Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Birthday Story

On a June 4th a few years ago, I was in the copying room before school, making a batch of quizzes. Probably I was giving myself the gift of quizzing my students on that day, or it was for Honors Geometry, which, being an Honors Class, had a number of required elements, including weekly vocabulary quizzes. June 4th is my birthday.

"Sigh" is a Japanese extreme metal 
band from Tokyo, formed in 1989.
On my way out of the copying room, I encountered the magnificent form of Sister R. Sister R. taught 10th grade Scriptures, stood at least 7 feet tall, and had a neat white helmet of hair similar to the snap-on hair on a plastic Playmobil figure. Everything about her was great, from her long, large teeth or her hands the size of prayer books. She had a ready smile and an earnest stare, though one eye looked right at you, and the other eye might have looked over your shoulder. I often wondered if there were angels back there—angels only she could see.

She addressed me in her throaty whisper of a lady's baritone, “Oh, Maggie! Let me give you a Great Big Sloppy Happy Birthday Hug!”

Because Sister R. was two feet taller, when she held out her five-foot-long arms and enveloped me in the instant before I had a chance to flee, she trapped my arms by my sides and smothered my face in the depth of her cleavage. Then, for the four-count of the intense hug, my face was surrounded by the sister’s somewhat enormous bosom, that enveloped my forehead, cheeks, and ears. Her embrace pressed the air out of me, and I thought maybe I might die there.

When she released me, I drew in a long breath of joyous relief. I was alive!  I breathed in the smells of a freshly laundered lady’s blouse, of copier toner, and of the plaster walls and varnished woodwork of a hundred-year-old Catholic school. I felt reborn.

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