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, redemptively.
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.
Prior Note: Previously published. 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?
New Note: Slight changes made to the massive changes of the prior. (Sounds like a legal document, eh?) If you have the time, take a gander at the comment interplay on The Prior Post, found here. I always relish the conversations I have with the folks who check into Bonnywood Manor, but on that particular day everyone was on the exact same page and it was really fun.
Categories: Past Imperfect