Weekends on the vikkend complex were very loud and busy in summer. It was a very popular place; in fact, it was the place to be if you were an inhabitant of our town. It was not only the place where you could meet people you had not seen for ages, but it was also a place to show off. If you had a new bag, you would carry it to the vikkend, and you would wear your new shoes and your new dress. Kids would drag their new toys with them, of course. It was kind of a catwalk for communist folk.

Due to the immense possibilities of passing time, many families usually spent the whole two weekend days there. They took half of their apartments with them: blankets, chairs, tables, dishes, pillows, parlor games, and carried half of their fridge content to barbecue and consume during the whole day.

You could never get up early enough to snatch one of the best places for your temporary realm: near the lake, but not too near (you would not want bathing people to splash water on your sacred spot all day long), below a willow tree so that you can have both sun and shadow, and still not be far away from the heart of the vikkend where the kiosks and bathrooms were the central meeting place.

 

If you arrived too late, you would only get a spot far away from all the fun, just below the dam that was built to prevent the Mures river from flooding the town. It was lonely out there and you would miss all the fun things and the drama that was going down in the heart of vikkend, so what was the point?

There was an entrance fee we had to pay to enter the vikkend complex, which was not inexpensive, so not everybody could afford it, especially larger families. People had inventive minds, however, and were always able to find ways to sneak in. For example, if you went far enough to the foot of the dam, there you would find designated holes in the wire-mesh fence big enough to fit an adult through them. Everybody knew about them, including the city, nevertheless, they were never fixed due to two simple reasons: first, they were so far behind the complex that it took more than a half an hour to get to them in the first place and secondly, people who did use them had to go through the walk of shame.

All eyes were on the people who were marching from that shameful direction, and within minutes everybody in the vikkend complex was informed about the perpetrators. These people carried an invisible shield on their foreheads that read “I came through the shameful hole by the dam.” No, you did not want that. It was better to stay at home than to have to live with that shame that stuck with you for weeks.

It was on a hot day in late August that our neighbor kid Attila landed on the lap of an unsuspecting middle-aged bourgeois woman.

Both had woken up early in the morning in very different apartments, in very different cozy beds, not having a clue that it would be the day that their paths would meet. And why should they?

Attila was a five-year-old and the third child of a family of six kids. He was known to be a very loud, disobedient, and energetic kid who was constantly on to something rascal. If something strange suddenly happened to you while you were walking down the street (let´s say if mashed potatoes hit you out of nowhere), it was Attila for sure.

On the other hand, our middle-aged woman was a very prestigious French teacher in one of our local high schools. She would always carry the air of someone educated and special (as most of the teachers did back then – whether they were educated and special or not) because it was the adequate thing to do. If you were a teacher or a doctor or a director or an administrator of some kind (all these professions had one thing in common: other people depended on them) you were automatically entitled to feel superior and behave in a way that people would immediately get the clue about who they were talking to or looking at.

Attila and our teacher, let´s call her Mrs. Muresan, had only one thing in common: they were both in the vikkend complex on one August day.

Attila and seven other boys were at the summit of the vikkend island misusing the poor old willow tree for their jumping into the water. They found a couple of branches that were low and flexible enough to cling to them and to swing deeper into the water. They were provoking quite the attention by “dropping bombs” into the water (that is what landing in the water on your butt was called).

My five girlfriends and I, who were about the same age as Attila, were quietly standing by the side and watching the show, as they did not allow us to participate in their game. The boys were swinging by us producing the most unusual ways to land into the water. The most exciting loop was rewarded by applause and amazement, so it was an incentive for them to figure out new and interesting poses to swing into the water.

People who were in boats or swimming in the water had to be extremely careful while they were in the vicinity of the show to avoid accidents of any kind. It was much safer not to approach that corner in the first place.

 

In the meantime, Mrs. Muresan let herself be persuaded into taking a ride in a canoe. It was never her intention to get into one of those primitive forms of entertainment that were dedicated to the common people. She agreed after she was convinced that she would only have to sit and let herself slide on the water, something that might turn out to be interesting. And so, she got into the canoe wearing a festive red dress, a thing that she would regret a few minutes later and would fulfill her prophecy that doing primitive things lead to unladylike actions.

The show the boys were giving was getting more and more adventurous. At one point even three boys were clinging on the branches of the willow tree at the same time, jumping simultaneously into the water.

Almost at the same time the canoe Mrs. Muresan was sitting in approached the level of the vikkend summit where the boys were inventing newer ways to reach the water. She pretended to enjoy the ride and the scenery around her, but the expression on her face showed the opposite.

By the time the canoe reached the height of the summit, Attila was far up in the air as he had been pushed by two boys. He was screaming from the top of his lungs to get the attention of everybody. Instead of the branch bringing him back in the direction of the shore where he could safely land into the water, it broke while he was on the highest possible point the angle of the branch allowed. Attila´s eyes widened and so did Mrs. Muresan´s. In that very moment, they both felt and thought the same thing: there was no way that a collision could be avoided. And that is how Attila landed directly on Mrs. Muresan´s lap. Both began shouting at each other and both wanted the same thing: not to be in that uncomfortable situation.

Both ended up with a collection of bruises, both physical and psychological.

Attila saw it as a good joke, something that he could brag about for years.

As for Mrs. Muresan, she was never to be seen in the vikkend complex again.