Sister Margaret Fidelis, a smelly, imposing nun dressed in a full black habit with only her piercing blue eyes and wicked, wry smile left in plain view, exuded a lingering, almost-sickening, pungent scent of her not having bathed or washed her garments in a while, instilling the fear of God into her wide-eyed, budding pupils daily, whenever she had the opportunity. Her latest ploy was aimed at the girls in the elementary-school class, telling the 6th-graders not to use so much hairspray, that breeding bugs could infest the youngsters’ seemingly sticky scalps.
Informing the impressionable, young divas—who sported beehive hairdos—about nasty tales of seething maggots, buzzing hornets and countless cooties residing and clinging onto suspended and stiffened hair follicles as a result, the seemingly twisted sister of the cloth took great pleasure at watching the mortified expressions of innocent children left in her charge, especially if they were wincing as the kids were doing during this particular episode.
Just the thought of all that still makes me itch. Sister Margaret Fidelis was the stereotypical, “smack your knuckles with a ruler” -styled parochial-school educator of the time. Nuns nowadays are totally flaccid compared to the ferocious iron maidens of yesteryear.
Trying to look cool when standing in the front of the class and getting one’s fingers bloodied while hopping around and moaning at each strike of the measuring stick was almost impossible. We’d try to look like it didn’t hurt a bit, attempting to be tough guys; but by the third or fourth crack, our eyes began to well with tears.
My best friend got it one day. He took the cake, laughing while prancing about as the beguiled nun held onto his hand. Both he and the teacher appeared to be dancing the Watusi. Bob ended up getting slapped across the face, ending his punishment for talking in class; but getting many a discreet high-five as he walked back to his desk.
Fortunately for kids today, corporal punishment in schools was outlawed long ago, although it seems like only yesterday to me, having partaken in quite a few bouts with my teachers along the way. It certainly left a lasting impression.