Sunday, February 06, 2005


Is it weird that I went to school dressed as the Pope?

Don't answer that.

I went to a Catholic high school. Not that my family was especially Catholic (although my family is Catholic, more or less, on both sides. Irish-Catholic, German-Catholic with a dash of French-Catholic. Getcher Cat'lics here.) No, my mother sent me to Catholic school because, compared to the public high school, there was less of a chance of being knifed in the hallway. Although, among the super-competitive group I found myself in, I might have been knifed by someone trying to improve their class ranking by eliminating the competition.


I didn't want to go to this school; I wanted to go to Amphitheater Public High School where all my friends from reformatory school, er, junior high would be going. I would have probably ended up as a band geek had I gone to Amphi, instead of the more well-rounded geek I became. My mother said that if I stuck it out for one year and hated it, I could go to public school. Of course, within two weeks, I was hooked.

I loved school (geek! geeeek!); I loved the competitive side of it. I had a teacher in an advanced writing course who would lay out everyone's graded papers on a table, so you could see how you did compared to everyone else. Today some parents would probably go off about "damaging Timmy's self esteem" but in Mr. Feragne's class, self esteem took a regular walloping if you didn't pull yourself together quickly.

But somewhere around my senior year, the academic side of it had become less thrilling. I suppose I was the classic case of "If only you applied yourself more." (My mother likes to remind me that I stuffed my National Merit Scholarship application in my backpack and forgot about it.) I was involved in the theatah then, and was writing music, and was very absorbed in all that. I was already in an advanced-placement track - called the "E-group." This meant that I had class with more or less the same small group of brainiac kids all four years. But senior year, instead of going for calculus or Spanish IV like the rest of them, I decided to take a semester and sign up to work in the office.

All together now: geeeeek!

Little did I know that this would be the first of many office jobs (leading eventually to International BrandCorp, BoozeAnne, and CrazyCo-Hellkins.) Back in my day, we didn't use computers. We used IBM Selectrics, and whiteout. And dittos! We still used dittos.

So, I clacked away in the office, answering the phone, and typing memos for the assistant principal, Father Pseudonym (there's another story about when I spotted Fr. Pseudonym out on the town in a surprising place, but not now.) I was probably also typing up some script or another, too. Who knows.

I think I felt only semi-Catholic in school. I took classes in religion in high school, and attended Mass. I always appreciated the rituals involved in Catholicism. I liked the fact that there were prayers for everything, and they were already figured out for you. The Act of Faith, the Act of Hope, the Act of Charity. You could look it all up. There was the big book that told you what would be said at Mass every day of the year; there were lists of saints and lists of feast days. There was a line of popes stretching back all the way to the beginning, all named and numbered. I appreciated the organization.

When Halloween rolled around, we were allowed to come to school in costume. I don't remember if I dressed up every year or not. This was the 80s, so half the time what I wore to school could be considered a costume (knit ties! skinny satin ties! unstructured jackets!) But senior year, I decided to come to school as the Pope.

The odd part is, I seem to remember that I already had a Pope costume lying around. White satin robe, cardboard mitre, the whole deal. I think there were sequins on the mitre. Or glitter. I might also have had a staff of some kind. File that under "Big Giveaway."

I thought that maybe there would be a little consternation at school, a little turning-up-of-noses, a little scandal. Nope. They loved it. All the faculty and staff came to the office to check out the Pope at the typewriter. I freely dispensed my blessing. I think I got my picture in the yearbook.

Many years later, my mother gave me a handy Pope bottle opener. You know, for when you're thinking, "Christ, I need a beer."


Blogger David said...

You know, the geeky thing is not the contents of that story. The geeky thing is the fact that you programmed all of those links into its telling.

10:01 PM  
Blogger crumblord said...

I Love Linking. Plus, there's a hidden surprise.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Zenchick said... you guys really need to converse on blog comments?! Sheesh.

10:12 PM  
Blogger crumblord said...

Well, this is one of those nights when I'm in NYC and David's at home, so ... yeah.


10:18 PM  
Blogger Broadsheet said...

If you like the Pope bottle opener, check out what's for sale over at Cheesy Jesus. I love this place - I got my Xmas cards here one year.

4:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got the coolest postcard when I was at the Vatican. It was all shiny and glimmery, and when you tilted it one way, it was a picture of Jesus's face, but when you tilted it the other way, you saw the face of the Shroud of Turin. Oooooooo.

Catholics make the best tchotchkes.


7:12 AM  
Blogger Zenchick said...

SO impressed with your correct transliteration of "tchotchkes"!! (and using it in line with Catholics! Brilliant!)
(David and Rob's *Jewish* friend)

3:00 PM  
Blogger jwer said...

Catholicism: Judaism, Refined.

5:44 PM  

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