I started my second semester at UIUC on Tuesday (it's actually my third semester at UIUC if you count those weeks I attended back in the Triassic period of 1976 and my 11th semester of college overall if you count my pre-nursing and nursing days of upper learning) and STILL I find myself unable to sleep well the night before classes because, you know, I might be late.
You would think after over 50 years in school systems I would learn that being late for class does not mean immediate line up for a firing squad. I of course, because it is just plain fun, I blame the nuns; specifically I fault Sister Mary Gerard with the Unibrow.
Yes, that was her confirmed Pope approved name, Sister Mary Gerard Unibrow.
Once, when I was just a tiny, vulnerable 7 year old in first grade, I was told by an upperclassman: I believe he was a worldy third grader, that the cafeteria had a fire and there would be no classes after lunch. Since we lived in the apartment house next door to my school, Our Lady Of Mispent Youth, and I always went home for lunch, this information seemed plausible.
|The Innocent and trusting Donna Marie|
in kindergarten, just one year before her faith
in humanity was crushed.
My mother may have been suspicious since there were no fire trucks at the school that morning, but straddled with 4 children under the age of 7, I am sure it was just easier to believe me than it was to fact check; besides she needed more milk at the store and I was the only one old enough to cross four lanes of Ashland Avenue traffic to get it.
Thrilled to be out of school on that sunny May day, (I have no idea what the weather was that day but being a creative writer I am allowed to embellish; in fact it is required) I was skipping past the school towards the corner grocery when from the third floor above me I heard Sister Mary Gerard Unibrow beckon to me.
"DONNA MARIE O'SHAUGHNESSY WHY AREN"T YOU IN SCHOOL?!?!" Now seriously, how did those black capped women manage to memorize every single child's middle name?
I responded the only way I knew how...I ran like the wind to my mother. Her immediate and empathetic response was to get my little can back to school. Apparently I had been a victim of the all too well known The Cafeteria Has Burned Up Scheme. Humiliated, I returned to class and after being chastised in front of everybody about not believing everything I was told; unless of course it was told to me by a nun or priest or talking statue saint, I vowed never again to believe anyone who told me class was cancelled.
Consequently, I find myself at times sitting in empty class rooms because I did not believe the weatherman, the school emails, the large saw horse barriers or the big signs on the door that state class has been cancelled. There is no room for the phrase "better late than never" in my life.
I'll show YOU Sister Mary Gerard Unibrow.