Our family had stayed at the ancient French Château overlooking terraces of wine grapes for nearly a week and my brother and I were wild with boredom. There was nothing to do. The town kids cursed us and threw stones; we retaliated with baseball-trained arms.
Why don't you make friends? our father asked, bobbing his bald head.
They hate us, I replied.
Madame Toussaint says they are afraid because you are so rough, he grated.
Resentfully, we saw our parents agree with Madame and Monsieur Toussaint, the aristocratic owners of Le Château, that we, their children were destructive louts.
Suppers were orgies of criticism. Madame pointed to gobbled food, talking while eating and fingerprints on polished furniture. Our clothes were misshapen, our feet huge.
Unforgivably, we didn't speak civilizé and our English was 'barbare'.
Our parents were in love with Toussaint royalty. While refilling their wine glasses, they barked instructions at us as Madame, diamonds in her ears and rouge on her cheeks suggested 'improvements'.
I sneaked many glasses of cider our last night at the Château and awoke with a bursting bladder. I became disoriented as I tried to feel my way to the toilet in the dark and, in desperation, clambered onto the window ledge and relieved myself into the dark.
In the morning, the adults exchanged addresses and kissed goodbye. As we drove away, I looked back. Snowy white sheets billowed in the wind, except the sheets in front of my room, hugely splotched with yellow piss.