Joe Zamecki has been an atheist activist for years… which is why it makes perfect sense that he attended Catholic school for eight years.
He’s written a book about his time there called Leaving the Quiet Room. It hasn’t yet been published, but Joe has provided me with an excerpt:
In fifth grade, my class had Ms. McNabb for a homeroom teacher. Actually she was one of the first lay teachers we called Ms. and not Mrs. We knew what that meant, that she wasn’t married! Oh terror!
Ms. McNabb was one of the first really “cool” people I ever met. Even though she was a teacher, she would talk to us like we were all long-time buddies of hers, and she said some really adult things. Not about sex or drugs or profanity, but about adult thinking. She seemed to be almost irreligious too, which I gravitated towards.
She also seemed like a lesbian, and even years before I fully understood what that meant, I understood that she was different from most women. She walked and talked like a man, kind of slumped over like Paula Poundstone (who calls herself an asexual Atheist). She was very friendly and seemed to want us to think of her as a teammate in life.
One day she had a nice long talk with our class. It was unorthodox from the start, and she told us so. It was to be a very special in-depth speech, or spiel, if you will. For about an hour, she told us about how life’s tough, and you have to be prepared. That people will try to burn you left and right, if you appear vulnerable. That the world is filled with con-artists, shifty salesmen and dishonest employers. I sensed that she’d had some problem with someone on the faculty, possibly her boss. But she never came right out and said it.
It seemed like this was her last talk just before a major change.
Sure enough, the next day, we had a new homeroom teacher. Ms. McNabb was a teacher we could finally relate to, and then she was gone forever.
To anyone who went to Catholic school, what was the biggest surprise you encountered?
If you’d like to be eligible to win a copy of Joe’s book, just put the word “Economist” at the end of your comment! If you’re the winner, I’ll email you next week.