04 September, 2007

The Shawn Of My Childhood (Part One)

My new school is connected to a church by a cracked-asphalt playground. There are faded court game markings criss-crossing the playground. Since there are no nets or goalposts anywhere, we do not know what games were meant to be played when the lines were first painted on the ground.

Instead, the faded lines are used to mark off territories: girls from boys, tough guys from the wimps, older kids from younger kids.

Occasionally, but only occasionally, some students play dodge ball. Only the most rambunctious kids ever get the nerve to play. If they play dodge ball they have to squeeze everyone else to the playground’s periphery. It means they have a guaranteed audience. Mind you, a disgruntled audience.

If students play well, meaning some of the players get properly whacked and fall down, then we, those standing on the side, start to cheer. This is what the players wait for, the moment their audience starts cheering instead of jeering. All of that effort just to overcome their boredom, and see whether they can make us temporarily overcomes ours.

We go to the church for catechism classes. In my last school the priest came to our class to tell us about purgatory and heavenandhell. Now we march across our school playground and through the church to the back, where there are various rooms.

One room is equipped with folding chairs and tables. The Ladies’ Auxiliary usually uses it. We each pull out a folding chair. We are here to learn about the Baby Jesus from Father Eugene.

I have to go to the bathroom and Father Eugene allows me to leave the catechism class. I walk down the corridor looking for a bathroom. There is a room with a vault used to store the Eucharist and the priest’s robes. Another room is a changing room for the alter boys.

There is a boys’ bathroom, but no girls’ bathroom. After a little procrastination, I enter the boys’ bathroom.

The bathroom is surprisingly large. Sunlight streams in through three large windows. Sunbeams dance across the floor and over the largest sink I’ve ever seen in my life. A fantastic round communal sink with a fountain sprouting out of the middle. A sink of biblical proportions.

Shawn, a boy in my class, comes into the bathroom while I am running around the sink in circles, swishing my hand through the water spraying out from the centre of the sink. I’m making rainbows in the sunbeams.

Shawn asks me what I am doing. “Making rainbows in this neat sink”, is my clever answer. “It’s not a sink”, he says, “It’s a urinal”.

To be continued…

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