Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Christian Brother who Abused me

I used a small pen knife to open the mail today: a slim Swiss, white cross on black background; a gift from a lady with a liking for sleek steel.

I can still see Bro. McNamee paring his nails with one like that  in class 3B at St. Vincent’s Christian Brothers’ School, Glasnevin, Dublin fifty-eight years ago; I was nine. His fingers were well-manicured for a man of the cloth. Instinctively I found that a bit repugnant: too spruce or effeminate; maybe even gross.

Mammy told us never to perform our toilette in public. Another thought zeroing in after fifty-odd years: after our weekly ritual Saturday evening bath, as she dried us, for no particular reason she would intone:“Friday cut nails and Sunday cut corns; it were better for man if he never was born.” Was there a message there or did she, like most Dubliners, just like the rhyme?

And there was something sinister and repugnant about his self-absorbed gaze through those blue-tinted wire-rimmed glasses as he bent over me.

After that I would always be wary of men with blue-tinted glasses . They might do what he did to me... That.