6 feet 2 inches, slender, athletic, agile as a mountain lion and as sure footed as a mountain goat, that was my nemesis; Sister Mary Warren. It was at St. Benedict, the Catholic school that I attended from the 1st grade to the end of the 6th grade that I first met my adversary. She was one no nonsense scary nun! Like all nuns, she wore her penguin-like outfit that hid most of her anatomy but you could tell there was an athlete under that garb.

I was a class clown at St. Benedict. One of four trouble makers in the school who were as thick as thieves. Not bullies or vicious in any way, just ball-busters. We made it our goal every day to laugh and have a good time, no matter what. I don’t know where we got such crazy notions but in retrospect, I think we figured that because good friends were together every day what a waste it would be to not wholeheartedly enjoy our days! It just so happened that school got in our way a bit but mostly we worked around it and their interference. But the school got smart and they brought in some muscle.

They hired a bruiser, an ass chasin, ass kickin, determined nun to straighten out the wayward children of St. Benedict. And she was good at her job. She watched over us like a hawk. When we did something wrong she’d swoop down on us like a bird of prey and she’d chastise us to no end. She did everything that she could to keep us on the straight and narrow. She was as fast as a world class sprinter. She was all over us in an instant. This woman of the cloth made us work for our fun!

She tried her best to make us good students and also to be good little boys. She made our jobs of being fun loving laugh-machines difficult. But it only slowed us down, never stopped us. We always found ways to laugh our butts off or to get the entire class to laugh along with us. We came up with new schemes, daily. We were little professionals at our craft of enjoyment. And while we were being little stand-up comedians we learned academically pretty well too. You see in this Catholic school, you were held to high academic standards. You had to do well scholastically or you’d be thrown out. They’d call your parents and tell them what was going on and what was needed to be accomplished, or else.

Sister Marry Warren ran up and down the hallways and stairs chasing after us all day long. She was faster, stronger and almost more determined than us. She was a warrior! She lived, breathed and worked to keep us on the straight and narrow. We constantly had to bring our A game to school or lest we’d turn into boring little sheep. And we couldn’t be boring little sheep. We needed zest, fun and humor, every day. Anything less would be prison for us. So, it was continuous war for us at St. Benedict. But a fun war. I would go home with stomach cramps in the evening from laughing so hard! Oh, I miss those laughs. I’d pay big money to laugh like that now.

I had the upper hand dealing with Sister Mary Warren; up till the beginning of the 7th grade. When I was getting ready to start up for that new year she told me that I was not allowed to come back to the school. That I was banished. I was out. I said something like, but . . . but . . . but . . . and she said something like no, no, no—you’re out! She pretty much said go away little Stevey and don’t let the door hit your skinny little hind-ass as you leave!

Oh-oh! What a predicament I was in now! Strangely, I wasn’t hurt for being thrown out. Nah. But I was worried about what my parents were going to say when they found out I was now schoolless. But luckily, my parents had just closed a deal on the purchase of a new home in another city and we were moving! Yay! I was saved. I wasn’t a little boy without a country!

Looking back, I hope I didn’t craze the good Sister too much. I’m guessing she didn’t hold a grudge against me. I’m guessing she simply did what she had to do. Like a cat chases a mouse. It’s just what cats do. It’s their mission in life. It was just what Sister Marry Warren did. She kept order and did whatever it took to get things done.

I turned out okay. I actually taught kids and adults and for almost a decade--college criminal justice. I didn’t learn anything about teaching from Sister Mary Warren but what I did learn is that we all do different things, different disciplines, and different tasks in life and if we're not abusive and we try to do the right thing, we won’t be too far off the mark. Goes for all of us. Goes for Sister Mary Warren too. She always tried to do the right thing. She was never abusive. I thank her for that. She has long since passed on. As an adult, I would have loved to have shared a cup of coffee with her. Or better yet, a drink or two. I think we would have enjoyed the sharing of ourselves. I think we would have laughed a lot too. RIP, Sister Marry Warren.

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