Friday, July 30, 2010

Part 33: Brother Sun, Sister Moon

"... grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned ..."

- Francis of Assisi

This was a year of momentous change for me. Maybe it was moving from middle school to high school; but not only had I finally grown a little taller, but I also had begun to see things around me differently too. New teachers, new friends, new books and new ideas were opening the world to me. I was active in extra curricular activities; the Student Council, student representative on the Disciplinary Committee, the Ganza year book staff, Brent Players and the Junior Varsity soccer team.

It was sometime in September that I got a letter from Mom telling me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and she was going to have radical breast removal surgery in Manila, but not to worry. I did anyway and bought her some gifts at an Arts and Crafts show that was being held in Amos Hall. I went down to see her one weekend after her surgery at St. Luke's Hospital and she looked weak, tired and gray but in good spirits. Mom's brush with death had an interesting effect on my parents; it changed her and her outlook on life and parenting. She asked about me, school, if I had a girlfriend and really seemed interested in hearing my answers. It didn't seem to affect Dad at all, he was still mad about my hair and made sure I knew it.

It was while I was on the Disciplinary Committee that I got to defend my friend Leeanne Colvin. Periodically the lockers and dorm rooms were searched for contraband. During one of these searches a pack of cigarettes had been discovered under her mattress. Intelligent, an Honor Roll student, Leeanne was also brash and outspoken. The school paper ran an article about new boarding students and qouted Leeanne saying she "liked dorm life and have already broken all the rules!" This statement put her on the watch list of some of the teachers on the Disciplinary Committee and when they finally caught her at something they decided to make an example of her and expel her.

It was a dour looking group as the charges were somberly read, the incriminating evidence placed on the table before us and the recommendation for expulsion presented; I was reminded of cartoon caricatures of vultures, they seemed to be drooling. When it came my turn to speak I reminded them of her excellent scholastic record and then played my trump card: enumerating previous "crimes" and the punishments dealt by the committee to other students and noted that expulsion for having an unopened pack of cigarettes as compared to the
Campusing (being restricted to the dorm or campus) of another student for a month for being caught drinking alcohol seemed out of balance. I asked if they felt that smoking was worse than drinking and could they in good conscience deal out so severe a punishment to a good student. After several moments of uncomfortable silence the committee voted for a two week Campusing. The vultures would have to go hungry. After the results of the trial were announced and my role in the outcome got out, I had minor celebrity status and Lulie began calling me the Wizard of Words.

I saw two movies that year that subtly affected me as well:
Brother Sun, Sister Moon and Godspell. Rug took a group of us to see the former, he had a minor role working with Franco Zeffirelli on the production of Romeo and Juliet and I was interested to see this one as well. It really bowled me over, the images, the music and the message. I wanted to be a Franciscan monk too.

I loved the music of
Godspell and felt that the songs seemed vaguely familiar. The following Sunday I was sitting in chapel thumbing through the hymnal and there was one of the songs. Intrigued, I searched through the first lines index and one by one I found most of the songs from the film.

In late September we spent three days at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila to see some operettas directed by Rug. The place was enormous. The first two days we took a tour of the Center, learned about lighting and set design and watched rehearsals. The last night we dressed in our best and were escorted to our reserved seats in the nose bleed section. Still, we could see and hear the performances fairly well. This was the first time I had seen an opera performance and it was exciting to be there knowing that my teacher was the director. We watched scenes from Madame Butterfly, Rigoletto and Faust. After the show ended, Rug came out and took his bow and we embarrassed him by standing up and screaming, hooping and hollering! Not proper Opera etiquette!

After the show eleven of us crammed into Mr Pettitt's little
Minica and went to the cast party. It was a tight fit, with elbows and knees all akimbo and me with my face smashed tight up against the glass of the rear hatch as we zipped in and out of traffic through the busy night streets of Manila. The party was a lavish affair, with tables piled high with food. Waiters in white jackets roamed the crowd carry trays of hors d' oeuvres, others carrying trays of champagne. There was caviar to go along with the champagne, neither of which I cared for. I had a champagne cocktail which was a little tastier and grabbed a plate and filled it up. Leigh was really enjoying herself, reveling at being able to hob-knob with the rich and powerful high society folks of Manila. I was more interested in the free food and being able to drink cocktails without retribution.

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