A thank you to the real Dr. (Mr.) Beeson

Many of you have read The Eden Trilogy and are very familiar with the character of Dr. Beeson.  He's a brilliant scientist who kinda-sorta helped bring about the end of the world with TorBane.

What you might not know is that Dr. Erik Beeson got his name from a real person.

Mr. Sam Beeson.

Mr. Beeson was probably my favorite teacher at American Fork High School, home of the Cavemen (yes, I know this is an awful mascot...).  I had him for English my junior year.  See, my sophomore year I took Honors English and I did just fine in it.  I think I managed an A- average.  But the teacher who taught Honors for the juniors scared me to death.  Seriously.  I knew there was no way I would make it through her class, and frankly, I just didn't really like her.

So I enrolled in what was dubbed as "the drop-out Honors class."

It was one of the best decisions of my high school career.

Because this weird, cooky guy named Mr. Beeson was the teacher.

On the first day of class, he told us how he was glad that we were all drop-outs, because that meant he got to interact with us kids that were smart and knew stuff, but we weren't so stiff and uptight.  Or something to that effect.  I just remember after he said that thinking he was going to be a freaking awesome teacher.

And he was.

Something he required in our class was that we write every day.  Even weekends.  It sucked at first, and it was hard and sometimes I only wrote a sentence or two, but it got me into some good habits I still use today.  I understand now why he told us to do that.  But this isn't a post on the importance of writing every day.

He is the person who got me to write my first "scary" story.  There was this scary writing challenge that the public library did every Halloween and Mr. Beeson informed us that he had won the contest every year for the last few years.  So he gave us the assignment to write a scary story and if we wanted to, enter it into the contest.

I wrote a scary story.  It was about a boy that went to school and was suddenly being ignored.  He noticed his parents were depressed and they too were acting like he wasn't even there.  And then he goes to brush his teeth that night, looks in the mirror, and has no reflection.

I don't know if he was just humoring me or being a good, encouraging teacher, but he told me that mine was the one story that he thought would beat his.  No other teacher had made me feel this good about myself and something I'd done.  Sadly, at the time I had no money at all to pay for the entry fee, and so I'll never know if my story was scarier than his.  I doubt it.

Another thing he assigned us was to give our most prized possession away to someone we love.  He told us how he'd gotten in trouble with parents in the past because of this assignment, but he continued to do it anyway.  Mr. Beeson could be a rebel.

I thought about this for a few days, trying to decide what my most prized possession was.

In the end, I decided my most prized thing I had was a story I wrote with my best friend.  We'd started writing it when we were 13 or 14 and worked on this thing off and on for a few years.  In the end I finished it myself and took our handwritten version and typed it all up on the computer.  It was an epic Harry Potter fan-fiction.  This thing was over 200 pages long.  So I put it on an old school floppy and gave it to one of my sisters.

I didn't think much of it at the time other than I really, really hoped she wouldn't change anything in my story.  I wrote my paper and life moved on.  But fast forward a few years.  I no longer had the computer I typed it all up on and that was before I knew any better to back things up, so I thought it was lost forever.

And then one day my sister whom I had given the floppy to, gives me an awesome gift back: Two printed out copies of my friend and I's story.  How's that for coming full circle?  I still have one copy, and gave the other to my co-author.

There were many weird and different assignments Mr. Beeson gave.  Like when he asked us to write about a controversial topic we felt strongly about.  It was short, a one page handwritten essay.  And then the next class, he told us we had to write another paper on the same topic, arguing in the other direction.  My topic at the time was abortion.

I can honestly say that no one had a bigger influence on my writing life than he did.  He made me think differently, made me question why I wrote things the way I did.

Dr. Beeson and Mr. Beeson really don't have anything in common.  I knew when I started my writing career that I'd immortalize him somehow.  The time came that Dr. Beeson needed a name and that was what I picked despite all their dissimilarities.

But I just have to say thank you.  He'll probably never see this, and heck, I'm sure he doesn't remember me after ten years, but still.  Thank you Sam Beeson.  You helped inspire me to look at things and think a little differently.

Now, I just have to share this video.  This is actually Sam Beeson.  He's the creator of this thing called Grammar Punk.  I never did this, he created it after I graduated, but here he is talking about it.  And if I am not mistaken, this is in the same classroom I was in.

He's published a few zany children's books. book himself.  And true to his wacky personality, one is about a young girl that hates Valentine's Day very much.  It's pretty cute.  Check his books out here.


steve barrington said...

Absolutely agree. Beeson changed the way I looked at the world and there is no one who influenced my writing more.

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