The Highest compliment:”You effed me up.”

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The class  of 76 worked  hard to bring the class  back for their 40th reunion.Add to this many from other years who convene around this time each year.

For 31 years I have  invited anybody I taught to a party around Christmas where we shoot the shit and tell lies. And if I didn’t teach you and you were in the school, come anyway.The stories get better with age. We celebrate two sacraments, fellowship and laughter. Ever was it thus. And we waive the 10 Italian limit for old times sake.

We have located in several venues, the latest being a yacht club on Toronto’s waterfront.

One brother has never missed in 31 years. He has requested anonymity as he is in the biz of putting criminals away. One other brother is a City of Toronto councillor who also never misses but last night he accompanied one of his sons to  a  live show in my old neighbourhood. His priorities have always been in tact.

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Every year we gather in the name of the broken Pawnbroker, Sol Nazerman, the anti-hero of the novel of the of the same name by Edward Lewis Wallant, a writer who died way too soon. The movie starring Rod Steiger was indelible, a powerful resurrection story.Sol a survivor of Auschwitz

Over the years in my mind Solly underwent a massive transformation.He always wanted to go to Israel where many of his landsmen went post 1945. Finally in 1990 he went and was stunned by what he saw—the native Palestinians were being brutally treated by fellow Jews. How can we who suffered so much do this to another people, Sol wondered. Since then he has traversed North America waking up fellow Jews to the shocking irony of the expelled who become expellers.
The pub was jammed as Sol’s party coincided with the 40 year celebration of 1976. People came from miles around. Brother Mark Redwood sailed in from Chicago wearing his 40 year old tie and uniform—and it still fit.

Many great stories and two great kudos, the type which can only be proffered in an all boys Catholic school. Two of these 60 year old ‘kids” gave me the highest compliment.

Man you really effed me up.”I loved it.”Thank you “I said. I really appreciate those words.” They went on to explain the street level praise.

“I was on my way to accept the received wisdom of the culture. I was all set to punch my ticket to the good life then you had the nerve to intervene and rattle my middle class worldview. Told me you had a bigger dream for me. Damn you with your subversive novels, raging poems and peace walks.You bastard, for showing me a Jesus who fought city hall and empire, a Jesus who escaped the safe confines of the parish church and was let loose as a force of liberation setting the captives free.

“Man you effed me up.”

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2 Comments »

  1. 1
    mushafta Says:

    Absolutely hilarious Ted!
    Good on ya!
    What a difference the church would be if every bishop and priest adopted the same attitude.
    Celebration without pontification Ted!

  2. 2
    wmgrace Says:

    Raise a glass to the class of ’76…and young Ted!


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