Tag Archives: Bullies

Why I Don’t Pray

As soon as John and Jacob saw me, they knew something was up. Something weird. Because I hadn’t looked nearly so cheerful the last time they’d seen me.

I had to admit, they were right.

Even though on that particular day, I had planned to be thoughtful. Sad. Mournful. I planned to wallow just a tad. It was, after all, the first anniversary of my mother’s death. I was a long way away from my heartbroken Dad; I wouldn’t be able to call and let him know that I was thinking of her. I felt, well, I felt I deserved it, because sometimes, no matter where you were, you just have to give into the loss.

That had been my plan, anyway. That’s not exactly what happened.

Did you see the movie The Monuments Men? It was pretty much panned by the critics, but I really liked it. It was about a group of academics who went to war to save great art from Hitler. It had compelling action, great works of art, and the struggle against good and evil. Equally important, it had no robots in it. Or baseball.

Naturally, since that trailer rudely left out the most important part of the movie – the one that I was involved in, I’m going to actually have to write this story up.

Anyway, the movie stars George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, Matt Damon and the Earl of Grantham and an alcoholic has-been looking for redemption.

Oh, and Lord Grantham is also looking for the particular sculpture commemorated in this post. That’s actually where my story comes in.  Well sort of.

Anyway, John, Jacob and I were In Bruges (another really great movie, actually). Bruges is a lovely old city, that seems like it is stopped in time, which is kind of because it WAS actually stopped in time.

A busy, beautiful port city that, according to Wikipedia, was:

At one time, it was considered the “chief commercial city” of the world.[6] “Rise, fall and resurrection make up the life story of Bruges, a city that glittered in Northern Europe with as much panache as Venice did in the Mediterranean World.”[7]

Only the harbor silted up, and its use as a port was history. Today?  Today, it’s a damn pretty place.

We’d been traveling for a few days, had had our own Waterloo; we’d been to Amsterdam, where we visited Ann Frank’s attic, where Jacob drove a boat filled with tourists through crowded canals, and where John and I accidentally introduced our 8 year old to the Red Light District. So we were ready to just relax and wander when we got to Bruges.

The centerpiece of the town is the Church of Our Lady, Bruges, a beautiful cathedral built between the 13th and 15th Century. It is found in the heart of the town square.

Wikipedia Image (you thought I was gonna say

Wikipedia Image (you thought I was gonna say “Google,” admit it.)

It’s a lovely church, but its altarpiece alone makes it worth the trip.  It is world famous, a luminous, transcendent sculpture that one feels as well as sees.  It has an illustrious history of its own, Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child. The sculpture was the only one of his sculptures to leave Italy during the artist’s lifetime.  More currently, and relevant to the movie theme in this post, it was one of the pieces of art most sought after by the Third Reich. The Monument Men were tasked with preventing the Nazis from getting it (or destroying it) as they retreated at the end of the war.

Wikipedia Image, again.

Wikipedia Image, again.

I’m not going to tell you what happens, but I will say, that the Monument Men didn’t have an easy job of it.  Of course, I could have told them that they were wasting their effort. Because as I found out, Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child was well guarded. Even when nobody was really after it.

Are you still with me?  OK, let’s get back to me.

Well, I started the visit to the Church with John and Jacob, where we taught our young son the history of the church, looked and discussed the art work throughout the church. We went to the gift shop, where I bought a flier about the Cathedral for my Dad, and a remembrance for Jacob. We’re good parents.  We knew the routine. After a while, John and Jacob left to climb the tower overlooking the other side of the square. They left me to meditate, to think about my mother, to grieve. It was very considerate of them. Sadly, my reflection was short-lived.

The Church was nearly empty, and the late morning light shone through the stained glass, coloring the floor in front of the Madonna. I could hear the breathing of the few people looking at the paintings, there was an elderly couple doing the Stations of the Cross. But mostly I was alone with my Mom. And with another mother and baby, right there on the altar in front of me.

There are some pieces of art that reach out and touch you. That fill your heart. That start your healing as you gaze. Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child is one of those.

In the back of the church, coming from near the gift shop, I heard an announcement, softly broadcast over the intercom system. A few minutes later, I heard it again. It was in Dutch. Or Flemmish. Or Bruge-ian. I didn’t understand it. Ok, so I ignored it. What could be so important?

I continued my contemplation. I began to think of my Mom, to weep quietly, tastefully. Hardly at all noticeably, when somebody roughly grabbed my arm and shook it.

“#*&%+##@@*!” said a very tall, very grave Nun. I was pretty sure she had a ruler in her pocket. All the stories my siblings had told me about the nuns they had known – all of whom believed firmly in beating children, flooded into my mind.

“Excusez-moi, Madam?” I stammered.

“#*&%+##@@*!  #*&%+##@@*!” she repeated, which she should have known wouldn’t help, since I didn’t have a clue the first time around.

“Excuse me, M’am. I don’t understand you,” I said to her in English.

“EEENglesh!” she said, as if that explained everything. “YOU MUST LEAF.  NOW!!!

“LEAF?” I responded, confused. Why did I have to LEAF? I was in a church. In mourning. I WAS PRAYING FOR CHRIST’S SAKE! “I am here for my mother, she died,” I said, and I started to cry.

“OUT!” she shouted, pulling me.

Google this time.  You got me.

Google this time. You got me.

This was NOT Sister Bertrille.

She grabbed me by my sleeve, pulled me from the pew, walked me to the door, and firmly shoved me outside.

Now, I have been caught doing many untoward things.  But this time?  This time I was thrown out of a church. WHILE I WAS PRAYING.  Isn’t there some eclesiastical law against that?  Call the Pope.

*     *     *

So, when I saw The Monuments Men, well, I wish I’d been around during that day. They didn’t have to work so very hard, give up so much to protect Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child. All they needed was one nun in need of a sandwich.

*     *     *

This post was brought to you courtesy of Frank at AFrankAngle.  He suggested I write it up the story of how I was thrown out of a church, so I did.  Note to self:  Remember to thank folks who inspire and who also actually read your blog.

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Filed under All The News You Need, Anniversary, Awards, Bruges, Church, Dad, Europe, Missing Folks, Mom, Nuns, praying, TAGS THAT DON'T Work, Thrown out of Church, Travel Stories

My Candidate for President — 2016

I have a pretty good track record in choosing Presidents.  Sometimes, I’m way ahead of the game.  I decided in 2004 that I wanted Obama for President.

Obama at the 2004 Democratic Convention

Obama at the 2004 Democratic Convention (Google Image)

Sadly, I didn’t notice him on the ballot for a while.

This time around, I haven’t been able to decide. Hillary?  Bernie?  There are things to recommend each of them.  So what is a good citizen to do?

Well, today I have my answer.  I know who I’m going to vote for. I know who I will work for.  I know who will solve one of the major problems the world faces today.

Please join me in supporting the candidacy of Donald Trump:

Google Image

Google Image

Because Donald Trump stated the following:

Donald Trump says if he gets elected president, he would have to change his hair style because he wouldn’t have time to maintain it, as he would be working his butt off in the White House.…[Emphasis added]

The world will be a far, far better place.

*     *     *

I found this, along with a zillion other brilliant pictures at The Last of the Millenniums.  He’s got a gift for finding the really fun stuff.

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Filed under 2016, Adult Traumas, All The News You Need, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Awards, Bat-shit crazy, Campaigning, Cancer, Climate Change, Conspicuous consumption, Crazy Folks Running, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Elections, Extra Cash, Farts, I HATE THE BEEP BEEP BOOP

… comes around

A friend of mine told me that this weekend was her 20th high school reunion.  Immediately, I was transported back to mine, back to one of the best nights of my life, back to when someone who had bullied me showed everyone else his true colors.

My hometown was a wealthy suburb, a place where rich, well-schooled, successful folks go to raise their families.  A town filled to the brim with liberals who mostly commute to New York City, just a short train ride away.  A town of folks that raise their kids to be liberals too.

My classmates and I were at the tail end of the Baby Boomers, old enough to protest the Vietnam war but not old enough to serve.  Old enough to remember and mourn the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Jr., to have seen the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.  We participated in protests, celebrated the Women’s Movement, went braless through high school, and believed that all you need is love.

My family landed in town when my father bought a run-down Victorian house, sight unseen, in 1963. Kids in the neighborhood thought it was haunted; we moved in on Halloween.  My two brothers, two sisters and I started school the following Monday.

Within a week, I had ruined my life.

You see, in 2nd grade, every Friday at my new school, we had Show and Tell.  I bet you did too.  But I bet you didn’t, well, show and tell quite like I did that very first week.

You remember Show and Tell, I’m sure.  Everyone gathers together on the floor and everybody raises their hand to perform; three or four kids are chosen every week.  They sing songs, tell jokes, juggle.  That first week I anxiously raised my hand, but the teacher didn’t call on me.  I performed anyway.  There in the middle of the circle, I wet my pants.

I do not recommend “showing” in this manner if your goal is to one day be voted “Most Popular.”

I don’t remember what happened for the rest of the afternoon.  I don’t know if I went home early, if my classmates got wet and ran screaming from me.  I have buried that memory.  I do know that it started four years of hell.

Tommy was the lead bully.  He dubbed me “Weenie Girl” and teased and tormented me through 6th grade.  He was truly cruel, and tried to keep others from being my friend.  I hated him.  I saw him less as we got older, but he was still a classmate when we both graduated in 1974.

But by the time of my 20th reunion, I had more or less gotten over my shame over the incident.  And I did it with a very public therapy session.  One night, when I had had way too much to drink at a bar, I climbed onto a table and told everyone in the bar my hilariously funny/sad story – how I ruined my own childhood during Show and Tell.   I had always feared that someone would find out and ridicule me.  Instead, there I stood, making the room love me, as I showed them the humor and the pain.

It had taken me years, but I had to admit it was funny.  I mean after all, I didn’t do it during naptime.  I didn’t do it during storytime.  I didn’t pee while learning long division.  I wet my pants during Show and Tell!  Why hasn’t anyone put that scene into a sit com?

So on the night of my 20th reunion, when I saw lead bully Tommy heading towards me to say hello, I had forgiven him.  Completely.  And although I thought of all the things I could say to the nasty bully, I smiled politely, chatted amiably to him and his wife, and moved on with my life.  It was a proud moment.

But the night got better.  Much, much better.

You see, Tommy was the MC of the evening.  It was his job to introduce particularly successful classmates, tell who was living in exotic places, and what surprising career choices had been made by a few.  He showed pictures of us when we all still had hair, when we were thin, when we were young.

And Tommy did a good job speaking to that extremely liberal crowd of editors and publishers, doctors, public interest lawyers.  People who still wanted to save the world.  Good people, people with heart and soul.  Liberals.

And then it happened.  Towards the end of the evening, Tommy stood up on the dias and started to wind things down.  And he said to my extremely PC friends and classmates:

“My wife told me not to tell jokes tonight.  But I’m just going to tell the one.”

“Why is a man like a linoleum floor?”

Tommy paused for effect.

“Lay him right the first time;

walk all over him from then on.”

The room went silent, as one by one, each head turned towards the dias and each person either thought or said aloud:

“What an asshole.”

And after realizing that everybody agreed on that one point, I cracked up.

Hell, I’ve known he was an asshole since 2nd Grade!” I said.

I’m pretty sure that when I am taking in my last breath, I will still be smiling about that night, knowing that in this life what goes around really does come around; sometimes it just takes a while.

The scene of the crime

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Humor