When I was in high school, my biology teacher Dr. Anthony DeFina had several human anatomy charts permanently adhered to the chalkboard: the skeletal system, the nervous system, the muscular system, and so on. He rarely wrote on the chalkboard, which was great because there was barely any room to write. Instead he loved pointing to his charts. He pointed to various parts of the body and, with his back to his students, called out a random name to tell him what it was that he was pointing to. He didn’t care that his dirty white lab coat—a serious sartorial choice for any high school science teacher—was a bit threadbare on the backside, or that we got to see underneath his comb-over from the rear. He would point and wait, sometimes tapping the mystery body part while we students rifled through our textbooks for the answer.
One day “Doc” (as he was affectionately known as) was particularly interested in our knowledge of the digestive system. But instead of going around the room for singular answers, Doc pleaded for a chorus. And we obliged.
This went on until he pointed to something too small to see from even the front row of desks. Exclamations turned into question marks, and the chorus was reduced to a smattering of tentative voices.
Doc put down his pointer, turned to face us, and said in his best/worst Albert Einstein impression, “It’s not a chicken, it’s not a shvan, but it’s a DUCT—a bile DUCT.” Then he quacked twice before turning around and moving on. To say that we were stunned would be an understatement.
There is a reason why I am sharing this story with you. I am a duct tape crafter, but I sometimes think that it wasn’t chance or circumstance that brought me to duct tape.
Yes, it’s true that I began crafting with duct tape because of my kids. They were drawn to a shiny display of primary colored rolls at our local hardware store, like moths to a light. How could I say no? And it’s also true that my kids often inspire my work. Duct tape fingerless gloves or a reading pillow that looks like a book are not projects that I would have dreamed up myself.
But I think it was destiny. Because every time I start duct tape crafting, I hear Doc’s words, his quacking, and then the stunned silence of his perplexed students. Because every time I go shopping for duct tape, my inner monologue does a terrible impersonation of Doc doing his best/worst Einstein, and I sometimes find myself quacking up in the middle of the store. Because I am a duct tape crafter and I often think of how my high school biology teacher kept those anatomy charts on the chalkboard. It MUST have been duct tape.
Life is full of little stories that that can seem like coincidence. Doc and the duct story, me and my duct tape destiny. I haven’t seen or spoken to the man in almost 15 years. He doesn’t teach at my old high school anymore—is he even alive?? And what would he think of my duct tape crafting books? Would he crack a smile or make me name the parts of the digestive system?
For the past year I’ve had the pleasure of doing duct tape crafting workshops in libraries around the country. And if I’m in a particularly nutty mood, I’ll start the workshop by holding a roll of the sticky stuff up and asking if anyone knows what it is. It usually catches the kids by surprise, my incredibly silly question. Of course they know what it is! But they sometimes call it duck tape instead of D-U-C-T tape. And so I say to them in my best/worst Doc-doing-Einstein impersonation, “It’s not a chicken, it’s not a shvan, but it’s a roll of DUCT…tape!”
Doc is part of my story, of how I got to be where I am today. I may not know much about biology, but I’ll remember that man forever. My kids know the story well, and every now and then a tiny voice can be heard in my house, doing his or her best/worst mommy-doing-Doc-doing-Einstein impersonation: “It’s not a chicken, it’s not a shvan…”
***Don’t forget BOOK EXPO GOERS: Look for Richela at the Midtown Stage at 2pm Thursday!***
RICHELA FABIAN MORGAN is the author of the best-selling craft book TAPE IT & MAKE IT. She is currently featured in the book ALL THINGS PAPER by Ann Martin. Her next book, TAPE IT & MAKE MORE, is coming out September 1st. When she’s not picking through her neighbor’s trash for crafty treasures, Richela teaches eco crafting at the Sheldrake Environmental Center. She lives with her husband and two children in Larchmont, New York. You can learn more about her crafts, her cooking, and her domestic follies on her website: www.richelafabianmorgan.com.