Tuesday, October 31, 2006

FANNY BE TENDER

Believe it or not my parents moved back to their small, hometown of FANNYSTELLE because they felt that I was too painfully shy to go to a big public school in Winnipeg.

So instead of a regular secular start to my educational life I was marched off to a rural institution run by French Catholic Nuns..

which would have been a fine idea except for the fact that I was an agorophobic Anglo Lutheran.

Oh well, there was one other Protestant kid in the school and much to the Pope's chagrin, we were somehow allowed to read Comic Books during Catechism and Bible History.
My Grandfather, my Dad's Dad, lived next door to the Catholic Church which was the epicentre in town.

He had moved to Canada from Belgium, was finished farming and became the school janitor and bus driver, he also rang the church bells to call the town to Mass and more importantly he was a drinking buddy of the Priest who was always over at his house playing cards. So despite my outsider status I was connected.

Later on in life I escorted my Grandfather to the convent to watch him serve liquor and tell jokes to the Nuns during the holidays. Those gals knew how to party.

Now I look back and realise that the Nuns were terrifying figures that all looked like Darth Vader gliding down the halls with their black flowing capes and sharpened pointers ready to smack any little troublemaker.

My family lived in the train station which was cool because there was a huge, empty, waiting room that became my playroom. There weren't any passengers on that line and the house only really rattled in the fall when the monolithic Grain Elevators that towered behind our house emptied the tons of freshly harvested wheat into the trains and off to market.

I still remember lip syching to the Beatles and playing air guitar while I was perched on the ticket counter which became my stage. Good Times.

The other day I found my report card from the Second Grade.
On the cover it proudly proclaims For God and Country.
My goodladywife is a Grade Two Teacher and she laughed at the formulaic or should I say archaic presentation.

Now I did well in Conduct, Application and Politeness.
This can probably be attributed to the fact that I was too timid to attend a 'regular' school in the city but also because I was scared sh*tless of getting whacked over the knuckles like all of the other kids.

You will notice that little was recorded about my regularity..I would have never told them how often I went to thebathroom anyway.

Which reminds me of one of the most embarrassing moments in my life. Afraid of disturbing Sister St. Anaclet about my painfully expanded bladder I reluctantly voided it's contents down my leg during class. I remember that my pants sloshed and my runners squeaked as I made my way past the snickering students, out of the school and off to the train station to tell my Mom that I peed my pants.... sigh.

Anyway by the fourth grade my parents decided to toughen me up for the real world so back to the big city we went. I remember my first day back in regular school...the boys teased the hell out of me because they heard me crying in the hall. I was such a wuss.

My parents were right. This experience fortified my character. It was then and there that I decided that I would get back at those bastards by charming and stealing their little girlfriends, becoming the class clown, and by making allies out of the bullys by making them laugh...and giving them my lunch.

I have since shed my shyness and performed on stage in plays singing and dancing my way into the hearts and minds of hundreds along the way. I have also played the drums in bands, auditioned and appeared in TV Commercials and jostled and schmoozed my way through other extroverts to position myself in the forefront of other 'extras' in a Movie with Ann Margaret.

For better or worse I am no longer the quiet kid in the corner peeing his pants. Thanks to the 'tough love' from Mom and Dad. Ha!

25 comments:

  1. That report card doesn't look at all archaic to me; it looks EXACTLY like the report cards I got in grade school.

    wait.

    does that make me... OLD???

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  2. chaucer's beeotch,
    I know that you are not old, therefore, I must presume that back in Mother England they probably still use the 'Olde Anglyshe' forms...
    your report cards probably look the same as they did when Henry 8th went to school.

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  3. Hell, I was just thrown to the wolves! My problems didn't really start until the 7th grade, when I got off the bus and noticed much to my dismay that I was looking UP at all my peers. I'd stopped growing! Of course, the bullies notice that right off the bat and the game was on! Thanks to those formative years I have become quite adept at avoidance and distraction, while retaining the ability to think, act, and speak as I damn well please, because I am a master a ducking and weaving and exiting the scene with extreme predudice when neccessary.......

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  4. You told us this story the other night, but I LOVE to read it here. It is sooooooooooo rich.
    thanks.

    word verification: jsxnkas
    slur that a little....

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  5. I loved reading this story, HE. I especially like the idea of living in a train station - except if it was haunted or something. =P

    I was never very introverted or afraid as a child - but that got me in trouble as well. I was the cut-up, the class clown, the crrrrrazy one...and I think I still am...but I've mellowed a bit since then.

    I think because we moved at least twice a year and I went to different schools all the time, being outgoing really kept me from being able to hide; I was always the new kid that stuck out. That, and the fact that by 8th grade I was nearly 6 feet tall. I *had* to stand up for myself because I was the object of every bully with a "short complex."

    I have noticed through experience that smaller schools are much tougher on new kids. The bigger schools were always less of a challenge for me.

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  6. Your stories bring back my fond memories of my brief enrollment in a catholic school. I was some what like Bart Simpson maybe a touch worse. The nun I had as a teacher in my first year had to go on retreat at the end of the school year. The rest of the penguins blammed me. I spent many an hour on my knees in the corner, praying for forgivness. In the next year I was expelled from the school, and had to attend public school with the other heathens.

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  7. THE michael,
    Avoiding extreme prejudice is a good thing! Float like a butterfly..

    Joyce,
    Ah yes the true sign of getting on in years is to repeat yourself.
    Ah yes the true sign of getting on in years is to..DOH!

    Tidalgrrrl,
    The train station was actually very cool. I would hang out in the small warehouse with Capone's goodfellas and count crates..they would give me ten bucks a week to keep the Coppers busy looking for my lost dog on delivery night..I learned a lot about life, loyalty and whiskey from those guys..plus I learned to swear in Italian.

    nekked,
    You little bugger! Wow, it sounds like you've got a few years in pergatory to look forward to.
    Atleast they didn't call in a tall, gaunt priest named Merrin to perform an exorcism...try and hide that little item on your report card from your parents..
    Excorcism 1.

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  8. You sound like a cross between Farley Mowatt and WO Mitchell (to give you a taste of school days). Have you got the great Canadian coming-of-age novel in you waiting to jump out? Sure sounds like it.

    My "leaky kid in Grade Two" memory grew up to become the president of the BC Medical Association and during a time of unrest in the profession was on local TV every day. You never can tell.

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  9. I was the also the only protestant child in a catholic school. SO was never alowed to take part in mass, i got in trouble for having a minty (small imaginatively named lolly) communion complete with servings of coke ceremoniously blessed....

    Must have been great growing up with a huge old building. i can see the tennis raquet and the head banging now:)

    parents always do the best they now how, sounds like you got a great set:) sounds like you do a pretty job yourself....

    Have to dig my old ones out tonight

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  10. Dig my old report cards not parents, train of thought interupted by work!

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  11. Now wait......you were in a movie with ANN MARGARET?! What was the movie? Tell us tell us tell us!!!!!!

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  12. Yea do tell!!!

    I loved this, every word. I can just see you rocking out on your stage. So cute! I went to a Catholic school and spent some time doing lines from the bible. Sister Diane taught me the true meaning of the word "assume". I've always been the type to shy away in awkward situations but I could also be the class clown when comfortable. Not much has changed.

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  13. I love this post. I laughed so hard at the nuns/Darth Vader comment. And then I couldn't help an audible and sympathetic "awww" at the thought of a little you crying in the halls.

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  14. "Donald is promoted to Grade 3."

    Hey, and that picture of you on Fannystelle's one and only snowbank...you look like the poster boy for Eskimo pie.

    Quiet, shy, unassuming, an 86 average...how did you grow up to become a Donn with two n's?

    And why doesn't Coppenns have two n's? You're a Fanny alright...but I can associate with the nuns/Darth Vader parallel...

    Great history. How did you come across your Grade 2 report card...at mom's?

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  15. That's a cool story.

    Seeing those report cards is funny. My dad's look just like those. He was schooled in Ontario.


    Some people say being a kid is harder now. I don't agree. We have it pretty easy. Granted, I never went to the schools in the "rough" neighbourhoods. Granted, I was born and raised in EDM, not South-Centeral LA or something, but I had it pretty easy.

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  16. After I finished my primary classes., I was sent to an all girls school. Maybe my parents thought it would do me loads of good...as I was always tagging along with my three brothers. Well, it did. but not to me. Who/How? That's a LONG story!

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  17. andrea,
    I'll start it like this...
    Back in the fall of '64, just as the Beatlemania tsunami engulfed our cultural shores, a shy kid from whateverpeg shared his first kiss with a beautiful girl named Yolande.
    That sounds like one of those cheesy docudramas...

    aidan,
    HA diggin' them up!
    The only kid in a Catholic scholl eh..Wow that is so cool..coinky-dink..I think not!
    We're like the Boys From Brazil..except you are a much newer model of course.

    I am afraid to find out how much more we have in common..you don't have any Dobermans do you?

    THE Michael,
    I was an extra in a movie called A Woman Is A Helluva Thing and I tried my best to stand in the front of everyone during every scene. I schmoozed the assistant director to be in the foreground of a restaurant scene..Angus McFadyen gave me a dirty look and I gave him one back..Penelope Ann Miller was verry cute..Ann Margaret winked at me..which was a huge deal. We were instructed to treat the STARS like demi gods. When Ann came in after we were all set up she had to pass right beside me so I gave her a big grin..she was Absolutely BEAUTIFUL..and she smiled and gave me a lil wink..made my year.

    Christine,
    You are so sweet. It is weird to discuss yourself because I have zero objectivity but it is cathartic. I can tell from your comments that you have the razor's edge and are not afraid to use it.
    Thanks.

    Anna,
    Thank You, very kind of you to say so...perhaps it is the Canadian Content that had you all choked up. I know that it isn't quite Duddy Kravitz but it was sort of fun to write about because I am not exactly shy anymore...and I cannot for the life of me understand why I was so withdrawn.
    HA!

    withinsky,
    Ok first of al I have all of that stuff filed away...I have two n's because I dropped the IE in DONNIE, which I had to endure throughout most of my young life because of Mr Osmond (we are the same age) and FANNY BE TENDER is of course from the BeeGees song Fanny. Smartass.

    Anonymousb,
    Thanks AB+. I think that you're right. It isn't easy being a kid..unless you are a little emperor or princess..even they fall apart when they realise how much everybody absolutely HATES THEM! We certainly don't put enough thought into how kids are valued in our society..Hmm.

    Edmonchuck is a lot like Whateverpeg.
    gautami,
    I am in favor/opposed to gender separation during the school years..so that kids can concentrates on learning..but they have to learn how to deal with other kids...I suppose that they will find sometrhing to distract them no matter what wee adults dream up..damn hormones!

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  18. excellent story, HE!
    our experiences parallel in many ways, except for the being a boy and peeing in my shoe part. and the canadian part.
    good for you for making the effort to put yourself foreward! right on! it gets addictive, doesn't it?
    too cool!
    ..oh, CB is from the Midwestern U.S., btw. catholic school, check. we used the same report cards, too!

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  19. Anonymous1:02 p.m.

    nirst fations,
    Ha.. except for the boy, pee in the shoe, and canadian part!
    CB is a transplant? Well hush my mouth.
    Don't tempt me to dust off the cobwebs of my childhood..the next chapters are fairly dark in the corners...I like it here in Neverland.

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  20. Yes Nirst Fations
    I am indeed the aforementioned anonymous commentor thanks to
    F%@#*N BLOGGER!

    ReplyDelete
  21. no dobermans, i have a three goldfish though.. Fang, om and Blop.
    The doberman wouldnt fit in the tank with them.

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  22. What a great tale. Reminds me of my days in Cornwall . . . think I'm going to go off and take a mental trip back for a bit.

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  23. I went to a private catholic school for two years.

    I was terrified of those nuns, especially the Head nun. Sister Sheila was a big woman who knew how to wield a ruler and once knocked a kid clear across the stage because he dared touch the big heavy curtains.

    Not something I'd wish on my children, but I'm sure it made me stronger. Somehow.

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  24. OK... this is just for you and to say I understand all about being painfully shy... here in Spain, one of the many schools I attended was a British school where their idea of discipline is to terrorize you... and once during an exam I REALLY had to go to the bathroom and I am not talking pee... the damn teacher would not allow it and so, I went... no one knew and I spent quite the soul crushing time in the bathroom cleaning myself up after that... bad!

    When we moved to the US and I was forced to go to an American high school, things changed... back in Spain we were 20 in the entire class and in the US, 500! I would spend lunch time in the bathroom crying but in time changed and now shy? P-SHAW!

    I have never revealed that secret you know so you'd best not be laughing at me!!!!

    As for private British schools? UGH! To be avoided at ALL cost!

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  25. aidan,
    Three is a crowd. Remember Rocky Balboa's turtles..cuff and link.

    pamela,
    Not the HEAVY CURTAINS!
    Who said that school uniforms don't instill obedience..having all of those Darth Vaders strolling about was scarier than going to hell.

    miz bohemia,
    I am truly humbled that you chose to share that with me. You never forget things like that and my guess is that we share our disdain for authority figures thanks to the insensitive treatment that we experienced while under the supervision of these supposedly perfect iconic overlords.

    Well you are certainly having the last laugh because now you are a firecracker and master of your domain! You ain't shy anymore!!

    Yes the old British School System..I always think of Monty Python's Meaning Of Life... remember the segment featuring the ridiculous sex education class that John Cleese is teaching and the subsequent rugby match between the frightened children and the sadistic staff.HA HA!

    You never cease to amaze me.

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