In the End

Dear Reader, I signed up for a memoir workshop. Our first prompt was to write about something out of reach or something forbidden. Here is what I wrote:

“Karen, did you take gum out of your Mother’s purse? ” Dad asked, but he already knew the answer.

My eyes bugged out, I shook my head no. I could speak. I wasn’t struck dumb. But my mouth was so full of gum and my cheeks were bulging so much that drool would have slopped out if I had opened my mouth.

Yes, I had been caught. I knew of this distinct possibility when I approached the dining room door. There hung Mom’s purses- one for each outfit. I rummaged through them looking for my prize. There were handkerchiefs in one; a comb in another, one was empty, and then! Juicy Fruit. Ahhhh. Blackjack, Clove, and Pepsin were not as sweet. The mint gums had more bite. Only Juicy Fruit was the adult sweet gum.

The adult gum

I grabbed the familiar yellow and red package, replaced the purse, went to my bedroom, unzipped the top, and quickly slid the gum out of their sleeves, opened the foil wrappers, and popped all five pieces into my mouth at once. I was smart enough to know that parsing out this stolen treat was not a good idea.

When Dad confronted me with my chipmunk cheeks, he obviously knew I was lying. And I was thinking two mortal sins in five minutes: stealing and lying!

With a furrowed brow and angry eyes Dad said, “Well, Karen, I’m sorry to do this, but I’m going to spank you. I’m not as angry about the taking of gum without permission but the lying just cannot be tolerated. You can’t lie to your mother and me.”

I don’t remember the actual spanking. I’m sure it hurt, but I think the pain was in the embarrassment and death of trust more than the tingling nerve endings. I cried. I was angry. I felt duped for being caught. I hated Mom and Dad: the co conspirators who spied, who didn’t love me, who trapped my 8-year-old innocence and tried to make me miserable.

At this point I was sure I had been adopted. No parents could do this to their natural born child.  I would run away. Certainly my friend Carolyn would take me in. But could I trust her mother? Could I stow away in her bedroom?

Through a few days of grudging silence and abating anger, I gradually let loose of my frustration and resumed my life.

But the incident did the job. No  more stealing. I got smarter about lying. I never got spanked again.

Lying about five sticks of gum stolen from a purse: A spanking.

The lesson learned: Priceless.