Marry Me (2/2)

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the ending:

BrotherHerisme and I saw our pool buddy in the hotel dining room one evening and pointed him out to ParentsHerisme.  Both ParentsHerisme approached the man and introduced themselves.  He invited us to join him for dinner, and we did.  I recall FatherHerisme getting upset when the man not only encouraged us children to order dessert (absolutely unheard of in my family), he paid for our meals.  As our pool pattern continued, MotherHerisme showed up at the pool one time with a very reluctant SisterHerisme, to watch our play.  The man engaged MotherHerisme in happy conversation, and MotherHerisme became comfortable with him.  The man asked if BrotherHerisme and I could come to his room to pick up a gift he wanted to give to ParentsHerisme from his country.  MotherHerisme agreed.  This incident is when I recall becoming uncomfortable with the man.

 

The two of us went to the man’s room and I remember insisting on standing at the door.  I kept the door pried open with my body, while he brought the gifts to us, rather than BrotherHerisme and I going into his room.  The man kept trying to entice us with candy, the promise of gifts.  BrotherHerisme was upset with me as I adamantly refused on behalf of both of us.  When FatherHerisme arrived to the hotel that evening from work and received the gifts we picked up from the man, there was a note attached inviting ParentsHerisme, no children, to dinner with him.

 

The next day, FatherHerisme insisted on accompanying us to the pool.  We all went down as a family, everyone (except for MotherHerisme who has an allergy to pool chemicals) in swimming suits.  This was highly unusual because FatherHerisme never played with us – ever.  I knew that something was up and somebody was most likely in trouble.  There wasn’t any obvious reason why one of us would be in trouble, but I fervently prayed that it wasn’t me anyway.  FatherHerisme had a terrible temper back in the day.  We all jumped into the pool. BrotherHerisme and I commenced with our usual shenanigans.  FatherHerisme and SisterHerisme started swimming their very grown-upy exercisey coordinated laps (BORing).  At some point FatherHerisme paused his perfect pattern to watch our hooliganisms.  When I came out of the pool, FatherHerisme yelled across the pool, “Jesus Christ! Get over here!”  Well, now I knew.  It was me that was in trouble.

Now was my moment of reckoning for whatever transgression(s) I had committed.  I wasn’t quick enough for FatherHerisme.  He grabbed my towel and yelled, “Get over here!  Move it, young lady!”  My smartass mouth wanted to respond, “but, there’s no running at the pool.”  However, an ancient piece of my self-preservative brain kicked in and I walked as quickly as I could to FatherHerisme.  It’s a catch-22.  I am about to get into big huge trouble,  that in my day usually involved some form of corporal punishment, which begged me to walk very slowly.  On the other hand, if I didn’t move quickly enough to appease FatherHerisme, I would get into big huge trouble, which also, by the tone of his voice, involved corporal punishment.  Dang it, this was big.

When I got close enough to FatherHerisme, he grabbed me with full force, wrapping the towel so tightly around me that I couldn’t move.  As his fingers dug into my arms through the towel and he held me there, his angry voice demanded where my swimsuit had come from.  I told him it was borrowed from a friend.  FatherHerisme gruffly yelled for BrotherandSisterHerisme to get out of the pool, we were going upstairs to our hotel rooms and nobody was allowed to come swimming anymore at this pool.

 

My borrowed beautiful fancy glorious spectacular one-piece perfectly pink swimsuit was completely see-through when wet.  It was as if I was naked.  A precociously developed 12-year-old naïve girl, often mistaken for a 17/18-year-old due to my developed appearance, had been swimming in a hotel pool with a strange adult man while wearing a tissue thin Caucasian colored bathing costume.  FatherHerisme was enraged with me, with MotherHerisme, with BrotherandSisterHerisme, with the kind family who loaned us the swimsuit.  ENRAGED.  I was heartbroken.  After a 3-month stay at the hotel, we checked out two days later and moved into our unfinished home.  Our family dynamic was that none of us asked any questions of FatherHerisme or MotherHerisme. We were quiet and we obeyed.

 

A few years later, MotherHerisme revisited the incident when she was cleaning off the bookcases, replacing an oversized book that had been gifted to her by the man from the hotel pool.  She spoke as if I already knew the surrounding circumstances that occurred.  I had no idea until that moment.  The man from the hotel pool had been grooming me, had been wooing ParentsHerisme as his intention was to marry me.  He promised ParentsHerisme that he would send me to the best schools, the best university, all of my wants and needs would be met and more.  He promised ParentsHerisme that even though we would be married immediately, he would wait until I graduated from High School before the marriage was consummated.  He was in love with my beauty and how clever I was.  He wanted to marry me.  Cultural differences, creepo pedophile, you decide.

 

I can only imagine FatherHerisme’s response in a 5 star hotel dining room with a strict dinner dress code.  The man was immediately removed from the dining room and banned from the hotel.  FatherHerisme made arrangements for us to leave the hotel and move into our unfinished home, no matter what state it was in, as soon as he arrived to work the next morning.  MotherHerisme occasionally still speaks of this incident today, “you know you could have been married and extremely wealthy, but you were only 12 and your dad got very angry.”  Family dynamics *sigh *

 

Thank the sweet G-ds of every land and universe that this is NOT the experience that either NieceHerisme are having!  I have never punched someone out of anger, but if either of my nieces were subject to this, I would absolutely punch.  Back off, man.  BACK the F OFF.  Let them grow into themselves and peer relationship stabilize before you attempt to knock on their door.  Go ahead and ask their permission to take them out for a tasty cuppa when they are 25 or so.  Eyes up here man, eyes up here.

Love, Ms Herisme xoxo

note:  the kind family who loaned us the swimsuit had no idea about the transparency, as it had not been worn yet by anyone before me.  They deposed of it.

also note:  thank you for reading this to the end

Marry Me

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Niece1Herisme and Niece2Herisme are turning into beautiful sweet puffin muffin teenagers.  Even an objective observer would note their individual beauty and powerful brilliance.  I am totes not just saying that because I am their AuntHerisme.  I am SO serious, y’all.  Seriously. Watch out, world!

 

There was a realization for me about a year ago to compare NiecesHerisme to when I was making the big transition from being just double digits to a true teenagers – you know that BIG 12-13 year.  The year I had a pivotal experience of being pursued as a bride.  Not in a sweet puppy love from another 6th grader way, but by an actual full-on adult man.

 

When I was in 6th grade, my family was relocated to Germany for my father’s work.  We moved to just outside of the capital of Bonn at the time.  Yes, this was before reunification.  Yes, I am old.  Yes, I love Beethoven too.  To give you an idea of where I was developmentally: While I had “blossomed” so to speak (precocious menstruation commenced at 10 ½), my brain was still operating in the Santa-IS-SO-REAL-because-I-have-seen-his-sleigh-fly-over-my-house-with-my-own-amazing-eyeballs zone.  It has been reported that I engaged in a full out tear inducing screaming match on the playground over this.  Allegedly.

 

I still have the bag I decorated for that Christmas to use as my stocking, as ours were packed away on a ship headed for Europe.  My glitter adorned handwriting resembles what you might see a cherubic first or second grader produce today – both in content and style.  When we had to pack our own suitcases for the journey, I dutifully placed everything into my suitcase according to MotherHerisme’s list of instructions.  There was a ton of room remaining in my suitcase, so I unpacked the dolls and stuffies from the moving boxes.  I chose the ones I felt would be most vulnerable to overwhelming heartbreak and worry being stuffed into a box on a ship, and put them all into my suitcase.

We were scheduled to stop at GrandparentsHerisme’s home in Athens, Georgia for a few weeks while packers finished up at our house. MotherHerisme came to inspect our suitcases and she was not impressed with my clever fix to helping alleviate the mental stress of my stuffies and dolls.  Turns out, the extra space was meant for the Christmas presents we would be receiving at GrandparentsHerisme’s.  MotherHerisme is far from heartless and did permit me to keep one doll and one stuffy in my suitcase.  It was a tough emotional experience – but everything worked out well.  I survived.  The shipped dolls and stuffies survived.  Christmas was celebrated and we boarded an airplane for Germany.

 

So very developmentally different than a 6th grade girl today –

very very much different.

 

Our housing had not yet been secured when we arrived to Germany.  FatherHerisme’s company had us stay in a hotel in the city while we waited.  Not just any hotel – a super duper 5 star beauty.  We had three rooms because BrotherHerisme was not legally permitted to share a room with either ParentsHerisme, SisterHerisme or myself.  Parents in one room, girls in one room, sweet baby boy in the 3rd room.  We kept our room connection door open between the kids’ rooms, running back and forth, making our own fun, like hooligan kids do.

 

Living in a big fancy hotel in a big fancy city was an entirely new experience for all of us.  The only travel we had done up to this point in my life consisted of camping or staying with relatives.  FatherHerisme dictated a very frugal conservative lifestyle.

 

Fancy 5 star hotels and their guests are not living frugal lifestyles.  We had breakfast delivered to the room in the morning before school.  We had a driver who picked us up in the morning, drove us to school, picked us up in the afternoon and deposited us back at the hotel.  We dressed for dinner in the hotel dining room or we wandered the streets of the city to find a restaurant that would permit children in the dining room.  At that time in Germany, dogs were regular restaurant guests, but children were not welcome.

A Balkan restaurant around the corner from the hotel, took pity on my mother one evening when she was trying, solo parenting with 3 children, to find a place which allowed children.  They sat us in a booth by the kitchen door to be less conspicuous.  We ended up eating there a lot over our 4 year stay in Germany, and almost every night while we were in the hotel.  When I was older, my mother shared with me that the restaurant owners gave her free before and after dinner sweet liquors to keep up her good health and stamina with 3 children.  Occasionally she would permit us to have a tiny sip.  I’m fairly certain this factored in to our frequent dining choice of the Balkan Restaurant.  My memory order is champignon schnitzel mit pommes frits und eine kleine lemonade, bitte (I beg your pardon of my awful memory of German).

 

The thing I loved the most about living in the hotel, other than the extra chocolates the cleaning staff would leave for us, depending on how tidy we left our room, was the pool.  They had a pool in the basement!  Prior to this, I had never seen an indoor pool except at the YMCA.  I loved swimming.  I still love swimming.  The best thing about the pool in the hotel was that as long as BrotherHerisme or SisterHerisme went with me, I could go as often as I wanted to!  SisterHerisme could not be bothered by the silliness and fun that exuded from every pore of mine and BrotherHerisme’s body (she was totally, like, a High School teen and stuff).  BrotherHerisme and I would put on swimming suits, sneakers, grab a towel, race to the elevator and swim, swim, swim!

When we first arrived at the hotel, though, neither one of us had a swimming suit with us.  It never crossed my mother’s mind that a pool would be available to us.  MotherHerisme tried shopping for swimming suits (pre-internet, we had to scour retail spaces called department stores for things.  Google this ancient ritual for more information), but other than ridiculously expensive resort wear, no swimming suits were available, due to it being in the middle of winter (again, Google ancient shopping seasons in the 80’s).  Luck found us when MotherHerisme was befriended by another American Lady who also had 3 children, the same ages as we were.  We borrowed their extra swimming suits and were off on our fancy hotel pool adventures.

I was super excited because the swimming suit I borrowed was pink.  All pink.  I was a super pink girl and this completely fit in my super pink world.  BrotherHerisme and I were unstoppable in our swimming goals!  We held our breath the length of the pool.  We jumped in and sat on the bottom for tea parties.  We raced back and forth.  We splashed and squealed.  Happy hooligans at the poolagains.

 

One fun pool afternoon with BrotherHerisme, there was another person there.  Usually we had the place to ourselves.  I suppose fancy hotel guests are not into pools, I don’t know.  It was a man who greeted us in perfect English and played with us.  Having come from insulated MidWestern Suburbia, it never occurred to BrotherHerisme or myself that we shouldn’t trust a polite adult.  There was no “stranger danger” curriculum back in the day.  We readily included him in our play.  After this, he became a regular at the pool when we were there.  He even started bringing us treats to the pool: candy, French fries, milkshakes, cookies etc.  We were having a grand old time at the pool.  ParentsHerisme were completely unaware of our shenanigans, other than knowing we were safely together, safely in the hotel, safely in the pool area.

…(to be continued)…

Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo

The photo of the artwork, Aztec Josephine Baker by Alexander Calder, was taken by me at the NGA-DC in the East Building, Tower 2 Calder room, just before exiting to see the giant blue rooster.

This is not a secret code to challenge your brain.