1961 or 63(?), playing on a Sunday afternoon with friends, I see her coming down the street. We had a white Thunderbird and my mom never drove fast even on freeways. Going down our side street she creeped, creeped. She got to the driveway where we were playing ball and the T-bird stopped. Gray funk filled my good mood. She was making me go to Church, making me stop having all this fun on a Sunday afternoon because I wouldn't get up and go with the family that morning.
I sulked all the way to the Church (It was San Gabriel, not San Marino, as written here before). My mom pulled away as I walked in the door where the Mass had already started. As soon as she turned the corner, I was back out the door and around the back of the church, where there was an elementary school and a girls rest room.
Panting. Angry. I had just entered puberty, so all the arousal I'd shoved down with food and strange behavior was now bypassing all the stuffing and coming out into the fore. And I was reacting different from the other girls, with much more enthusiasm, let's say. And I knew it had something to do with this Church that my atheist mother insisted I go to because of my devout German-Irish father.
No way I could hold in all that anger and other exploding emotion.
I tore the bathroom apart. Grunting probably like a ravaged animal. I had a lipstick in my bag with which I wrote: "Hypocrites, Catholics are all Hypocrites" on the Catholic elementary school girls' bathroom walls. I pulled toilet paper out of the rolls and spread it on the floors. I tried to pull the cloth towel roll-dispenser off the wall and couldn't, so just pulled the cloth towel out farther and farther. It was chaotic. I was groaning and throwing things and-
The light in the room changed and I stopped. A nun, in full habit, stood in the girls room door, silhouetted with the sun setting behind her. The sight of her made me stop, and relax. I stopped.
And after that I never had to go to Catholic Church again. No one ever really mentioned the incident, just a few days later, my dad set me down where he was reading the L.A. Times morning paper, I inhaled his Kent cigarette smoke, as he said, "It's up to you. You are thirteen years old and I think you can make your own choice. So you can go to Church or not go to Church, it's your decision."
Well, you know I never went back there, until decades later, as an adult, I tried a couple times to return to the Church with different levels of humorous to disastrous results.
For decades I wondered why my dad let me quit going to Church and today I just feel blessed that he did. He knew something was wrong.
So I never got fully indoctrinated or mind-bent or sucked in, whatever it is, which is both good and bad. It means I'm totally on my own trying to live a spiritual life, and it means I'm totally on my own to try to live a spiritual life.