Spies (A Boarding School Adventure)

spies-boarding-school-adventureOne night during seventh grade, after the lights were out in the dorm at my boarding school, my best friend and I sneaked out and grabbed a chair on the way out. We also had a plastic cup, a notepad, and a pencil. We walked across the dewy grass in the moonlight.

We stuck the chair under the window of the secret eighth grade room where they were preparing for the ninth grade banquet. (The school only went up to ninth grade.) No one was supposed to know ahead of time what the theme of the banquet was. The themes were glorious, and no expense was spared. One year it was “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” and the decorations of the banquet room looked like you had just walked into an underwater paradise with seaweed, fish, octopuses, and even sunken treasure. Clues were posted outside the banquet hall each year, to see if anyone could guess the theme. No one ever did.

But tonight we were going to find out. We were going to be spies and pick up secret information that no one else in the whole school knew.

The eighth graders got to stay up later than everyone else as they prepared for this wonderful banquet. So my friend and I climbed up onto the chair and peeked through the windows, which were sloppily blocked off with newspaper. A tiny slit gave us barely enough room to see fragments of objects and people walking by. We listed a few random words on our notepad:

  1. a box of wood
  2. suitcases
  3. orange and white checkered blanket and pink crepe paper
  4. glue and chalk
  5. a background sheet with a rocket landing on the moon
  6. books opened to outer space, universe, rockets, and moon
  7. brown paper
  8. papier mache

We put the cup up to the window and listened. We wrote down snatches of the conversation on the notepad:

  1. “Do you have the mat?”
  2. “Aunt Julie probably has a long one.” (maybe a pole to put a US flag on when you get to the moon?)
  3. “I don’t have to wear a special costume,” said a teacher.
  4. “When would you pack your suitcases to go on a rocket to the future?”

Then, before being discovered, we hurried back into the dorm, replaced the chair and the cup, and crawled into our beds.

The next day my friend and I met up at the tree house and discussed our clues that we had gathered the previous night. We were obviously looking at an outer space theme. We guessed that the students would wear space suits, but not the teachers. My original notes (now 20 years later) state that there would be underground cities on the moon. I have no idea how we jumped to this conclusion, but we kept our information to ourselves, and no one ever knew about our nighttime spying.

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