Do you want to be a Good Boy?
I had heard that Pinkie had his favourite boys. They used to go regularly to his room. I thought nothing of it at the time. I just thought that there was an ‘in crowd’ and they were in it. They were the Good Boys.
I had left home at the age of eleven to become a priest. I wanted to be one of the good boys. I also wanted to be one of the ‘chosen ones’ as well and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t included.
I was also far from my family and parents and Pinkie was as close to a parent as I had here – but we had to share him between us all. It would have been nice to have been appreciated and thought well of.
Not In WIth the In Crowd
People had started to speak about this ‘in crowd’ though. They didn’t say anything about what might happen up in Pinkie’s room. Even if they had I wouldn’t have understood anyway.
Very often when you are not accepted as one of the ‘in crowd’ you go the other way, becoming one of the ‘out crowd’ and become rebellious and anti-authority.
Pinkie always knew what was going on amongst The Boys of the Junior School. I presume now that his informers, the ‘in crowd’ who went to his room regularly were his eyes and ears.
He used to give a weekly speech to The Boys in the form room in which he would both tell us what was upcoming and inveigh against the bad things that had been happening in the past week. He seemed to know everything although he was seldom there when it happened.
I remember, being up in his room once, and he asked me what people thought of his selections for the football team of which I was a member at the time. I told him they more or less agreed with his selections.
“There’s no area of the team that they think could be improved, no one they would rather have in the team?”, he asked.
“I suppose the only thing some people say is that Spike Brown should be in the team”.
The very next week when he was giving his speech he got stuck into those people who questioned his picking of the team, even mentioning the fact that some people were criticising him for leaving Spike Brown out of the team.
No Critcism of the Regime Wanted
It’s one thing that I’ve noticed about people who have almost absolute power. They don’t like criticism and they certainly don’t take it as constructive criticism. All criticism is the same whether it is constructive or otherwise. They suffer from paranoia.
Pinkie had thanked me for the information before letting me go from the room.
I wasn’t a rebel by nature. I really did want to be a Good Boy. I did want to go back to being one of the admired ones rather than being considered an outcast. I wanted it desperately. I wanted to become a priest. I wanted to be worthy of his approval.
Making The Offer
One night I was walking along the top corridor at bedtime. I was coming out of the upstairs toilets where I had been getting washed and heading towards the dormitory to go to bed.
The corridor was usually busy at that time of night with all The Boys going backwards and forwards between washing themselves in the toilet and the dormitory.
But just at that moment there was only myself and Pinkie.
I was heading towards the dormitory and he was heading in the other direction towards me reading his breviary, as was his wont.
He looked behind him quickly to see if there was anyone there and then he turned to me and said with great intent “Do you want to become a good boy?”
I did. I did. I did indeed.
Here at last was the opportunity to join the ‘in crowd’ of the good. At last I had been asked. I wondered and wondered why I hadn’t been asked before.
Giving My Answer
I would not be thought of as a bad boy any longer. Pinkie could teach me to be a good boy and I could go to his room and get his approval the way I used to get it early in second year when I was on his Suggestions Committee and when I caught the first year boy who had been trying to escape. I would be back on track for the Holy Grail of the Priesthood. I would become one of the Chosen Ones again.
The obvious answer was “Yes. Yes, please.”
But I didn’t say it.
I said “No” and walked on by. As I walked by I saw that he was more than a little taken aback. I don’t think he expected it. Perhaps he hadn’t been turned down before. Why would anyone not want to be a good boy? It was a great lure. The only obvious answer was “Yes”.
After that, all that is needed is the explanation of how he can help you become good. I never ever learned what that would be as some of the others must have done.
In everyone’s life there are the seminal moments – and this was one of mine.
I knew immediately that it was a huge thing to say and to do. Even at the age of twelve I knew that I had burned down a huge, huge bridge.
Why did I say ‘No’ instead of the ‘Yes’ that I had really wanted to say?
I thought a lot about it in the days after that and again at junctures in my adult life.
I think there were several reasons. The first was that I was a bit of a contrarian sometimes doing or saying the opposite of what people expected. Secondly there was something funny or strange about the way he asked the question. It was the same as when he wanted to wash me in the cold shower when I was in first year.
An alarm bell went off somewhere in my head. My subconscious radar had detected something.
He wasn’t smiling and friendly and relaxed as you would expect someone to be who was offering to help someone to become a ‘good boy’.
Also, he was now asking me to join a group that people were starting to talk about and to make jokes about. Those on the outside always mock those on the inside. Many of them would like to be in the inside but make up for their rejection by mocking those who actually are on the inside.
All of those things added up together didn’t cancel out or come close to canceling out the ‘Yes’ option. I was here to be a priest, I wanted to be a Good Boy, and I wanted to be liked by, and get the approval of, our substitute ‘father’. I wanted to be one of the Good Boys.
‘Yes’ was the first answer which came to mind. However, I just could not say it.
“No” I said and walked on past taking the first steps along the path which would lead to the end of my priesthood vocation.
Looking back, now, I would guess the terrible Conduct marks were part of a softening up exercise, to make me feel bad about myself before being ‘shown the way’ and accepted back into the fold as one of the ‘Good Boys’. It must have seemed certain that I would have accepted the invitation to ‘come into the light’ again.
It must have been a shock to Pinkie when I said “No!”