The Bard and Jester

Welcome Readers! Here you will find some real life experiences and musings that I'd like to share with you. So, come on in, if you have the time and I'll do my best to be entertaining... Please click on my sponsors' links!!! Established March 12, 2005.

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Location: New York, United States

I can be a clown, a poet, a fool, a romantic, a diplomat, a all depends upon the timing and circumstance.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Dad, Nuns and the Knife

Originally uploaded by vraven.
I went to Catholic grammar school back in the '70's, when it was still "okay" for nuns and priests to beat kids...and being the mischievous soul that I am, I had more than my fair share of beatings.

I mean, if it had been today, where even shaking a kid could result in criminal charges, my parents would've have a massive lawsuit to launch against the school. In third grade, I had been yanked out of my chair by the hair and shaken by a frustrated teacher because I had difficulty understanding some lesson she was attempting to impart to me. Other times, I got smacked across the face (and some of those nuns wore heavy gold rings) or across my head so that my skull would ring like a bell. I was kept in the coat closet to impress upon me the "dark horrors of hell".

Every Friday, the nuns would distribute Mass slips and what you were required to do was go to one of the Sunday Masses, then fill in the fields on the slip regarding the time, who the celebrant was and a brief summary of the priest's sermon. Failure to hand in that slip on Monday resulted in detention.

Problem was, I was a devout Catholic back then and I always went to Mass--while hospitalized in the 7th grade I even watched televised Mass on Sunday--but I would often lose or forget to bring in the Mass slip and I would get detention.

And nuns were very scary people to me; scowling hags in black and white habits who, while towering over my little form, with the flourescent lighting gleaming off their eye glasses, their gold crosses swaying from their necks and their spittle-flecked lips curled in a snarl, would tell me things like, if on wintry, Sunday morning, I didn't want to leave the snuggness of my warm bed to go to Mass, that I should remember that "the fires of hell are hotter".

To this day, the sight of a nun in habit causes me to tense up.

In 4th grade, I had the scariest and meanest nun of all, Sister Carita (pronounced CARRY-TA), a crazy hag from South America. She taught us penmanship and if you didn't form those scripted letters just right then--CRACK!--a hard rap on your knuckles from the ever present ruler in her hand.

I personally think it's why I have such awful handwriting today.

During bathroom breaks, while we lined up on the before and after lines in the hall outside the rest rooms, waiting for everyone to take their turn, I would often misbehave and would be pulled off the line to stand beside Sister Carita.

One time, as I stood beside her, with the other kids waiting on line and staring at the both of us, I said, "Welcome to Fantasy Island."

Sister Carita, without looking at me, reached back her arm and--WHACK!--smacked me across the head.

On a May afternoon, as the summer--and it's promise of fun and freedom--loomed closer, while we all sat quiet in the classroom reading something (can't recall what now), the sound of a bugle came from the street below. Now, being the spontaneous and wild spirit that I am, I leapt up from my desk and cried, "CHARGE!", to much laughter.

But, in being the class clown, I had incurred the terrible wrath of Sister Carita. Her white-whiskered face darkened and she stormed over to me. She yanked me from my desk by my arm and shoved me hard to the back of the classroom. I hit the wall and cracked my head against it.

She made me stand there even after school was dismissed and the classroom emptied while she went to fetch my mom, who was waiting downstairs.

My mother was in the midst of a conversation with her friends when Sister Carita fell upon her. The nun yanked her--much in the same violent manner as she had just done to me--and said, "I have your misbehaving son upstairs."

My mother didn't appreciate this treatment and the two got into a heated confrontation. This lead to my father--who some may say is a tad overprotective of his family--to chase Sister Carita back into the school building, where she escaped him by taking refuge in the convent that perched atop the school.

Now, my family was well-connected to the diocese and my uncles called the priests and the priests called the convent. My father wanted to see Sister Carita face to face and give him a piece of his mind. What followed was a phone negotiation not unlike a hostage situation.

In 5th grade, I had Sister Patrick (yeah, my namesake...go figure). Very strict. Very insane. But then, I think a lifetime of no sex would probably drive me crazy and make me mean as well...especially since they taught that even masturbation was a sin. Thus, having no outlet for the build up of natural impulses, us unfortunate kids had to suffer for the nuns and priests not gettin' any.

We were taking some exam and it was flu season. I had a terrible cough and I hacked all through half the test. At one point, Sister Patrick slammed the freckled ham of her fist down upon her desk and said, "Master Patrick, if you cough one more time you'll get detention." So I spent the rest of the exam trying to choke back my coughs.

Another time, my dad had gave me a folding knife he had purchased through an ad in TV Guide...the kind where you could have your initials engraved on the little gold plate on the wood handle. It certainly wasn't anything big--and something that both Rambo and Crocodile Dundee would sneer at--but I brought it to school one day and got caught showing it to one of my friends. The nun, Sister Theresa, took it away from me. I protested, saying how I was allowed to have the knife. Sister Theresa then demanded a note from my parents before she would return it.

My father was more than happy to oblige, but my mother wouldn't let me take his sarcastic version of the permission note and so just gave me hers.

I got the knife back, of course, and never took it to school again, but I would've love to have taken my dad's permission note. It read:

"Patrick is allowed to carry a knife because a gun is too heavy."


Blogger Gary Freedman said...

If I had gone to a Catholic school I would never have survived. Mischievous isn't the word for me.

November 22, 2005 2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've much catching up to do...
your quill has been busy.


November 29, 2005 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, and I'm a fellow catholic school survivor.


November 29, 2005 8:56 PM  
Anonymous Colleen said...

I'm Patrick's sister and have endured my share of beatings at the same school. I now call myself a recovering catholic. It gets a laugh usually but no one really realizes how serious I am when I say that.

February 09, 2006 8:58 AM  
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