Friday, January 26, 2007


It was already a strange situation when the phone rang, I was home alone and I wasn’t masturbating—I don’t know what the problem was.

I was thirteen, in the eighth grade, and was waiting, like most parochial eighth graders, to hear if I’d been accepted into a Catholic High School.

There were three Catholic high schools for boys in San Francisco. Admission, presumably restricted to Catholics, was based on the results of academic tests. A boy could apply to only one of the schools so the test was presumably make-or-break.

There was a period of a couple months between the testing day and the mailing of acceptance/rejection letters, all very dramatic.

My brother was already at Saint Ignatius, midway through his sophomore year. I had close to zero doubt that I, too, would be accepted. I was the smartest, measured by various test results, boy in my class, in my grade. If somehow the great Willie didn’t get into SI, no one from my school would, and that was just an impossibility.

The phone call was from Mr Zampisi, S.J.[name slightly changed] I’d heard of him. He was a Jesuit “scholastic,” doing his three year teaching stint as part of the long preparation to become a Jesuit priest. These “Misters” dressed like priests, and lived with the priests, but weren’t yet priests. A wag friend called them “Jesuettes.”

I knew the name Zampisi because my brother was in the SI band, and Mr Zampisi was the faculty coordinator for the band.

After intros etc, (I remember his voice was very high pitched) here’s what he had to say: “I see you have some interest in music [from my application], and I need some horn players. If you’d agree to play horn in the band, I could make sure that you get admitted. And you could get started on the horn over the summer.”

With this coming so out of the blue, I’m surprised how quickly I replied, which was to tell him I didn’t want to be in the band and that I’d take my chances with my test results. Looking back, this was pretty spunky.

Of course I was admitted. Mr Zampisi, S.J. certainly already knew I would be admitted. He wanted me to be beholden to him, and what I was getting in return was his non-existent influence to get me admitted, plus the burden of having participated in a backroom sort of deal.

This was basically a little swindle that Zampisi tried to pull off. On a kid.

Welcome to Saint Ignatius High School.

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