Every summer, the middle school I work at throws a graduation ball, which is basically prom. This year, the new school director decided to change the rules and say that only those who actually graduated would be invited. I don’t have a problem with the idea, but it’s never been done before and had a bit of a shocking effect, especially since only about half the graduating class passed their exams. So for the first time, only half the ninth graders were able to come.
Also, my host brother, who is the smartest kid in his class decided he didn’t want to go. Lidia has given me various explanation, but when you ask Dinu, he just says he didnt want to go and he didn’t want everyone to grill him about it. I’ve been his only ally in this decision because 1)I like that he’s being a punk about it, and 2) I can tell him that contrary to what everyone says, it’s unlikely he’ll regret or even think about this later on in his life. Though if he’s a parent, he may hypocritcally want his own kids to go since these things are more for the parents anyways.
Then, Lidia decided that she wanted, through her NGO, to put on a camping trip for the uninvited graduates saturday night, and asked if I knew of any contests for kids in the woods from America. Hmm, first aid? fire building races? I’ve participated in a Camporee or two in my day.
The Bubulici’s had two huge tarp advertisements which they used to make the biggest tarp tents I’ve ever seen in my life. I was left in charge of making this work, and as I’m grumbling, my host sister Mihaela says, “What we need is a scout.”
“A scout, they know how to tie anything together.”
“Yeah, I know. I’m a scout, but how the hell do you know about them?”
“Movies.” Of course. This confession upped the ante on what I was expected to provide in terms of services, but I think I lived up to my rank. We designed a lot of team building games, like lifting people through a rope web, orienteering, and such.
I must say, I groaned a bit when the kids actually showed up. What I hadn’t considered was that if all the non graduates were invited, this was basically a campout for all the most difficult kids I knew, plus my host brother. Everything went great though, and the kids responded great to the games. The only downside was that the next night, after listening to kids run around until dawn, I had to spend another night at the actual ball.
I feel terrible i a way about this, because I had a great time in the woods with a group of kids that apreciated my class very little. Then I went to the ball, which is such a big night for a group of kids who were all a pleasure to teach, and I just didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be in a suit, or eat masa food, or dance the hora; I really just wanted to sleep. Also, I really didn’t want to get asked all night why Dinu wasn’t there.
I’ll admit, seeing all his classmates there did for the first time make me think he looked like an asshole for not coming. The adults cured me of any serious changes of heart by being completely ridiculous about it. The romanian word for “sin” was used at one point. That’s actually the whole night: mostly ridiculous like I thought it would be, but redeemed by watching a bunch of kids I love getting their “prom” kind of night.
After four hours of dancing, we got to sit down and eat. I unfortunately was stuck in front of the mayor and the school director, whose unrelenting sense of position prevents any natural conversation. The mayor is just like that, which I guess I respect, but my school director is somehow completely oblivious to the fact that no one acts like themselves around her. But then, a saving grace: for the mayors table a bottle of imported canadian whiskey amongst the cheap (like, really cheap) moldovan vodka. And what’s this, no one else likes it but me! God bless the fear of new things, more for me.
Anyways, after some unexpectedly good drink, I danced more hora, but by midnight had snuck out to come pass out. I still feel bad about leaving, like I said, pretty much all my favorite kids assembled together.