Once you start remembering your childhood, it’s hard to stop. Inevitably, of course, some of the more embarrassing memories come to the party even when they weren't invited.
Like the time in 2nd grade when I wasn’t feeling well, but went to school at Regina Coeli anyway. Sr. Lucy called my parents to come pick me up because I was clearly ill. So there I was sitting in the little reading chairs in front of the classroom all bundled up in my winter coat and mittens waiting for my dad, when it happened. I threw up. In front of everyone. Yep. Fried eggs all over the floor. Ugh. Bet the custodian LOVED me that day.
(To this day, I still cannot eat a fried egg.)
Or the time in 8th grade when Sr. Gerald made everyone in the class sing out loud. Individually. I like singing and all, but I hate singing alone in front of other people. Being half deaf means that I don’t get the whole concept of “stereo.” If someone to my right can carry a tune, I generally get by okay. If they can’t sing, I sing off-key right along with them. But if left to my own devices, I can either be a canary – or nails on a chalkboard.
I sang so quietly that she made me sing the same song three times. By the third time, my face was beet red and I was close to tears. When she asked me sing a fourth time because she still couldn’t hear me, my classmates took pity on me and told her they could hear me just fine. Of course, confirmation from my fellow classmates wasn’t good enough for her and she demanded that I try it one more time. But – in a rare display of defiance – I refused to sing again. Surprised when I wouldn’t comply, she moved on to the next victim, er, soloist.
Later, Sr. Gerald caught me alone in the hallway and made me sing one more time just to her. When she told me I had a “lovely” voice, I wanted to smack her. Of course, back in the day, you would never even think about smacking a nun. So maybe I’m just projecting. Adult selves tend to be pretty protective of their inner child selves, I guess.
But, hey, what can you expect from a nun who still wore a wimple and one of those long black habits even though the Church by then had relaxed the rules on nun clothing? Plus, that cardboard-like thing on her forehead looked really tight and uncomfortable, so probably torturing 8th graders was the highlight of her day.
Interestingly, I was in the choir all four years of high school. Mr. Hisey was clearly a lot less threatening than an old, cranky nun.
Besides, Mr. Hisey never made me sing all by myself in front of the class.
I loved high school. Other than those first few scary weeks when it felt like everyone in my class knew each other from middle school and I was one of the few odd ducks to come from the Catholic school in town, it was an easy transition. Maybe because for the first time in years I didn’t have to wear a short-sleeved white blouse and a blue plaid skirt. I was SO happy that I finally had some say in my school outfits!
Now, of course, I wouldn’t mind so much having to wear a uniform. Think about how many hours over the years I would’ve saved picking out outfits if instead I could've tossed on the same old thing day after day.
The grass is always greener, huh?!
We spent a lot of time at “AAYC” when I was in high school. Lazy summer days spent by the pool cooking ourselves with baby oil. Obviously, we hadn’t yet heard about those three important letters “S,” “P” and “F.” Evenings were spent dancing or watching scary movies or just hanging out. I remember one time a school friend promised that her dad would give us a ride home one night – and then she reneged for reasons which I can no longer recall. So my friend Diana and I walked all the way to my house, which was a LONG way even for kids who were used to walking. My dad ended up changing out of his PJ’s, getting dressed and giving Diana a ride home that night.
Once we were able to drive, we went to Fred’s Drive-In. A lot. Apparently we wanted to make sure that everyone knew we had our driver’s licenses. So we’d sit there with the music blaring and we’d wait for a server to come to us and hang a tray filled with frosty mugs of root beer and burgers and fried food like apple fritters and onion rings on our car window. I'm guessing that back then we'd never even heard the word “cholesterol.”
I also remember going to the drive-in movie theater. Don't remember where it was, but I do remember hanging out with a bunch of friends, talking and laughing. The featured movie seemed to be irrelevant as we rarely paid much attention to it.
Except for one time when the movie itself was completely relevant. Yes, that particular time my friends came to pick me up – and for some reason my mother asked us what movie we were planning to see. I didn't know – and didn't really care. It was just a chance to spend time with my friends.
But someone piped up that we were going to see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Well, you would've thought we were going to see some X-rated movie or something because my mother had a fit and she refused to let me go out with my friends that night.
I was pretty shocked as my parents rarely restricted my activities in high school. Probably because they knew I was a wimp and wouldn't do much in the way of misbehaving. So...I don't know – perhaps my mom thought I'd have nightmares about chainsaws or something.
But, boy, was I mad. I clearly remember stomping upstairs to my room, slamming my bedroom door, and refusing to talk to my mother for at least a day or two. And, buh-lieve me, I was gooood at giving the silent treatment when I was a teenager.
To this day, I have never seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre! (Yeah, yeah, I know – it's not like my life has been incomplete for having missed it.)
Another time my friends picked me up to go “cruising,” Kids in my hometown didn't have too many choices back then. Oh sure, we could drive up and down State Street or Union Avenue – and we did that. A lot. But you can only drive up and down the same old streets so many times before utter boredom sets in.
So my friends picked me up and once we were safely out of my neighborhood, they told me we were going to be “bad” that night. With a gleam in her eye, one of my friends pulled a couple cans of 3.2 beer out of a paper bag and told me we were going to Drink. It. All.
Mind you, there were about seven girls in the car. Seatbelts? We didn't need no stinkin' seatbelts! (It's amazing we survived at all, isn't it?!) Plus, a couple cans of beer weren't going to do a whole lot of damage to anyone. Especially with that old watered down 3.2 stuff. But my friends proceeded to drink the beer and then acted “sooo wasted.” I think it was pretty much for effect. And I vaguely recall someone even mooning another car. (And, no,for your information, it was NOT me. Matter of fact, I didn't drink any of the beer because – back then – I couldn't stand the smell of it, let alone the taste.) And, okay, call me “goody two-shoes.” I probably heard it before. In the vernacular of today, “Whatev.”
Besides, if that was the worst behavior I was ever around in high school, I think I came out of the experience pretty much unscathed.
Hmmm. It just occurred to me that my life as a teenager totally mimicked the movie American Graffiti with Ron Howard and Cindy Williams. Yikes.
Well, except that we grew up in the 70s and not the 50s. And we didn't have cool cars – we had Pintos. And I never once went to a drag race.
Okay, so my life growing up was nothing like American Graffiti. Never mind.
But, still. It was definitely small town U.S.A. It seemed like a more innocent time. And we had a lot of fun. So...on the whole...it was a pretty great place to grow up.
Even if I didn't get to see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.