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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Column: Catholic schoolgirls rule

If someone told me that I couldn’t defeat the Jabberwocky to save some opium-induced fantasy world, I wouldn’t believe it. That’s because I survived Catholic school. After that, taking out a Jabberwocky would surely be a cakewalk.

I probably did miss out on the typical high school experience by opting to go to school with 700 chicks and flurries of Hail Marys, but Catholic school – like most things in life – had its moments. I shall never forget being told off for showing cleavage because the top button on my Oxford shirt wasn’t buttoned.

The administration tried their best to keep us in line and make sure we became classy, respectable young women. They went so far as to warn us that our skirt lengths would be measured in homeroom with a yardstick. This plan failblogged almost as hard as last week’s protesters’ attempts at becoming anything more than a booger on the reputation of the UC system. The real lesson learned here is as follows: Never attempt to deskankify a teenage girl. It’s a battle you will lose. Also, rolling back your shoulders makes your arms shorter and therefore allows for more lenience when using the fingertips as a measure for skirt-length propriety.

Though the uniforms were meant to transform us into duplicate images of the ideal good girl, a trained eye would know to look beyond it. Knee-high socks were generally an indicator of hairy legs, just as scarves were obvious hickey alerts. We lived in this weird ’80s time-warp where sideways ponytails, popped collars and Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” were still cool.

This, of course, was when we weren’t stuffed into the monogrammed socks that came with our “formal uniform.” A year or so after leaving high school, I would upchuck all over my Oxford shirt. Never in my 22 years have I seen jungle juice-stained vomit come out of a white article of clothing so willingly.

Let me redefine the aforementioned notion of classy. Classy, back in the day, was walking around with water in your vodka bottle, stealing someone’s boyfriend at winter formal then perfecting the art of framing yourself as the victim, and breaking kneelers during mass.

No self-respecting Catholic school would be complete without a motley and ridiculous cast of characters. Our P.E. teacher was an overweight, chain-smoking fella who had a penchant for chasing us with a golf cart while we ran laps around the school (this was somewhere around the time that my affinity for golf carts deepened), claimed to have a third-degree black belt and nearly succeeded in convincing us that crabs can be transmitted through toilet seats.

One of my classmates proclaimed that she was “gonna write a letter to the KKK to tell them that what they’re doing is not cool.” The physics teacher did cartwheels with us in the hallway one day after school. The calculus teacher went on TRL and got dance lessons from Usher. Our vice principal made an announcement over the intercom system telling us not to be “a victim of freak dancing.”

“Just walk away, girls,” she said.

Just to reinforce that point about the freak dancing, one of the math teachers would walk around the dance floor with a flashlight. If he caught any violators of the golden rule, a siren attached to said flashlight would scream.

I did learn a few things in my time. Once you’ve written essays for a class called “Church History,” I’d like to believe you’ve honed a lifetime’s worth of bullshitting skills. I added “liturgical dancer” to my resume, found that crossing yourself before a test is useless if you can’t remember Newton’s laws of motion and realized that our school’s alma mater may just be the most hideous song ever written.

Pop culture has fashioned something of an aura where Catholic schoolgirls are concerned. If you’ve ever listened to “Only the Good Die Young” or seen Aerosmith’s “Crazy” video, you know what I’m talking about. They’re just loud, somewhat obnoxious creatures who don’t know when to shut up, who think they know everything but have yet to discover just how far from the truth that theory is, and – yes – who just wanna have fun.

MICHELLE RICK would rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. Send your confessions to marick@ucdavis.edu.


  1. Since I don’t respond to trolls (ahem) and no one else should either, I’ll just say… Michelle, I hope this was your college application essay!


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