I’d just come face-to-face with The Most Perfect Girl in the World and I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Oh, sure, The Most Perfect Girl in the World just happened to be hanging out in Stilton, Vermont, population 124.”

Allow me to explain. You see, every guy has his own preferences in the way of the crucial elements of female pulchritude: hair, face, boobs, butt, legs. A guy can settle for near-misses up and down the line if he has to, which he usually does. I mean, the average guy can go a lifetime and never run into a girl who’s perfect in every way.

But this girl, the one standing in the doorway, had been custom-designed to my exact specifications.

Rich Bolotin, who ran VA, was saying, “Meg Petronius, this is, uh, Greg Curtis. He’s interviewing for the position of Supervisor of Male Residents. Meg here is Supervisor of Female Residents.”

Recovering from my testosterone-induced stupor, I strode over to the doorway, stuck out my hand, and said, “Hi, there, I’m Greg Curtis! I’m interviewing for the position of Supervisor of Male Residents!”

Shaking my hand, Meg said, “I know, Rich just told me.”

“So who are you and what do you do around here?”

She looked helplessly over at Rich, who said, “Could you give him the Cook’s tour of VA? I’ve got a meeting. You’ll have to make it quick, though, because he’s got another interv…”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that,” I said expansively, waving that other interview away. “This is definitely the job for me – I’ve always wanted to do this kind of work!”

“Really?” said Rich. “That’s…, that’s great! When can you start?”

Meg Petronius showed me around and briefed me on VA, and I’ll let you follow along.

VA had thirteen “Residents,” seven boys and six girls. The boys lived in a kind of dormitory on the second floor in the front of the house, which we toured. We then headed up to the third floor, where my room would be. When we got there the room was small, grim, dark, and ugly, but I said, “This’ll be terrific!”

Meg pulled the ripped window shade up, letting in a little more light, then leaned against the sill, folded her arms, and said, “So who are you and what are you doing at VA?”

“What do you mean?” I said, startled. “I need a job, you guys have one.”

“Uh, huh. Do you have any experience with this kind of work? Have you taken any relevant courses?”


“I was afraid of that. You know, this job’s no walk in the park. These are tough kids and they’ve lived rough lives. If they can take advantage of you, believe me, they will.”

I punched my fist into my palm. “After I crack a few heads together,” I said, “we’ll get along fine.”

“Oh no!” she said. “We don’t hit the kids at VA!”

“Really? No wonder you have problems. And by the way, what’s this fetish about saying “VA” instead of Vermont Academy?”

Meg sighed. “When Rich started this place he called it Vermont Academy. But he’s not from around here so he didn’t realize there’s already a Vermont Academy – some prep school. They’re not thrilled to be mistaken for a halfway house for retarded JDs and they’re always sending Rich nasty letters.”

I burst out laughing. “Rich should send them a nasty letter saying we’re not thrilled to be mistaken for a stuffy New England prep school!”

The six girls lived in their own dormitory on the second floor but in the back of the house. Meg pointed out that the building had been remodeled so you couldn’t get from the front of the house – where the boys slept – to the back of the house – where the girls slept – except by going down the stairs and all the way through the house and up the other stairs.

She said, “It was designed to keep the boys away from the girls, but it turns out it works the other way, too – the girls are every bit as bad as the boys.”

The schedule the kids followed was identical six days a week. They were woken up by the supervisors at seven, had breakfast at seven-thirty, and were in school at eight. The “school” was a small building attached to the back of the farmhouse and was, in effect, a one-room schoolhouse.

School ended at four and the kids had “free play” until five, then suffered through homework sessions until six, then dinner. After dinner there was more free play until lights-out at nine.

Meg and I sat on a swing that hung down from a huge oak tree in the side yard – the seat was big enough for three people – and she went over the kids, that is, the Residents. For the sake of brevity I’ll just mention the ones who’ll appear in these essays:

Earl was Head Boy. He was about to turn eighteen, at which time he would have to leave VA. But Earl was doing well. He had a parttime job at a sawmill where he was a valued employee. Earl was a huge, powerful kid but a kind of gentle giant and was well-liked by the other kids. His only problem was that he was being constantly taunted by –

Eddie, who was also seventeen, but ten months younger than Earl. He was jealous of Earl and badly wanted to be Head Boy. Eddie was probably the smartest of the boys and he was a jokester who kept everyone in stitches.

Mikey, thirteen, was the youngest and slowest of the boys. He was also small for his age, so it seemed like he was nine or ten years old, not thirteen. But he had a sweet disposition and was well-liked, especially by the girls, who fawned over him.

Angie, almost seventeen, was Head Girl. She was a very cute strawberry blonde who played a mean guitar. I wouldn’t specifically be supervising the girls, but Meg had warned me to keep my distance from Angie because she was “boy-crazy.” That would turn out to be a big understatement.

Next up: VA, Part 5

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