What are you lookin’ at, jerk?, I thought.
I’d just left my Catholic grade school to walk home immediately following mass, held at our church adjacent to the school.
As I reached the halfway point of my four-block trek, some creepy guy in a car slowed down, drove my walking pace and stared at me.
For a 10-year-old, this was disconcerting. You know, Little girl, want some candy? and all that. I’d always been leery about walking on that particular block anyway, since there was a mental health facility nearby.
Anxieties peaked after the day two guys wearing their orderly whites came running down the street and shouted over to me on my porch “Did you see someone run down this way?”
Rut-roh. An escapee. Not good.
So I’m walking along, when Creepy Guy slows down and stares at me. He rolled down the window and said “What’s that you got on your head?”
And then it hit me.
I still had my white church veil pinned to the top of my head from mass.
I felt silly. But also completely skeeved out by a guy who would scare a little girl half to death. And about something so trivial, no less. Weirdo! With one swipe, I removed the veil and tucked it in my pocket and bulletted home.
All girls in our school were required to wear their white veils to mass, which we attended every Friday.
If you forgot to bring your veil, you had to wear a Kleenex on your head.
A Kleenex. That made you a target for snickers. But if someone sneezed, it also made you convenient.
Most veils we wore were smallish and lacy, the size, look and feel of the doily your Grandma put under crystal bowls full of hard candy no self-respecting kid would eat.
Some veils were longer, like the one my classmate Theresa wore. I wonder if she ever became a nun like she wanted to be for the longest time. We could all see her becoming a nun because she wore her uniform well below the knee, kept tissues tucked under her sleeve and piously said grace before lunch.
I wore my doily, er, my veil in the style of a taco, which is to say I folded it in half and fastened it to my head with the rounded side toward the back, two bobbypins in the front on either side of my head.
I rocked that look, trust me.
Other girls wore their tacos folded out flat in a circle, but that made it harder to pin because you essentially had to rip a hole in the middle of it to stick the bobbypin through. Slobs.
Theresa’s was basically a wedding veil, which hung down almost to her butt. That required all sorts of special rigging because of the weight and because her hair was thin. She would have been better off just Crazy-gluing it to her head and leaving it there 24/7, practice for nunhood and all.
But no one, not even Theresa, wore a headscarf veil, tied under the chin. That was reserved for old, crunched-over Italian women who dressed in all-black wool, even on sweltering hot days. Sweatiness is next to godliness, you know.
We mercifully didn’t have to wear veils to high school masses. I think the administrators took pity on us. There’s just so much other stuff to tease girls about. Thank you for one less thing.
OK, so for all the non-Catholic readers, did you learn something new today? For the Catholics out there, holla! Do you remember wearing veils to church? What style did you wear?
Oh, and that’s me in the picture. Not wearing a veil. Probably worried about Creepy Guy on the way home.