There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Quiet voices from the past...I'm eating sour grapes.

Late last October I received a call from a woman who, after identifying herself, told me she was a former grammar school classmate of mine. I know my blank non response didn't surprise her because I doubt she remembered me either.

This former classmate was from A!! $ou!s Parochial School in Alhambra, California. I attended A!! $ou!s from first through fifth grade. A!! $ou!s was the only Catholic act in town when I entered first grade. It was a large school with two classrooms for every grade and every desk was filled. With the exception of one third grade class, every class was taught by a Dominican Nun. I remember the names of every grammar school teacher I had...Sister Mary Kathleen, Sister Mary Elizabeth Louise, Miss Jeanette, Sister Mary Columbia, Sister Anthony Marie, Sister Mary Thaddeus (6th and 7th grades), and Sister Mary Gertruda.

I have said in the past that I was pretty much a loner in school. I had few friends, none of those I did have were good friends and I preferred to just be left alone. I was shy, had crooked teeth and curly hair, and was smaller than most of the other girls. These characteristics of mine were apparently flaws in the eyes of the good Catholic girls I attended school with and then let's add the fact that my dad was a truck driver and my mother was Eyetalian. The comments about my parents never bothered me. I loved my mom and dad and my home life during that time was good. I can't remember ever knowing what any of my classmates parents did for a living so I can only assume that what these kids knew about me came from their parents. The personal comments about my appearance did bother me, but I managed to find things to do by myself during recess so I didn't have to mingle with the rest of the kids (I loved playing jacks) and I got good grades.

The few kids I do remember from those years are the ones that I met up with again in high school. By that time they had honed their stuck up social skills to perfection and I was a miserable young woman. Their comments and barbs added to my misery.

So....back to the subject. Seems that the A!! $ou!s class of 1958 was having a reunion in November. They were extending an invitation to attend to those of us that "lived on the other side of the tracks and had to attend St. Thomas More School when it was opened." Her words exactly.

In the months since that call (I agreed to be put on the email list) I have received all of the bio's the attendees submitted, jokes about the 50's and 60's, prayer requests, personal emails because the person responding to an email hit reply all, and solicitations for donations to A!! $ou!s School Rebuilding Fund.

A fairly large number of A!! $ou!s graduates were attending and no St. Thomas More transfer students. I did submit a bio. Only two other STM students submitted bios, but there had to be dozens of transfer kids. I was honest about my life.....the questions were straight forward and not multiple choice. Here are some of the things I find interesting about this whole reunion bio thing.......seems I am the only person that doesn't have a Masters or PhD, has been married more than once, has not traveled the world, does not own a sail boat or yacht, did not feel the Sisters made a huge impression on my life, does not attend Mass daily and on and on. I could have bullshi##ed. I could have said anything I wanted to....I haven't heard from any of these people with the exception of the few high schoolers and the last time I saw any of them was in 2002 and at that reunion I felt like I was right back in high school. So, why not just be honest? There is no way all of these people have maintained their perfection. I know this all sounds like I am eating sour grapes and maybe I am....but really, George, Diane, Kathy, Chi Chi (honest), the other Rosemary, JoAnn, Dorothy, Tom, Bonnie, Peggy, Terence and on and on.....not all of you were that smart!!!! Are these PhD's in Rocket Surgery or Masters in Faux?

The life I have lived is just that....I am what I am. It has taken me a lot of years to stop wanting to be like all of you, to look at my crooked teeth and be glad I still have them, to let my hair curl and frizz because is maintenance free. I have 3 wonderful kids and a basket full of grandchildren. My life is good and the things I accomplished were perfect for me.

So, why the rant? Because I got an email today inviting me to the May 9th second reunion. I emailed back. No thanks.

There I am looking angelic and the shortest of the 4 girls. This was second grade.

Here is the entire second grade class, girls only. I am third from the left, front row.

I look pretty normal....not smiling as usual, but no extra appendages or hair in odd places. Why was I considered different?

Here is a photo I received as an email attachment of the November reunion attendees. I don't think they all look like they have PhD's or belong to MENSA. Do you?
Two of these women called me snaggle tooth in high school. Do they look brilliant?

So, I will chew my grapes and swallow. I feel better now......just wait 'til I blog about high school!!!!


kenju said...

Rosemary, I was not treated well in grade school either, but I have found out that some of those girls who started rumors about me then and the boys who teased me then, now remember me "fondly" and seek my company at reunions. I bet you would have had a good time if you could hold your head up and not worry about what they were thinking of you. I think you could hold your own with that whole group and come out smiling!!

Shammickite said...

I was always teased about my red hair in High School. They called me Ginger or Carrots or Coppertop. I've never gone to a school reunion... I don't think I would have anything in common with all those people now.

Jennie said...

My best friend from school just received a note on Facebook from an old classmate. She was apologizing for putting Jane through hell in high school, writing on the bathroom walls, saying stuff in the halls, etc, because they both liked the same guy (a jerk anyway). Jane still feels sick when she remembers it but she wrote back a nice letter. Kids are so cruel sometimes, but some don't grow out of it. Don't worry about not going if you don't want to. Just because you all attended an institution together doesn't mean a hill of beans. Reunions are just one of those things we're "supposed" to like, like proms. I remember when I homeschooled people would say, "But they won't get to go to the prom!!!!" Ahhh, yeah? And? ;)

Sorry those people didn't see your beauty...inside and out. (Anyway, you can't have a RE union if you never had a union, can you.

jp said...

I LOVE Jennie's last sentence.

I skipped my 20 year reunion this past summer. The 10 year one didn't really leave me wanting more.

That comment on the phone about the "wrong side of the tracks" tells me that at least one of those people hasn't changed much.

You have my permission to skip. Seems your time would be much better spent spoiling that basket of grandkids.

Mom said...

You were an adorable little girl. You are a beautiful woman. Those people aren't worth your time.

Evil Twin's Wife said...

I love your FHC photo. You were (and are) adorable! I think you should copy and paste this in a "Oops, I hit reply to all" email! LOL. (that way, they wouldn't have the link here). There is one girl who keeps popping up in "people you may know" on FB for me and she was terribly unkind to me in HS. I have half a nerve to write her and say "Thanks for making high school hell for me." Maybe I will one of these days....

sageweb said...

The photos are adorable. I agree with you not to go. SInce Facebook I have been re-connecting with classmates and I find my self in an awkward if I was in Highschool all over...the social stress. I don't need that shit. We all have learned about ourselves in the last 20 30 years, we can now be honest and not worry if people will be our friends...We have made good friends without all that stress. I think people with the perfect profiles..are probably really sad people.

jan said...

If they had known you would grow up to have such a rapier wit, they would have been nicer to you. The smugness of those who lived on "the right side of the tracks" is amazing. I do hope you send a link to this blog to all.

Sling said...

They were extending an invitation to attend to those of us that "lived on the other side of the tracks and had to attend St. Thomas More School when it was opened." ..
They say stuff like that,as if it's perfectly gracious.
What does 'Phd' stand for?..Pin-headed Dimwits?

yellowdog granny said...

I went to so many different schools as a kid being a military brat, that i never stayed one place long enough to piss anyone i was known to punch i was pretty much left alone...i think you were adorable...i would have been your friend..if i had stayed there long enough

more cowbell said...

I have never understood why the "popular crowd" gets to dictate what's important, what matters, who's in, who's not ... many of those cheerleaders and prom queens grew up to be the PTA moms and football team moms, and are still just as bitchy as they were in high school. I didn't run with that crowd then, and don't now. The PTA moms look down their noses at my grassroots confront-the-system advocacy group, and wonder why I have to "make trouble".

I didn't attend proms, and I don't attend reunions. And I think, reading your post, that I've finally nailed down why the idea of joining Facebook makes my skin crawl.

My attitude toward that crowd is simply this: Fuck 'em. Just fuck 'em.

And no, I do not believe that they all have PhD's or masters. I call bullshit. You're way ahead of them Rosemary, because you know what's important, and you appreciate it.

madretz said...

funny, i was just having a long discussion w/ my cousin this past week about my nemesis in high school. no matter how much we try to push those bad memories aside, they still linger.

I really liked Jennie's last sentence, too.

Middle Child said...

I was definately from the wrong side of the tracks and went through the snobbery of Catholics who's parents could afford expensive first communion dresses...and those ugly looking photos of the "do well set" look remarkable like photos i have been sent...of old school "friends" who invite me a curiousity no doubt...all they ever say, "you were the first one to run away from the boarding school and make it home" as if it was sing Sing which it was...Dad worked as a labourer in the abbatoir and mum had us kids...home was great and warm thank God...only went to the boarding school on a bloody scholarship...I will never ever attend a reunion...they are sick affairs and serve no purpose other than pandering to sick egos!!!