“Shawty had them apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur. The whole club was looking at her…” ~Flo Rida, Low
I went to Catholic school. From kindergarten until my senior year of high school, I was an angst-filled, plaid skirt wearing student with a dream of one day not being forced to attend church and prayer assemblies. Was it really that bad? Well, yes and no. I was in a pretty safe environment, but it was also a very controlled environment. I have a natural inclination to immediately find a way to bend the rules without going too far in these scenarios. Some may call that an issue with authority. I call it trying to keep a sense of individualism. Tomato, tomata.
It was hard to find ways to step out of line and not get detention or in trouble in my schools. Our teachers had rulers to measure lengths of our skirts and wearing the wrong shirt color was obvious. All of those things gave you “demerits” in my school. Five of those got you into detention. We all had to carry a demerit card on us. If you didn’t have it on you when a teacher wanted to issue one, you immediately got sent to the principal’s office. Ditching class, bad language, showing up high or drug dealing were pretty much guaranteed detention or worse. I had to find a way to pay for college. These shenanigans weren’t an option for me to get me to where I needed to go. So how does one skirt the rules? For me, it was English class. Let me explain…
I had an English teacher my sophomore year who was a nun. Sister Barbara. I think it’s safe to say she did not like me. I could almost feel her cringe every time I turned in my papers. I always met the assignment requirements and turned everything in on time or early. She had to grade accordingly. What she wasn’t happy about was my subject matter. This is where I opted to not pretend I fully agreed with the books, the teachings of the church or her social views…anything in which I had a difference of opinion…to get a good grade. This was creative writing. I was going to get creative. My favorite moment? The time we had an in-class poetry assignment. I paired up with one of my best friends who was a bit of a wild child. As we sat there trying to think of what to write about, our brainstorming went in the direction of “wouldn’t it be funny if we wrote about (insert inappropriate topics here), and she read it out loud in class?” Yes! Yes, that would be funny. Knowing the likelihood she wouldn’t pick my paper to read out loud on purpose, we went for it. Giggling, we wrote our poem and turned it in.
Typically, Sister Barbara chose this chick Mary’s stuff to read in class. Mary wanted to become a nun. It made sense. Today, for reasons unknown but so grateful for, Sister Barbara decided to get a little crazy, mix up the papers and randomly pick one with her eyes closed. You know where I’m going with this. Our poem was the first one she picked. I thought I might pee my pants as she read the first line of our poem “The Dancer” clearly about a stripper, in perfect iambic pentameter might I add…from both laughter and fear.
It took Sister Barbara until about line three or so before she realized what she was reading. It was written vague enough that we could talk ourselves out of trouble, but there was no mistaking it. The changing look on her face from smile to disgust was perfectly timed with the slowing of her voice. She turned in our direction looking at us while she finished reading it. I couldn’t look at her because I would have started laughing and maybe never stopped therefore revealing and admitting, yes…our dancer was not a ballerina.
I’ll tell you this though. That Catholic guilt is a motherfucker. Say what you want, but even if you’re not religious, if you went to Catholic school it creeps in. I envisioned the phone call to my mom. I mentally cancelled my weekend plans. But nothing happened. I have no idea why she never said anything. Perhaps instead of sending us to the office she thought we needed prayers. Maybe she was just too embarrassed to talk to anyone about it. I have no idea. All I know is I wish I still had my handwritten copy so I could share it with you. I’m pretty sure that sucker was in the bottom of the trash as soon as the bell rang.