The Romance of Chastisement

The Romance of Chastisement

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Classic Story -- Megan Lowry

I'm going to shift gears a bit now. So far this blog has been all about my stories. But long before I ever wrote, the usenet groups, and (SSS) were loaded with spanking stories. Sadly many of these writers have retired from the scene. Fortunately, I collected many of these stories, and over the years they have resided on various hard drives of mine. It occurs to me that some of these works should be made available again, especially in cases in which the author is either unknown or cannot be found.

I will say at the outset to any author who objects to my posting of his or her story, I will promptly remove it as soon as you notify me of your objection, no questions asked.

With that, let's turn to a curious classic, the Megan Lowry story. This story appeared probably on usenet in the mid 1990's. It is written in the first person in a psuedo-documentary style that is so restrained that it has the sound and feel of a true account. I personally do not believe it is a true story, but a fictionalized retelling of the Dunn, North Carolina incident, which did happen. The lady in question (name withheld) actually testified before a congressional committee about it.

My Meeting with “The Board of Education”

It was Spring, 1993, and I was an eighteen year old high school senior in the Sandhills region of North Carolina. Our school district issued a parent/student handbook each fall containing some rather vague references to corporal punishment but with nothing too clearly spelled out beyond its availability as "a disciplinary option." A few years before, the county school board had voted for some modifications in paddling policies, largely in response to an incident in a neighboring town where three girls were severely paddled, some would say excessively, by a male assistant principal. That affair led to a lawsuit against the district which, though thrown out of court in one day, focused a good deal of unwanted media attention on the paddling issue. One significant change to come about, however,  was the imposition of a same gender rule, i.e., that girls were to receive licks only from a female administrator or, at least, that girls' paddlings be witnessed by a lady staff member if given by a man.  Our school district still authorizes corporal punishment, but I recently learned its current policy (as of the 1998-99 academic year) no longer makes reference to a same sex requirement.

Although I was well aware licks were authorized, having many times seen the "evidence" in the showers after p.e. class as well as hearing from my friends about their own experiences, I had never received corporal punishment in school. During 10th, 11th and 12th grades I had some disciplinary infractions which I could have resolved with either three or five licks, but always opted out for after school detention or, on one occasion, three days of i.s.s.  On one occasion in middle school, however, Yours Truly came close to being mixed up in a group paddling for being an active combatant in what certain of my classmates humorously (and otherwise) called "The Great Food Fight of 1989."

This messy affair was sparked by ill will between two opposing student cliques, and began with verbal taunts in the lunch line.  It rapidly escalated into all-out confrontation during which I fired off a paper cup of applesauce. The gooey projectile failed to strike its intended target and sailed through the double doors into the hallway, where it splattered against the lockers just as Principal Beasley was hurrying down the corridor.  While several belligerents were rounded up and marched away to face the summary justice of three licks outside the principal's office, my role remained undetected as none of my pals squealed on me.   Still, that afternoon I passed three of the most anxious hours of my fourteen years until the bell mercifully rang at 3:20, dreading from moment to moment that the intercom would buzz with the order to report to Mr. Beasley on-the-double.  It didn't, for which I was sincerely grateful to whatever kindly providence spared my backside.

Paddling was a subject discussed now and then around school, particularly when a person who was well liked got one.  Some of the guys who had been paddled tried weakly to laugh it off as a joke. "Licks" "pops" or "swats", whichever term one preferred, were a fairly frequent occurrence, with probably two or three students paddled every week.  At the time, it seemed to me that it was largely us working-class or "Blue Collar Redneck" kids who took licks, seldom the rich kids.  However, the use of corporal punishment in our local elementary school, our middle school and high school appeared to enjoy the support of most parents and of our community at large.

I began smoking around age 16, an admittedly bad habit I picked up from my friend Amanda. While my mom never actually forbade me to smoke, she disliked it and missed no opportunity to say so. Mom was a lifelong nonsmoker and was equally disapproving of my dad's pipe. So, wearying of her maternal admonitions against the evils of tobacco, I let her believe I had quit when in truth I hadn't .  I continued to smoke when out with friends, and occasionally sneaked a puff in my room.

On a Wednesday in May we were enjoying very warm spring weather, and during lunch period everybody congregated outside on the lawn or in the parking lot. Amanda and I were sitting at a picnic table on the west side of the building when she made the gesture of pulling on a cigarette and exhaling. She nodded towards the building, and I understood her to mean we should go to an upstairs washroom for a quick smoke, something we'd done many times before. I didn't refuse, although a couple of weeks previously I'd served 120 minutes detention for smoking in the parking lot.

Amanda and I went through the doors and up the staircase. The 2nd floor washroom was just to the left as you came up, and we were glad to find the corridor entirely empty. Marlboro 100's were my brand of choice, and I had a pack with three cigarettes rolled up in my pocket. We hung out for 15 minutes before it was time to head back downstairs. As luck would have it, just as we were going an old hag art teacher, Mrs. Gilly, pushed open the door and confronted us: "Are you girls SMOKING in here?" Busted ! There was no way to deny what we were up to because, first, the smell made it obvious, second, a blue wisp of smoke hung in the air catching the sunlight, and third - most damning of all - the red and white Marlboro pack was conspicuously in my right hand. She confiscated this contraband and marched us down to the Assistant Principal's office.

Entering the school's main office, off the central corridor, to the far left there was a door marked "Assistant Principal." Through this door was a small waiting room with a window to your right and a few office chairs. Directly in front of you was the door to the A.P.'s inner office which the three of us entered.  Amanda and I plopped down on chairs in front of the A. P.'s desk. She was a lady in her mid 30's named Jessica Dodd, a few years into her administrator job, having once taught Math.   Twice before, as a sophomore and a junior,  Mrs. Dodd had offered me a choice between licks or detention. She listened to what Mrs. Gilly had to say and took my incriminating Marlboro pack from her, so I lost a perfectly good cigarette on top of everything else.  Once Mrs. Gilly left the office,  Mrs. Dodd asked to hear our side of it.  With adolescent monosyllables like "um" and "yea" we effectively conceded our guilt.

Ms. Dodd lectured us on smoking: "Don't you realize it's bad for your health?" and "Didn't you know this campus is smoke free?" (We couldn't plead ignorance on No.2 - the student handbook clearly stated this, and No Smoking signs were prominently displayed beside every entrance.) Neither Amanda or I offered much in reply. Mrs. Dodd stood up from her desk and went to the grey metal filing cabinet in the corner. Taking out two manila folders, our disciplinary files, she returned to the desk and began reading through their contents. Finally laying them to one side, she looked at us and said she saw from our records that this was the third violation that quarter for us both.

Unfortunately for Amanda and me, that was right.

As mentioned before,  I'd been nabbed smoking in the parking lot and had also played hookey in mid April.  Amanda had skipped with me that day, and she also had another violation that I don't recall.  Mrs. Dodd explained a policy long ago enacted by the county school board, that a third infraction in any given quarter entailed corporal punishment, while suspension for the duration of the quarter with failing grades was automatic for anybody who refused to take their licks.  That rule had never been clearly explained to me, verbally or in the student handbook, and she caught me off guard.  Was Mrs. Dodd saying this meant actual suspension - with failing grades - or having to take licks?  Amanda glanced at me with an angry expression, then quickly looked away.  I had a hundred questions to ask, but the situation was moving way too fast and I was tongue tied.  What Mrs. Dodd said next gave me an electric charge in the pit of my stomach: "I think both you ladies could benefit from paddling. Sorry, but I really do. Sometimes I've got to be tough."

Opening her desk drawer,  Mrs. Dodd tore two orange slips of paper from a pad. These were Parental Consent Forms whose use was mandated by the Board ten or twelve years before. She handed one to each of us, said to have our moms or daddies sign them, and to report back to her office at 7:30 Thursday morning. Today, parents here sign a single document at the start of each school year permitting or refusing paddling in all disciplinary situations that may arise over the course of the following nine months. One huge advantage of the current system is that if a kid has got to be paddled, it will happen right off the bat. However, the rule in 1993 was that parents had to indicate by checking a form and signing it as to whether corporal punishment could or couldn't be dished out for each individual violation.  Even when a student was ready and willing to opt out for licks and take them right away, he or she was stuck with a miserable overnight delay to think about, and dread, what was going to happen.  In most cases, in-school-suspension or after school detention was assigned if parental consent for licks was denied.  For Amanda and me, however, having gotten into this "three-violations-in-a-quarter" fiasco, it would mean being suspended - with failing grades - two and a half weeks prior to graduation.

Mrs. Dodd stood and told us to get ready for our next class at 12:45 and we walked out into the corridor. Once out of her office, Amanda was nonchalant "Don't worry about it. I got it in 9th and it wasn't too bad." I assured her I was not worried at all because "My mom will *never* let this happen."  While I hoped that was true, I knew full well my parents had allowed both my older sisters, Kim and Laurie, to take licks instead of after school detention the few occasions one or the other got into hot water.

Mom was bitchy and unsympathetic when, at 4:00 that afternoon, I 'fessed up about what happened. We engaged in verbal sparring for the better part of an hour.  Mom was irritated. She was upset at more trouble in school when I'd just pulled detention for skipping, plus the revelation of my having also served detention for a previous smoking infraction, something she hadn't known. Mom also felt I'd lied to her, having led her to think I'd quit smoking when I hadn't. To cut to the chase, Mom said she'd give her permission for me to get licks because suspension would probably delay graduating on time and leave me stuck in summer school.  I didn't want that either and gave up arguing with her.  She took the orange paper, made a large check mark on the line reading  "I GIVE permission for corporal punishment," signed it "Jan Lowry" and wrote the date: May 12th, 1993.

That evening I had some English homework on The Merchant of Venice and I remember the movie I was half watching when my boyfriend Jeff stopped over around 7:30.  The flick starred Johnny Cash as a sheriff in the 1940's and Andy Griffith as a guy who'd killed a hired hand for stealing a cow. It was probably an okay movie, but my mind was distracted and I was growing more and more apprehensive. Jeff asked if something was wrong. I lied and said no. Out of sheer embarrassment, I intimated nothing to him then about what had happened that afternoon and what I was now trying to accept would happen next morning.  After Jeff left, I called Amanda.  I had the idea that if her dad had refused to sign her Permission Form, my mom might recant.  Part of our conversation went something like this:

"Your Daddy didn't really okay that, did he?"

"Hell yeah he did!  Hey, I'm not gonna miss graduation."

I understood that this close to graduating, getting kicked out was not a cool option.  I was trying to maintain a respectable g.p.a. as was Amanda. By the time I hung up I was still pissed off, but resigned to take my licks.

I went to bed around 10:00 and had no trouble falling asleep. My alarm went off all too soon, and I got up to get ready for school. I put on jeans and plain white cotton panties, with a Pepsi Cola t-shirt and sneakers, no socks.  I wore a bracelet on my left wrist, a gift the previous Christmas from Jeff.  Mom had piled my books and stuff on the kitchen counter. Protruding from between the pages of one, where I couldn't fail to see it, was the orange consent form. Had I known she'd really give her permission, I might have forged her signature and left her in the dark.  I have no memory of breakfast, only that I had no appetite. I left without the usual Good Byes, giving the door a slam - but not as hard as I'd have liked to.

My wheels took the form of a 1975 Monte Carlo my dad had found for me in Fayetteville, one of those with a radical long hood, light blue with white vinyl roof. With eight blocks to drive to school, I drove through the Stop-and-Go lights down the block and switched on the radio to WDKS-FM. The morning D.J. was playing The Alan Parsons Project "Eye in the Sky" as I turned into the parking lot and pulled up in my usual spot. Needless to say, hearing that song today always sends me right back to that time and place.

I walked into the building and went to my locker to grab a chemistry book I'd need for Second Period.  Almost blushing with self consciousness, I went through the main office where, thankfully, no one paid any attention. I was happy to see only one school secretary and no other kids hanging around at that early hour. Two desks had been dragged into the waiting area since yesterday, and Amanda was seated at one, writing on some lined paper. I said hi, and she said "hi" back in a barely audible voice, nothing more.  Her emotions were in sync with mine: fear, anger and embarrassment.

Amanda was wearing white Levis and a red pullover with the school logo in yellow. She was a member of our high school's danceline troupe that performed at games, Homecoming and so on. Mrs. Dodd stepped out of her office and demanded the consent form which I had folded up small in my hand - very small, that is, not wanting anyone I might encounter to suspect what was happening. She scanned it, then handed me some lined paper. "Megan, I want you to write these sentences fifty times. 'I was paddled for smoking on school property. I will not commit this offense again.' When you're done, just sign it at the bottom, understand?" I understood. I sat down and began scribbling these words of wisdom.

Amanda had been at it awhile and was halfway through her sentences. I made an effort to stimulate conversation but she had nothing to say and remained intently focused on her writing. For just a moment she put her head down on her arms and I thought she would start crying.  Thankfully, she didn't. I desperately wanted to say something to my friend that might help, but could think of nothing at all. Amanda put down her pen and ran her finger down one side of the paper and then the other, making certain she'd completed all fifty sentences. She stood up quickly and walked into the office, her whole demeanor seeming to say "OK, FINE, LET'S GET THIS OVER WITH NOW." I overheard Jessica Dodd click the intercom and say something about "come down now..." She was summoning another faculty member to act as witness, a precaution required by North Carolina law in the event Amanda or I would claim our punishments were excessive or abusive.

The witness knew what she was coming for, but hadn't been told who was involved. The door from the main office opened a minute later and she walked in. Her name was Andrea Kelly, somewhere in her mid 20's, an English teacher who was also in charge of the drama club. I knew Ms. Kelly but never had one of her classes. "Oh, hi Megan" she chirped, just like she'd run into me at the mall or somewhere. "What are you doing in here?" I told her quickly what had happened, hoping maybe she would or could do something to get us out of our predicament. No such luck. She arched her eyebrows in a somewhat concerned look, said "Hmm, well...." and shrugged.  Then Ms. Kelly went into the office and shut the door behind her.

Sitting alone at the desk, cheery spring sunshine beaming in the windows, my stomach doing flip flops and feelings of anxiety heightening by the second, I emphatically did not find the notion of being paddled to be a joke casually laughed off. The situation was truly intimidating. I was worried I'd cry when getting spanked and hoped I'd be able to hold it back and not show any emotions. I feared if Amanda cried, I'd be more likely to when feeling the sting of the paddle a few minutes later. I reasoned if I could survive the licks without tears, Mrs. Dodd - and Ms. Kelly - would think it hadn't much hurt and I could save face.  I was not a happy camper, as they used to say, but I was acutely aware we were being punished for willful infractions of the school rules and that punishment isn't meant for fun.

From inside the office I could hear voices, the words unintelligible through the heavy door. Then suddenly there came a loud and startling *CRACK!* followed by complete silence. I was thankful Amanda hadn't screamed. I was as nervous as the proverbial long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, so if Amanda had screamed so would I.  A few seconds later came Amanda's second lick *CRACK!* followed a few seconds later by her third, again followed by that unnerving silence. Amanda was doing okay with it until, that is, she got her fourth lick, answered with a sharp yelp of "OUCH GOLLY !"  Seconds later was her fifth and final one, at which she seemed to gasp and sob in the same breath. Apart from this I heard nothing, and felt a certain relief that Amanda's paddling hadn't seemed quite as severe an ordeal as I'd feared.

A minute later Amanda came out, her face flushed and eyes moist, appearing pouty and sullen as she brushed her hair back with one hand. Looking at her I stammered "Did it hurt?" (Dumb question, huh?) Amanda shot back, "My GOD, Megan! Do you HAVE to be such a BABY about EVERYTHING ?" She rolled her eyes, grabbed her shoulder bag from beside the chair and stormed out.

Jessica Dodd came to the door, telling me to "hurry up and finish writing." Done at last, I forced myself away from the desk and entered her office. For the sake of drama I wish it were possible for me to write that I was replaying in my mind the "Last Mile" scene from some corny Jimmy Cagney movie, but I wasn't. All I was thinking is that I wanted this over and done with, and right now.

Mrs. Dodd shut the door. She took the paper from me, and I was ordered to "sit down for just a minute" while she and Ms. Kelly tinkered with a FAX machine on a small table.  Sitting in the exact same spot as the day before, on a cheap office chair in front of her desk, it occurred to me it was still within my power to stop this. Nobody could prevent me from simply walking out, firing up the Monte and driving home. But, to avoid being punished by leaving would have brought about what I knew was a worse punishment: academic consequences I could not afford. I stayed put.

My eyes darted all over the room with its tacky aqua carpeting and walls painted off white. There was a window behind the large mahogany desk, its venetian blinds drawn closed but swaying in a warm breeze.  As I sat there, a semi or heavy Diesel truck rumbled past on the street and its driver for some reason gave a blast on its deep air horn. Why this sticks in my memory I can't say.  I looked around for the paddle, but it was nowhere to be seen. At my high school a paddle was humorously called a "Board of Education." They were made downstairs in the woodworking shop, and rumor had it they were retired from active duty once fully covered with kids' signatures.  Uncomfortable and hot, anxious and edgy, I felt like screaming at Mrs. Dodd and Ms. Kelly "CAN WE PLEASE DO THIS AND GET IT OVER WITH, DAMN YOU ?! "  Of course, I said nothing.

Whatever the problem was with the FAX, the two of them got it resolved. Mrs. Dodd told me to stand up, and Andrea Kelly walked over and shoved my chair to the left and up against the wall. Mrs. Dodd asked if there was anything in my back pockets, and I removed a pocket comb and my car keys and laid them on the desk.  Mrs. Dodd walked over to the same filing cabinet that held our records, reached in beside it and removed the paddle from a hook on the wall. Seeing it gave me a start.  I had seen the paddles used by our p.e. coaches, but this one was a lot more intimidating.  About 24" long and 3 1/2" wide, it looked to be about a quarter inch thick. It was made of light colored wood and appeared heavy. One end was beveled on both sides to form the handle which was wrapped in black tape. My sister Laurie and boyfriend Jeff later told me this is done to provide a better grip. Several small holes were drilled though the paddle's uppermost seven or eight inches to allow for a faster descent and more painful slaps.

Mrs. Dodd stood by the filing cabinet. "Okay Megan, the sooner we do this the sooner it's done with. I need you to just bend way over my desk now and poke your seat out." She spoke in a surprisingly gentle tone of voice. The usual clutter, including a letter holder and a rotary telephone, had been pushed to one side. Being out of options I did as ordered, reaching across and grabbing the edge of the desktop's other side.  As I bent down the first bell rang, and from out in the hallway filtered in the sound of kids running back and forth, locker doors slamming and all the mundane noises of the start of the school day. The faded blue denim of my jeans stretched tightly across my upturned backside and was suddenly uncomfortable. The psychology of “Assuming - the - Position” is, in itself, punishing: I'd offended against the Rules of Authority and now had to - quite literally - bow down before that Authority's representative to receive my correction. The truth of this simple proposition struck me with jarring abruptness at that moment like a lightning jolt to my spirit. My emotions were a confusing jumble of fear, self-pity, anger and blushing shame.

Wide eyed, I watched as Jessica Dodd walked away from the filing cabinets and to my left and a little ways behind. Andrea Kelly stood to my right, near the door to the waiting room, arms folded and staring at the floor. She didn't seem happy at being there. Turning my head to see what Ms. Dodd was doing, I saw she had the paddle in her right hand and was tapping it against her leg.  We had a moment's eye contact when she said to position my feet a little further apart and "Get ready."  I was still looking back when she took the paddle in both hands and touched it to the seat of my jeans. I remember that spooky pressure only too well. "Look straight ahead, Meg. You're not to turn around. Got it ?"  I swallowed, nodded, and quietly answered "Yes, Ma'am."  Her paddle felt hard, solid and cold. There was no pain yet, but the sick thought that mere heartbeats from now it would burn like hellfire raced through my mind.

Mrs. Dodd tapped the paddle against my bottom, aligning it to take aim. Jeff, ever a fountainhead of information, would tell me this is done as a precaution in order to avert striking the lower back or legs. I sensed it when Jessica Dodd swung the paddle far back to her right. I stared forward and concentrated on the venetian blinds.  I tensed up, clenching the muscles in my butt, clenching my toes, clenching my teeth and telling myself "OKAY HERE IT IS AND IT ISN'T GOING TO BE SO BAD......"

*CRACK!* The sound and the sensation were like a firecracker exploding. And *HURT* ? It scalded  as if I'd just sat on a waffle iron. I swallowed hard, determined this wouldn't make me cry. A couple of seconds passed. Jessica Dodd again lined up the paddle against my fanny and delivered the second lick. With buttocks already hot and throbbing, the second *CRACK!* scorched across my bottom with such intensity that I quite literally saw stars. I kid you not, as Bogart says in The Caine Mutiny.  She whacked me with enough force to knock me forward a little and up onto my toes. Struggling to stay in control, I steeled myself and concentrated on not breaking down. The Assistant Principal repeated the routine, again lining up the paddle on my now badly hurting  backside for a few seconds, and *CRACKED!* me a third time. On top of the accumulated pain of two slaps within less than ten seconds, the sting was sharper than I'd anticipated. Salty tears began to well up in my eyes. And, just like my pal Amanda, my self control couldn't endure the fourth *CRACK!* I squealed "YEOW!" and jumped up from the desk, placing both hands on my bottom. With a hot tear dripping down one cheek, I half sobbed and half whispered "Mrs Dodd I just can't take another one..."

Andrea Kelly walked over and asked, very quietly, if I was all right. I bit my lip and nodded, afraid my voice would crack if I answered aloud.  Mrs. Dodd said I was required to take all five licks "or none of this counts" but added "it's okay if you need a second to get ready." Ms. Kelly handed me a Kleenex.  I got a hold of myself because, more than anything, I had to avoid breaking down completely.  I stood there about 15 seconds, my bottom feeling like I was sitting on sunbaked asphalt, and I burned inside with a kind of shame and humiliation I'd never felt in my entire life.

Andrea Kelly came over and placed her hand on my arm. With a sad face and in that quiet little voice, she said "Meg, it would be better if you took the last one while you're still numb" and gave me a wink. Avoiding eye contact with the Assistant Principal, I quickly bent over. After two or three more light taps,  Jessica Dodd gave the last lick *VERY* hard. I winced and gasped but, thank God, managed to stifle a cry. "That's all, Meg. Stand up" she told me.   Ms. Dodd laid the paddle on her desk, offered a pen and said I should sign it as this was a "school tradition."  Taking her felt tip Bic I wrote "M.E. Lowry", thinking it was a stupid tradition.  A couple of dozen signatures were scrawled across the hardwood surface, and someone had drawn a "Smiley Face" in red.  Ms. Dodd, unexpectedly, extended her right hand and I took it lamely. She shook it twice, nodded and said "Okay. Head on down to homeroom now."

And, that was that. 

The paddle had a small hole and a string loop at the end of its handle. I saw Ms. Dodd return it to that hook beside the filing cabinet as I picked up my comb and car keys and walked into the waiting area to grab my books. I thought to myself "Why does she hide it back there like that ? Is the bitch ashamed of it ?" A twenty-something secretary named Jane Shaw and a couple of student office helpers stood behind the counter in the office area.  Two turned away with grins on their faces as though sharing a private joke, and one looked directly at me with a tiny smirk. They'd obviously overheard Amanda and me being punished and found the whole thing funny.

Andrea Kelly followed me out into the wide main corridor.  She put her arm around my back and asked "Hey, Meg ? You ever get a spankin' before now ?" I admitted to Ms. Kelly that, yes, sometimes I was spanked by Mother or Daddy, but not even once before here in school. She slowly shook her head. "Well, I think y'all took it like a pretty good sport, anyway. I'm sure this'll be the only time, hon." By our community's standards Andrea Kelly was something of a rebel.  An Alabama native, her car bore a N.O.W. bumper sticker and she'd alienated some folks locally, especially my family's Baptist pastor, with a strongly worded letter to the editor of The Daily Record in defense of Roe versus Wade.  Although popular with her male peers and once engaged to a local pharmacist, she was rumored to have a girlfriend, a female attorney, upstate in New Bern.  I had a distinct impression Ms. Kelly did not approve one iota of what she'd just seen happen and perhaps wished to say more, although she didn't.   She quit teaching at our high school the end of that year.

I walked to the washroom, splashed cold water on my face, combed my hair and went to homeroom at 8:30. The intense sting wore off in a half hour, but I was sweaty and headachy all day and sitting on those hard desk chairs added to my discomfort. For the remainder of that Thursday the sensation in my nether regions was like a bad sunburn.  My jeans felt tight and they chaffed. The paddle had raised a welt that rubbed against the cotton fabric of my panties with a nasty itching that hurt like a boil. When I returned home that afternoon and walked in the back door, mom gave me a hug and asked if everything was all right. "Yeah I'm fine, Mom" I told her and went on upstairs to shower and check for damage in the bathroom mirror. My bottom was still reddish to dark pink with some major bruising on the right cheek and lesser black and blue marks on the left one. After toweling off and getting dressed I lay on my bed sobbing into the pillow for a good ten minutes. Seething with embarrassment and anger, the tears I'd mostly held back before now flowed. My bruises lasted a few days, but the redness was largely faded by the next night. For a while I experienced an annoying "twang" of discomfort when sitting on a hard surface or moving in just the wrong way. The most irritating part was the welt which, as it healed, continued to itch.

At the time, I had a part time job on Thursday and some Friday evenings at Food Lion, working at the courtesy counter from 5:00 to 8:00 PM. So there I was, a young woman old enough to vote or marry, drive and hold employment, conversant with the facts of life and mature in most ways, yet at my job with sore buttocks because of being spanked like a little eight year old a few hours before. The irony was not lost on me, not then and not now. Legal adult ? Heck, the lingering heat and soreness throughout that long evening served as an unpleasant but pretty effective reminder that I was still just a kid.

For awhile after taking licks I carried around feelings of having been treated unfairly. You might say the paddle had stung my pride more than my 18 year old backside, and perhaps that's true. Yet to take licks, and for it to be known you'd managed to take them without too much fussing, could earn you a degree of respect from friends and peers who had themselves been on the receiving end. It was a sign of being tough, so to speak, with the realization that no matter how tough you were, the hardwood paddle swung by that particular Assistant Principal was going to mean real pain and a tear or two. Those thoughts, articulated to me by another girl and a couple of the guys, made my memory of the whole ordeal much easier to bear.

That Sunday after church I told this whole story to both my older sisters, Kimberly and Laurie. They were sympathetic to the pain and to the emotions caused by taking licks, but not to the behavior that caused it. Laurie helped me place it in clearer perspective when she said,  "Yeah, I know it sucked big time but now it's over and done with. It's not that big a deal and it's sure nothing to blame Mom over, Megan." She told me that, everything considered, "It's probably for the best that Mom said OK to it." Laurie believed the smartest thing would be to simply regard the whole incident as nothing more than one small part of growing up. My Sis offered me some wise advice that day.  I stopped being mad at our Mom and started getting ready for finals.

Amanda and I were dear friends since elementary school and remain so today.  For a short time I harbored feelings of angry resentment towards her.  After all, wasn't it she who suggested we sneak upstairs to smoke?  I also resented her attitude in calling me a "baby" during those stressful few minutes the next morning.  In reflecting on it, however, she hadn't forced me to accompany her to the washroom and light up, and her bitter words were spoken in an ugly moment of severe pain and blushing shame.  The following Wednesday evening Jeff and I stopped at the Blue Light Drive In and saw Amanda and her future husband eating at an outdoor table.  After a few minutes of icy quiet we began talking.  When Amanda reached in her purse, withdrew a Pall Mall and lit up, I couldn't stop myself asking "Are you sure you need that? You've already GOT a smoldering butt!" Forty five minutes later Amanda and I parted company with a small laugh and a big hug, pals again.  Fifteen months later I was one of her bridesmaids.   Should my friend ever think back to the events of May 13th, 1993, it's a sure thing she'd wholeheartedly agree with my sister's opinion: it was all nothing more than one small part of growing up.

(_|_) (|||||||||||)==O  The End

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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