Catholic School Back To School Shopping: Myths vs. Realities

Ah, Back-To-School Shopping : such a gentle, consumeristic way to get over the end of summer vacation. However, as two life-long Catholic school students, our experience wasn’t everything the Staples and J.C. Penney commercials led us to believe. I’m watching the cycle all over again with my nieces and nephews – the public schoolers getting cute new outfits and the Catholic school kids getting their first necktie at age 5. [Find me something cuter than a kindergartener in business casual.] In honor of our ’90s and ’00s memories, here is a study in the contrasts between back to school shopping for Catholic schoolers and, if not real public school students, at least the too-cool public schoolers we saw on TV.

Clothing

File under: My childhood as a walking Irish Catholic stereotype.

Expectation: I’m going back to school with a new wardrobe that will mark me as one of the cool kids!

Reality: I am wearing the same plaid jumper from the same Plaid Jumper Store as all of my classmates. Somehow, kids manage to sort themselves into Cool and Uncool anyway.

[Note: there is a 50/50 chance your uniform is a hand-me-down, or your mom bought it at the used uniform sale your school holds at the end of the school year.]

Expectation: At least maybe some fun, cute outfits for after school!

Reality: Those are called “play clothes” and they don’t come from the store, they come from a trash bag your aunt drops off every time your next cousin up has a growth spurt.

[Note: I realize there are Catholics without cousins but I’ve never met one.]

Accessories

Expectation: And don’t forget the accessories!

Reality: … Which are knee socks, a navy blue cardigan, and a shirt with a Peter Pan collar during that five-decade range after Peter Pan collars went out of style in the ’60s and before they came back in style on Zooey Deschanel.

If you’re fancy, please add a headband in the same plaid as your uniform.

Jewelry

Expectation: Wearing some jewelry, I guess.

Reality: Bracelets are not allowed. Non-post earrings are not allowed. Necklaces are a pendant on a thin chain. If you want to consider rosaries jewelry (“WHICH THEY ARE NOT” – every Catholic reading this post, before I could even say it, right?), you can have those. But you cannot wear them, for Pete’s sake.

School Supplies

Expectation: Lisa Frank binders! Lisa Frank notebooks! Lisa The Frickin FRANK IT ALL UP.

Reality: There is a specific, solid color that every subject uses. Does The Vatican secretly operate the Mead company?

Expectation: Don’t forget a trapper keeper to stay organized!

Reality: Trapper Keepers strictly verboten.

Hair

Expectation: It would be so much fun to try a bright color or a crazy new ‘do to show people how much I’ve changed over the summer!

Reality: “No extreme hairstyles” – Catholic School Student Manual 29:11

Shoes

Expectation: I will narrow down the most in-style looks and then pick out some sneakers, a pair of cute shoes, and maybe something a little dressier.

Reality: Your uniform requires shoes that meet all of the following criteria: black or navy blue. No laces. No wedges. No mules. No sneaker soles. Heel must measure less than one inch at the highest point. No ballet flats.

You are left with orthopedic nun shoes.

[Note: If you’re really wondering how we sorted out the cool kids, their moms bought them cute shoes that skirted the Shoe Canon of the student handbook, whereas uncool-kid moms followed it to the letter. As to what camp I was in, let’s just say I still like a sturdy pair of Clarks.]

 

 

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So The Pope’s In Your ‘Hood

Yesterday, Pope Francis touched down in his Shepherd One (large Alitalia plane) in Washington, D.C. for his first visit to the States as Pope (and as a human). It marked the beginning of a five-day trip on the east coast, and if I’m being real, interrupted my viewing of Ellen with Lester Holt describing a Fiat 500L. Even if you’re not Catholic, or religious, it’s still fascinating to keep up with, and if you’re a resident of DC, New York or Philadelphia, it’s kind of necessary since it will probably either make or break your day. So if you’re in one of these cities where the Pope is lit’rally blessing you with his presence, here are some guidelines to follow to stay sane with the holy one.

Get Ready For Angry Commuters

In Los Angeles, we already deal with a lot of traffic. But people’s anger is tested when the President is in town, as major streets have to be closed, subsequently rerouting folks all over the place. It’s the kind of anger that’s usually taken out on all social media platforms by pretty much anyone. There’s nothing worse than assuming you’ll be on time for work only to find out the roads are closed and you have to take 15 side streets instead, but everyone else is doing the same thing and you’re at a full stop and the only way to vent your frustration is by tweeting #THANKSOBAMA.

Spot His Ride

In likely Pope fashion, he got off the plane, walked on a red carpet, greeted the Obamas and misc. members of the archdiocese and got in his sleek, black, spacious Fiat 500L. If you’re one of the folks who saw this and thought, ‘Well that’s a choice’, Pope Francis is known for using more modest cars, as a reflection of his emphasis for a simple less consumeristic lifestyle. Still, the Popemobile is nothing compared to the whip he usually rides in all around the Vatican, a Renault 4 that’s 20 years old and has over 170,000 miles on it. I know Catholics are super not into change, but come on bro, at least see if Fiat can score you a 500L after giving them free advertising.

Check Out The Website NOT Made On Geocities

Photo Sep 22, 11 21 22 PM

For some reason, I was expecting the official Pope website to look like it was made via Geocities and include a lot of WordArt and Comic Sans, but I was delightfully surprised to see that it was none of those things (although I would’ve been pleased if it had). There’s a lot of useful information on the site, and the layout is easy to navigate. But my main takeaway was that the site is run by CatholicToTheMax.com. Catholic To the Max Dot Com. In case you missed that, it’s CATHOLIC. TO. THE. MAX. DOT. COM. Not just a little Catholic, or a lot Catholic, but to the MAXimum level one can be Catholic. GOD. BLESS.

Scroll His Twitter

While he’s not the type to share his location on Swarm or crosspost his #NoFilter photos from Insta, but the Pope does have a strong Twitter following with 7.23 million. If you’re hoping to get a reply from Pope Frank, it’s not going to happen. He’s more of a tweeter than a replier.

Buy Some Swag

After clicking around the website and CatholicToTheMax.com, I discovered a treasure trove of Pope branded items. Items I never knew needed to be made, or that there is even a demand for.

“Takes selfies. Not all about the bling.” Those are actual phrases on the back of that shirt. Why are 60 year old former ad execs attempting to market to teens?

THIS STANDEE IS $160. ALSO WHO ARE THESE WOMEN.

Again, who is coming up with the ad copy and ideas for merch? I didn’t realize people still wore custom dog tags. If someone had informed me earlier, I would’ve dug out my BSB dog chains a long time ago.

Again, what year is it? Are these yellow bands leftover from LiveStrong?

I *hat* Pope Francis = We *peacock* comedy.

Learn the New Words To Mass

If you are so inclined to attend one of the Pope’s masses, it’s important that you know that the words to the mass changed in 2011. I found this out recently when Molly & I attended our friend’s wedding, which was a full mass. Now, as we’ve previously mentioned, Molly & I met at our Catholic high school, and I went to Catholic school my entire life, despite not being Catholic. But I learned the script. I was prepared for our friend’s wedding – EXCEPT I WASN’T. Stuff like ” And also with you,” has been changed to “And with your Spirit.” It’s a small change, but it’s like Jim Halpert-level pranks that are so harmless but annoying at the same time. Although if you’re pumped enough to brave the crowds and see the Pope IRL, this is kind of a moot point (A cow’s opinion).