Monday, August 23, 2010

Sister Mary Bathtowels Explains It All For You

During my "I'm Going to Throw Myself Off of a Cliff" phase my senior year of high school, I took a wild notion that if I had to live without Hopkins, I'd just hie myself off to the nearest convent. While the band was on the road for the statewide marching contest over Halloween weekend, I improvised a costume using most of the towels in our hotel room...witness the advent of Sister Mary Bathtowels.

Sister Mary Bathtowels sounded like our English Lit teacher and made sarcastic sanctimonious pronouncements from time to time. She popped up at the unlikeliest times, around lunch or during class meetings, or at quick recall tournaments. She was a character I inhabited, much like the four hour period during Homecoming when I channelled Hopkins so effectively that I was awarded the dance ticket prize at lunchtime- with a sincere request from the faculty that I drop character, because I was scaring them.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I fought with my parents over whether or not I could actually enter the convent. Two of my second cousins had flunked out of a Carmelite house in New Mexico when I was child, so they weren't too thrilled with the idea- and besides, I would've made one truly lousy nun. In this, I defer to their better judgement, as they were right and I was going nuts.

I have a picture of the good sister somewhere, although I know that a few of my friends do as well. A copy was supposed to be sent to Hopkins at That Place, for emphasis about how bad things had become in his absence. It probably never got sent, since I was not in charge of that endeavor.

Our sage Poli Sci teacher sat me down for a little Come-to-Jesus about the whole mess after she got wind of it. She arched an accusatory eyebrow at me and deadpanned, "If you go into a convent, child, what happens if he comes back?" Excellent question, crisis averted as I sat there at the corner of her desk letting it sink in. She went on to tell me that she knew it was the most difficult thing I'd ever done, and that being on your own is never easy. She'd known us both, exceedingly well, throughout our high school careers. She also knew I was in full-on nuclear meltdown without him, and did everything in her power to keep me from totally losing it.

Sister Mary Bathtowels offered up a lot of prayer that year, even though she was too young to realize that sometimes the answer you get is at great variance with the one you wanted. She's still too stubborn to accept it with any degree of humility. As I said before, I would've made one significantly lousy nun...

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