Happy St. Anthony's day everyone! Hope you get a boyfriend/girlfriend if you need one! Read on for instructions and a DIY project, kids!!!
When I was a kid and starting to "blossom" into a woman (and "blossom" must go in quotation marks because it was more like a weird and long metamorphosis than a blossoming, and I think everyone agrees with this statement), my grandmother introduced me to Saint Anthony of Padua –Patron Saint of Lost Things.
Look up "St. Anthony" in any of your well-scrubbed and serious gringo sites, like this here article on my beloved Wikipedia, and you will see that St. Anthony's patronage is over things that are lost, and over babies and pregnant women and old people and the mail. But oh! If you search for San Antonio (like the city in Texas) you will see that south of the border, it befalls poor Saint Anthony the bitter lot of having to be placed upside down over and over again by eager girls who don't want to end up spinsters.
"Saint Anthony," goes the made-up litany, "get me a boyfriend." And if I remember, the way my grandmother used to say it, it went on, "Saint Benedict, make sure he's not ugly."
You are supposed to pray to him for nine days (a "novena"), although some people pray for years on end. You also go to a catholic church or to your local Latin American miscellany store and get a figurine of the saint, and then you stand him on his head –sometimes adding the extra superstition of placing thirteen gold coins next to the figurine to seal the miracle. And you're not supposed to set him right-side-up until you manage to rope yourself a man (or a woman, as the case may be).
So, my gift to you on this day of Saint Anthony is simple: print out this page, cut out the picture, stand him on his head and place some 13 Sacajawea dollars next to him and go to town until you're hitched.
You're welcome, and please name your firstborn after me.
If only it were that simple, right?
My grandmother blamed my utter boyfriendlessness back in those prime marrying years of 11th grade on several things: my lack of faith was paramount. I was personally more comfortable letting poor St. Anthony sleep nicely tucked away in my bedside drawer in a horizontal position, rather than upside-down (I had a copy of the novena and a photo, not a figurine). Plus I figured that out of the many things that could spell social suicide for an already-awkward teenager, certainly having an upside-down picture of a Catholic saint holding a baby displayed prominently in the room would not help.
Also, I felt a little sorry to see the saint hanging upside down, because he was cute. And let's face it: a man who knows how to hold a baby is kinda hot, no matter how old you are. So St. Anthony stayed in the drawer, unprayed-to but not uncomfortable.
Aside from my lack of prayerfulness, she thought it was mostly my personality –shy and not very talkative around guys, and with a penchant for dreading eye contact– along with my looks that were failing to seal the deal. You see…. apparently, guys like blonde girls with large breasts and bright flirty eyes that give them come-hither looks and my grandmother knew this, pointing it out at soul-crushing intervals. The problem for her was the simple fact that I was what you could generously call a "dark blonde", but a dark blonde who at the time had the boobs on back-order and the flirtatious personality at the dead letter office.
I know she resented my evident lack of potential, because she told me so many, many times. My grandmother actually told me more than once that she'd love me more if, well… if I were blonde and blue-eyed.
Tough break, huh?
When I actually started dating more seriously, I couldn't quite shake off the thought that if my own grandmother didn't like the way I looked, I was pretty much doomed as far as finding a boyfriend was concerned.
(Yes, yes, yes… it's easy to blame your problems on others and I should stop playing the maudlin violin solo here. Leave me alone: this has an uplifting ending for Pete's sake).
So en suite, a string of fellows who were either as besotted by their low self-esteem as I was, or if they were not dazed thusly, then they were capitalizing on my lack of self-esteem. So it's a good thing that I didn't date much at all, is it?
My grandmother died almost ten years ago.
She had an unhappy life, and a very quick and weird death– both material for some other posts.
I remember going through her things, and finding a laminated image of St. Anthony. It was yellowed and a little frayed– perhaps from so much use, since he also finds your lost things.
I stared at the handsome face (not all are handsome, but this one was) and I wondered why I couldn't perhaps have a serene-looking man like him, tonsure optional, who would like me for me. Maybe a brunet; surely a man with dark hair wouldn't mind a dark-haired girl, right?
I don't know what happened to that St. Anthony picture.
Monsieur Meow is a brunet.
He's also quiet and reserved, and he looks pretty hot holding a baby –a thing at which he's become rather expert doing.
He does not shave a tonsure on his head, but he does keep his dark, dark, dark brown hair cut very short so that if you see his head from a certain angle, you can make out the creamy paleness of his scalp.
And I have to say that I am very proud of the fact that I was able to shake off the years of bad, dreadful and spirit-destroying assessment of myself –with the help of my beloved Rev. Mom, of course, who also had to deal with far more spirit-destroying assessments than I ever did. After all, my grandmother was her mother.
And I'm proud of this family we've made, and of the fact that we may not have needed faith or superstition to come together but that both worked themselves into our lives somehow.
And I'm happy that the only lost things around here are Herr Meow's toys, which seem to disappear and reappear at will.
Maybe St. Anthony can do something about that.