Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Question

We, my mother, father, and I had stopped for lunch at a Howard Johnson’s on the way back to New York City from Massachusetts. I had been in the summer stock company at the Berkshire Playhouse and they had come up to see me in the last play of the season.

Now, they were driving me home.

I had graduated that spring from the Anglican convent boarding school, where I had spent my high school years. I was quite the independent 18 year old and I was about to embark on a misguided year at Briarcliffe College. The motto of the school, “A ring by spring, or double your money back”, was not part of my awareness at that time.

My mother and I got into the front seat of the car, while my father was still in the restaurant paying the bill.

Out of the blue, she said, “Are you a virgin?”

Shocked, I simply stated, “No”.

Then my father got into the driver’s seat.

“Tell your father what you just told me.”

“Mommy asked me if I was a virgin and I said, ‘No’”.

Well, we sat there in silence, I in the middle. Then my father started driving. We didn’t go home. They took me to another convent school, one for wayward girls, where my beloved Sister Mary James had been transferred. They wanted to leave me there.

She and I talked for a long time. She had been my saving grace at St. Mary’s. She had been transferred because the sisters weren’t supposed to develop personal friendships with the students. My parents thought that she would have some stern influence on my behavior, however she was my ally.

When we came out from our talk, she stood up for me and my mother and father were forced, at least in this instance, to accept me as I was.

Prema Rose

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