Mister DeLilli was the greatest teacher that ever lived. He was our 6th grade teacher and, I am sure, made an everlasting impression on every kid that ever walked through the door to his classroom. I must herein confess to an event that, although Mister DeLilli probably does not recollect the details, was to scar my conscience for the remainder of my days. Mister DeLilli, if you are still out there in the internet ether somewhere, I officially apologize for my heinous atrocity and beg your forgiveness.
Our classroom consisted of about six rows of crusty old wooden desks, each with a rusty steel chair. The students were all seated at the desks in order of attentiveness. Those who had the largest attention deficit were forced to sit towards the front, whilst those who needed the least “adult supervision” were allowed to sit in the back rows. For whatever reason, I was allowed to sit in the back row, but as you will see, that might have not been the wisest decision on the part of the educational powers that be. The back row would later prove to be a who’s who of the High School cool kids, me being the exception, as I was forever the rebel. At least that was my perception.
A slight digression at this point is in order. There was this fellow named Michael DiMarco. He was a short stocky fellow who was, as far as I could discern, completely out of his mind. Mike took an incredible amount of pride in his innate ability to disrupt a class room. He also took great joy in tormenting, smacking, poking, prodding, and swirlying anyone that strayed away from the pack. As a result, Mister DeLilli reserved a seat of honor for him. That seat was placed directly in front of Mister DeLilli’s desk. Today, Mike is probably a congressman, mafia boss, or company CEO.
Please note that this was back in the day when a teacher was allowed to smack you upside of the head, should you back talk or disobey a direct order. Mister DeLilli had an especially excruciating punishment for rotten little rugrats, which would not leave a mark. It was some sort of Vulcan death grip that he would clamp on your shoulder, should he catch you in an act of insubordination. Such attacks were usually in stealth mode, so it was almost always a surprise attack.
My heinous atrocity started with the simplest of homework assignments. We were to fashion a soap carving from a bar of Ivory soap (the 99.2% pure kind of course). I had carved up a little horsey out of my bar, had it graded, and retired the carving to the back corner, inside of my desk. I don’t remember the grade that I received, but based on my current artistic ability, I must assume that it was graded as “Meets minimum requirements”.
There was another fellow in my class named John Morrison. John’s father was the local junk and garbage man. Now when I say junk, I mean an everlasting pile of trash like you ain’t never seen, all heaped up around the Morrison homestead. So John was looked down upon by others in the class, and teased for being the son of a junk man. It was also assumed, although there was no physical evidence of this, that John had substandard hygiene.
So genius me decides that he’ll give John some schoolin’ and place the soap carving in John’s desk with a note attached, saying something like “Please use this”. Ha ha ha – har dee har har – it was all a big laugh, until John’s parents turned the whole matter over to Mister DeLilli to straighten it out. After hours of interrogating each student under blazing lights, the fickle finger of fate was mysteriously pointed at me.
I had learned long ago, through multitudinous encounters with my siblings, parents, and neighbors, that denial was the best defense in all cases. So even after being water boarded, I was still not gonna admit to nuttin’. I specifically remember Mister DeLilli pulling me out into the hall and drilling me for what seemed like hours, but still I did not crack. I think I would have made a great CIA operative.
In the end, there was never a confession by anyone regarding the soap incident. I am pretty sure that Mister DeLilli knew it was me, but always felt let down by the fact that I would not confess to my crime. He never spoke of it again, but I do recall a great deal of anxiety whenever our eyes met, after that fateful week.
There, I feel better. Confession IS good for the soul.