Darrell Kovach is driving to Hell and I'm riding shotgun.
I mentioned in an earlier story that I attended Catholic school growing up. St. Mary's "where Catholics are made" I believe was the motto. The actual motto should have been St. Mary's "where we drag you kicking and screaming to church every week despite the fact that you would rather eat dirt than listen to Father (insert Irish name here) speak" but that motto doesn't roll off the tongue near as easily. Hell, I don't even know if we had a motto.
Darrell Gene Kovach was about my best friend back then. We were pretty tight. Jimmy and Ralph kind of hung together, nobody liked Adrian because he was bigger than all of us and a bully at the time. Yet, he still managed to win the "St. Mary's Award for Best Student" when he was in eighth grade. Imagine that.
Adrian was kicking my ass out in front of the school during one noon recess when Sister Jeanette (aka Sister Breadloaves, and yes, they were that big) rounded the corner just as Adrian was bouncing me off the school wall. You could say he was getting the best of me.
Sister Jeanette said "what are you boys doing?" Well, we both knew we'd get in big trouble if we told her the truth and said we were fighting. We also know its a sin to lie. Lies are forgiven by God during Confession on Sundays. Knuckles and palms, when struck with the brute force of a sexually frustrated female from North Dakota, hurt for a long ass time.
"What's going on here?" Sister Jeannette asked.
"We're just playing cops and robbers Sister," I said.
"Well, don't play so rough."
Adrian knew I'd saved both of our asses. I could have ratted him but I didn't want my hands permanently disfigured anymore than he did. He let me off the hook. I'm sure he was confident that I would call him "chunk" or "pudgy" again when I didn't give myself enough of a head start to get away and that he most assuredly would pick up where he left off. Smart that Adrian. Very smart.
This story isn't about one of the many times Adrian kicked one of our scrawny asses at St. Mary's. It isn't about all the fights that we were going to have by the flagpole after school that never happened. It isn't about the time that I flipped off Sister Jeanette and then told her it means "we make war."
No, this story is about the annual sixth grade world day dinner. Its about Darrell getting me in trouble for the quadrillionth time (each of them being worth it). Its about how we had been pushed enough by Sister Helen. So much that we pushed back. She didn't know it but we did. Its the night we both openly gave our souls to Satan, Bobbie Hauck"s older brother, and how we absolutely did not care.
THE VOTE FOR WORLD DAY
World Day was an annual event where the sixth grade class would cook dinner for all the teachers at St. Mary's. Now, not all of the teachers were nuns. There was Mrs. Poulton who was very hot. (Sidebar: Sue was and still is a good looking woman and all the guys at St. Mary's thought she was hot. Her son Cory was my brother Pat's best man and I work with one of Sue's good friends from Dillon High School. Its a small world and Malta is located in its epicenter). Then Mr. Dakken. I think that's the spelling close enough. All the nuns who teach, the one's in the kitchen and Father Donovan. The nicest of the priests who ran St. Mary's during my tenure their.
The World Day dinner had been started the year before. So now that we were doing it again it became an annual event. World Day worked like this: we pick a country, then we all do research on certain aspects and have to give speeches about it. What kind of geography does it have, what's the major religion (besides Catholicism), what is the history, all that kind of stuff. The presentations were made in the church basement and preceded dinner. Of course we get some adult assistance with dinner. There were only three girls in our class and I don't know if any of them can cook to this day. I know that Renee LaFond can kick you in the shins hard enough to make you bleed, but I digress. She was my first kiss by the way. She lives here in Bozeman but I don't see her very often. Anyway.
We chose the great country of Spain. Mostly because I think we all wanted to eat tacos. The years have passed so forgive me if I can't remember much about the presentations that were given before dinner. About the only thing I can remember is that I'm sure I carried whoever was assigned with me. That was usually the case. I'm still surprised I don't' have swayback from all those times. Carrying Darrell through six grades, carrying Ralph through wrestling, you get the picture.
Presentations were given and then dinner was served. Tacos, Spanish rice, some kind of Spanish pork chops and probably ice cream for dessert. Something along those lines.
Toward the end of dinner, things start to go south for Darrell and me. Darrell was, and still is, a great instigator. He has a dirty mind and is always looking for something to be nasty with. I don't know if that was the case this particular evening, all I know is that we got the giggles. We got em bad. We can't stop and Sister Helen will have no part of it. This old broad was hot (not Sue Poulton hot but Alvina grounding you for a year angry) and finally made Darrell and me leave the table and finish our dinner in the kitchen of the church basement.
We probably would have been alright if we had just stopped giggling but being in the kitchen gave us free leave to really laugh out loud. When Sister Helen came in the second time, she was pissed and things almost got physical. She wasn't afraid to hit and hit hard. That's nothing but experience talking right there. We finally let laughter give way to fear and the giggles subside. Sister Helen returns to finish dinner with the adults and "good kids". We knew our time without punishment was limited.
CRUEL FATE, WHY DO YOU MOCK ME?!
Our punishment was swift and not just. Just like a lot of punishments at St. Mary's. Darrell and I would clear the tables, scrape the plates and do the dishes. The rest of the class was free to go. We had to clean everything with Witch Hazel standing ever vigilant.
We scraped, we cleaned, we swept and we mopped and all the time we never made eye contact with each other. That would have been wrong mistake to make. You see, when Darrell and I got the giggles we could eventually get them under control, but just one look would send us off on a laugh frenzy again. We couldn't let this happen. Another outburst and hell would seem like a happy place compared to the punishment we would receive.
We were almost done cleaning and everything was to Sr. Helen's satisfaction. The leftover part of dinner, and there wasn't much, was put in a 8x12 cake pan. A couple of pork chops, some rice and beans and that was about it.
Why Sister Helen gave us the keys to the school is something that will haunt me til the end of time. It is this one act that forever seals our fate. All she had to do was walk into the school with us. That's it. If she does that the pit of eternal damnation would not so eagerly be awaiting me. And Darrell.
Sister Helen gave us the keys to the school with instructions to put the leftovers in the school kitchen. It was her idea and why is anyone's guess.
"Be careful opening the door. The key sticks. Chip, you bring the keys with you in the morning."
I don't know if she was tired or if it was girls night in the convent but she told us to put the food away. This has always struck me as strange. She has to walk right by the school to get to the convent. It would have taken her two minutes to open the door and follow us in. Two minutes. Sometimes that's all it takes to condemn one's soul.
NEXT STOP: HELL!
Sister Helen leaves the church shortly before Darrell and I do. We make sure all the lights are off and that the church door locks behind us. The entire walk from the church to the front door of the school might be 75 yards. Maybe. Not further I'm quite sure.
We screw around with the front door for a couple of minutes and finally get it open. After finding a light switch we make our way to the kitchen. Our task is almost complete. Then Darrell sealed our fate.
"She's such a hag. That was a bunch of shit that we had to clean just 'cause we were laughin."
Yes, we were 12 years old and talked like 20 year vets of the merchant marines.
"She's a bitch Kovach. I can hardly wait to go to the public junior high next year."
"I hope so. Gunsch is going and I hope mom lets me to go too."
Darrell is just getting ready to put the pan in the fridge. He stops for a moment. He sets the pan on the counter and peels back the tin foil. There were the pork chops. Just staring at him. He just looked at them. Then he looked at me.
"Hack up a loogey Gibbs."
"We're going to spit on these pork chops."
Everything sounds like such a good idea at the time.
I couldn't hack a loog on command like Darrell could. He could pull one from his kidney which is a pretty good feat when your twelve. Now I start my day doing it. Funny that.
I'm working to hack one up, Darrell already has a couple good ones sitting on the chops. The best I could do was just spit on them. At least I contributed.
We covered the the pork chops in rice and beans, put the tin foil back on and then I think we might have hugged. It was a great moment.
Out the school, onto the bikes smiling and laughing. Those evil smiles and the cackling laughter that only serial killers know. It was a great end to a great night.
The next day at school Darrell and I were still on the high. We didn't know who was going to eat the pork chops. We just knew that one of our tormentors was going to pay for Sister Helen's sinister behavior of the evening prior.
" Well, I thought last night went rather well," said Sister.
"The presentations were well done. Outside of a couple of you, your behavior was excellent."
Of course, you all know who she was staring at when she said the preceding.
"And dinner was excellent. It was so good that I had a midnight snack last night and ate the last two pork chops."
There are certain moments in your life when time stands still. You can recall what the sky looked like, the aromas in the air, what color dress a certain girl was wearing. This isn't one of those times.
With all of our might Darrell and I hold back our laughter. Never in my life have I been so restrained. Darrell was trying so hard that I actually thought that he might faint. Our evil plan had succeeded beyond our wildest expectations. This sinister act had struck at the one for whom it was most desired. You ate our spit Sister. You ate our spit.
Darrell and I kept this secret for a long time. We couldn't tell anyone. We all know that Marlene would rat us out in a heartbeat.
At long last my consceince is clear.