Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Truth about... the Class Trip

In May 1984, I was a senior in High School.  I was working almost every night at Burger King, and volunteering with the Rescue Squad and Ambulance.  I'd been accepted to Drexel University, and finally had a girlfriend (in my book I called her Julianne.)

The whole year, I'd been making payments on the class trip.  Like the class the year before, we were going to Walt Disney World in Florida.  I used Burger King money (as I wasn't spending it on girl clothes anymore.)

The day finally arrived!  We boarded busses in front of the high school.  I remember listening to The Doors Greatest Hits on my walkman as we went.

We arrived at the hotel in Florida around noon.  There were palm trees!  I'd never seen those before!  It was a whole different world.  My assigned roommate was a guy named Mike.  I barely knew him, even though I worked with his brother, Scott, at BK.  Scott was one of the "cool kids-" a talented baseball player who the ladies adored.  Good guy, too.

The hotel was two L shaped buildings, forming a square around an inner courtyard.  That courtyard had a swimming pool.  Spring Ford had the two lower floors of one building (out of three stories), and, across the courtyard, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, New Brunswick, NJ had the entire other building.

The rules were typical: no alcohol or drugs, stay with the group, etc.  There was one atypical one.  Guys were on the first floor, and girls were on the second floor.  Girls obviously could be on the Ground floor, but guys couldn't be on the second floor.  Wouldn't want any hanky panky goin' on, would we?

The problems with these rules were numerous.  For one, there were many couples on this trip.  The girl would simply stay in her boyfriend's room, while the "roommate" would bunk in someone else's room using a pull out bed, which were available for free upon request.  So much for "no sex."  I know of several couples who made use of this loophole.  One of the guys who graduated the year before us was living in the Orlando area, and he supplied copious amounts of beer, weed, and whatever to his friends (essentially the "cool guys.")  Then there were a small group of classmates who drove down themselves to stay with the aforementioned alumnus, and stayed at his place.  They appeared at the hotel parties.  If I knew these things, then I have to assume all of us knew, because I was pretty out of touch.  (I knew because my co-workers at Burger King told me.)

We checked in, then we went to the brand new Wet N Wild- a water park.  We all had a blast!  I got a wicked sunburn on my chest, as I fell asleep during an inner tube ride that went in a large circle.  Ouch!

That night, there was a cookout and party by the pool in the center courtyard of the hotel.  I was recovering from a leg cramp while swimming, and was getting a soda and bumped into a cute black haired girl named Beverly.  Beverly was from the NJ school.  We chatted, and she was very nice.  We talked the entire picnic.  I told her I had a girlfriend, and she told me about her boyfriend back home.

The next day, my class went to the newly opened Epcot Center.  I hung around with my friends Bob and Scitman, and we had a blast.  That night, the class went to a restaurant for dinner and dancing.  I even danced a little (which was very rare.)  I was having a wonderful time!

Epcot Map, 1984

We went back to the hotel, where there was to be a pool party.  Actually, the party had already started by the time we arrived, and the Jersey folks were having a blast!  Beverly saw me and asked if I was going to go swimming again.  I said I was, and she said she was as well, but she had to go up to her room to give her roommate her keys.  She was staying on the third floor on the other side of the hotel.  Would I like to head up with her, and meet her roomie?  Sure, why not?

On our way up the stairs on their side of the hotel, we encountered one of my classmates, I'll call him Mal.  He was coming down from the third floor as we were going up.  I thought nothing of it at the time.

We arrived at Beverly's room.  The door was propped open, as there was a gentle breeze blowing, and, well, her roomie didn't have keys.  Beverly introduced me to her roomie, who was laying on the bed reading a book.  (I forget her name.)  She then went to the restroom.  I turned and looked out the door.  Walking past the door, I saw my 11th grade Chemistry teacher, I'll call her Mrs. B.  She was an elderly woman, heavyset with dyed black hair and thick glasses.

For a moment, I thought "Oh shit!" then I remembered- I was on the other side of the hotel!  So I immediately calmed down.  Beverly came out of the bathroom, and we headed downstairs to the party.

I took off my shirt and was heading for my room to get a towel when I was roughly grabbed by two teachers, and almost carried to a room.  There, I was left alone with the principal.  His posture was stiff, and his hands were behind his back.  The rhythm of his speech reminded me of Ed Sullivan, to match his posture.

"Now... I have heard...a ROOM-er... that YOU were on the third floor... of the hotel."

I hate lies, so I said I had been on the third floor of the other side.  I told him exactly what had happened.

He told me that the "student council" was "deliberating [my] fate" as we spoke.  Now remember, there were people swapping rooms, going out drinking, etc, but I was the one in trouble!  It didn't take long- the Student Council decided that my Horrendous Crime was worth my being sent home from the class trip.  The principal called my parents, and explained that I was being sent home, and that he'd call again with flight times.  I would have to pay the school for my ticket home AND for a chaperone!

I was permitted to go back to my hotel room with an escort of the same two teachers who grabbed me earlier.  I was not allowed to speak to anyone.  Everyone was staring.  Some hooted and hollered.  I packed my things, and was escorted back to the principal's room.  He ordered a cot brought to the room, and there I spent the night.

The principal snored.

Early the next morning, I was awakened and herded toward a van.  The chaperone was waiting.  He taught business, and had a waxed curling moustache.  He didn't want to come to Florida in the first place, and was glad to go home early.

I didn't speak on the way to the airport, waiting for the plane, boarding... but the teacher was chatting away, happy as can be.  About halfway back to Philadelphia, he took the hint and stopped trying to speak to me.  I just looked out the window, and seethed.  I also wrote in a book I had with me.  I'll come back to that.

How did Mrs. B know to look for me up there?  We were there for less than five minutes, and we told no one where we were going.  In fact there was only one person who knew: Mal.  he must've told the teachers where I was going.  Did I mention nobody liked that guy?

After we landed, my dad met me at baggage claim.  He exchanged curt pleasantries with the teacher, and led me to his truck.  He didn't say a word to me then, or for the entire ride home.  When we arrived home. we pulled up into the driveway and started walking toward the back door.  He pointed at the lawn mower sitting in the backyard.  He didn't speak to me for a week.

I thought that would be the end of it.  It was Friday, and I was home early.  The class were going to Disney World that day.  Sometime during that day, probably first thing after arriving, they were assembled for a class picture.  Obviously, as I was miles away (probably in flight) I am not in the picture.

After I finished cutting the grass and putting away the mower, I decided to go down to Burger King and pick up my check.  It was payday after all.  I walked into BK, and when the staff saw me, they gave me an ovation.  They had heard what happened.  People who were in Florida started spreading the word via phone probably as it happened.

The BK staff heard that I was caught naked having sex.  And that I had her arms tied to the bedposts with leather straps.  I told them what had actually happened.  Some of them believed me.  Others didn't.

At 4 PM, I called "Julianne" at home.  The first words out of her mouth were "You'd better have a great explanation for this."  She'd heard at HER school as well!  She said she'd heard that we were caught having sex, I was tied to the bed, and the girl was wearing a leather dominatrix outfit complete with whip.  I told Julianne the truth.  She believed me, but our relationship was doomed.  When we broke up, the class trip was one of the things she brought up.

Monday morning, I went to school.  With me, I brought a blank check from my bank account.  I stopped in the office, and was told the amount.  It all but emptied my account- the money I was saving for college.

I ended up being late for homeroom.  The homeroom teacher gave me two demerits for being late, despite my telling her where I was, and showing my hall pass.  I had NEVER, in all my school career, received a single demerit before this.  And that wasn't the only one.  By the time final exams rolled around, I had NINE demerits (ten meant suspension) for various offenses, none of which were demerit worthy.  (Like "taking too long going to the restroom.")

Suddenly, everyone was talking about me.  Everyone wanted the story.  I told them exactly what happened.  Most didn't believe me.  They heard all kinds of kinky stories.  I won't list them here, but some of them were quite outrageous and/or disgusting.  Whenever I saw Mal in the halls, he avoided me.  Good thing, too.  After all, if I were going to get demerits, I may as well earn them by knocking his teeth in.  This is when I was in peak condition, and I was still studying in the dojo.  It would've been over quickly.

High School Graduation

I won an award at graduation from the "Ladies Club of Royersford": Outstanding Writer of the Year.  It was supposed to have a $500 cash award attached, I was told.  It was reduced to $50.  They almost didn't give it to me.  When I walked up to receive my diploma, people laughed.  I heard chants of "Flor-i-da!"  The superintendent handed me my diploma, and, as rehearsed, I smiled and turned to my right for the "official picture."  I then turned to the superintendent and said "F*ck you."  Yes, I know, really mature.  I was an angry 17 year old.

I kept in touch with Beverly for a while.  We wrote to each other, and occasionally spoke on the phone.  She attended Rutgers.  I visited her there once during late 1985.  I was supposed to stay the weekend, but I ended up leaving the same night I arrived.  I last heard from her in 1987, when she wrote me telling me she was getting married.  I hope her life has been amazing.

At the five year reunion, what did most people ask/say to me?  "Remember Florida?" or some other comment to that idea.

Ten year reunion:  "Remember the class trip? *laughs*" Mal attended that reunion.  He became a police officer, and had a Hitler moustache to "protest" something or other.  I asked him why he "ratted me out."  He didn't answer- just turned and avoided me for the rest of the day.  I haven't seen nor heard of him since.

Twenty five year reunion: "Dude were you really caught f*cking that girl?"

At the Thirty year reunion, despite my showing up as a Woman, wearing a cleavage-baring dress, what did I hear?  "Class trip!"  Seriously!  They were seeing me as a female for the first time, and THAT'S all they could think to discuss?

And that's not all- for years after, my name was brought up at school assemblies as a threat- break the rules and you'll be sent home.  How do I know?  The younger siblings of friends told me.  I have had several SF grads, when introduced to me (in my old life) say "Aren't you the one they sent home from the class trip?"  I also heard that maybe ten years later, a large group was sent home for drug violations, ending class trips for a while.

So there it is- the Truth.  Unvarnished.  How do I remember this so clearly?  Aside from the fact that it's burned into my memory, I wrote the details in my journal I kept.  I wrote the details of the previous night in my journal on the plane ride home.

How did this make me feel?  As I've written before, in August 1983, I stopped crossdressing; resolving to be the Man I was expected to be.  I was angry at the world.  Miserable.  Depressed.  All my life, I'd been punished for things others had done, usually my brother.  This time, my "peers" decided to make an example of me, for a really minor thing.  As I wrote above, classmates were screwing, drinking, getting high, going out on the town- and EVERYONE knew it... but I'm the one who bore everyone's sins.  (No, I don't have a Christ complex.)  If I were one of the "popular" kids, would I have been sent home?  Of course not.  But I was a nobody, and a perfect target.

I hate lies.  I hate Hypocrisy even more (especially when I am guilty of it.)  And that's what I saw that day.   Everyone else gets a pass but me.

I was Bitter as Hell for years.  I would spit if the name "Spring Ford" were mentioned.  At the reunions, I avoided the honorable members of the student council, especially when I was drinking, lest I give them a strongly worded piece of my mind.  Or worse.  Why did I go to the reunions?  Because I wanted to see how many of my classmates had screwed up their lives.  And I wasn't disappointed in that regard.  At all.  Not that I've done much better.

Time heals all wounds is the cliche (which I don't believe by the way.)  However, in this case, I let the bitterness go.  I let it Die with Lance when I transitioned.  Do I still hold all the same opinions?  Yes.  Absolutely.  Do I care?  Not anymore.  I have far worse issues to concern myself with now.

For what it's worth, one of the members did eventually apologize to me, saying they thought what happened was wrong.  Over thirty years later.

I accepted the apology.

Be Well.


  1. one of the best posts you have ever written Sophie. Be well

  2. It's funny how things can get blown so out of proportion, and also how things that you would have never intended come to represent you to people.
    It is what it is though, so you keep putting one foot in front of the other.
    The mischievous part of me would be tempted to play it up at this late date though, now that no harm can come from it.
    "Damn right I was caught with her! In fact, they caught me with the entire dog gone cheer leading squad by God!"
    I mean if they are gonna insist on letting something that never happened represent you, you may as well make it over the top!

  3. Sophie,we met on the train to Carlisle today, you were on your way to Glasgow to meet your cousins.
    I am on the train home reading your blog. You were a joy to chat to, such a vivacious and interesting person. I'm glad our paths crossed and it's strange to think they won't again! I'll continue to read your blog. Good luck in all you do Sophie,and you made my day on a boring train trip to Carlisle to work! Fiona xx

    1. Fiona you can reach me at Sophie1lynne@yahoo.com
      I hope your fawyvwent well!