St. Nick's Outlaws
By Jim Colombo
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Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo
St. Vincent's High School for girls and St. Nick's were two blocks from each other
The two schools reciprocated monthly with dances. The lower division dances were for
sophomores and freshmen. Separate dances were held for upper division juniors and
seniors. The "Last Dance" would be held the first week of June for sophomores and
seniors. It was the only time lower division and upper division students attended the same
dance. It was significant because it was the last dance for the seniors and the last dance
for sophomores who in the fall would be upper division juniors. St. Nick's was rich in
tradition. The sophomores looked forward to the dance, and the seniors would say
farewell. It was a chance to release pressure a week before finals and comp testing. It was
also a cruel reminder for the sophomores that forty would be cut at the end of June.
This was the one dance that the brothers didn’t push for one hundred percent
attendance from the sophomores. Most of the guys were concerned about finals and
comp tests in a week. Some knew that they were on the bubble and might not survive
come the fall, others didn’t care, or were comfortable with their standing. They went
because they had heard so much about the "Last Dance." It was a night when sophomores
and seniors from both schools had fun. The brothers and nuns also attempted to have
some fun. Instead of a jukebox the school band played. Some of the brothers would join in
playing musical instruments or singing. Brother Zachary played a mean saxophone and
Brother Michael played the piano. They played songs from the fifties for an hour. Moonface
did a mean Elvis and sang most of the King's hits. “Jailhouse Rock” was his best. Most of
the brothers were too dignified to demonstrate having fun in public. And the nuns, well if
they smiled, that was significant. During the last hour of the dance, they played songs for
the seniors that were popular four years ago like, “At the Hop” by Danny and the Juniors,
“Don’t” by Elvis, “Tequila” by the Champs, “Witch Doctor” by David Sevile, “All I have to do
is Dream” by the Everly Brothers, and “Purple People Eater” by Sheb Wooly. The last
dance of the evening was only for the seniors. The sophomores applauded the seniors
during the last dance. The evening would end with some tears for the seniors, and joy for
those who would become upper division juniors. It was the changing of the guard.
Jim didn’t go. He thought that he would appreciate the "Last Dance" as senior.
Monday was the beginning of hell week. Some of the guys couldn’t handle the drill the
brothers put them through, and were nervous wrecks Monday and Tuesday as they ran
through minefields. Last minute assignments or papers that had to be rewritten were due
the next day. All of this commotion prior to the actual exams was designed to fluster the
students. Brother Bad Ass enjoyed watching some of the students drown in their own
sweat. Bad Ass taught algebra and geometry. He didn’t teach upper division math, so this
was his last chance to inflict some real damage. This was the last time that the
sophomores had to stand in front of his firing squad. Bad Ass devised a final that consisted
of one geometry problem that took three hours to finish. Bad Ass was the master of the
pitfall. Mr. Fagoni gave a final with dates that the students matched to the event in history.
Brother Michael gave a hard, but fair Latin final. English and Literature were essay
questions explaining the significance of King Lear and Othello by Shakespeare, and any
work by Mark Twain.
Most of the lads were curious to see if another rose would be given to Brother
Timothy. Jim knew about Brother Patrick, but the others believed it was Steinway. The lads
walked into the classroom and there were three roses in vases for Brother Tim. Brother
Butterfly had difficulty controlling his emotions. Brother Patrick stopped by and looked
shocked to see two more roses alongside of his. Brother Patrick tried to compose himself
and not look conspicuous. He said, "How nice," and walked away perturbed. The religion
exam began and Jim looked at Steinway, who gave his typical smile and started his exam.
The New Testament consisted of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul's Letters. The
exam was about the letters of St. Paul that he wrote to different groups of Christians.
Everyone was dying of curiosity, wanting to know who the three donors were. At the end of
the exams, most of the guys gave Steinway the fisheye, we know that you did it, look. He
just ignored them.
The next day was comp testing. Jim couldn’t resist putting a rose on Steinway's
locker. Steinway laughed and did his best fag imitation while chasing Jim to Bad Ass's
geometry comp test. After class Jim asked Steinway how he knew. “I was with a girl near
Tommy's Joint on Van Ness and saw Casmir with a rose and a vase. At first I thought that
Casmir was the one who had put the first rose six weeks ago on Brother Tim's desk. I
asked Casmir about the rose and he explained that he had bought the rose for you to put
on Brother Butterfly's desk. I thought he would add to the intrigue by a having Casmir
place a third rose and vase.”
Jim smiled at Steinway and said, “You’re the master.”
“You’re not bad yourself,” said Steinway.
During the summer Brother Patrick asked for a transfer and was relocated to La
Salle high school in Sacramento. He ignored Brother Tim, who he considered a flirt.
Steinway and Jim had some good times together.
More next week...