I had written my last blog this afternoon but just got around to posting it. I'm having major digestive upsets. Chairman Mao has overruled the fascists who man the night shift here at the loony bin and has allowed me access to a tv and computer. He says if I have to be awake and miserable, I should be allowed to entertain myself with something other than just my own thoughts or counting blotches in the oblique patterns on the 1980's-mode floor. Often if someeone is ill, medication to help the person sleep is prescribed, but the nature of my digestive upset is such that I'm having problems in more than one area. The drugs that would wipe out my nausea would also knock me out, which might not be the wisest course of action under present circumstances. Remember Confucius' saying that it is unwise to take a laxative and a sleeping pill simultaneously? The same principle applies here. So I am being medicated, but not with the most effective drugs on the planets. This, too shall pass (no pun intended).
I was just thinking about my kindergarten days. One of my two years of Catholic school was in kindergarten. It was a matter of convenience for the relative who was babysitting my brother and me. Her children attended the local Catholic school, and it was easier if she didn't have to drive to separate schools at separate times to pick up my mother's children and her own.
The kindergarten curriculum was pretty basic for me. I had been reading for years by then, and I don't think anyone had actually formally taught any math to me, but I had picked up many of the basics somewhere along the way. Because my twin brother and I were born on the deadline and would not have been allowed to enter kindergarten that year had we made our way into the world an hour late, because I was extremely small for my age, and because kindergarten was a very appropriate placement for my twin brother (school officials tend to favor keeping twins in the same grade whenever feasible), the decision was made not to acccelerate me to a higher grade. I did the kindergarten work, and then was expected to use the remainder of my time productively.
Some of my extra timw was spent reading. If the teacher's assistant accompanying the choirs happened to be absent, I usually filled in for her. The main focus of my extra time in kindergarten, however, was my comic book creation: "Catholic Cat and Protestant Pooch." Before entering Catholic kindergarten, I was unaware of the significance of Catholicism as opposed to any other faith. I just knew that we went to mass on most Sundays, that the priest did his thing, a few people read from the Gospels, a bad choir sometimes sang, and there were very high ceilings and stained glass windows. My mother talked with us about God and Jesus, but I had no clue that anyone else perceived any aspect of religion differently than my own family did.
Then came Catholic kindergarten, with its formal religious instruction. I learned all sorts of things I'd never before known regarding evil and different kinds of sin and religious sacraments amd what was to me perhaps the most important thing: "us" versus "them": the Catholics against the Protestants. As i saw it, the battle was being fought world-wide, and in our very nieghborhoods; it certainly wasn't limited to Northern Ireland. I needed an outlet for this newly-found knowledge and new obsession. Thus began "Catholic Cat and Protestant Pooch."
One problem with my creating a comic book was that most comic book artists have some ability to draw. No one in the history of my family has possessed the slightest skill at drawing, painting, sculpting, or anything of the like. I am no exception; if anything, I'm more lacking in artistic ability than the average member of my family. Even Matthew can draw a monkey or a sheep and have it vaguely resemble the animal it's supposed to be. Catholic Cat and Protestant Pooch could be differentiated only because of the halo above the cat's head and the horns atop the head of the dog.
Each day I would finish my work, read a bit from the limited selection of books for students to peruse, then pick up a stack of unlined newsprint and begin working on the day's edition of "Catholic Cat and Protestant Pooch."
Other children were interested in what I was doing, and so at first I would read my creations to them each day as soon as I finised. The teacher moved me to a table away from the other shildren after a few days, telling me that my reading of my comic books was distracting the other children and keeping them from completing their work. I suspect she just didn't want to deal with angry phone callls from parents complaining that I was corrupting their children's minds and ditorting their views of religion. Still, my teaxher allowed me to continue with my comic book series. She collected each of my compositions before lunch. I never gave much thought to what she was doing with them, She probably was more concerned with being in trouble with the principal than with anything else. Still, I learned later that she made copies for herself and gave the originals to my parents.
My parents have my entire original "Catholic Cat and Protestant Pooch" comic book series hidden away somewhere very secretive. I didn't have any idea they knew anything about it until one night when my Uncle Steve was at our house for dinner a year or so ago. He brought up a plot of one of the comic books. The subject was transubstantiation -- essentially the literal transformation of the Eucharistic Host and wine into the body and blood of Christ. In one chapter of the continuing saga, some carelsss parishioner at a mass inadvertantly dropped a piece of communion wafer on the floor. Protestant Pooch, being the typical chowhound that most dogs are, raced over to eat it. Catholic Cat knew just how wrong this would be on so many levels, but mainly because A) Protestant Pooch had not yet been through the Initial Rite of Reconciliation; amd B) dogs, in the minds of cats, are essentially sinful and contemptible creatures who are doomed for Hell or worse, and to grant them even the slightest or most inadvertent access to the Host would be blasphemous at the very least. A horrible row ensued, throughly disrupting mass, but Catholic Cat saved the day, and the gluttonous Protestant Pooch was succesfully thwarted in his attempt to devour the dropped portion of the Holy Communion wafer. Horrible rows between the two ensued in all editions, with the two tearing all over the naves, sanctuaries, and even the altar because they, predictably, fought "like cats and dogs." Protestant Pooch would knock down HolY Relics of Saints, thinking they were bones to be chewed, but Catholic Cat consistently prevailed, rescuing the relics or whatever else on which Protestant Pooch got his paws or teeth. Catholic Cat also had her paws full keeping Protestand Pooch from lifting his leg and desecrating Stations of the Cross as any other dog would a fire hydrant or tree at whatever church the two animals happened to be. The Churches in which the two would wage their Holy Wars ranged from Saint Joseph's parish in lowly Firebaugh, California, to such esteemed locales as Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City. No church was too humble nor too celebrated to be desecrated by the antics of Catholic Cat and Protestant Pooch.
Catholic Cat, as I recall, told Protestant Pooch he was going to Hell in every issue, mincing no words. Catholic Cat was sort of like the Catholic feline version of Saturday Night Live's "Church Lady," while Protestant Pooch was every guest "Church Lady" ever hosted. Catholic Cat didn't do a victory dance or anything; instead, she just prayed the Rosary (I didn't write out the entire Rosary, of course) changing the words of the Hail Mary to "Pray for THOSE sinners now and at the hour of THEIR deaths; Amen" at the conclusion of each edition. Any resemblance between "Church lady" and "Catholic Cat" would have to have been purely coincidental, as I had never seen any portion of SNL at that age.
I remember authoring the comic books, of course, and I remember snippets of plots, but had no idea anyone had saved any of the comic books, much less the complete series. If I'd given the matter any thought, I probably would have assumed that my kindergarten teacher had shredded every single issue. I asked my parents to see the comic books. They said someday . . .maybe. If I play my cards right, they said, they might possibly will them to me instead of to Matthew. Damn, I would love to get my hands on the whole series. I might create my own Catholic School version of The Weekly Reader , a weekly child-themed newsmagazine that my parents read in school when they were schoolchildren, and "Catholic Cat and Protestant Pooch" could be featured in every issue. I might never have to do an honest day's work in my life.
The medicine is finally working.
Note to Matt: I could, and would if the price were right, extend my journalistic contribution to world of English-speaking schoolchildren to the Salt Lake City region. This edition would feature the antics of "Siamese Saint versus The Great and Abominable Greyhound" as the particular duo chased each other through temples and McTemples across the world. The Great and Abominable Greyhound might lap up the water from the baptismal fonts supported upon the backs to the twelve golden oxen, pee on the walls with the virtual [i.e. "painted on"] trees in the Creation Room because they are so realistic, or perhaps attempt to unceremoniously take a dump on the carpet in the Celestial Room. The possibilities are practically endless. A reality-based saga featuring the continued misadventures of Emma and Eliza R., as they took turns slinging barbs and aiming misdeeds at one another, might help to hold the interest of the young girls of Zion as they perfected their reading skills while learning of the Church in its early days. The possibilities are almost limitless.