THE DAY: Tuesday
THE TIME: Morning
THE PLACE: The Boiler Room of Adolescent Purgatory (aka, ‘High School.’)
Sister Madly had been sleeping her way through another Biology lecture when she and her classmates were summoned to the gym- immediately.
Typically these meetings were called to impress upon students the importance of the dress code, to find out who vandalized what, or simply to remind them that card games* were taboo. But this assembly deviated from the usual lectures of teenage impurity: a classmate of Sister Madly’s had walked out of class, and left the building.
* Card games = gambling, which was most ungodly. Even solitaire.
No doubt you are imagining a lovely day in May, an Alpine meadow, and a free-spirited blonde frolicking through the flowers as though she were in an ad for honey butter. But this was not the case; it was early February, and the weather was pure Michigan.
Upon learning of the truancy, the Principal did what any sane, responsible administrator would do: send out a search party consisting of the most responsible and trustworthy individuals…
The Principal went on to inform Team Truancy that the search was not to extend beyond the sidewalk to the south, the Beltline a block to the east, the Highway a block to the west, and the orchard that bordered the school property to the north. They were Freshmen, after all, and it was important to set boundaries.
Clearly the Principal had never been a teenager, not if he believed the Truant would play hooky so close to school; that’s like running away from home by hiding in the garden. No doubt he expected to find the girl under the bleachers, abusing a pair of prescription sunglasses.
However, being the dutiful, sometimes dress-code abiding Freshman that she was, Sister Madly braved the Michigan tundra in a Search for the Wayward Truant- as far as the Diner next door, that is.
It was a dismal greasy spoon, and it was here that Sister Madly spent the next 2 hours, drinking a cup of what could only be described as “I-Can’t-Believe-This-Is-Cocoa.” It was also here where she watched her fellow classmates scatter willy-nilly, each one not so much slipping along the icy sidewalks as display a general unwillingness to fall on their bums. Sister Madly wanted to believe that she rubbed shoulders with the intellectually elite, but her classmates behaved as though they, too, believed that the Truant would be found somewhere on the property, making angels in the snow.
Face it, Sister Madly- your reality is a bad teen novel written in a spiral-bound notebook, which fell into a puddle and was promptly run over by a bus; no doubt you will find a fabulous disco inside your locker first thing tomorrow morning. The day was fast approaching a level of absurdity normally reserved for fairytales, and would have achieved said status had it contained the trademark moral for which such tales are renown.*
* Such as ‘Don’t eat the old lady’s house;’ or ‘Never trust a spinning wheel.’
But what if this was more than a simple case of truancy? What if the school was behind this? Recently, the psychology class took it upon themselves to convince a boy that he had the flu, making certain suggestions about his appearance and behavior until the boy said he felt sick and went home.* Perhaps this was another such experiment, which is why the science should never be taught by an English teacher… and is that a cop over there?
* The boy later admitted that he took advantage of the situation and spent the day at the movies.
Of course he’s a cop, Sister Madly- what did you think he was? The Maytag Repairman? He isn’t going to believe that you are skipping school because the Principle ordered you to do so… unless you show him The Library Card.
Indeed, here is proof that Sister Madly is the victim of a faulty educational system! She would show her Library Card, which she’s had since kindergarten; she would show him her signature, and how she took certain liberties with the letter ‘E’, averaging 5 or 6 horizontal lines instead of the standard 3. Perhaps if some gentle disciplinarian had told Sister Madly back in the day that she did not have the authority to slaughter the alphabet simply because she wanted to, she would’ve turned out to be an oboe-playing, cheerleading, non-truant poster-child of academia instead of an anti-social little moppet playing hooky from a group sent out to find a girl who was playing hooky.
But before she could execute this most excellent tale of tragic woe, Officer Maytag drew his own conclusions on his way out the door:
“You’ve got to be mental to be out there on a day like this, Luv.”
MOROCCAN PULLED CHICKEN
- 2 sweet onions, sliced
- 6 boneless chicken thighs, whole
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 lg pinch saffron, ground
- 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- tortillas/naan/lettuce, to serve
Melt butter/oil in dutch oven
Add onions, stirring to coat
Lower heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally
Continue until onions are caramelized (30-45 min)
Mix in spices, garlic, broth and chicken; bring to a boil
Reduce heat; simmer until chicken is cooked (25 min)
With 2 forks, shred chicken in the sauce
Simmer to reduce and thicken (if needed)
Remove bay leaves before serving
THEME SONG: School’s Out, Alice Cooper
Lighthouse Photo by Thomas Zakowski
There comes a time in every child’s life where one must face that dreaded rite of passage: the ambiguous ‘science project.’
If Sister Madly had known all the loopholes, such as time machine = clock, or better yet, cooking = chemistry, she would have had her mother bake a couple dozen cookies and be done with it. With little hesitation, both parents deemed proving the existence of unicorns impractical to the scientific community, yet supported her decision to dismember her sibling and replace the limbs with butterfly wings so long as Sister Madly was willing to clean up afterwards (which she wasn’t.) In the end, Sister Madly chose an experiment out of some How to Scientifically Take Over the World book that she once found wrapped up under a Christmas tree.
And that experiment was to bleach a rose. With sulfur.*
* The book mysteriously disappeared after the completion of this science project.
There was some concern about this project from the onset, in particular the obtaining of the roses. After all, Sister Madly knew just how expensive these flowers could be (He got you a dozen roses?! It MUST be love!) which was why they were so treasured. Growing the roses herself was simply out of the question- to this day, plants refuse to photosynthesize in her presence. She decided that her parents’ budget would allow for 3 roses: a practice run, the actual project, and one unbleached rose to compare. She wouldn’t need more than that because science projects always turn out perfectly the first time around- especially when it involves an 8 year-old playing with fire.
Her parents, however, had a slightly different- and, in Sister Madly’s opinion, utterly preposterous- concern: where, dear child, are you going to get the sulfur?
Contrary to popular belief, one does not just pop off to Sulfur Express to get this element, nor does the average citizen keep a stockpile in the garage next to the Harley. And while certain religious texts believe sulfur* to be an important ingredient in the Lake of Fire, neither her parents nor the school board approved of the lengthy, transcendental holiday it would take to obtain the sulfur, much less the destination. Her school wasn’t very Hell-friendly.
*Brimstone = Sulfur
Then again, she once heard that onions contain sulfur, thus saw no reason why setting fire to an onion would not produce the desired effect. Her parents did not agree.
It was her science teacher, through a connection at the local college, who later obtained the sulfur. As Sister Madly now had all the components, she was quite ready to bleach the rose and successfully take over the world.
However: Rose + Chemical + Fire = Father doing the project while Sister Madly watches.
With her father at the reigns, the project went off without a hitch (although it took a total of 5 roses.) But it wasn’t enough for Sister Madly to walk into school the next day and announce that the experiment had been a success; no, not only was she required to turn in the completed project, she was to present it to the class.
What do you mean that Sister Madly has to understand and explain the science behind this project? Isn’t the fact that a rose transformed from red to white in the seclusion of her own backyard with absolutely no witnesses cool enough on its own? The How to Scientifically Take Over the World book didn’t explain how this experiment worked, only that it does work and quite frankly, that’s good enough for her.
Mind you, when all this occurred, the average family was still several years away from regular internet access. Sister Madly didn’t know any pro-science adults who could explain to her the sulfur phenomenon (she wasn’t very social) and didn’t know where to begin researching it in the library (not that she had any desire to do so.) Faced with these impossible options, Sister Madly decided that it was necessary to bluff her way through, figuring that if she threw enough scientific-sounding words around, she would pass.
And bluff she did, attributing the bleaching phenomenon to static electricity: when exposed to fire in an enclosed area, the sulfur produces an electrical charge which causes its particles to cling to the rose, thus turning it white.
It is not known whether the teacher bought this snake oil sales pitch, or whether he simply admired her audacity, but that day Sister Madly adjourned for recess with not only with a passing grade, but the confidence that school was a waste of time as her science teacher was no more wiser than she.
20+ years later, Sister Madly finally knows the science behind this experiment.* It hasn’t enhanced her life in the slightest.
* When sulfur burns it produces sulfur dioxide- which acts as a bleaching agent- reducing the pigments, thus turning the rose white. Re-oxidizing the reduced pigments restores the color, which can be as simple by exposing the reduced dyes to the oxygen in the atmosphere.
For a brief period in her youth, Sister Madly attended an extremely conservative, Baptist-as-hell institution commonly referred to as ‘High School.’ Tales that emerge from this gloomy asylum range from questionable to legendary, including the method in which the joys of parenthood were taught by having the girls carry an egg around for a two-week stretch.
It is fortunate for mankind that Sister Madly never took this class. No doubt she would have grown up suppressing the urge to dye all the little children pastel colors every Easter- if she suppressed it at all. It is also a good thing that she does not have children of her own.
While some girls simply carried an egg around on a napkin, others took the task to heart, dressing up their eggs in cutesy little outfits and giving them names, such as in the case of an egg called Jessy.
Now, Jessy was the surrogate offspring of Lisa, who was from one of the founding families of the asylum. It wasn’t long before a couple of Sister Madly’s classmates discovered the unthinkable: Lisa was leaving her child unsupervised in her locker for the first two hours- even worse, she was getting away with it.
On Thursday, however, Lisa opened up her locker between classes and was confronted not by Jessy in his knitted hat, but by a plate of scrambled eggs.
It was during study hall the day before that Sister Madly overheard Scott’s and David’s bickering about Lisa’s cheating. Quite frankly, Sister Madly felt that their protests were a bit unwarranted, since only the girls were required to carry the eggs around as boys, apparently, did not need to learn the joys of parenting.* And she might have said so, had she not been blinded by the delightful vision of Lisa thinking that someone had scrambled Jessy.
*However, this could have been on the request of the janitor.
The beauty of this plan is that Lisa would not be able to report this crime without admitting that she had been cheating. For the boys, this wasn’t about retribution; this was about justice. For Sister Madly, it just sounded like fun. This was to be her first taste as an Evil Overlord, where she could just sit back and watch her henchmen carry out the deed.
However, being the mastermind meant that Sister Madly would not be involved in the action, and that kind of takes the joy out of things. She would also learn that if you want your evil plan to run smoothly and efficiently, you have to do it yourself- and even then, it’s no guarantee.
Her first indication of this was Thursday morning, when Scott slipped back into study hall with an illegally acquired, hard-boiled egg.
Now, the Egg-As-Offspring Project had several rules, the main one being that you couldn’t hard-boil your children. This is one of the few practical lessons the students could take away from this class, if not from the school, itself.
But even if Lisa had hard-boiled her child, this particular egg was faceless and naked, lacking the obnoxiously cute little knitted hat for which Jessy was known. Also, he had not been retrieved from the obnoxiously cute little egg bassinet her Papa had made, but from a paper bag-
Salt and Cabbages, Scott! You didn’t steal Lisa’s child; you stole her lunch!
The problem with Evil Overlording in a Baptist Institution is that the local criminal element tends to lack certain qualities essential for the overall effect: common sense, IQ points, stealth, experience, etc. Also, they were wearing penny-loafers.
Part 2 of this scheme belonged to David. He had decided to forgo completing his geometry assignment the night before to create a Hollywood-style ransom note of letters cut from magazines, requesting payment of candy bars (teenagers know what’s important) in exchange for the safe return of her child. If they did not receive payment by the end of lunch break, they would scramble Jessy.
Unfortunately, this note was slipped into the wrong locker. Penny Loafers.
So, Sister Madly, perhaps you should have taken your cue from all those Bond films: that employing penny-loafer henchmen to do your dirty work is all but guaranteed failure. But as always, things just don’t ring true until you have experienced it yourself. You’re still finding that out.
That was the last time she aided the local criminal element. Besides, Sister Madly prefers active duty. Relying on henchmen is really nothing more than co-dependence.*
*Jessy was returned unharmed, without the ransom being paid, and without his hat. No one knows what happened to it. Penny Loafers.
POST’S THEME SONG: Jessie’s Girl, Rick Springfield