The continuing saga of my year at a Swiss-German boarding school, aka “Internat”
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Julie’s attacks were wearing on me, but, I wasn’t sure quite what to do about them.
Confrontation? There was no proof and she would just deny any wrong doing. Retaliation? Didn’t want to stoop to her level. Rat her out to the house mother? That also didn’t sit well, for various reasons. Pictures of an even more vengeful Julie flashed through my befuddled mind.
While I was stewing over what to do, Jennifer took it upon herself to leave Julie a message, on my behalf. She pleaded illness one morning and, when the rest of us were in class, sneaked into Julie’s room, broke her records, ripped her clothes and unmade her bed. Was I shocked! Scared too!
”Jennifer, what have you done?” I cried. ”Julie’s going to think it was me and want revenge.” Jennifer just laughed and said: “The only way to get back at a bully is to act like one yourself”. Well, that was such a surprise, coming from this once-meek little missionary’s daughter. Completely different philosophy, but, it actually worked. Julie didn’t say a word and the harassment stopped, at least for the time being.
You can imagine my relief! Now, it was possible to enjoy life at school again. Switzerland is a beautiful country and we had some pleasurable outings that spring.
One of them included meeting a motorcycle gang. This was so exciting to a bunch of teenagers! Fortunately, not “Hell’s Angels” types, although they certainly looked the part, in denim and leather. We had just finished lunch and they were outside the café. One of them asked Fraulein Karin where we were from and that got the conversation rolling. Quite an interesting group of guys, young to middle-aged, from all over Europe, not just Switzerland. I remember striking up a rapport with a good-looking Englishman named Will, who also spoke Italian and German. Very cool! He offered me a ride on his bike, but, that got vetoed, much to my disappointment. To this day, I’ve never been on a motorcycle.
My grandmother made a yearly trek to the Montegrotto Spa in Italy. It was a long car trip, about 11 hours and she often took my mother along. This time, they decided to make a detour and pay me a visit. What fun to stay in the hotel with them for a night! We went to see the movie, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, then had a lovely dinner. Afterwards, my mother told me about my father’s new posting, back to Canada. Such is the life of a military family. One never knows where or when the next assignment will be. We would be moving in August, a few short months away! The look of disappointment in her eyes shone through. She was happy living in Germany, near her parents and old friends. I liked it too and would miss all the travelling, especially. European countries are small and crowded together, so, it’s easy to hop from one to the next. Better education than any classroom!
Time passed quickly and now it was down to the last few days. The girls were all excited and restless, wanting to go home for the summer. I was the only one not returning and it made me a little sad. Despite the obvious negatives of curtailed freedom and assorted torments, it had been a memorable, educational and fascinating year.
Jennifer was feeling especially restive one night and started a pillow fight with Vivian, who in turn dragged me into it. This spread to the other rooms, then the remaining floors. Full scale “prison riot”!! All in fun, of course.
Or, so I thought.
In barged Julie and Judy; grabbed the mattress from my bed and threw it out the window! ”How do you like that, bitch?”, Julie yelled at me, while Judy just stood there and sniggered. Vivian, Jennifer and I were stunned.
“Are you crazy?”, Vivian exclaimed. Whoosh! There went her mattress too, landing on top of mine. Just as Jennifer was getting ready to smack Julie with a pop bottle, a harsh command broke through the chaos.
Fraulein Karin came storming into the room. ”Who threw those mattresses out the window?, she demanded.
No hesitation this time. We three room mates chirped in unison: “Julie and Judy”. Of course, they said “Debbie and Vivian”. Not sure why Jennifer got spared, but she was banished to the ground floor study.
“This type of behaviour will not be tolerated. You’re all getting expelled”, raged Fraulein Karin.
Vivian and I just looked at each other in amazement. We hadn’t done anything wrong! Of course, the real culprits continued to protest their false innocence. Fraulein Karin ordered them back to their room and left, without another word.
Vivian started sobbing. ”My mother will kill me for this! It’s the third school I’ve been kicked out of.”
Surprising revelation! The Vivian I knew was not a trouble maker; just a bit of a snob. We became closer in that moment and exchanged phone numbers. Kept in touch until it was time to move.
The expulsion meant little to me. I was leaving anyway, so, really, who cares? Ha! Did I get an earful from my mother on the drive home! She didn’t even consider the idea I might be innocent. No, no, the entire rant consisted of what an embarrassment to the family I caused and how could I do this to her??!
Fortunately, packing for our move soon overshadowed the “scandal”. We vacated our army apartment in mid July and moved in with my grandparents for the final 4 weeks.
I remember watching the historic moon landing in my grandmother’s kitchen and thinking how incredible it was.
On the first day of the Woodstock Music Festival, Aug. 15, 1969, we were in mid-flight, enroute to Toronto.
“The Times They Were A-Changin”
On to new adventures!
© D.D.B. 2013