I hadn’t though of that staple of Catholic grade school called (every fall season) the Holy Childhood Seals for years. While driving to my favorite parking spot for lunch I saw some article in a window that interrupted the flow of the closed drapes. I thought about the prize we get for our efforts to sell the colorful seals: one year was a very modern, tall, slim statue in light tan of the Virgin Mary. She looked so elegant and sleek that I coveted it immediately. But first, I had to sell some stamps.
I walked around the neighborhood doing the one thing I dread: asking a perfect stranger for money. The lawns were always brown in my recollection, and the days had a chill to them. I wore my favorite flannel – even then I was dressed like a New Hampshire lesbian. I sold some seals to family and friends. Then I began to work the streets. As the only Catholic family on the block, I had some tough sledding to do. Holy Childhood was a branch of the Propagation of the Faith that sought “to ransom pagan babies” from the indifference of limbo. Every morning the boys and girls, at the start of a school day had a contest to see who could collect the most money and then claim the honor of naming the ransomed infant. Sometimes the competition was fierce and, more than once, milk money was sacrificed for the cause. We were able to prolong the contest if this meant delaying the start of arithmetic. Looking back, I wonder: was this a scam?
Prizes were awarded to various levels of sales. I knew I could never get a gold Miraculous Medal. I didn’t really desire one either. The foot long Virgin caught my eye and I lusted for it intensely. Why? She appeared to be so sleek and cool. Her hands were folded in prayer, not in beseeching. She was not swaddled in a flowing blue cloak; rather she had on a tight body-clinging robe. I had to have her.