Mike and I talked about the introduction of a strop into our home off and on after we returned from our summer visit to Uncle Ted’s. I remember that Mike was fixed on the idea that he’d be first to catch a licking with the new razor strap. I wasn’t sure where he was coming from and tried to figure out why he thought that. He felt he got into trouble more than I did and got more warnings about better behavior. He was right, though I told him I thought I’d probably be first because I was older and needed to be an example to my younger brothers. Mike still thought it “should” be him.
Our conversations about the strop continued. Mike sounded like getting to be the first to be punished with the strop was a competition he really wanted to win. I reminded him about the licking we heard our cousin Thad get from uncle Ted a few weeks earlier. We both remembered that real well. Mike felt he wasn’t “chicken” and could take a licking the same as Thad. For him it seemed a “challenge” or a “dare” that he had to take on.
I have to admit that Mike got me thinking about how I strangely felt the same way and we talked about what seemed like these weird feelings a few years down the road as adults. It was a puzzle Mike and I would live with during our growing years, being both afraid of the strop and at the same time fascinated by it, and actually anxious to experience a whipping with it.
The fascination with the razor strap is something we both carried well into our adult lives. I’m glad Mike was so upfront about his obsession with the strop which lead us to somehow find a way to talk about that, and more. While I initially felt we were two weird brothers, in time we also both discovered that our fascination with the strop was not weird, and it turned out far from unique. It served us well in our adult years.
For the record, Mike was indeed the first to experience a licking from dad with the new strop. I was home when it took place and I recall it very well. “I knew I’d be first” he boasted from across the room that same night after lights out. “As loud as you howled, I didn’t think you’d be bragging about now” I added. Before we fell asleep, he added, “You really have to be at the receiving end of the strop to know what I’m saying. I hope you get it too sometime soon. You’ll see.”
Somehow I knew what he was saying and I was both anxious for and dreading my turn to come.