Our high school always got a surprising number of foreign exchange students each year. It was a bad deal for them. When they got the news they were going to the United States, they were probably picturing New York City or Los Angeles. Instead, they landed in Doniphan.
I suppose the exchange program coordinators thought they were helping these students see “the real America.” And why shouldn’t a kid from Stockholm learn about deer hunting and frog gigging?
My best friend Courtney and I always looked forward to the day the new exchange students arrived. Those boys from abroad dressed better and, in many cases, spoke better English than the guys we grew up with. The fact that they knew nothing of our awkward stages couldn’t be overlooked, either.
I first saw him in sitting in the bleachers of the gymnasium. He was the perfect blend of cute and geeky, so I moved closer and listened as the other students interviewed him about who he was and where he was from.
“Germany,” he said.
Bingo! I had an in.
Earlier that summer, my mom’s friend Gil took me to see “Lola rennt” at Tivoli Theatre in St. Louis. I picked up a few new words during the film’s 81-minute duration, and I was sure my vocabulary would wow this boy.
“Scheisse!” I declared.
The boy whirled around.
“You know scheisse?” he asked.
“Have you been to Germany?”
“How do you know this word?”
I had him.