SUMMER VACATION
by
Sally

Salomon’s Aunt Ingeborg used to be a teacher, before she married a rich businessman who left her well endowed when he died. She never remarried and everyone in the family tried to stay on her good side because of the possible inheritance. Also she kept hinting at craving some company.

That was the reason Salomon’s Mother made him spend every summer holiday with her in Vienna where she lived most of the time in a large apartment.

Salomon hated these visits, but his Mother insisted that he would always act cheerful and grateful towards his aunt, or face repercussions.

Ingeborg was rather old fashioned in the way she expected her nephew to behave and obey and would imply a strict set of rules for Salomon to be followed.

She didn’t approve of shorts or T-Shirts. Salomon had to wear button up shirts and long pants at all times. The shirts had to be long sleeved with a rounded collar, buttoned all the way to the neck and a bowtie assured it would stay that way. The pants had to be creased and cuffed, either without or sewn up pockets. White socks and velvet house shoes were mandatory inside the apartment. His Mother made sure not to pack any other types of clothes for his visit.

For the night he would change into a snug long-sleeved onesie that Aunt Ingeborg had knitted herself for him from “natural” wool. The garment covered his feet and confined his hands into thick crocheted mittens. The knitting was also doubled up around the crotch area.

It had a row of buttons in the back that were covered by a zippered flap. His aunt would button and zip him up before additionally securing the zipper-pull to the stiff crochet collar with a safety pin. “For good measure” As she claimed. Not that he could operate any of the closures with his mittened hands anyway.

She didn’t have to say it, obviously it was designed to keep him from playing with himself during the night.

His days were tightly scheduled. Aunt Ingeborg insisted that he bring all his school notes and grades from the past year, so she could revise them and decide where he needed to improve.

His alarm clock was set for 5:30AM. He was required to get up immediately to make his bed as neatly as possible. His aunt Ingeborg would come to his room at exactly 5:40 to inspect his bed and to unbutton the onesie so he could change into a leotard, tights and ballet slippers to perform his morning exercise routine under her supervision. It was lots of jumping jacks, rope-jumping, sit ups, knee bends, and other vintage exercises for an hour until 6:45AM. Every single exercise was repeated 20 times, while he had to recite a rhyme that Ingeborg had made him memorize.

I always do my best
I won’t do any less.
More work will always please me,
I can’t accept a mess

Calculations must be perfect,
My writing always neat
I never will be satisfied,
Without each task complete

I listen to my teacher,
It makes her day shine bright.
I smile and never doubt a word
Cause she is always right

I always study diligent
completing all my tasks
Never do I speak in class
Unless my teacher asks

My homework will be flawless
I must pass every test,
Lest I break my promise
To do my very best

After the exercise he had exactly 15 minutes to take a shower, fold his clothes and get dressed before joining his Aunt for breakfast at 7:00AM. The showers were always cold to lukewarm, because it took the water at least 10 minutes to run somewhat hot in the old house and being late for breakfast would mean additional studies during the day.

Afterwards he would receive his daily assignments and spend the rest of the morning studying until lunchtime. The afternoon was designated to his Aunt's idea of “quality time” which consisted of learning all kinds of crafts like knitting, crocheting, embroidery and other needlework Ingeborg tasked him with, while she graded his morning assignments and compiled his homework.

Two hours before dinner began his “play time” that he could spend to his leisure, but only after finishing his homework, which was redoing every flawed assignment from the morning, as well additional studies similar to the ones he had failed. If he ever had any play time left it was restricted to activities inside the apartment that could be done in silence.

After dinner he would go back in his leotard for another 30 minutes of exercise and a different Poem:

I always say Thank You, I always say please
I must not interrupt or tease
I will never argue, nor do I plea,
Pay quiet attention when Aunt lectures me

Every suggestion I regard regulation
I follow instruction without hesitation
I eat all the food that is put on my plate
Her schedules I follow, must never be late

No Woman is below me, neither young nor old
I show them respect by doing all that I'm told
I share my things and I wait my turn
Obedience is the best way to learn

By being patient I advance in virtue
Making sure I am in bed by curfew
Offering to help is my elation
Never asking for compensation

Manners, Obedience and humility too
And speaking only when I am spoken to.
These virtues will make me a better boy
To hold them up will be my joy

When I receive a punishment, it will be my own fault
Therefore I must apologize when I make Auntie scold
She only has my best in mind, my penance proves her care,
I must not show resentment but gratitude to her.

Followed by another shower before going to bed. His Aunt insisted that he needed at least 10 hours of sleep, so he was tucked into bed with curtains drawn and lights out at 7:00PM, no matter what day of the week or how bright it still was outside.

Ingeborg was a vegetarian and believed in healthy whole foods and raw vegetables. What she didn’t believe in was seasoning. Most of her cooking would taste very bland. Breakfast would always be a large bowl of warm homemade yogurt with oats and a drink called ayran.
Salomon hated the taste of yogurt, but his aunt was not fond of objection to her cooking or waste and insisted that every meal would be completely finished. Lunch was usually whole wheat pasta or rice with a big portion of vegetables all cooked without any salt. Dinner was mostly green salads with a few drops of vinegar and lemon juice as dressing. Setting the table, clearing it, doing the dishes and putting them away was salomons responsibility for all meals. For his kitchen duties he would wear a pinafore style apron with frills around the edges, tied into a neat bow behind his back.

His Aunt drank a lot of tea, which she deemed unsuitable for salomon. There was only two types of drinks she allowed him, plain tap water or ayran, which was tap water with yogurt. He would have kept to plain water, but Ingeborg prepared a large jug of Aryan every day. It was served with every meal and the rule was that it had to be empty by his time for bed.

As much as he dreaded the last glass from the jug that mostly consisted of yogurt sludge, he always tried to make sure to finish it over dinner. If there was some left he would have to drink it all right before going to bed. Since he was not allowed to get up again and go to the toilet after being tucked in, his Aunt would make him sleep in a diaper under the onesie on those nights.

Each Friday was cleaning day. It began with a inner cleansing. Ingeborg would give salomon a soapy enema to retain all through his morning exercises. Breakfast would be two cups of yogurt to make up for the omission of oats.

The morning was spent in the laundry room with washing and hanging to dry. In the afternoon, they would go to Aunt’s little “Schrebergarten” at the edge of the city, where they would pick weeds, water the plants and harvest the ripe vegetables.
For these trips he would wear a pair of green bibbed pants to protect his clothes, either rubber boots or clogs and a wide brimmed straw hat with a ribbon.

Aunt Ingeborg had no car, so they would take public transportation and carry everything in baskets. Salomon always felt people would stare at him in these clothes. Ironing and folding was taken care of upon return from the garden. Special care and attention was required when buffing Aunties leather skirts or polishing her jewelry, which would usually take up his “play time”

On Saturday mornings his aunt would take him to various museums or historical buildings in Vienna and have him write an essay about it in the afternoon. Play time he would spend writing letters of gratitude to his Mother, his Grandmother and Miss Karen, his teacher at school, telling them about his wonderful summer. Aunt Ingeborg would read them and sometimes have him change some wording or have him add promises of doing chores and good behavior before sending them off on Monday.

On Sunday morning she would take him to mass after breakfast. To make sure he had paid attention, he would have to remember the gospel, find it in the bible after church and write it out in his best handwriting. He was also required to write a treatise about the sermon that was given that Sunday and send to his mother along with his letter of gratitude.

As horrible as it all sounded and as bad as the situation was for Salomon, he never thought his Aunt was deliberately mean towards him. She genuinely seemed to enjoy teaching and loved to find that her efforts were not in vain by constantly testing his knowledge. It was obvious that she firmly believed it all was for Salomon’s benefit andhe could not deny that his grades at school were much improved because of the amount of studying he did.

She even would give him rewards for flawless assignments, like half a teaspoon of jam to go with his breakfast the next morning. Thoroughly mixed under the yogurt it made no discernible difference in taste, but a show of gratitude was expected. A perfectly knitted or crocheted piece would earn him one hour in the park under his aunts supervision or watching a episode of a children's show for preschoolers his aunt selected for him during play time. The tiniest flaw however would result in her undoing it completely and making him do it all over again without any benefits even if it turned out perfect.

Aunt Ingeborg was a strict woman who expected her instructions to be followed instantly and to the letter. She did not believe in physical punishment, her methods were much more sophisticated. Salomon learned that very soon during his first visit after showing resentment and defiance about the rules that had been laid out to him.

The next morning he woke up and all his clothes were gone.

Aunt Ingeborg, being a feminist, explained that it was now “girls appreciation week” a history lesson for salomon that mostly centered around the female gender in history and insight into a girl's mind. Dedicated to a hands on experience of all kinds of things that women were subjected to throughout the times. His shirts had been replaced with blouses, his pants with various skirts and his socks with pantyhose. Instead of the house shoes he found pink open toed mules with kitten heels.

His morning exercise would now be ballet poses, performed in a pink tutu and pointe shoes.

A pair of clip-on earrings and a headband would be worn all day. He was given a purse with a powder compact and lip gloss inside. The makeup was to be applied in the morning and to be touched up every time he went to the toilet. To ensure ample opportunity, he would drink two large glasses of water after breakfast and another glas each time he returned from the toilet.

Two days he spent laced into a stiff corset the rest of the week he would wear tight full body girdles and a bra for support. At night he would sleep in a old fashioned girls nightgown.

The goal of the week was to lose two pounds of weight and convince a boy to take him to “the dance” by Sunday.

During this week his time for morning toilet was extended and it was the only time he did not have to finish his meals. He was even encouraged to eat daintily, to achieve the expected weight loss

Salomon had to keep a diary from the viewpoint of a young girl about how she was hoping that her secret crush would ask her out for that particular event. On top of that he had to write letters to that secret crush every day pointing out how handsome and smart he was, always subtly hinting at the upcoming dance.

The diary and letters had to be submitted to Aunt Ingeborg. She told salomon that if she thought that his efforts were not sincere enough, she may have to show the diaries to the boy and girl living next door.

The children she was talking about were Michael who was two years older than Salomon and his three years younger Sister Susan. He didn’t know them very well, but he didn’t like Michael who always made fun of Salomon when he saw him. Susan was a polite and smart girl who seemed rather fond of Aunt Ingeborg, always greeted her nicely and began a conversation. A frequent subject was discussing Salomon’s appearance and good behavior, like he wasn’t even there.

If he achieved his goal by Sunday morning, his Aunt would prepare him for the “the dance”. He would spend the day wearing a pretty dress, his hair done all neat, nails and toes polished, makeup and jewelry applied, anxiously waiting if his “date” would show up.

Salomon was mortified all day. He could not be sure if Ingeborg had actually invited one or both of the siblings to come over. Just to imagine Michael reading his letters or Susan discussing his diary while he was dressed like a girl, was terrifying.

He felt very very relieved when it was time to get ready for bed and he never was so happy before to wear the uncomfortable onesie again. Just when Aunt Ingeborg had buttoned him up, the doorbell rang. It was Michael and Susan. Typically Michael made a snide remark about Salomon’s sleepwear, while Susan pointed out how nice the knitting and crocheting was done. It turned out Ingeborg had asked them over, but since it was Salomons bedtime he would not be part of the conversation.

They both watched as Auntie tucked him into bed and drew the curtains. They would say goodnight, and the door was closed. He could hear their voices talking in the living room, but he could not make out any words. He could however hear frequent giggling and laughter.

Aunt Ingeborg never told him what was discussed that evening, however the experience was enough to keep him obedient and compliant her rules for the rest of the summer.

Aunt Ingeborg was so pleased with the effect it had on Salomons behavior that she declared “Girl appreciation week” a mandatory event at the beginning of each summer visit, to act as a reminder and educational experience he should be looking forward to.
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