The philosopher Dorothy Gale said: "There's no place like home". Indeed. That’s why we leave. As a young teen, Dorothy was blown out of Kansas And as a young teen I, myself was blown away by the thought: If I go to high school seminary, studying for the priesthood I could please my parents and run away from them! At the age of 13, I took the road to the yellow brick boarding school in Kenmore. The instructors were strict. We sat alphabetical order:
I in the back,
Behind my pious friend Mr. Murphy,
In front, my nervous friend Mr. Dunne. A Latin teacher picked on the boy in the front: "Dunne, what is the singular feminine superlative of beautiful?" Poor Mr. Dunne! He would stammer and wilt. "Pulcher? Pulchra?" Then it was "Murphy!" My friend Mr. Murphy gave it a try: "Pulcheriora?" and got chewed on a bit. Then: "Winn!" I had had two minutes to look up the answer. So: I always got it! From this, I reached a wrong conclusion: I was smarter than everyone else! This has since been proven To be the opposite of true. Today, Mr. Dunne is at the top of his profession, a brilliant counselor solving complex problems.
He would have been far better than I at the job for which we were ostensibly studying,
But for his unfortunate choice of last name early in the alphabet. Do not think of him merely as scholastic roadkill. Oh no! For his lack of academic achievement, Mr. Dunne got extra duty in the school office: trusted and often unsupervised. He knew he was trusted because when unsupervised, he read his file. For a Hershey bar he would read your file too. This was helpful for my friend the inappropriately named Mr. Holy. Mr. Holy liked knowing things and doing things.
Just not faculty-approved things. He knew which basement window opened from the outside, when he needed to reenter after an all night carouse. He often dozed in Latin. Perhaps those facts are related. Later he used his energy and curiosity to be a very successful what? Detective? Of course! Late that Spring he learned, no doubt with the aid of Hersey bars, he was going back to Spokane. He gifted me with a magazine in which the people wore not enough clothing; A generous increase to my knowledge
Not to my vocation. My friend Mr. Phelan, now a senior computer engineer, showed me how to solder circuit boards. Thus college workstudy put me in a computer lab, rather than washing dishes, which lead to all my professional success. One Saturday we two amiable dweebs were in a walkathon, raising funds for some charity or other, strolling down the road, just us two and no faculty, discussing life, and whether computers will ever be really important, and everything.
He pushed his glasses up on his nose and said,
“Randy, you know, I’m gay.” Well, I knew now. Gay was against the rules. But friendship is its own rule. Either my friend was wrong or the rule was wrong. What can you do? We walked on together. “Also,” he said. “So’s my sister.” Disaster! Even now, my breath stops at the glory, the wonder, the singular feminine superlative that is Mr. Phelan’s sister: "Pulcherissima!" She and I had been together. Well, we had been at the same table at the school picnic. I passed her the jello, She gave me a smile, I knew I was not meant for celibacy. But now this …. Mr. Phelan snickered. “Just kidding...” “...About her”. You see why we’ve been friends for so long. There are little things, and big things, but one REALLY big thing: Some go home to Kansas – or Spokane - Some settle in the Emerald City Does it matter? With your companions of the road, you are always at home, And there’s no place like home. There is no place like home. ...I must ask Mr. Phelan for his sister’s phone number!