Lisa decided it was time to wear eye shadow. I left those kinds of decisions up to her. She may not have had a clue but she was better equipped than I was.
“We are teenagers and I think we better step it up. Which means you will have to comb that hair everyday.”
“Everyday? Do you have any idea how painful it is combing this mess? And for the record we’re in the same school.”
“You pay a price for beauty, Erin. And, for the record, we’re still teenagers.”
The week before school started Lisa and I went to the local drug store to buy our supplies. With my mother gone, and my father oblivious on how to deal with a pre-pubescent, smart- mouthed daughter, money was no object. I would start a sentence with “Fran, I need” and his wallet was out.
“Get whatever you need.”
Lisa and I arrived at our first day of school sporting blue eye shadow, red lips and hoop earrings. We were looking fine. Everyone noticed. It was a new year, a new look and a new nun, Sister Raymond.
Sister Raymond, clearly jealous of our beauty, made me go wash my face. Edward asked why Lisa was able to keep her make up on and the class was informed that fat girls should not draw attention to their mortal sin. Mortal sin! How the hell did that happen? I mean the blue eye shadow might have been a bit much but a mortal sin?
“Mortal sin, Sister? Its just make up.”
“It’s not the make-up, and you know it! Don’t be an idiot.”
Apparently, permanent records are no joke and she received mine, chock full of my blasphemous past.
“This is going to be a year of change for you. You’ll see. I can break you and we start today!”
Break me? This couldn’t be good. Change is never good. (Although, the double-stuffing of Oreo cookies was brilliant.) A nun with a mission scared me half to death. Sister Raymond disliked me from day one even though I thought I had won her over by mentioning her dead ringer big star looks. Puzzled, she asked, “What in good God’s name are you talking about?”
Sister Raymond was the biggest nun I had ever seen. She was the biggest woman I had ever seen. I was convinced I had seen her in a movie called “The World According to Garp”. She was nearly flattered. She may have even thought I wasn’t as bad as she had been warned. The next day she hated me all the more. At first I didn’t understand the sudden change of heart, then I realized someone told her the “actress” I was referring to was John Lithgow.
After morning prayers, Sister Raymond would walk up every aisle, eyeballing each of us, straightening ties, fixing collars. It was the same everyday. She would stop at my desk, make a sour face, suck her teeth, and, shake her head.
“See children, this is what not to do!”
She would cackle at her own pathetic attempt at humor. I would laugh along with her. This is what would happen just before all hell broke loose. I was, and remain, unmoved by pending doom.
“Is your desk clean today?”
“Clean is so subjective, Sister. I do believe it is free from sin if that’s what you mean.”
I could hear Lisa roll her eyes from across the room. Sister Raymond, bent with rage, violently tossed my desk across the room. I felt exposed, all of my belongings splayed across the floor, my classmates stunned with disbelief.
“Do you see this, students? It is as I suspected. She is a slob.”
The word “slob” hit me like a freight train. I knew what she was inferring even if no one else did. It wasn’t the first time I had heard the word, although it was usually accompanied by the word fat. It was then I knew I was in for a fight.
Sister Raymond had decided to make my desk dumping a daily event. It may have stopped had I not added fuel to the fire. She was quicker than she looked and, in full nun regalia, she could spin, pivot and dump in one fell swoop. It was impressive. To compensate for my continued embarrassment, I would act as if her desk dumping was actually beneficial. This sent her over the edge she so perilously straddled.
“Look, Sister! My long lost homework! Thank goodness I won’t get an F now! Thanks, buddy!”
“Get out! You evil creature! Go to the rectory! Now!”
As I walked to the rectory I noticed a moving truck unloading the meager belongings of our new priest from Czechoslovakia.
“Young lady,” Father said with his broken English.
“Where do you belong, my child?”
“I’m on my way to the rectory for punishment.”
“Punishment? What could you have possibly done wrong?”
“I’m not really sure, Father. Nuns don’t seem to like me much.”
“Oh, dear, I find that hard to believe.”
Just as the Father was almost liking me, Sister Raymond came flying across the schoolyard. Since you could never see their feet they looked as if they were flying, I suspected it was the broom up their ass.
“Father, I’m so sorry you have been bothered by this wayward trouble maker.”
“Sister, that seems a bit harsh. She seems like a perfectly lovely child” Father said smiling at me.
“Humph, you could not be more misguided, Father! She is contaminated with evil.”
“Sister! She is a child! A gift from God! I’m surprised at you.”
“You’ll see for yourself, Father.”
Sister Raymond stormed off. Father looked at me. All I could do was shrug my shoulders.
“Sorry, Father. Now you’re in trouble too.”
“Oh, she doesn’t scare me.”
“That makes one of us.”