Saturday, April 10, 2010

Strapped for Cheating

In high school, I had two most-favorite (among many just-favorite) subjects: Band, and English. Yes, English -- big surprise. :D Band, of course, because I have always loved music and marching band gave me an incredible social outlet, and English for many reasons, not least of which the story I'm about to relate to you here... :D

I had this wonderful teacher for two years in a row, for first and second-year English -- he just recently retired. He was very thoroughly my favorite teacher in high school -- and very quickly became something of a distant father-figure in the back of my mind. This probably had more to do than I might have thought at the time with the fact that he started off each year, on the first day of class, by discouraging any would-be cheaters with a compelling personal anecdote. Said anecdote was a rather overly-emphatic, detailed, interactive story about the last time his own father had ever had to physically punish him for anything, when he was the ripe old age of 15, and incidentally, for cheating on a test in school.

He would give us the whole run-down -- the incriminating act itself, the call to his father from the teacher, the *lie* to his father when confronted, the resulting discussion and sheepish confession to cheating between the father, son, and teacher, the tense ride home in the car... then he would ask the class, "What do you think happened? Hmm? Any guesses?"

The odd impetuous voice would perk up, "Were you grounded?"

"Yes, good guess, and what else...?" His eyebrows would creep upward -- I still remember the almost playfully inquisitive look that he would shoot around the silent classroom...

After a few seconds he would continue where he left off... with the instruction from his father when they arrived home to put his books on the kitchen table and to go get the strap (there was usually a muffled gasp or two by this point) and to wait for him in the bathroom... the description of said implement -- thick, wide leather -- and how it hung ominously there in the bathroom, in plain sight each morning and evening... How his father would come in a few minutes later, a stern look of disappointment etched over his face, and take the strap from him... issuing instructions for him to take off his pants, and then to bend at the waist over the edge of the built-in shower/tub and put the palms of his hands down on the shower floor, with his feet firmly planted on the floor of the washroom... At that point he would address the class again, which was by now entirely enthralled with the story.

"Anyone care to tell me what that position presents as the best target...?"

There would usually be a longer-than-entirely-comfortable pause, but almost inevitably some brave soul would speak up, and always with a question rather than an answer, "Your butt?"

"Correct." Would be the nod and the answer, which would then launch into a detailed description of how the strap would be doubled over so that each stroke felt like two, as the thick leather thudded into itself a milli-second later... the slow build-up of intense pain... the tears, and yes, he would reiterate, he cried as a 15-year-old young man... then the long talk with his father afterward and the full intention never to cheat or to outwardly lie in order to cover up errant behavior again...

You may imagine how such a story might affect me, a freshman in high school, sitting there in the back of the class, not even having turned 13 yet (my birthday was always a few weeks into the school year...)... He would usually take up almost a good half of the 90-minute class period with this story at the beginning of the year...

Did he ever notice how red my face must have turned in the back of the room? Did he ever guess that his story was leaving more of an impression on me, and maybe a few others, than he had ever really intended...? Did he ever realize that, rather than deter one particular student from cheating, he'd planted a rather uncharacteristic and tantalizing fantasy in her young mind...? :D


  1. I reckon you should straight head back to your next school reunion and hope he's there too - or drop him a note congratulating him on his retirement and telling him how inspirational you found him, from the *very* start of each year ;-)

  2. Abel - I've often wondered whether he was something of a spanko himself. It was an under-running theme all year in his class... I've even tried gumming up the courage to ask him -- though haven't quite gotten there yet! :D

  3. That is *such* a mesmerizing account.

    I also had a teacher that talked about spanking constantly, but I suspect she wasn't a spanko. If she were, she would have been quite closeted, and she used the S-word far to freely for that.

    The English teacher who put Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil on my 8th grade list of books on which we could write a report? In that case, maybe!

  4. Most people, when describing being spanked as a child, remove the details. The fact that he didn't makes me suspect that he finds joy in the telling. Definitely a spanko!

    And lovely account. I would have enjoyed being present for that, although my truth would have blossomed on my face for all to see.