Saturday, November 17, 2018

Loosing My Religion (Part Three)

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my (eventual) grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who don't yet, aka the Stickies) to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

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                                  Who The Hell Is This Guy?

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars 
Marie-Louise -- My beautiful muse  
Iggy -- My designated Sticky
Dana -- My designated gentlereader

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
                                                                                 -Allen Saunders                                                                                                   

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies,

My eight years of Catholic education (which took place when nuns still had hair on their chests) was over. Next up: freshman in a public high school. Most vivid memory: culture shock(s).

No, I didn't have to wear a tie. Changing classes or going to the restroom didn't involve marching. Not once did a nun waltz part way into the boy's room demanding we keep the noise down.

[For the record, the nun in a boys restroom scenario would make a great scene in a movie. Picture a half dozen or so frightened/embarrassed little boys attempting to become one with a urinal to preserve what they could of their modesty/dignity.]


There was gym class twice a week. Showering buck naked with a bunch of dudes, at varying stages of physical development was bad enough. The pre and post shower Lord of the Flyish dramas in the locker room were worse. Running a cross-country course for the first time in my life -- four times during the first report card period, for a grade -- was worse yet.

Going from staying inside for recess to try and be the first one to finish the current Agatha Christie novel that our impromptu book club was reading -- to running Cross-Country -- was like a 300 pound 17-year-old momma's boy trying to make it through Marine boot camp.

And don't get me started on girls in mini-skirts! Why I remember...

[What, has any of this got to do with religion?]

It's a reflection of my charmingly eccentric personality. Not to mention it serves as the literary equivalent of color commentary in a sports-obsessed nation. Not to mention that the phrase not to mention (followed by a mention) makes no sense, Dana.


Before moving on I must mention one other thing. Had I gone to a Catholic high school I would've had an entirely different life. Obtaining the best grades I was capable of would have been demanded; there would've much pressure to go to college.

The majority of my unionized public school teachers couldn't care less if I worked hard or not and whether or not I went to college was between me and my parents. In retrospect, I don't take this personally. Tomatoes v. Tomahtoes. I sorta/kinda wish I had opted for the tomahto track but then again, I suspect I've had a more interesting life than the average bear.

And of course, I was blessed with/there wouldn't have been Ronbo, Valencia Procrastinatia, and the Stickies.

Ninth grade was a transition year as far as me and organized religion are concerned. One doesn't just turn one's back on eight years of indoctrination, that began when I still believed in Santa, just like that. At least this one didn't.

I joined a Catholic-based youth organization for kids that also didn't go to a Catholic high school along with my new best friend, Glenn S., who was in the other eighth grade of the same Catholic grade school I had just left behind. It was a large school. Social rules dictated that one's social sphere revolved around the kids you spent the day trapped sitting in the same classroom with.

We had quickly become foxhole buddies to survive public high school and riding a  school bus to same. The bus was yet another Lord of the Flies situation, but not as bad as gym class. We were best buds for quite a while, but no longer. He got normal years before I did.

The group, that I can't remember the name of, mandated doing a lot of "volunteer" work in various officially approved charitable situations. The only vivid memory that comes to mind is trying to feed a 300-year-old woman at a nursing home who kept yelling at me for not doing it right.

I can't remember when I stopped showing up, for the youth group or Mass. At some point, my mom acquiesced (she was in charge of that sort of thing) but I've no memory of exactly when.

My ill-defined belief is some sort of God became even more ill-defined as I drifted through/survived high school. My goals were to get laid, graduate, get laid, and then do something, um, cool. "Hit the road," or join a commune, or move to New York City and become a writer, etc.

[For the record, while I liked to read I hadn't actually written anything, not even tried really. As to why I thought I needed to move to NYC, and/or how this would result in my becoming a writer... Well, let's just say it seemed like a good idea at the time.]

I wound up living and working in a grocery store in suburban, almost rural, Philadelphia. Poppa loves you. To be continued...

Have an OK day. 
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©2018 Mark Mehlmauer

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