Wednesday, January 5, 2011

To the rectory

Though thoroughly agnostic and born of an Episcopalian mother from the working town of Paisley, Scotland, I identify myself as a Jew. Always have, always will. I don't keep Kosher. I don't study the Torah. And I couldn't begin to tell you the difference between the Tanakh and the Talmud. Nevertheless, as my friend Ellen puts it, I have this undeniable strong sense of Jewishness.

Which makes it all the more ironic that my wife and I are attempting to send our daughters to Saint Monica's Catholic High School. Oh yes, you read that right.

Plaid skirts. Ornery nuns. And crucifixes on any wall that can support a nail.

Why? You may ask.

The numbers tell the story. I can no longer afford to send my girls to private school where the tuition is simply prohibitive. And we tried one year at a public high school, where after 4 months, some of the teachers still don't know my daughter's name. And Catholic school offers a happy-but-guilt ridden middle ground.

Not to mention that Saint Monica is an affordable college prep campus and that 99% of all graduates go on to a 4 year college. 99%! Fewer Catholics get into heaven.

At the open house several weeks ago, my wife and I sat in a large auditorium to listen to the Monsignor and get a feel for the school. At one point in the presentation, I needed to use the bathroom. I was led to a restroom in the back, where I spotted the silvery vending machine pictured above.

Odd, I thought. As I left the bathroom I asked the Vice Principal why there was a condom machine in the men's room? I may be new to Catholicism but my understanding was that condom use was not permitted, even in these more enlightened times.

The Vice Principal summoned the Monsignor, who took me by the shoulder and literally said, "How can I be of assistance, brother?" He led me to the machine in question, chuckled and whispered, "This is a unisex bathroom, brother. This machine does not dispense condoms. It dispenses feminine napkins." I felt relieved. And I liked being called brother.

And with that, we exited the bathroom, his arm wrapped around me, laughing, not the way two middle aged men should be exiting any bathroom.

This Catholic School thing could work out swimmingly. My daughters will get a great education. And the whole experience will provide me with years worth of comedic mileage.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to read up on "plenary indulgences."


Barbara said...

Paul would have loved this! Since he's not here, I forwarded it to my Catholic in-laws.

Jeff said...

My kids both go to a Christian school, and my wife is an administrator there as well. Many of the same reasons: academically light years ahead of any public school, nice small class sizes and an eye-opening college advance rate. I have no problem with the values they're learning. And frankly, I'm probably the worst Jew you know. Sure it took awhile to get used to the kids telling Jesus stories, but I just keep reminding them he was one of our boys. Every year I cringe a little writing the check for their tuition, but then I just remind myself of all money I'm saving on the Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.

glasgowdick said...

Thanks Jeff. That's good to hear on all accounts. My wife and I are getting excited about it. We're less freaked out about knowing our kinds will be surrounded by kids eager for an education. Even if they do subscribe to an incredulous story about a big Sky Captain.