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No matter the time or the weather, there’s something emotionally tingling about the cellphone vibrations whenever Sr. Serena Scatterpin, Renegade Sisters of Mary, rings me up.
I’m spiritually goosed, as it were, from head to toe — which is a Godsend, because at my age there’s not much left to goose at either end (or middle).
“Is that a cellphone in your pocket, dear boy?’ giggles Sister. “Or, are you glad to hear me? Guess what? I’m in Palms Springs, Californication! It’s 80 degrees pool-side. My third gin and tonic. Yes, with a cucumber. Are you having a blessed day?”
Actually at minus-17 degrees, wind chill factor 32, shivering at a Royal Oak bus stop at sunset with my walker and a cup of Starbucks’ decaf coffee, I’m not having a blessed much of anything — with or without cucumber.
But, as I haven’t heard from Our Lady of Spiritual Matched London Luggage in a while, I am, I suppose, delighted.
“Speak slowly, Sr. Scatterpin. You’re slurring your words.”
Nota bene: As a fashion consultant to the rich and fabulous among the post-Vatican Recovering Catholic vocation set, Sr. Scatterpin’s much in demand. And, what can you expect? She travels a lot. Fortunately her now-and-then companion Fr. Manley Evergrope, S.J., has oodles of airline travel miles and beaucoup credit cards — but, pending an upcoming parish audit, dear readers, that’s strictly on the QT.
“I hope you’re dressed warm, dearie,” adds Sister, accenting her long-distance admonition with a shake-shake and a clink-clink of ice cubes — the sound makes me shiver.
“Scarf. Mittens. DKNY thermals. You shouldn’t be out cruising at your age. It’s dead of winter where you are. Father Evergrope says to say ‘hi,’ she says. “He’s getting brown as a berry. Clothes optional suits him just fine. No big thing — and I mean that literally and figuratively. Tee-hee.”
“Sister, you pick the damnedest times to buzz me up. It’s snowing and sleeting like crazy. Frankly I couldn’t care less about Father’s ring-around-the-collar tan line,” I respond. “And before you ask: I don’t know the name of the leather bar in Palms Springs. Tell Father to call the Better Business Bureau. What?”
“No. No. Dear boy. We’re not doing bar ministry this go around. Strictly pool-side genuflecting. But I’ve just had an inspiration. It’s as though the heavens parted and a 120-watt Dove of big, bright ideas descended.” In the background I hear, “Yes, waiter, I’ll have another. Don’t forget the cucumber.”
“Where was I? Ah, yes. Are you ready for the moment of truth?”
“Ready as a hot New York minute,” I lie, an icicle forming drip by drip at the edge of my red, white and blue nose. “I’m all ears.”
I feign enthusiasm and wish I hadn’t left my rainbow earmuffs at home.
“What’s the voice crying in the wilderness of high fashion chanting this time?”
“Well — Father Evergrope, leave the poor boy alone! If you like him that much, tip him 40 percent,” she yells. “And for sake of all the hallowed saints, turn over on your tonsured tum-tum! OK, Are you ready? February is Black History month. March is Women’s History Month. June is Gay Pride Month. What’s missing?”
“I don’t know, Sister,” I say. My brain’s frozen solid. I can hardly move. If a bus doesn’t come soon, I’ll be too frozen to thaw out. “Missing?”
“This’ll warm the cockles of your barely warm-blooded heart! Let’s declare May Recovering Catholics Month,” she exclaims. “If enough of us stand up tall and be counted, spring will really, truly, honestly, be on its way.”
“Sister: It can’t come soon enough,” I say through chattering teeth. “Brrrrrrrr.”