Sunday, April 17, 2005

Mystery Solved

I could drive from Cleveland to mid-town Manhattan in just seven hours.
However, the tour bus kept to the speed limit, and made a couple of rest stops along Route 80 to accommodate the needs of the 35 students and chaperones, stretching the drive-time to over nine hours.

Twice during my tenure as an art teacher at Trinity High School in the 1980's, I organized New York City bus tours for my students. This was the second.
The guide from the school tours company greeted us at the Ramada Inn, and took over the task of group check-in and room assignments. My roommate for the trip was my dear friend Vicque, who taught Senior English. We both gasped with delight upon opening the door to our assigned accommodations.

"It's a suite! Oh look!"

Sitting on the table was a beautiful basket. Cheese, crackers, fruit and a bottle of wine, all tied up with a lovely bow. A thank-you card from the tour company was tucked inside.
Soon the heads of our students were popping through the door.

"Wow. You guys are lucky!"

Vicque and I invited them in for a look around. Before we knew it all twenty-five teenagers were admiring our rooms.

"Okay, now everybody out! We have an appointment with the Rockettes."

After a show, dinner, and a trip to the top of the Empire State Building, we returned to the hotel.
After an hour in the pool, the kids were all in their assigned rooms. Everyone was accounted for.
It had been a very long day, and a nice glass of wine would be just the thing to top it off.

"Where's the wine? Did you put it in the refridgerator?"

"No, I haven't touched anything in that basket."

"Niether did I. Where the hell is the bottle of wine?"

"Those damn kids! Someone stole our bottle of wine!"

"They are NOT going to get away with this. Get the mothers. We are having a room search."

While the mother/chaperones stood guard in the hallway, Vicque and I began our investigation, room by room. We checked under mattresses, drawers, windowsills, luggage, every conceivable hiding place. Nothing, nothing, nothing...six rooms...nothing.
The last room was occupied by four senior boys.
Vicque and I knocked on the door.

"Sit down guys. Somebody stole a bottle of wine from our room. We are doing a room search."

The words were hardly out of my mouth, when a big grin appeared on Jerry's face. He was a tall kid with a head of dark curly hair, and an off-beat sense of humor.

"Did you say 'STRIP SEARCH'?"

Ty, (a Billy Idol look-alike) jumped up.


Suddenly clothes were flying through the air, and four boys were leaping around the room, jumping on the beds, in nothing but underpants.


Vicque and I were frozen for a moment like the oft referenced 'Deer in the Headlights'.
Wide eyed, mouths gaping.
I spoke first.

"How much do you think that bottle of wine cost, Vicque? About seven bucks?"

"It's not worth it. Let's get out of here."

We had no proof, but circumstance pointed to our nearly-naked seniors. We decided our best strategy would be to wait it out. Eventually somebody would talk. This was too good of a prank to not claim bragging rights.

We were right. Eventually the thief did come forward to confess...twenty years later.


A little over two weeks ago I appeared in the Metro section of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in a story about my weblog. I received all kinds of phone calls and e-mails from distant friends, past co-workers, old boyfriends, and former students.

One such e-mail came from Kelly, an art student from my earliest teaching days at Trinity High School. She had been a quiet, serious student, mature beyond her years, and a talented artist. Now she created web pages for a design company in Beechwood. We made plans to get together for dinner after work and catch up on the past twenty years. That evening's discussion naturally started with reminiscing about old classmates.

"Have you ever heard from Ty or Jerry?"

"No. I wish I had. Those guy's were nuts."

"Hey, do you remember that trip to New York and the stolen bottle of wine?"

"Of course. I was always mad that we never were able to find that bottle. The boys created too much of a scene. There was no way we could have finished checking that room. They were ready to get naked."

"They didn't have it."

"What? But we searched every place else."

"Elaine and I stole it. We hid it in a toilet-tank on the third floor. We got it later."

"Wow. We never suspected. You were such good girls."

Kelly just smiled.


I will have to call my dear friend Vicque, now teaching English in a high school near Washington DC. I'm sure she will be just as surprised as I was.
The mystery is finally solved.

You have to watch out for those quiet ones.


Irving said...

That was a great hiding place!

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of trying to hide stuff from my RA here at Ohio State.

Anonymous said...

Love your Blog!
Karan, Sue's friend

Jeff Hess said...

Shalom Mary Beth,

Great story. I took a group of 10th graders to New York last month and didn't have nearly as much fun, I don't think.

And tour companies are definitely not giving out gift baskets anymore.