More fantasy stuff...
My Junior year in college I got to room off-campus with 2 friends, Thad and Jake, whom I’d graduated from high school with. We had known each other since early grade school years. We’d all been brought up with the same values and same constraints. It was a time when it was still politically OK to use corporal punishment on kids, at home and at school. We all got an occasional spanking as kids, even into high school years, for me anyway, though in those later years, a spanking usually meant the razor strap, not often but certainly memorable. Apparently that was also true for Thad and Jake, so we were all in the same boat in that regard. We occasionally looked back and kidded each other about the discipline of those years. We were all now “too old” for that, and being a couple hours from home we felt relatively clear of parental surveillance of our lives.
Living off campus meant more serious partying…bad idea. It began to take a toll on our grades, but being away from home, it was maybe a little too easy to lose sight of who was paying the way for college expenses. Like Thad and Jake I’d occasionally catch some flack from my parents over the phone about grades. It was always met with a promise to do better and a quick change of topic.
At semester break that December, while I was home for a couple of weeks, mom and dad sat me down when my younger sibs were out of the house one weekend, and they leveled with me. My end of semester grades were borderline, not acceptable. They knew, as I did, that I was capable of a much better performance. If things didn’t improve dramatically, they would bring my college career to an untimely end. I’d be welcome to come home until I could find a job and then I’d have to be out on my own. They of course got the usual promises from me. We all shook hands. It was a deal. Back in grade school and high school there would have been no discussion, no need for promises, no deals, just a wicked good hiding by dad with the razor strap. How lucky could I be?
One Friday afternoon early in the spring semester I got back to our apartment later than Thad and Jake. Apparently my dad had called and was driving out to visit in a couple of hours, sometime after supper, as soon as he got off his shift as a state trouper. Maybe we’d be going out for a movie and pizza or something I thought. How cool. Whatever, I hit the Internet, checked e-mail, and generally killed time until dad arrived.
Sometime after 7 PM I heard a knock at the door of our apartment and I heard Thad and Jake say hi to dad and invite him in. Jake came to the door of my bedroom, to tell me my dad was here. Jake looked a little nervous, bug-eyed. It seemed strange to me as both he and Thad had met my dad before and got on well with him.
“Your dad’s here, oh, and, good luck” Jake said.
“Good luck? What’s up with that?” I said but not before he’d turned and headed back into the living room. I shut down the computer and headed into the living room.
“Hi dad, great…..uh…..to…uh….see….you….” There was dad, in his state trouper uniform….with his razor strap hanging full length from his right hand.
“Uh…dad….what’s with the strap?” Now I too was bug-eyed. Thad and Jake stood to the side looking frozen in time.
“Maybe you and I should go out for a beer or something, Jake, and come back later.” Thad said.
“No need for that gentlemen. I have to head back home fairly shortly and my visit with Hank won’t be that long.”
‘This isn’t happening’ I thought to myself.
“Let’s all sit for a bit.” Dad said. “Maybe what Hank and I have to talk about will help you guys out too”. Needless to say, we sat. Dad and I sat a few feet apart on the couch. He strategically placed the now doubled over razor strap on the couch between us.
‘Man, how am I ever going to get myself out of this one?’ I thought.
“Hank”, dad started in, “I’ve been checking in with the Registrar on a weekly basis to get feedback on what’s going on with you in class, testing-wise, etc., and have gotten some not-so-good feedback from him as well as from your current profs. Care to comment?”
Wow, dad had been dead serious when I was home at semester break.
“Uh…well…I’ve been trying....but not hard enough…I guess.”
“You guess?” dad asked.
“Well OK. I figured I had the whole semester to make my promise good. I’ve made a few efforts, and…well….uh….ask Thad and Jake…we’ve been talking….and….”
Dad looked over at Thad and Jake and added, “Hank and I are going to leave you men out of this conversation, if that’s OK with you. Your dads can deal with you or not, as they please, that’s their call.”
Dad turned his look back at me. He genuinely looked sad and hurt. I felt like shit. I looked him back in the eye and said “I’m sorry” and meant it. Dad was my best friend. He could be pretty strict, but I always felt he was very fair and that I got only what I deserved.
“Here’s the deal Hank. Your mom and I decided that if your grades and attitude don’t improve, and I mean dramatically Hank, we’re offering you a choice. Either you can drop out of college immediately, come home and get yourself a job, stash some cash and have enough to get back to college….or maybe not, it would be totally up to you….on your own steam in a few years, or, we continue to fund your college right now and through graduation next year, but with some added insurance that you’re going to perform well above average as we all know you can do. That’s what the razor strap is all about….it’s the insurance…and if you chose to continue in college the insurance goes into practice tonight before I leave for home and any other time your mom or I feel it’s needed. So, Hank, what’s your pleasure?”
My heart sank. For me there really was no choice. The least painful, short-term choice was to drop out and avoid a licking…in front of my friends no less….but mom and dad I guess had gotten something through my thick skull after all…sometimes the long-term choice, though not necessarily the easiest or least painful, was more than likely the best choice.
“I want to stay in school dad.”
“You know what you’ve just chosen then?”
“Hank, I had no doubt you’d make the right choice, however temporarily very, very unpleasant.”
I turned to Thad and Jake. “Maybe you guys can disappear while my dad takes the strap to me, or maybe you’d like to stay put and listen to what you should both also be getting?”
“Don’t worry Hank” dad added, “when I get home I’ll be speaking to both their dads about what happened here tonight for sure. Maybe Thad and Jake will yet find out first hand what the price of a college education is. OK Hank, lets get this over with.”
With that, dad and I disappeared into my room and dad closed the door. I knew the routine. I got my sneakers and jeans off and lay face down on my bed. Dad took it from there. Believe me, he made absolutely sure that he would not have to do this again as the strap came down over and over across my cotton underpants, little protection believe me. The price of a college education went up quite a bit in a very short while for me that night. I learned my lesson though. A repeat appearance of dad and his razor strap was never required.
As for Thad and Jake, well I did not reappear from my room that night or for most of that weekend for that matter. Thad and Jake didn’t say much when our paths crossed during the ensuing hours after of my strapping by dad, except that both admitted that maybe they deserved the same “insurance”, oh well. They never made fun of me or spoke to anyone else about what happened. I thought that was pretty decent. They admitted to me only at the end of our Junior year that within a couple of weeks of my strapping, they both also had their college education “insured” by their dads on weekends home…..and more than once!