Sister Shark-Eyes

Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” As I sat at a black-tie Catholic school fund-raiser the other night with a couple of nuns at my table I was reminded of this. One of the nuns – Sister Bernadette (name changed to protect the guilt-ridden) had opaque, grayish-blue shark-like eyes. I did not need to turn my head in her direction to feel her eyes burning through my fashionable, black, halter-top jumpsuit. Even though she was clear across the table I know she could tell I wasn’t wearing underpants. I have always been a sucker for a man in a tuxedo. Maybe it has to do with those hormone-fueled school dances surrounded by the smell of gym socks and ammonia vying for the attention of pimply-faced boys in canary yellow and powder-blue monkey suits under the glaring eyes of a gaggle of nuns that elicits this erogenous response. I always felt badly for the nuns – endlessly having to look and act so pious. At least the priests could smoke and drink beer at the church fair while gambling at the over/under table – glad handing half-drunk parishioners while the nuns toiled over vats of hot oil churning out fried carp and pizza fritte. I remember one unfortunate grease-fire where Sister Constance Marie’s veil lit fire and the shocking gasp that roared through the crowd at the site of her nearly bald head as her smoldering black headdress fell to the ground. We’d never seen a veil-less nun before – poor dear ran away in shame as though someone had given her a habit wedgie. She was promptly re-assigned to a small parish somewhere in Schenectady and never heard from again. You just don’t see nuns much any more but I am always happy when I do. Perhaps they are a reminder that while I am riddled with guilt and self-loathing from my Catholic upbringing – at least I can go to happy hour in a mini-skirt.




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