Brunch at the Claremont, May 1947
[Art by the great Paula Russell.]
Susan shifted in her chair again, just a small movement, but enough
to catch Laura's eye.
"You seem a little restless this morning, Susan. Something wrong?
Not feeling well?" Laura winked at Mary as she bent over her cup of
cocoa. Mary, in turn, smiled at Joan.
"A small case of honeymoonitis?" asked Joan, catching the wry mood of
the Monday foursome. The three laughed, looking fondly at their
newly married fourth. There was a beat as Joan glanced at the
others, she silently asking if the step ought to be taken, the others
considering, then each giving assent, silently, with a nod, a
downward glance, a small smile.
"...or did you have to spend a little time over John's knee this
morning before joining us?"
Susan put her cup down unsteadily, color staining her face, unable to
quite take in what she had heard. Joan had said it so
matter-of-factly, as if she had been asking about the progress of the
thank-you notes, or if anything had to be returned. She had to force
herself to look up, to look straight at Joan. But once she had, she
was caught out. There was no way to deny the truth of what Joan had
guessed. But why would Joan have guessed that, of all things? Had
John talked about this odd little, um, quirk of his, uh, theirs?
The silence went on. Joan started to laugh softly.
"It's all right, Susan. It's not unheard of, you know. I think... I
know, as a matter of fact, that all of us, well, all of the other
three of us anyway, feel, think, um, yes, think that it's all right.
I mean, one's husband has a duty, don't you think, to guide and
correct his wife, when necessary? I mean, all of us here are
sort of, well, old-fashioned that way. Joan put her head down,
finished being spokesman, and feigned great interest in the spot of
marmalade next to her plate.
Mary spoke up.
"But maybe we jumped to conclusions, Susan. After all, we didn't
mean to embarrass you, or imply that... I mean... maybe your skirt
was just twisted a bit, or..."
"No, ah, no, that's all right," Susan said, studying the design on
her plate. She waited until the waiter had finished refilling her
glass of juice and moved away, his heels clicking on the terracotta
tiles of the Claremont's beautiful terrace.
"No, you, I, well, yes, I mean." A fresh blush stained her carefully
There was another small silence, in which the clicking of heavy old
silver could be heard from the other brunchers' tables. Laura pushed
a bit of egg white around with the tip of her knife. She had a bad
habit of playing with whatever food she didn't eat. Paul's reaction
to that habit suddenly occurred to her, and she put down her knife
with a start.
"Yes?" asked Laura, looking up, straightening her suit jacket. "Yes
what, exactly?" Laura was the blunt one among them, always wanting
to get to the meat of the matter straightaway. Mary put a cautionary
hand over Laura's on the ivory napery.
Susan glanced down again. "Well, yes, I mean, John was annoyed with
me this morning, because I hadn't done any of the notes over the
weekend, as I said I was going to, and..." she looked up at the
others, earnest in the construction of her own defense, just begun,
and stopped as she saw their interested, amused faces.
"Look here, are you serious about this? I mean, do you, ahh do your
Husbands .. I mean, actually, um, well, let's say..."
"Spank us?" said Laura. "Is that what you are trying to ask? Do
our husbands actually turn us over their manly knees and spank us
when we need it? Well yes, my dear, actually they do! Some of us
more than others, of course..." Laura and Mary glanced at Joan and
laughed outright, and Joan blushed prettily. "...but all of us now
and again. There's nothing to be ashamed of, Susan, nothing at all.
You were neglectful of a duty, apparently, and you ought to know
better! John has a certain position in the community, and it's
important to him that protocol be observed. Those thank-yous need to
go out, young lady!" Laura chided. Susan looked down, as if she were
being scolded all over again, as John had scolded her this morning.
"Yes, well, I know that, but we're barely back from our honeymoon,
and there is a certain amount of time one has, and I am not anywhere
near that limit, and..."
"And did any of that argument work on John this morning, when he
asked to see how many notes you had written?" Mary asked.
"Well, no, not actually," said Susan softly.
"So--- tell!" Laura exclaimed.
"Excuse me?" whispered Susan, eying the approaching waiter. Laura
motioned him over.
"More coffee, please, and could you bring the pastry tray over here?"
she asked the young man.
"Of course, ma'am," he bowed slightly and strode away.
"Let's wait till we pick some sweeties, shall we, and then Susan can
tell us all about it!" Laura clasped her hands in delight. Susan
looked stricken. These were dear friends, after all, two of them had
been in the wedding and the others had helped with all the planning.
They had shared a lot, really, but up until this morning, she'd not
known about, well, this. Mary judged the expression on her face.
"Susan, look. There's no need for you to tell us anything!"
"HEY!" protested Laura. Joan gave her a look.
"We know this is all, well, new to you, despite the fact we've been
chums for a long while. But, well, there are some things that
married women share with one another that, well, have to stay among
them, can you understand that? We took a guess at what might have
happened this morning when we got a look at your face as we met in
the foyer. It appeared you'd been crying -- and that's not the look
of a new bride. Unless she's been, well, a naughty new bride!" The
others laughed, and Susan smiled.
"It's not an easy thing to discuss, not at first. And it's just dumb
luck, I guess, that all the rest of us married men who are just as
old-fashioned as John. If only one of us had, or even two, why we
wouldn't be sitting around including the other two in the discussion!
Or maybe it's not luck at all. Maybe it's what girls like us want.
Or need!" Mary sat back and sipped her juice as the coffee and
"Ooo! Napoleons!" Laura exclaimed, and grinned as the waiter lifted
one to her plate on a silver server. The others chose more modestly,
and there was another small silence after the tray was gone.
"Thing is, Susan," confessed Joan, "we do talk about it with one
another. There's something about it, I don't know, something that
thrills us all in a funny way. Something about being, well,
handled like that. ‘Owned’ -- is that the word I want? No, not
owned. Mastered maybe. The feeling that you're not going to be
able to get your way all the time. Not going to be able to
manipulate him. That he truly is the head of the household, that
he's, I don't know, in charge of you, and that there will be times
when you are going to have to submit to his will. Times when you are
going to have to submit to his discipline when you have broken a
rule, or when you need to be guided a bit." The others had leaned
forward listening to this, and a soft sigh was heard when Joan
Mary swallowed hard. "Yes. I feel that way. I hate it when I know
it's going to happen. Really. I never consciously try to provoke Steven, but
I can be careless and forgetful--- I know that I can. And I have to
admit that it does me some good when he catches me out. He has a
very hard hand, you know!" Mary looked sheepish, and the others
smiled. Susan found herself relaxing for the first time since the
Laura flicked a bit of chocolate from the corner of her mouth with
the tip of her tongue and looked at each of her chums.
"Well, I have been very good, I can tell you, since the last time
Paul took his belt to me."
Susan's eyes widened. "He what?!" she whispered.
"Well, my goodness! Surely you don't think that all of us are
spanked in exactly the same way -- some sort of Loretta Young swoop
over his knee and a nice little hand-spankie on the seat of our
trousers?!" Laura laughed gaily.
"My dear, Paul and I have been married for nearly three years! And I
am not the type to tearfully bend over his knee when he crooks a
finger at me. Not THIS girl! This is 1947 for heaven's sake!
Usually he has to chase me around the house a few times first!"
All of them laughed out loud at this image. Laura grew serious
"But look, I do believe that Paul is the head of our house. And I
did vow to obey, and I do. Well, most of the time. The running is
just because I'm scared, is all. He knows that. And, when he
catches me, there is a bit of that over-the-knee stuff, to warm the
seat of my pants and calm me down, get me in the mood to admit I was
wrong, and to accept my punishment. And then we go up the stairs, he
and I. And he takes off his belt and he rolls up his sleeve, and he
points at the foot of the bed. And we kiss."
There was an intake of breath, and the three leaned forward.
"No, really! We kiss. It's to show there's no anger, you see, and
that we love one another, and that we both know that this is part of
our contract as husband and wife. So."
"So??" breathed Joan. Laura smiled.
"Gotcha!" Everyone laughed.
"So, then I make my bottom bare." Laura shrugged. "Depends on what
I have on what I do. Skirt up, trousers down, robe off. Whatever.
But no panties. Not ever. Paul won't allow it. All my
punishments are on the bare. Paul says it's so I won't be terribly
harmed. You see, if he let me keep my panties, well, he
wouldn't be able to tell how much the belt was marking me. He would
never really harm me. Hurt me, yes -- it has to sting, of course,
but not harm me. And then, well, then he lectures me a bit, on
what was wrong and what lesson I need to think about while I am being
whipped. And then, well. Then he gives me a good strapping."
Laura stopped. All four reached for and gulped something -- coffee,
juice, ice water, and then laughed.
Mary recovered first. "Well, I for one do get mostly that over-the-knee
stuff. Steven says he wants me to feel like a naughty, small girl --
since that's usually what I've been acting like. And yes, um, well, I
have to have my bottom bare as well. Though I don't do it, Steven
does. He says it's part of the whole thing -- the fact that he is
in charge of me and of my punishment, and he takes my pants down
for me and puts me over his knee. It is embarrassing, and I do
hate it. It makes quite an impression on me. Far more than it did
when Daddy would spank me. After all, Steven's opinion of me is
rather more important that my father's, truth be told, and I hate
it when I think he is annoyed with me."
Mary sighed. "But I hate it even more when he is spanking me and
talking to me, asking me if I am learning my lesson, and do I think
this will make me a good and obedient wife--- and he spanks harder if
I don't answer right away!
And, um, well, we kiss too. But after." Mary's cheeks stained
violently and her friends teased.
The three turned to Joan. She groaned and rolled her eyes.
"Do I have to?" she complained. "You know how hard it is for me!"
"Well no, of course you don't." snapped Laura. "We only thought to
make it a bit easier for Susan is all. Never mind!" Laura winked at
Mary as she snapped her fork onto her plate.
"Oh all right. Look, I'm a little sensitive because I just got it
"Again??" exclaimed Laura, and the rest of them laughed. Joan
"Joanie here is a bit, well, high-spirited," explained Laura, putting
a comforting arm around her friend. "And Richard can be something of
a stuffed shirt." Joan opened her mouth to protest.
"Now now, you know I love Richard!" Laura went on, "but he is a bit
older than you, miss, and very concerned with proper behavior! So --
what did you do on Friday?!"
Joan's shoulders slumped. "Well, Richard had a bar association thing
to attend on Saturday night, and he wanted to wear a certain shirt,
the one without the collar, I mean it has a separate collar. And I
was supposed to pick it up from the laundry -- he refuses to let me
do his shirts, you know -- but I got distracted listening to a new
Vaughn Monroe record in the listening room at Sperry's, and well, by
the time I remembered, the laundry was closed, and they weren't going
to be open the next day, on Saturday, because Mrs. Chin's mother
passed away, and then when I was trying to explain, I upset the box
with his shirt studs in it and I stepped on two and bent them. Oh.
And I went over my allowance buying a new hat at Macy's and the
"Holy Cow," Laura breathed. "What are we going to do with you?"
"You're not going to do a thing with me!" Joan huffed, "but it's a
wonder I can sit down even today!"
"Richard spanked you?" Susan breathed.
"Spanked me?! Well, yes. He spanked me. And then he slippered me.
And then he hauled me down to his study and caned me while Mrs.
Arthur held up my skirts!"
Susan looked helplessly at Laura.
"Richard is British," she said, as if that explained everything.
Mary put a hand on Susan's. "Joanie means that after Richard put her
over his knee and spanked her with his hand on the seat of her
scanties, he took them down and spanked her bare behind with the sole
of his leather slipper." Susan's eyes were big again.
"And then he got the housekeeper, and took Joan downstairs and into
his study. I, um guess he asked Mrs. Arthur -- she's the housekeeper
-- to hold Joanie's skirt and slip up out of the way, and he made
Joanie bend way over, maybe the back of a chair, or the edge of his
"I had to bend over and put my hands flat on the cushion of the
footstool" Joan broke in glumly.
"... and Richard took out a school cane -- you know, one of those
whippy rattan things -- and whipped his naughty little wife with it a
"SIX times," exclaimed Joan, "and don't think for a minute I was
brave about it! I wasn't! I howled and wiggled and begged! You
cannot imagine how much it stings!!"
"And then?" Laura asked shrewdly, having heard some of this before.
"How long did it take Richard to send Mrs. Arthur away?"
Joan put her hand up to her mouth, but not before her friend saw the
start of a smile. "Right away. The sixth had barely landed."
"Ohgod. He was an animal!! Took me right there, on the top of the
desk. Knocked his association speech all over the floor and tore a
button off his trousers," Joan reported, sounding complacent, but her
eyes lit with the memory.
"JOANIE!!" exclaimed Mary, covering her mouth.
"Oh Mary, really. As if Steven was never, well, more interested,
Susan's eyes unfocused as she suddenly remembered John's urgency this
morning, his early appointment forgotten. She thought he was just
feeling a need to comfort her, but, but -- his fingers tracing the
print of his hand on her bottom, and the heat of him, and the way
she had felt, really... she...
"Susan?" Laura was asking her. "So?"
"Well," she gasped, "compared to what I have just heard, I am afraid
you will be very bored with my little spanking this morning. It was
nothing really! As I said, John was annoyed -- he was about to leave
for an early appointment, but when he offered to mail whatever notes
I had completed, and I couldn't produce any, well..."
"Yes, well?" Remains of pastries ringed the table on Lenox plates,
dregs of coffee grew cold, the waiter was occupied elsewhere, the sun
moved toward the little flag on the peaked roof of the spa building.
"Well, he said I had a few things to learn about the responsibilities
of being a wife, and that this was the sort of lesson best learned on
a bare bottom turned over a husband's knee! I thought he was kidding
at first. I mean, he had given me a few playful pats while we were
dating, and we did have a talk about obedience, and how important it
was to him, and he did ask me once if Daddy had spanked me to make
me behave -- but I never thought... Anyway, he took my arm and led me
into the dining room. I was so surprised I didn't even think about
protesting. He sat down and stood me between his legs, and told me
he was going to do his duty as my husband, and turn me over his
knee." Susan drank the last of her ice water, and opened her purse
as if to look for her wallet.
"Susan!" She looked up, feigning surprise at the murderous looks of
her friends. Then she started to laugh.
"All right! I was just playing your game! I was already dressed for
our usual Monday brunch, as I was going to drive him to the city and
do a few errands before we four met. He reached up, grabbed my upper
arms, pulled me down and bent me over his knee. I began to struggle
then, and he stopped, took both my hands in one of his behind my
back, and told me quietly that I had better think hard about my
duties as his wife, and that one of those duties was to accept my
husband's punishment when I clearly deserved it!"
"Ooohhhhh" breathed Mary.
"Shhh!" said Laura. "Let her finish!"
"'Yes, John!' I said, and I relaxed. He lifted the skirt of my dress,
and my slip, and patted the seat of my pants. 'We'll start on these!'
he said, and he lifted his hand and started to spank me. Gosh, it
hurt! I'd forgotten how much it could hurt! Just when I thought I
couldn't stand it anymore, and was telling him how sorry I was, he
stopped. But only to tug my pants down. I was so embarrassed --
imagine, with my own husband! But I was! He started spanking me
again, and it hurt even more. It didn't take very long before I was
crying and begging him to stop, promising I'd do the notes right away
and never fib again!"
"Uunnhh. And then?" Laura asked pointedly.
Susan was quiet for a moment, wondering how much she ought to tell.
The feeling had come back -- the hot, liquid feeling that she had
never experienced until this morning, when she felt John's hands on
her in that way.
"We, um, well, we started to go back upstairs, but, um, well..."
"But you didn't make it, exactly, right?" Laura laughed.
Susan didn't think she would go into exactly what happened when she
slipped on the stairs and John fell on top of her, and felt the heat
of her spanked bottom pressing against the front of his trousers...
"No, not exactly!" Susan blushed and they all laughed.
Laura neatened the pile of bills on the small silver tray and they
all stood up. "Next week?" she asked brightly.
They all smiled and wished one another well, and blew kisses toward
"Susan, thank you -- you didn't have to tell, but it was delicious,
wasn't it?" Joan whispered.
"Yes, yes, it was. I mean, it is!" The four laughed again.
"See you all next Monday -- be good now!" called Laura as she
disappeared down the tiled stairs. Joan turned back to the other two.
"Naaah--- let's not!"