Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The tale of Sister Anne or Yet another reason I will burn in hell...
When my family moved to Northern New Jersey in 1980 we joined Saint Joseph's parish and were enrolled in the catholic school attached to the church. My brother and I attended this school for a few years and then for reasons that I don't completely understand, my parents transferred us into the catholic school on the other side of town, Our Lady Queen of Peace.
Sixth grade in Queen of Peace started out great, largely because our teacher was a 157 year old nun who only taught us two subjects: spelling and saying the rosary. I don't think that she ever taught math, history, geography or anything else for that matter.
I did not complain. I started to imagine that perhaps I too would become a nun. No math, just a bunch of praying. Not a bad life.
One day I was working in my spelling book when Tommy Decker hit me over the head with his spelling book.
I had not been taught how to tell someone to go to hell, so instead I did the only thing a sixth grade catholic school girl could do.
"Sister Anne! Tommy Decker hit me on the head with his spelling book!"
Sister Anne did not tolerate anyone defiling spelling. "Tell him to stop it and let me know if he does it again." she commanded.
Back to my seat I obediently trotted. Once I was settled and working...
He did it again!
Back to Sister Anne I went.
"Sister Anne! Tommy Decker hit me on the head again!" I cried.
Sister Anne marched her plump habited form over to Tommy Decker, grabbed him by the hair and proceeded to drag him to the front of the class.
She then called me to the front of the class as well.
This made me nervous, because clearly Sister Anne was deviating from the script. Tommy Decker should have been sent down to our principal, Sister Michael's office where he would have been yelled at and given detention.
Sister Anne let go of Tommy Decker's hair and turned to me.
"Hit him back!" she demanded.
Reader, I ask you, what was I to do? Defy the nun and go to hell, or slap Tommy Decker who had done nothing but bother me for weeks?
I pulled my arm back, extended my hand and slapped his face with all of my might.
I don't remember a single detail more about this incident until the phone call from Sister Michael that night. A phone call from the principal is never a good thing. She spoke with my mom a bit and then asked to speak with me.
"You are not in trouble," she began, "but can you tell me what happened today?"
I gave her my story, she thanked me and hung up.
I did my spelling, prayed my rosary and went to bed.
The next day at school we had a substitute teacher. Word quickly spread. Sister Anne was gone, she had been sent away to where ever bad nuns go and was replaced by a nice stable lay teacher.
We had to do math which I did not like, but she did read us C.S. Lewis's The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe every afternoon which was complete and utter heaven.
Sometimes people wonder why I'm no longer catholic. I like to think of this as Exhibit A.