Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect – #116

In one respect, this photo of Hungarian children in the early 1900s reenacting The Nativity is moving and symbolic. Sadly, you can also see that four sheep in the flock have possibly lost their way and joined a street gang in South Central L.A. And at least one of the angels is trying to decide if she’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, hovering between the two.

Suddenly, Sister Bonita Felicia Gardenia Sue appeared out of nowhere, something Sisters are always doing because it’s part of their vocational training. She was sporting a rather dissatisfied look and, theoretically, her dusty but intact virginity. “Children. I was just in the other room, not reading a torrid romance novel that someone left in the confessional, when I sensed that someone in this room was having a crisis of faith. Tell me all about it immediately so I can save you from the fires of Hell.”

The children just stared back at her, with even the slowest among them sensing that any reaction might somehow cause complications with either their spiritual paths or the attainment of extra pudding during lunch in the cafeteria. Besides, none of them was very familiar with this “crisis of faith” business, as they were only in the first grade. As everyone knows, first grade is mainly about training the tykes to stay in their seats for longer than two minutes. Philosophy comes later. (Or not at all, in certain southern states in America.)

Sister Bonita and her dustiness sighed. “I’m not going to stand for this. It will go better for everyone if you simply admit your transgressions now. Don’t make me go wake up Father Bustier and get the key to the Inquisition Chamber.”

The children gasped. The Inquisition Chamber? Didn’t bad things happen to Harry Potter in that place?

A timid voice came from the trio of angels on the left. “But Sister Bonita, we don’t know what we have done wrong. Do you maybe have a PowerPoint presentation that we can review?”

Another voice rang out. “Can we look it up on Google?”

Sister Bonita sighed again. “Child, you know quite well that we are not allowed to have computers at Our Lady of Redemptive Compliance, not after Father Bustier had the misfortune of clicking on things that he shouldn’t. That’s why he has to take so many naps, because of all the medicinal wine he has been forced to consume.”

A much bolder voice came from the quartet of newly-initiated street thugs on the floor. “Then why don’t you just tell us what you’re looking for so we can get back to our cosplay with the Baby Jesus.”

Sister Bonita released a third sigh. “Someone in this room has been listening to Billy Joel’s ‘Only the Good Die Young’, a wretched song about personal choice, and that cannot be tolerated in a denomination that depends on conformity.”

Hoverina, the aforementioned angel who had been waffling on where to tread, finally had enough and came to a decision. “Okay, fine. It’s me! I’m the who listens to Billy Joel. I love that song! And I’ve just decided that I don’t want a nice white dress and a party for my confirmation.”

Sister Bonita blanched. “You speak of blaspheme, Tiny Dancer!”

Hoverina: “Oh, please. You’re one to talk. I know what you did with the gardener last summer. And the mailman. And the tech guy who came to take the computers away. The only one you haven’t straddled is Father Bustier, because he clicks on different websites than you.”

Sister Bonita’s eyes narrowed. “Child, you are forgetting that you are a child and you have no control over this situation or what happens to you.”

Hoverina: “For now. But in just a few years I’ll be able to vote, along with millions of other young people. And we are done with certain old people who refuse to let go of things that don’t work anymore.”

Sister Bonita: “But we still have control right now. I’m ordering you to leave this sanctuary, and you must exit through the Door of Shame.”

Hoverina: “Happy to do so.” She marched over to the DOS and threw it wide open.

Billy Joel was standing there. “I hear you like my songs.”

Hoverina: “Indeed I do. Sing us a song, you’re the Piano Man.”

Billy: “Sing us a song tonight.”

Hoverina: “Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody, and you got us feeling alright.”

They joined hands and headed to a nearby café that served an excellent Chicken Alfredo, an ambiance of acceptance, and a soulful crooner who dreamed of better. Even if the microphone smelled like a beer.


Originally posted in “Crusty Pie” on 04/01/15. Massively changed, as this is another one where the first version consisted of just a few lines. And yes, I got a bit heavy with the Billy Joel references, but how can one not appreciate Early Billy?


24 replies »

  1. One cannot get enough of early Billy, ‘cos “now” Billy sorta sucks. And that Only The Good Die Young has been so overplayed that some of us loathe it, even if we were driving our parents mad in 19** (year hid to preserve the idea that we aren’t older than dust) by playing that record over and over. Ah the good old days!! When things were a lot simpler…(far off whistling..)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Love the “far off whistling” bit. And fair enough, the overplaying of “Good” does sort of wreck the mystique, but when it came out? I was enraptured with that song, arriving as it did during a time when I really needed some respite from folks who were far too invested in telling me what I should and should not do with my life…


  2. Our Lady of Redemptive Compliance… *snickersnicker* 😄

    I’m afraid I too suffer from the affects of overplayed Billy syndrome, as well as memories of an obnoxious boy who sat next to me in Trig class, who believed Billy was nothing short of a god. (Which would not sit well with Sister Bonita, I think.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I get the overplaying, as does my partner every time I pull out “The Stranger” album and hoist my Bic lighter high. We all have fixations that may not look pretty, but without them we wouldn’t quite write the stories that we do…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The nins had a bit of an impact on my upbringing: some of them were kind and devoted but an awful lot of them, if given half a chance, would have drowned him in his own beer or booby trapped his piano. The tabermac would have been free from sin. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

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