Sunday, August 28, 2011
Good Night Irene........Good Riddance
My friend Ski called me yesterday. Since this has been a daily occurrence for 40 years or so, it was nothing out of the ordinary. But this particular conversation happened to be the same that I had with about four or five other long time friends this week.
The gist of it was that they had been thinking of me all week. Every time news came on about Hurricane Irene, they would have themselves a little chuckle.
What does that have to do with me you might ask? For that answer we have to go all the way back to 1973. I was a shy awkward junior at Lawrenceville Catholic High School. We had an English teacher named Sr. Angela. For all you English majors out there, yes, she's the reason this blog makes you cringe. I learned absolutely nothing in high school English. The proof being right here in front of your eyes.
All of you of a certain age who grew up in Lawrenceville has their own sister Angela story. I could write plenty of posts about this crazy old Polish nun that most took great pleasure into literally driving crazy. There would be one about Sr. Angela and BJ; Sr. Angela and the band room; Sr. Angela and "pennies from heaven;" I could go on and on and on........feel free to chuckle to yourself as a favorite pops into your mind. I'll give you a minute.......
Done? I bet some of you haven't thought about her in years.
How about the bangs and the white faced make up she wore that made her look dead! Sometimes I feel badly about how she was treated. But then I remember just how crazy she was!
Anyway, here's my story. For those of you that I met later in life, my name in high school was Eileen Quinlan. For some reason Sister Angela insisted my name was Irene McQuillan. FOR TWO YEARS! Stupid, I know. But it drove me crazy. When she would call on me to answer a question, the whole class would laugh. Not cool for a shy high school student. After a while I think she did it on purpose.
Word of this spread quickly considering there were only about 400 or so kids in the school. When Jeff Devinney and Georgie Duke got hold of this, I knew I was doomed to be Irene McQuillan forever.
As if that weren't bad enough.......During this time my friends and I spent many a night sharing bottles of Boone's Farm (ewwwww) wine at St. John's Ball field on 36th Street. Naturally, my curfew was about a half hour or so before anyone else my age so I was usually the first to leave to go home (We didn't want to piss off Bud!) EVERY NIGHT when I would leave to walk out of the park twenty or so 16 year old kids would break into the song "Good Nigh Irene". EVERYNIGHT! You can use your imagination as to how embarrassing this was for a shy 15-16-17-18 year old kid. Yes, it went on for years, and years, and years........
It quickly spread to everywhere I went. Everywhere! Even during basketball games when I was a cheerleader (I know, I don't believe I was a cheerleader either!!) For years.
It took only one or two visits from high school friends to Mercyhurst for "Irene" to follow me to college and beyond. Same thing for the singing. You haven't lived yet if you haven't been serenaded with "Good Night Irene" by people you hardly know while leaving a keg party with a boy you have been dying to meet since the first week of freshman year. I guess the plus side of that would be that at least he remembered my name!!! (Poor thing didn't know what he was getting himself into, God rest his soul!)
It even followed me to the FBI for cryin' out loud.
Few in the life I'm living now know me by Irene. Every once in a while, I will run into someone from my younger days and when they call me Irene, my kids or whoever I'm with think something like they must have not know me very well if they can't even remember my name.
Enough about me.
Happy to report that old friends and new have seemed to escape Hurricane Irene with minimal damages.
Thank God, GOOD NIGHT IRENE!!!!
*I should have named this post "What Hurricane Irene Means To Me." Sort of like the high school essay I never learned to write!!