Big giant head

In Other News

I'm drawing a blank on this side tonight, so I was just asking Beth to suggest a topic.

Calls to mind a cozy, domestic picture, doesn't it? Me calling into the next room for suggestions, Beth coming in to look over my shoulder. Hell, I'm writing this and I'm seeing that cozy picture.

I feel the warmth of a fireplace, and there's the golden glow of oil lamps, and there's a quilt folded over the back of the overstuffed couch, and there's an Irish Setter asleep on the hook rug...

I think I'm in someone else's house. Or maybe it's an ad for Restoration Hardware. Whatever, it sure ain't here.

The truth of the situation is that on the rare occasion that I ask Beth for story ideas, we're usually at opposite ends of the house working on our respective journals. That's too far to yell, so we ICQ each other instead.

Quite the different picture, eh? But don't worry, we see each other face-to-face on weekends. And we're planning on getting Beth a webcam, so we'll soon be able to videoconference. I think it'll do wonders for our marriage.



Monday -- August 30, 1999
Number Two ... with a paddle

Okay, so I didn't get around to posting an actual entry last night. "The best laid plans of mice and men" and all that, dontcha know... But the phrase from In Other News "hold yer horses"... well, that sparked a memory I think I'll write about tonight.

I've talked a little bit about my childhood in here before, oblique tales of loneliness and not fitting in and moving all the time, etc... -- the usual self-indulgent "poor me" rot you hear whenever people talk about how lousy their childhood was. Yeah, yeah, get over it. I mention it again only to tell you that I was a fucking weird kid. That's what this is about, one instance of my kidly weirdness.

10 or 11 years old, 6th grade, Northside Junior High, McMinneville, Tennessee. I don't remember much about this school, but then why would I? -- I only went there for a semester.

What I do remember is that the classroom was trailer-like and something like a duplex, with bathrooms in the middle and a classroom on either side. I remember how bright and new and clean everything looked, which leads me to believe it was a new school. And I remember the paddle.

I had a thing about using the bathroom at school. Specifically, I had a thing about not using it, about not moving my bowels at school. Didn't wanna do it, no way, no how. It was an embarrassment thing, I didn't want people knowing what I was doing in there. Never mind that everyone else did it too; I was ashamed of them knowing when I did it. I didn't mind using the bathroom to urinate, but actually dropping my pants and sitting down to think about it for awhile was absolutely verboten. It was an anti-compulsion so strong it almost bordered on phobia.

Like most people, I generally get the urge to do this deed at about the same time every day. That's called regularity, and while it might be a marvelous thing to enjoy, it's not such a good thing for a 10-year old whose "regular" time was mid-schoolday and who desperately didn't want to be regular at school. Every day I'd have to go and every day I'd be loathe to go. Being an inventive -- and weird -- lad, I came up with a solution. Of sorts.

This was in the early 70's, before the do-gooder sensibilities of anti-corporal punishment, and spankings were doled out liberally. My teacher was fond of giving them out to students who hadn't done their homework. My classroom, like many others of the day, had its own paddle. That paddle was my solution.

As luck would have it, homework was requested and spankings were given out just as my need to be regular would peak. I forgot my homework one day and found a whole new method of bowel control. A few firm administrations of the paddle erased my need to go quite capably. I had to go, then whack-whack-whack I didn't have to go anymore. Figuratively speaking, she beat the crap back into me.

This became a daily routine, one that I would plan for by A) not doing my homework (a happy side benefit) and B) stuffing newspaper down my pants before class. It worked great. I may have been a lousy student, but I never had to take a dump at school. Until one day, when I did.

I don't know how it happened. Maybe I slipped and accidentally did my homework, or maybe the teacher took mercy on me one day and skipped the spanking. Whatever happened, I had to go one day. Bad. And right in the middle of class, too. I had to raise my hand and ask permission and everything. So not only did I have to do my business at school, I also had to call attention to it. Great.

I remember quite clearly what happened next. I was in there on the toilet, still reeling with embarrassment over having to ask in front of everyone to go, and feeling pretty cranky about the whole thing. And apparently I'd been in there for awhile, which I guess is to be expected when you consider my anti-regularity methods, because the teacher sent another student in to check on me.

"Miss Whatsherbucket says to hurry up. She says you've been in here too long."

Oh, great. Fucking great. So now she's timing me and discussing it with the whole class and sending out search parties. What's next, public progress reports? And there was now someone just inches away who knew what I was doing in there. I was convulsed with embarrassment.

But if there's one thing I had drilled into me as I was growing up -- from where or whom, I don't know -- it was this: Don't let Them know. Don't show you're hurt or scared or embarassed or sad. Don't let her know you like her. Don't let him know you want to be friends. Don't reveal anything that could be construed as weakness. My life was a Sure commercial: "Never let them see you sweat."

So I was embarassed six ways from Sunday when the teacher sent this twerp in to flush me out, but there was no way I was going to show it. Instead, I got a little pissed off.

"Tell her I said to hold her horses."

I thought that was pretty cool. I showed that kid that I was nobody to mess with, by teacher or by student. When I'm in here taking a dump, you'd just damned well better leave me alone. I knew I'd impressed the kid with my adult attitude, firmly established myself as a rebel. There was no way in hell he'd actually relay such a scandalous message. Kids just don't talk to or about teachers that way. I knew I could rely on his discretion, that he'd paraphrase for me, but I'd scored monster points for saying it.

That little punk had absolutely no sense of unspoken cool. I came out of that bathroom to find every pair of eyes staring at me and the teacher tapping her paddle in her hand. He'd relayed my message word for word, the little rat bastard. Now I wasn't cool, I was just an idiot. For someone who didn't go to the bathroom for fear of being noticed, I was being paid an unprecedented level of attention.

And after all that grief, brought on because I didn't get my regular spanking, I still got my spanking. And it hurt, too, because I didn't get a chance to stick the newpaper down my pants.

My plan had gone, literally, to shit.

In the immortal words of S.E. Hinton: That was then, this is now.

Now, I'll do the deed damn near anywhere, under almost any conditions. What, no bathroom, only a Folger's coffee can behind a shower curtain in the middle of a city park? No problem, that'll do. Whatever qualms I had about bodily functions have largely been left in my past, along with a host of other weird behaviors. Now, I like to think I'm a normal guy. Well, pretty normal. Sort of normal. Normal enough. Maybe.

And, no, I'm not into spankings.


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Copyright © 1999
Chuck Atkins