Observational Inquiry

THE NARROW PASSAGE BETWEEN THE GRADE SCHOOL AND THE HIGH SCHOOL WAS A PECULIAR PLACE. It stood in continual shadow except for the noon hour when the sun aligned itself to brighten this dark alley. Whispers echoed off the canyon-like walls and allowed us to play telephone at recess without the use of tin cans and strings. Darkness gobbled up color between the two old buildings — even the spring-colored Easter banner we carried to Mass took on drab hues as we processed through this walkway. The wind blasted furiously between the two schools, causing rain and snow to defy gravity and fall upward.

It was this gravity-defying character of the passageway that gave me hope of discovering the continually debated question of whether Mother Mary Paul had red hair. (Her temper indicated as much.) When the wind was right, this brick chasm did to the Sisters’ black veils what the subway vent did to Marilyn’s white dress in The Seven Year Itch. I figured if I followed behind Mother Mary Paul at a discrete but calculated distance, I might catch an improper glimpse of her hair from beneath her airborne veil.

Alas, the only thing I caught was heck when Mother Paul discovered me sidling up behind her, my neck craned and my face contorted, trying desperately to discern whether she had any hair at all. My observational inquiry earned me one detention and one very long Boston Cooler (and I’m not talking about the fountain drink). Curiosity killed this cat. After that botched attempt, I kept to my place at the front of the line and decided to leave the sleuthing to someone else. For now.