Growing up, I went to a dysfunctional parochial school.
The school was characterized by excessive, unfounded and often absurd rules — all alleged to have been formulated in the name of God.
No dancing at any time. Dancing of any kind at any time — even at a wedding — was grounds for punishment or expulsion.
Girls could not wear pants or shorts. Even for sports. In the case of the latter, they were required to wear shin-length polyester culottes. And that was considered a “liberal” concession.
Denim was decried as “the devil’s material” and forbidden to be worn at any time, in or out of school. If someone reported that they’d seen you wearing jeans on a Saturday, you’d be hauled into the principal’s office come Monday morning .
Girls could not color or style their hair according to modern fashions. And boys’ hair was required to be what we called “white-walled”: a half-inch minimum off the ear, shirt collar and eyebrows. In eighth grade, I entered a music competition between like-minded parochial schools. After months of arduous practice, I took the stage and played Rachmaninoff’s Prelude Op. 3 No. 2 in C# Minor nearly flawlessly. The judges awarded me an overall score of zero and disqualified me — because my hair touched my eyebrow.
What’s more, parents were required to sign over unrestricted rights of …