About War

It was a beautiful night. The sky was live with millions of pinpoint lights, stars that were invisible to people who lived in cities and towns whose light pollution masked the heavens as effectively as a blindfold. The three of us guys lay on our backs and looked up at the heavens, almost distracted from the mission at hand.

One of the really great things about going to a coeducational boarding school was the fact it was populated by both sexes. One of the worst aspects of a coeducational boarding school was the fact that it was populated by both sexes. The mixture caused certain conflicts, replete with dignity stealing humiliation. The boys had just suffered one of these humiliations at the hands of the girls when they beat the living tar out of us at tug o’ war. The contest left five young men in a pit of mud while having to listen to the self-congratulatory taunts of the so called gentler sex.

It was time to even the score, taking up the banner of males everywhere that balance be restored.  Five our our quarry had won the rights to camping out atop Suicide Hill overlooking the school grounds for a night. They’d taken the necessary equipment to sleep comfortably after an evening of S’mores around a campfire. Our team of insurgents had spent the greater part of the evening in a stealthy approach to the target campsite, relishing the deeds to come.

We’d maintained total silence throughout the approach, a feat very difficult for young men only baby steps into the realms of double digit age. But after all, success was imperative and the rest of the boys at school would brook no failure by those who represented manhood.

We lay silently and listened as the girls, tittering and giggling shared their evil secrets and discussed which of the boys were cute and which we not and which of the male movie stars and recording artists made them swoon. For the boys, dressed all in black and whose faces were smeared with charcoal, the pantomiming of sticking a finger in the throat and releasing the contents of their stomachs in emesis  was the most common of gestures as we listened to the prattling of the girls.

It wore down at last. My Boy Scout watch indicated it was almost midnight when the girls, paired off in two tents, finally retired for the night. With patience, we waited a full hour before creeping into the circle of dim light cast by the fading embers of their fire. We stood still, our ears straining for any indication that we were discovered and heard none. We could hear the even breathing of girls asleep, dreaming of their celebrity dream dates no doubt.

The signal was given and our flashlights burst into brilliance as we ripped wide the tent flaps of our prey and dove into their tents. In mere seconds we had grabbed the girl’s clothing and camping bags, leaving them naught but what they were wearing in their sleeping bags. In a raucous, laughing tumble, we dashed down the side of the steep and bald hill we called Suicide because of the speeds attained while sledding it in the winter, and the abrupt ending of the sled runs by one of the many Irish build granite stone walls. As we ran down at full tilt gravity occasionally causing us to take a spill and tumble a few rolls before jumping up to continue our escape we could hear the mortified screams of our victims, spiced as it were, with elements of outrage.

Back in the cluster of buildings that made up the primary area of the school, we tossed the girls garments, under and outer wear to hang upon the phone and electrical lines connecting the buildings. Our mission complete, we dashed for our own beds to feign –and eventually achieve sleep. All save one young man who’s task was waiting up for and photographing the sullen retreat of the vanquished.

Our victims made their wary way down the hill sometime later, fearful of secondary ambush.  There was none, of course, and to their side of the ledger it was a shame that the boy photographer had fallen asleep at his post and failed to attain the photographic evidence of our success. All that remained to tell the tale was the assortment of clothing strewn across with wires. This was enough, of course, causing the boys great delight as they took their places in the dining hall for breakfast.

There was a definite chill that wafted through the hall from the girl’s side. Enough to stem the slight tugs of guilt that some of the guys felt over the dishing out of such a humiliating blow. It caused us to turn our noses up and allowed us to consume a guilt free repast. We did expect to receive a dunning from the faculty for our temerity but none was forthcoming. The staff was well aware that a gauntlet had been thrown and there would be a reckoning in the future. The very near future.

The payback was manifested by a small and stealthy team of girls who made a clandestine entry into  the boy’s dorms that night and poured Elmer’s Glue onto the pillows of their sleeping victims. This resulted in burr haircuts becoming popular, and not necessarily voluntarily.

School is an instructional medium and both the boys and girls, as the result of the back and forth of humiliating pranks, learned a lesson not carried in any school books. War begets war, and the best way to avoid the losses of combat is to never enter the field.