Sins of the Fathers > Sins > TOC > Risk & Pizza Party in the Rectory

At Immacolata, we didn't start serving until fifth grade.

However, Father Valentine still went out of his way — FOUND ways — to get to know ALL the boys in the parish, even the younger ones.

The ones who weren't yet serving.

The fourth graders, like me.

Risk & Pizza Party in the Rectory

I remember one night — probably a Saturday night — in the Fall of 1977, between Halloween and Thanksgiving, cold and wet, with most of the leaves already off the trees, when Fr. V had three other fourth grade guys and me over to the rectory.

The plan was to eat pizza and play the board game, Risk.

And maybe do a little wrestling.

I can CLEARLY — like it was just yesterday — remember my mom dropping me off outside the rectory and my DASHING inside.

Because I was SO EXCITED.

BURSTING with anticipation.

Raw, unbridled joy.

This was so COOL!

I ran around the back of the car, dashed to the door of the rectory, and rang the doorbell. After a moment's pause, Fr. Valentine greeted me.

Monsignor Flavin and my friend the cardinal, who also lived in the rectory, were around, but stayed out of our way; I assume they stayed upstairs, and/or in their rooms, while we stayed downstairs on the main level or in the basement.

The night started with our figuring out what we wanted to eat, and ordering, and we then went down into the basement to practice our wrestling, while we waited for the pizza to be delivered, I think from Pantera's.

My memories of wrestling aren't super clear. Just fragments. Sensations. But the thing I DO remember about the wrestling is how Father Valentine's hand kept...


And accidentally touching me.

Down there.

He was trying to teach us how to flip each other; how to get a guy on his back, so you could pin him.

To do that, you had to grab your opponent by the thigh. But, what I remember clearly, is him telling us that we were all doing it wrong. We were trying to flip each other by grabbing our opponent up by the knee.

But that was wrong.

And it irritated Fr. Valentine.

I remember that.


And, when it was my turn to be on the bottom, and my opponent did it wrong, Fr. Valentine told him to step aside and climbed on top of me to show us the right way to do it. To flip your opponent and get him on his back.

And the way to do that was to grab your opponent, not at the knee end of the thigh, but down towards the butt.

But his hand kept slipping.

Instead of grabbing my thigh outside of the butt cheek, Fr. Valentine's hand would touch me.

Down there.

Over and over again.

It was a strange sensation.

Like an electric shock.

Dully painful.

That started in my groin and ran up my spine.

And it just froze me.

Stunned me.


It's not that I felt anything.

I just kind of disappeared.

The other memory from that night, which I assume is from later, is one of my clearest, and favorite, memories from my childhood.

I'm sitting at the table in the kitchen in the rectory of Church of the Immacolata. I'm in the South chair. Across from me is R and to my right is A. To my left is T.

And we're at the table, acting like the 9 and 10 year old boys that we are. Laughing. Yelling. Being idiots.

All hopped up on Coke.

Because, unlike at home, we've each been given a full can, not one can divided among my two brothers and me.

And it's REAL Coke, not Vess or R.C. cola.

And it's delicious.


And we're playing Risk, or trying to.

As well as 9 and 10 year-olds can.

But, what's weird is that Father Valentine isn't anywhere in that memory.

He's somewhere else.

In the rectory.

And then I glance to my left and notice that T's chair is empty.

T's somewhere else in the rectory.

With Fr. V?

And then it's my turn.

I'm with Fr. Valentine.

Somewhere else.

Which is the TV room.

It's a rectangular room, with the TV on the same side as the door and a sofa across from it. The TV is an old style cabinet TV. And Fr. V is sitting on the sofa, watching TV. And I'm sitting next to him.

And then we lie down on the sofa, together, to watch TV.

And then I disappear...