You know how smug I can get about being good for longest stretches of time? Well, sometimes destiny has a way of giving smug girls unsubtle hints that maybe they (the girls) could do with being less self-satisfied. My hints came last Saturday morning, and took shape of a paddling and a caning for two separate offences within a stretch of less than four hours.
What can I say? Ouch, that’s what.
It started when I got out of bed at 6.30 in the morning. I’ve been doing this a lot lately, and consequently have been zonking out at 10pm, no good for company or conversation. (I know, I know. This seems like a lot of sleep, but it isn’t for me, honestly.) Problem was, we were supposed to dine out on Saturday, so I’d pretty much have to be charming (or at least coherent) until the ungodly hour of 11.30.
Abel told me to go back to bed.
Uh, no, said I. I was awake now. Who was he anyway, to tell me when to go to sleep? I’d been managing my own bedtime since moving out of my parents’ house, thanks.
That I gave this speech, and was then surprised when Abel gave me The Look, probably demonstrates how not-awake I really was.
He told me to go to bed Now.
This woke me up a little bit more, and I began to realise where this was heading if I didn’t comply. However, this "Eeeek! I’m about to get my bottom smacked!" rush came over me, and, sharply aware of what was happening, yet unable to stop, I said:
"No! I’m not going to bed!" – and stomped my foot for emphasis.
A rather stunned look appeared on Abel’s face, as though he couldn’t quite believe what he’d just seen. He grasped me by the upper arm and marched me to the bedroom – true to form, I whined loudly enough that even our cat got an expression of disbelief – and there he picked up a small, yet dense wooden paddle that is currently our pet implement.
"Heeeey! Not fair, NOT fair!" I complained, knowing full well that it was as fair as these matters get. I whinged all the way over his lap.
Once he had me where he wanted me, he got to paddling my behind with every thoroughness. It didn’t take very long for me to admit (very loudly, in between yelps) that I’d been very wrong to disobey him. The wood of the paddle was smooth and cool, but my bottom became peppery-hot in no time. Abel verified this by giving me a hearty pinch, and transferred me from over his lap under the bedcovers. (Where he promptly joined me for cuddles, which could have, I suppose, been worth it if not for my smarting behind.)
Naturally, I thought that was that for a Saturday morning. I wasn’t planning to misbehave any more. Not that I ever plan to misbehave, but you know.
And yet, we hadn’t been up for a couple of hours when Abel started tidying the kitchen, and there he discovered my Flagitious Crime.
We have this coffee machine, see, and it doesn’t need cleaning *every* time it’s used, but it does need cleaning every now and again, preferably before small creatures start to evolve out of discarded coffee muck. It’s a very easy job: take out the little drawer where the dregs go, shake out the stuff into the bin, rinse the drawer and pop it back in. Easy.
Unless you (or I) forget about it for weeks, and the dregs start growing mouldy. Despite the fact that I’ll probably never be a professor, I’ve got a tendency for professorial absent-mindedness, so I forget to clean the machine a lot. Abel has lectured me about it three or four times, but normally I remember to clean out coffee creatures before he discovers them.*
But not this time. "Yuck!" I heard from the kitchen. This didn’t alarm me: he says "yuck" a lot while cleaning, being one of the more squeamish people I’ve met. But then he cried: "Uuuugh! Ewww! Yuckyuckyuck!" and continued in the similar vein for the next five minutes. I stuck my head into the open door, and beheld something that turned even my lightly-squeamish stomach, and which I shan’t describe, other than to say that the last time I’d seen so much variously coloured organic matter, it was in the film "Habitat", which was a cool film, despite being uncommonly disgusting.
"Oh," I said in a small voice. Abel finished shaking the coffee monsters into the bin, turned around and fixed me with a stare that was not as much stern, as full of hurt and reproach. I felt about this big. I said: "I’m sorry." Because I was.
"Have we talked about this before?" Abel enquired.
"We have," I said. And added: "I’m really, really sorry."
"Upstairs," he said.
I gave my already paddled behind a little rub on the way up, but I felt so mortified at having bred the monsters in the coffee machine, that I didn’t feel very sorry for myself at all at this point. I even shut the window and closed the blinds without having to be told to, which just shows how ready I was to accept a punishment.
When Abel showed up with a cane in his hand, I didn’t make even a squeak of protest, although my insides felt all wobbly. It was the scary cane that he’d brought in: the straight-handled one, coming from a real school. I arranged my own pillows in the middle of the bed, and plopped down over them, my backside pointing at the ceiling.
"Four," said Abel. He knew there didn’t need to be a lecture. I clenched the bedding in my hands so hard that my fingertips ached. I breathed. And breathed. And breathed. And waited.
By the time the cane finally whistled down and cracked into my skin, I was a nervous wreck, and tearing up a little. The pain became a welcome relief. I howled,** and yipped, and waited for the next stroke, both wanting and not wanting it to land. Abel tapped me for aim; I saw his shadow on the wall raise its shadow stick and squeezed my eyes shut before a new slice of pain. I maid little hurt noises, and hoped I could stay in position just as well for the rest. I was half-way through.
More waiting. More tapping. I clenched and unclenched my fingers and tentatively watched the shadow. The shadow stick went up; I stuck my face into the bedding and held my breath, but nothing happened. The cane returned to tapping. I carefully breathed in and turned my head – and that was when it struck, a flash of pure pain, and then another one at once, building on the rest. Breath caught in my throat, and I couldn’t even scream. I thrashed about, but it didn’t matter any more: it was done.
Only when Abel sat on the bed next to me and stroked my shoulder, did I manage to give a voice to my pain. "Good girl," he said, and I said: "Owwwwww." I let myself be gathered into his lap and comforted, and reflected how little I could recommend getting a caning on top of a paddling within a few hours of each other.
Come to think of it, I can scarcely recommend a punishment paddling or a caning separately, either.
Come to think of it again, I’d better go and clean that coffee machine.
*I will thank you for not asking why Abel doesn’t clean the machine more often himself, for if you ask this, he will get cranky.
** Very quietly: the neighbours were in.