Somebody in a chatroom recently asked me: ‘ What is this thing you have with nuns?’ This, from a woman who teaches at an all Catholic Girls School! A lay teacher. Hey! that’s what they’re called.
But seriously, as were most Roman Catholic kids from a galaxy, long ago & far away, I was traumatized by nuns. While recounting the anecdotal proof might illustrate my personal hell, it’s been done. Besides, non-Catholics won’t relate and I wouldn’t want that to happen. My current fixation on this religious profession lays at the happy feet, of the now fading penguin craze.
The common image of penguins as odd, little people in tuxedoes, is too #%*@! easy. Penguins have been around a long long time, Yet, I’ve never seen one wearing a blue sateen or red paisley tux from the 70’s. But think about the classic nun suit ( the one before the more neo Amish look ) which even atheists could describe. Got it? Yup. Penguin. Except for the accessorized beads. AND where the penguins got all those beads, I have no idea. I suspect a failed attempt by the Dutch, who eventually did much better with Manhattan.
Many historical rumors exist regarding nuns. Shakespeare picked on nuns! When Hamlet, not in his right mind, blows off Ophelia, and he says
‘ Get thee to a nunnery!’ He’s not advising her to take vows. Nunnery in those days was code. Look it up. No lesser wits, Cheech Marin & Tommy Chong, capture the essence of nunness with their classic bit, Sister Mary Elephant. For Catholic trinity type sake, in conclusion 2 words: Mother Theresa.
OK – – – one brief story. After 6 or 7 years of persecution at the hands & rulers of nuns, I was emancipated because the family moved from a major metro area, to a more suburban one where Catholic Parochial schools charged a fee. That and my week of sustained highly vocal blasphemery, and I assure you I had the repertoire by age 7, combined, to get me to a public school. Of course, that brought my ultimate Shakepearean downfall. But that’s another blogurgitation.
Not having read the fine print, once a week I got on the special bus ( NOT a short one ) to the local parish church. After a tedious school day, there is nothing quite like having an hour of catechism class with nuns, who along with their other ‘ frustrations ‘ and their regular gig, hammering the paying customers all day, now have to play to the cheap seats. They were not amused. Or amusing.
One fine Fall day, a 7th game of the World Series. I thought of skipping and watching the game. Then, in pure Catholic guilt & epiphany, I stopped. Wow! If I skip catechism, the Yankees will lose because God will punish me. So, I went like many a martyr before me, knowing God was on my side. But sitting in that church, doubt assailed me, because I really wasn’t happy being programmed into a religious robot. My mind was off, wondering how the NYY could have outscored the Pittsburghers by so many runs and still wind up in a Game 7. I was waiting for the other spike to drop.
For an hour, I twitched & actually, prayed: pleading with Heaven for some game to be left for me to witness. This was the era before endless TV commercial breaks & replay loops ad nauseum, which now make games 4 hours long. AND we had day games before WS games that started at 8:26P!!! By 5, the Series could be history, while I’d been avoiding learning how to be a soldier of Christ, presumably for a future crusade to the Holy Land. My Nostradamus-like mind and I smelled a rotting archaic foreign policy.
One thing you can say for nuns, they know how to read a shirker. I looked up just as Sister Beatrice Domina’s whiplike hand grabbed a little sketch I’d been doing in her honor. Fortunately for me, I was a non-pornographic artist. I favored carictature, and in case the beholder was art appreciation challenged, I always labeled my subject clearly. Oddly, I stopped doing that, just after this episode.
I was kept after class just long enough to imagine she’d make me miss the bus. A kid today would flip her off and walk out. AND that would be a good kid. Back then, it was akin to a life sentence in a gulag chained to Uncle Joe. Using signals that would make a 3rd base coach drool, she stared down the bus driver, a hand on my collar. Telling me God was very disappointed with boys who draw nuns & she’d be keeping a special eye on me from now on, she propelled me toward the open bus door. Just in time to hear Bill Mazeroski hit one over Yogi Berra’s head into the stands at Forbes Field, winning the World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
My very first thought was some of that blasphemerey I alluded to, frankly I didn’t have enough words to cover this situation. The next was that Joey von Zelle, a Pirates fan, HAD skipped Catechism! The road to atheism starts many places, mine was in the aisle of a yellow school bus. AND I haven’t even told you the good, bad stuff about my experiences with the nuns. Not to mention that teacher from the chat room is really cute. Did I mention frustration?
Happy Opening Day to my old hometown. Good luck Carl and do not date Keira Knightley this summer. Amen