The Knights of Columbus was a Catholic Men’s association with a great hall near St. Mary’s. I’m sure that during the day members would hang out there at the bar, have cocktails, discuss the day’s affairs, politics, and upcoming events. It was rumored that the Bishop, and even the Cardinal of the diocese, would visit on occasion for bonding, conversation and, of course, cocktails. Nuns and ladies were not allowed. You see, the Knights of Columbus is a Catholic mens’ organization that is involved in charities. They would also march in parades, adorned in the Knights of Columbus black uniforms, red sashes, silver swords, and knight-like helmets, with great pomp and circumstance. They were beautiful and we, as a diocese, were proud of them.
But on Friday nights they would be home with their families, and the Knights of Columbus hall would hold the Friday night Knights of Columbus dance for all the boys and girls of the diocese. On the second floor, they had a large and beautiful dance floor, stage, and side bar. It was free, so all of us boys and girls would show up for the Knights of Columbus dance. We were all approximately 11 to 12 years old. As you entered the hall, the girls would all be sitting on the left side, and the boys on the right, facing each other like Napoleonic troops waiting to engage. It was like Napoleon on the right, and Wellington on the left, and would turn out to be the location of my Waterloo.
Mostly the girls would dance with each other and the boys would sit and watch. The music would be the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and people like the feared Jerry Vale, Tony Martino, and Paul Anka. Feared, because they would introduce the dreaded slow dances.
During slow dances the girls wouldn’t dance with each other, they would sit and stare across the floor at the boys, and the boys would sit there, and stare at the girls across the floor. The girls would gossip with each other, with their hand over their mouth, and giggle. The boys sat in stoic terror, not talking to one another but knowing that some one, any one, one of us was expected to be the first pitiful pawn to make the ultimate sacrifice and step onto and cross the battlefield and engage the enemy.
On one of these occasions, as usual I sat there with no intention of being the first to become the pitiful pawn splattered on the field of honor. I would wait for some other ill-prepared little Napoleonic sacrificial soldier to charge into the breach and confront Wellington’s army, which were seasoned battle-hardened, well equipped, and confident members of the brigade with their crinolines and bobby soxs and penny loafers and bows in their hair.
As I sat there waiting for one of our troops to march to his death, for some unknown reason, some ill-fated, unconscious, impulse I found myself standing, and then, with an unexpected urge I stepped out onto the field. What was I doing? What had I done? As I took the second step, sweat beaded into my scalp and poured down my face. I took the third step and found myself now exposed before both Wellington’s and my own troops, therefore committed to certain disaster. At this point the sweat at the nape of my neck formed a stream, ran down my spine, through my butt-crack and formed a pool just beneath my young testicles, which had not yet dropped. They hung in this pool of vile fear-induced liquid. I could feel the eyes of our brigade on my back. What was Kippy doing? Has he gone mad? This is unprecedented! He has obviously lost his senses!
I was committed. In the middle of the void my knees began to tremble, my legs began to fall behind the upper part of my body, they wanted to turn and run, but the upper part of my body knew they could not do that. My penis, being wiser than I, abandoned me, withdrew, and disappeared into my body. Now I was alone. This would not be the last time the little laggard would desert me in the middle of an unfortunate, ill-fated, impotent, skirmish. With all of my strength I moved each of my now-cramping legs forward, one after the other. But wait, what if I’m wrong? What if I don’t fail? I’m a good person! I mean no harm! I’m doing my duty. I’m representing my brigade. This could work!
My eyes darted right and left looking for an accepting face on one of these girls, someone who looked kind and forgiving, you never know. Some of them, one of them, might like me! My eyes focused, like a spring that had stopped quivering, there — there — that might be her. Cecilia Italias, she was nice, we got along. Granted, not the prettiest one, but this was no time to be fussy. Our eyes met, the rest of her brigade, on either side of her, whipped their eyes to her and watched, and scrutinizing the attempt. I found myself standing in front of her, a small blob of feces fell from my butt and splashed into the pool of sweat that had formed beneath it. I could feel the eyes of everyone in the room watching, some 100 strong. There was a hushed silence. I forgot what I was going to say. Wait a minute, I completely forgot, I can’t remember the words. What was I going to say?
Time stood still. The blob of feces had sunken to the bottom of the pool of sweat and was now resting on my briefs. That’s okay, the odor wouldn’t rise to anyone’s nose, I had plenty of time. But what were those words? What were the words? Suddenly my mind had retrieved them. I had the words! I knew the words! I gulped, I inhaled, I slowly pulled the hammer back, I squeezed the trigger, releasing the hammer, and let them fly. There was complete and utter silence. My right ear could hear someone 100 feet away, urinating. Or was it me? I wasn’t sure. Maybe this urine was pouring out of the bottom of one of my pant legs, onto my shoe! “Would you like to dance?” She looked to the left, she looked to the right, she looked behind me at the troops sitting at what now seemed a half a mile away.
Her eyes scanned downward to the floor. I was sure she could see the urine dripping onto my shoe. Her eyes slowly came up and met mine. A second blob of poop joined the other at the bottom of the pool. Then she said it, it came out of her mouth as if it was an air raid siren. I’m sure the cars outside were stopping, and people were running and ducking and covering their heads for the impending bomb that was about to strike. “Oh, that’s okay!”
That’s okay? What does that mean? Is that a yes or a no? That’s okay? What was she talking about? What was okay? Am I okay? Is it okay that we dance? What’s okay!
From behind me I heard it, my own troops! “Ohhhhhh, ohhhhh.” mutter mutter. I had failed! That’s what okay meant! At the same instant all of her troops crossed their legs in the opposite direction and looked the other way. I turned and travelled back across the field to join my now disappointed regiment. Closer and closer I came and approached their stone-like faces. I had let them down. I had failed. The poop, now liquified by the sweat was running down my inner thighs. I could smell it myself. I turned right. I ran to the stairs, and down, out into the street. The liquified poop was now entering the top of my socks.
I ran up on the porch, into my home, closing the door behind me. I knew that I could never return to St. Mary’s. I would have to find another school, a school where no one knew me. I peeled off my clothing, rolled it all up, and put it into the bottom drawer of the bureau. By morning it would be dry and I could burn them, along with the memory and the horror that had become my Waterloo!