November 30th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

I don’t remember the crime, just the punishment. My Dad stood us before him as he conducted psychological warfare from his seat on the couch. The glare. The tormenting, rhetorical questions. “Does he want me to answer that or will an answer just get him more pissed?” The demeaning tone. And the intermittent silence with more glaring. All the while he held a flyswatter in his right hand. And without warning, like a lefty pitcher with a great move to first base, he’d burst to swat us across the upper arm. Crack! Man, that thing hurt. The wiry, metal neck was just thin enough to give it that flex for that all important whip effect while being just thick enough to deliver a proper blow. Adding insult to injury was the knowledge that you were being hit with of all things, a flyswatter. You kill bugs with that thing! Once he showed us why he was holding the flyswatter, then his sporadic, unpredictable delivery became yet another weapon in his psychological arsenal. “Just hit us already, and be done with it!” No, no. It was never that easy. We’d have to endure what felt like hours of this, this cruel and unusual punishment until he was convinced we were loathe to ever do “that” again.

Funny thing was, in our house, my Mom carried the bigger stick. She used whatever was near: sticks, rods, whatever. She once came after me with an aluminum crutch. Although she packed more heat, she wasn’t the scary one. She could not hide her kind-heartedness even as she chased me wielding menacingly that aluminum crutch. We knew there was a cap to what she was capable of. My Dad? He got more done with a flyswatter than my Mom could have with a baseball bat.

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