Journal entry: March 24, 1990 (age 20)
Note: This journal entry is the second in a two-part series.
It’s been one week since the London police were called after my friend, Stephanie, and I watched my two flatmates drop a pair of water-filled plastic bags out of our window. It seems the patrons near the window of the restaurant below had not ordered two large, loud waters to be delivered as quickly as possible.
John, the earnest young man in charge of SUNY Oswego’s Semester in London program, looked less earnest than usual, and more than a little chicken, when he knocked on our door minutes after the sky had fallen. He looked like he had just seen the Ghost of St. Patrick’s Day Future. “Did you guys just drop some kind of water balloons out the window?,” he gasped. Stephanie and I looked at each other and said, truthfully, “No!” John stared at us for a moment, and then hustled to the next door on the floor, to continue his skilled interrogations of possible suspects.
The next morning, John assembled all 44 of the ugly Americans in his charge. “I’m sure you’ve all heard about last night, and the huge water balloons that were dropped from one of our windows. Our neighbors, the owners of the restaurant below us, and the constables who rushed here were quick to point out that the very real and continuing threat of IRA bombings in the city made it especially hilarious to them.” I gulped guiltily, partly because that excellent point had not occurred to me, and partly because I’m Irish.
Last night’s panic had been banished from John’s face by a grim and steely resolve. He looked like a man who had formulated a foolproof disciplinary plan after teleconferencing with several of his battle-scarred, elementary school teachers. “If the perpetrators of this ridiculous stunt don’t come forward by the end of today, all of your parents will be called, and I will consult with the dean on a suitable punishment for the entire group.”
A meeting of what now felt like a hydro-terrorism cell quickly convened. Trigger-men Mark and Rod argued for silent solidarity. I pointed out that the window of our flat was immediately above the violently dampened pavement. I argued that this made it likely that John already knew who was involved, and was testing to see if we would come clean. Stephanie bemoaned the fact that she had chosen last night to hang out with three of the six males in our program, rather than some of the 37 members of her own, more sensible gender. Mark, Rod, and I nodded, realizing that an act this moronic had distinctly male fingerprints all over it. The four of us went to John that evening and confessed.
We have spent the last week awaiting John’s decision on a punishment. As scared as I was of torpedoing my 3.9 GPA with a full 15 credits of metric F’s, I was even more terrified of calling my parents to tell them I was being forcefully deported from the United Kingdom. Happily for us, John told us tonight that the restaurant had decided not to press charges, and that he deemed the past week of fear and guilt to be punishment enough. Unhappily for us, he closed the discussion by saying, “It’s good you guys confessed, because I would never have guessed any of you were involved.”
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