding classes also evolved. When I started high school, girls were expected to take Home Ec, which was basic training in the art of being a homemaker. Boys took Shop, which was basic training in the art of operating power tools without losing fingers.

In Shop, we made such things as crude picture frames and bookends. In Home Ec, the girls made such things as delicious cakes and pies. I’m just guessing that they were delicious based on the aromas that wafted through the hallways. Not that it would have mattered; teenaged boys generally scarf their food at such speed that the taste buds scarcely catch a glimpse as it whips by.

Thanks to gender equality, the school began to offer a course called Bachelor Living. This was Home Ec for guys, basic training in the art of being a lone male homemaker.

I signed up for Bachelor Living assuming — correctly, it turned out — that I would be spending a good deal of time living as a bachelor. It fit in with my plans for being a farmer.

One of the first things we learned in Bachelor Living was how to sew. We were shown how to reinstall buttons followed by the fabrication of a small pillow.

This turned out to be a complete waste of my time as I was already a seasoned veteran when it came to sewing.

The stitches we used to close up our pillows were nearly identical to those I had long used to lace up my work boots!

Next came cooking, which I knew would also bore me out of my gourd. Years earlier, my parents had established the tradition of me cooking our traditional Sunday night supper of pancakes. I was all for it because I thus got to skip Sunday evening milkings.

Pancakes are tricky. You have to have maintain the correct griddle temperature and the proper batter consistency. The recipe I used is simplicity in itself and can be summed up with the phrase “two of everything except for sugar, which is a third of a cup.”

Our Bachelor Living teacher tasked us with cooking something and I naturally chose pancakes. I envisioned an easy “A”, with golden pancakes that were so fluffy they would float right off the plate.

Call it overconfidence or call it performance anxiety. Whatever the reason, my flapjacks turned out a sickly brown and heavy as an anvil.

The teacher gave me a “nice try” grade, but I more disappointed with myself than anyone. The incident added another brick to the wall of my distasteful school memories.

But that class wasn’t a total loss. I recently strolled past the old school and glanced at the wall of an addition. Hmm, those bricks look vaguely familiar…

Hey! My pancakes!

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