Yeah. We’re dying to read your little memoir.

Remember The Look Challenge that Diana Douglas tagged me for?

Oh, come on! I just told you about it yesterday. Even I can remember what happened yesterday. Or parts of yesterday…

Well, if you want to read Diana’s snippet, click here. It comes from The Tattooed Angel… A Time Travel. 

Now onto my challenge…

No, no, no! I’m supposed to find a “look.”

I searched my memoir manuscript for the word “look” and found all kinds of permutations of the verb: looked, looking, looks, … (Have you noticed when you repeat a word, it starts looking like a nonsense word?) It looks like I use this verb a lot. I finally found plain old “look” in the following passage.

Excerpt from How Was I Supposed to Know? Adventures of a Girl Whose Name Means “Lost”

Mom enrolled us in a Catholic school. I did hard time there for three years: first grade through third grade. It was run by priests but all the teachers were nuns.

On our first day of school, Mom called from the kitchen, “Are you ready, girls?”

“Yes, Mommy,” I replied as Tina and I ran as best we could from our bedroom to debut our new St. Morris Catholic School of the Perpetually Tortured  uniforms designed to bring out the worst in any body type, at least for girls. The navy blue, wool jumpers were scratchy and cut just the right length to make chubby legs (like mine) look like stumps and skinny legs (like everyone else’s) look like sticks. We also had to wear penny loafers and cuffed white ankle socks, further exaggerating leg stumps or leg sticks. The short-sleeved white cotton blouses did the same thing for arms that the jumpers did for legs.

“You both look so nice,” Mom said as she eyed our too-tight-around-the-middle jumpers.

“Do I have to wear this?” I whined. I dug at my backside. “It’s scratchy and my shoes are ouchy.”

“Yeah,” said Tina. “I hate these clothes.” She had a way of cutting to the heart of the matter.

All Mom did was smile. “Oh, you both look like such big girls in your nice uniforms. Mommy used to wear a uniform when she went to school in France a long time ago.”

“But we didn’t have to wear uniforms back home. I miss my old school.” Tina had a natural talent for arguing, so I just quietly nodded in support and pulled at my underpants.

“I am sorry, girls. This is our home now, and your new school requires this uniform. You must wear it.” She said it with her that-is-enough tone of voice. Then she collected Lisa, who was dressed like a normal person, but whose time would come, and we all walked the trail of many streets and avenues that led to our new school. My feet already hurt, and school hadn’t even started.

I was the New Kid, so I had to stand in front of the class for the Catholic version of Show and Tell. It was mostly Show. Some kids were gawking and snickering, some were sitting like toy soldiers, one or two were picking their noses when Sister Mary Something wasn’t looking. All of them were wearing navy blue and white uniforms.

“Quiet, Class!” Sister Mary Something shouted. I don’t know where I ever got the idea that nuns were gentle and calm. “We have a new addition to our school,” she kept shouting. “Welcome her like Good Children Of God. Her name is Miss Lorna.” Maybe it was because I was five and short or because she was wearing a flowing black habit that wasn’t at all slimming, but that nun looked gigantic to me. If she ever got into a fight with a grizzly bear, Sister Mary Something would have a few scratches and a creepy bear rug in her room.

After Sister Mary Something demanded that the class welcome me, I heard the usual lame attempts to rhyme Lorna with torn-a, corn-a, warn-a, or sworn-a from the gawkers and snickerers. The toy soldiers were mercifully silent, and the nose-pickers were too distracted to care.

In an attempt to refocus these Good Children Of God, Sister Mary Something interjected, “Ahem! Miss Lorna comes to us from a place called Cadyville. Say ‘Hello’ to her, Class.”

“Hello, Miss Lor-na,” they all chanted in that sing-song, insincere way.

I blushed so red I must have looked like the American flag, my uniform providing the white and blue. I looked down at my new penny loafers and suddenly noticed there wasn’t a shiny penny in either slot. I was a girl who believed in omens, signs, and superstitions; that was not a good omen.

“Now, Miss Lorna, what do we do when people are kind enough to greet us?” ”Sister Mary Something was already testing me.

“Say ‘Hello’ back?” I offered shyly to my penniless shoes.

She nodded towards the class in that well-go-ahead-and-do-it kind of way. So I said, “Hell…o.” My “hello” cracked in the middle due to nerves, so it sounded like I’d said a bad word at my new Catholic school in front of irritated nun. The class, even the toy-soldier kids, burst out laughing when they saw the look of horror on Sister Something’s face.

Sister carried a big stick, both figuratively and literally. She whacked her literal big stick against her desk. I watched the kids jump. Their desks jumped, too. I jumped most of all.

From left to right: Tina (naturally thin, the steroids to treat her illness made her bloat up), Lisa (naturally adorable), Mom (naturally beautiful and recently widowed), and me (naturally robust). I can’t find a picture of Tina and me in our uniforms, but this is about the age we were when we did our “hard time” in Catholic school.

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my book! I inserted the picture for your sake. I’ll probably use it in the book, but not in this section.