Thursday, November 26, 2015

Angry Mennonite


Continued from Tipsy Mennonite

When I saw those cowboys standing there in front of us I thought, “Okay, what the heck am I drinking that I would imagine this to be so real?”  But then one of them said, “Anna? Ha li dietschjat, dot kon ekj masnich gliven dot ekj di hea ha getrafen (Anna? Holy smokes, I can hardly believe that I have run into you here)”.

I looked at Sam, then George, blinked a few times, and said, “George, please tell me that there aren’t a bunch of cowboys standing there talking to me in Low German.” 

“Anna, you wouldn’t be that delusional from one drink. What you are seeing is in fact happening. Do you know these guys?”

My heart started pounding as I looked back and they were still standing there waiting for me to respond. Just like that my worlds were colliding again and I thought, “Oh crap, I didn’t bring a mason jar.” I knew all of those cowboys from Mexico, especially Aaron, whom I had had many mason jar encounters with.

 Aaron was one of the many reasons I was so afraid to be alone with a man. Back in Mexico, our family didn’t have any cows, and there was only one family that would let us get milk and cream without always paying for it right away. But they lived way the other side of the colony.

Our mom often sent one of us to that family to get milk and cream. My brothers and sisters thought that it was way too embarrassing that we couldn’t always pay for it, so they just wouldn’t do it. I was volunteered to take on that task because I was brave enough to do it.

I was just about thirteen years old when it all started. One day on my way home from that house with a mason jar of cream, it was almost dark. The family had been late milking the cows because they had gone to Patos shopping that day, and I’d had to wait until they were done milking before they filled the jar.

On my way home I walked as fast as I could in the middle of the street. That night when I was about halfway home, Aaron jumped out from behind a cement fence, grabbed me, and pulled me behind it. I’ll never forget what he said to me: “Stop fighting me, Anna. Sooner or later someone is going to do this to you, and you’ll never get away from it. Nobody does.”

I was scared to death and my heart was pounding out of my chest as I grabbed that mason jar, whacked him with it as hard as I could, and ran home like the devil was chasing me himself.

When I got home, my mom asked what had taken me so long and why I was out of breath. I explained to her that they’d been late milking, and on my way home I’d thought I had seen the jriese diesta (ogre of the darkness). I ran home because I thought that the jriese diesta was chasing me.  

That was the first of many encounters like that. I learned quickly that Aaron was only brave enough to do that at night or if he was alone with a girl. Luckily, he wasn’t that much stronger than me, and I usually had a mason jar with me.  I always managed to get away from him.

I often felt sad and wondered if other girls were able to fight him off because I knew that there were many other girls. Often ‘the bunch’ (the youth group) would meet up at his house on Sundays, because his sisters had a really nice room where we met up with everybody.

I often heard Aaron’s mom say “Schmock senn (Be good)” to him on his way out the door. He would laugh and say, “Oh, I will be great, especially to the girls I meet today.”

One Sunday when we girls met up at Aaron’s house I was wearing my new favorite green dress that I had made myself. I was so proud of this dress because I had even ironed the pleats into it myself. I had made matching green bows for my hat, hair and socks. I thought I was so stylish, sitting on that wooden bench looking a bit different from all the rest of the girls in Aaron’s sister’s room.

I never wore those green bows again after that Sunday. Aaron had come and sat down beside me. I knew he wouldn’t try anything because there were too many people around. He moved really close to me and asked, “Do you have a green bow on your underwear, too?”

I was so embarrassed I turned beet red and all I could think of was, “Man, I could really use a mason jar again right now.”

I was especially shocked to see Aaron at that club in Canada because his parents were so against coming to Canada. They were respected Old Colony people who followed the rules in the way they dressed and in most other areas. It was known that they thought going to Canada was wrong and none of their kids would ever be allowed to go.

I remembered how many times I lay awake at night saying all of my memorized prayers in my head, over and over, in hopes that that would rid me of my hate for Aaron. That never worked -- at least not in the way I hoped it would. When I saw him that night at the club, I wanted to throw up.

I had thought that I would never have to see him again. But there he was, standing right in front of me, and beside him stood another cowboy of a well-respected Old Colony family.       

This cowboy just got out from serving a five year sentence in a Texas prison. The stories that went around the colonies were that this cowboy drove someone else’s car across the border into the U.S. The cowboy had had no idea, but apparently the car had had something illegal hidden in it, and the border patrol found it. But he couldn’t prove that it wasn’t his and had to serve the time in prison.

“I can’t believe my eyes. You look a bit older, but I could spot you from across the dance floor even through the smoke. You look the same as I remember you, Anna,” said Aaron.

I looked at George and thought, “Oh great! I really need to change my look and get a tattoo or something so people don’t recognise me that easily, especially these people.” George looked back at me and made some confusing facial expressions I hadn’t seen before, followed by a smiled.

I thought, “Mason jar, mason jar, and mason jar,” as Aaron moved closer to me so the others couldn’t hear him as he continued in Low German, “Anna, do you remember Diedrich? You know the one who went to ‘life school’ in Texas?”

“Yes, I remember, and I remember many other things, too.”

“Oh, me too, and we will talk about that another time. Diedrich is really shy around so many people because he just got out of… you know, ‘life school,’ in Texas three days ago. He thinks you turned out pretty hot, and he hasn’t schmunjed since he got locked up five years ago. He wants to talk to you alone,” he said.

My blood began to boil when I realised what was happening. He was trying to pawn me off to his cowboy buddy. My anger meter reached its limits. I imagined smashing a mason jar against something.

Image courtesy of High-speed photography


I thought that I had left all that behind me and I was living in a completely different world. But the world I thought I had left behind had followed me all the way to that club. On the one night that was supposed to be my special night, to celebrate my learning success. My Low German anger meter busted.

“Really, he wants to talk to me, alone? And he thinks I’m pretty hot, does he?” I asked in Low German.

“Yes.”

What ticked me off even more was that I had never learned how to handle that. Lying awake at night and saying all the prayers I knew hadn’t help them to stay away. I thought, “I am a really bad person for thinking like this, but I need to figure something else out.”

I was so glad that George didn’t understand a word of what was going on. He noticed that I was starting to act strangely different. He put his arm on my shoulder and asked if everything was okay.

I put my hand on his and moved closer to his ear so the cowboys couldn’t hear what I was telling him and said, “It will be, as long as you stay here with me.”

He winked at me and said, “You got it. I’m not moving.” I was so tempted to just grab George’s face and kiss him right then and there, just like I had imagined it many times. To show those cowboys that I was brave, that I had a say in what was happening to me, and that I was making my own decisions now. I got so nervous just thinking about it I got all shaky because I know I didn’t have it in me.

I thought, “Okay, forget that idea. I need to buy myself some time to think about what to do and how to handle this in a way that they will never forget. And that I am braver than they think.”  I got up and told the cowboys in Low German that I would come over to their table a bit later to talk to them about where I would meet Diedrich alone.

They looked at each other, nodded their heads, and walked back to their table on the other side of the dance floor.

I began to feel like I was going to have a heart attack again from all my emotions being yanked around like that.

Sam said, “I’m guessing you know those guys from Mexico?”

“Yes, Sam, you are really good at guessing,” I answered.

“Do you want to talk about what just happened here?” George asked.

“I need to go to the bathroom first,” I answered.

“Okay, Anna.”

I went to the bathroom and splashed my face with cold water again. I went into a stall, locked the door and sat on the toilet. As I was talking myself out of crying again, and in the midst of all my anger, I had a lightbulb moment. I thought I had finally figured it out.

I thought, “I know what the problem is. These guys have learned how to treat girls from watching cattle. They are treating girls exactly like the bulls treat the cows.” That thought was immediately followed by, “Wow, take it easy Anna! These are probably your nerve problems talking.”

After I told myself how terrible I was for thinking that, I thought of a perfect plan to trick these cowboys. I got so excited and nervous at the same time as I thought of what exactly I was going to do.

I took a few deep breaths as I walked out of the bathroom with my plan in mind. I went straight over to the table where the cowboys were sitting. I turned around and waved at George so he could see where I was. One of the cowboy friends in his broken English asked, “Why don’t you just ditch that schwien noagel and sit with us? Since you wouldn’t marry someone like that anyways.”

Me fua die wut nenn (That made me so mad), I worked up the nerve to ask, “Really? How is he the schwien noagel in all of this? And what are you guys?” They all looked at each other, started laughing, and Aaron said, “Just look at him.”

“Just look at you guys.” I was bursting with anger because I just couldn’t get them to see, or give a damn about how wrong they were. I thought, “Okay, they leave me no choice. I just have to go ahead with my plan.”  Click here to continue reading my story.

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