Thought storage post

Disclaimer: 'kay, this post sums things up for me and offers a kind of "introduction" to my blog. I am working to make sure it stays in the top spot of my homepage but if it doesn't, sorry and you need to go look for it.


A silver-lining moment

not a story, just a whine...

'k folks, this weekend pretty much sucked out loud. A lot of events happened (none of which were planned, btw) that impacted my little slice of heaven. If only other people would do things my way...oh well, their loss.

After reviewing things I have come up with the silver-fucking-lining moment (I try hard to find some semblance of positive energy in things - just takes awhile sometimes). So, drum roll....

The water has stopped pouring into the bathroom and the ceiling is only cracked - hasn't actually fallen down.

See, what did I tell ya' ?

Father's Day

Hey guys, this is a bit angsty. Just wanted to warn ya' in case you were having a good day (I'm like that, always looking out for folks). The muse decided "A family picture" needed a sequel...

Today is Father's Day. I am not sure what I am supposed to do...wasn't supposed to be here...again.

How did this happen ? There are a million reasons...and none.

My head understands...just wish my heart did.

He's here and everything looks normal. It isn't.

I hear the screaming in my head - how can he ignore it ? Maybe he hears it a whisper.

I look around the room and see my least it feels like my family.
Is it ? The more important question I want it to be ?

I cherish this picture...just don't trust it.

It isn't mine odd. It never occurred to me that I would lose it.
I didn't lose it...wasn't up to me.

I told him to leave...helped him pack.

It still wasn't up to me.

He said it was...the kids said it looked like it was.

It wasn't....would've been easier.

He knew what was required to stay...and agreed.
For a minute or so it seemed.

I love him...always have and always will. I can't change.....him.
How odd.

I tried...desperately hung on. It started to crumble that day so long ago...and another day....and another day.

Finally, all that was left were the crumbs. Enough to survive but not live.

That's ultimately the choice - survive or live. Just took me a long time to tell the difference.

I know the difference now...and it still hurts.

What to do now...that is up to me.
Always has been.

Fuck him.


Slut, tease or normal girl ?

This is an interesting question and one that more people should be asking themselves. I'm not going to wonder about guys since: 1. I am not a guy and 2. They really don't care as long as the offer of future sex is on the table (come on, you know it's true...fine, pretend to be all "offended" then).

Thinking back to the origins of this question, I would have to say it started with my last break-up. It wasn't pretty, wasn't ugly - just was. Before you even go there, NO I wasn't a slut and neither was he. We maintained a monogamous relationship (at least he said so) for several years and I have no reason to doubt that. Besides, we both suck at lying and no one ever brought any little critters home.

Where this comes into play is after the break-up. Now, do you stop seeing each other completely or is an occasional booty call okay? Stop shaking your head and think about it for a minute. Here are 2 people that have been together for a long time. We are comfortable and can walk around naked without thinking about it. Come on, the level of intimacy required to have a conversation with someone while performing a bikini wax is pretty impressive and let's not talk about all the times I was brushing my teeth or popping into the bathroom for something while he was contentedly sitting on the throne. Anyway, you get the idea...

So, back to the question. What about just having a booty call without sex? Think about it for a minute and let me explain. We could meet at his place or mine, either works as long as we are the only ones home. He could still get that look in his eye - the one that causes a little flutter of butterflies and a little tingle in other areas. He can still take my hand and gently but firmly lead me to the chair. He can sit down, pull me in front of him and speak that one word.


His voice will be a little harder but his eyes will still be gentle as I risk a glance. He'll wait patiently as I stand before him, eyes downcast as a pink tide slowly washes over my cheeks. Eventually my body will start moving a little, shifting weight from one leg to the other. It won't be obvious but he will notice the subtle movement as he studies me. I'll feel his hand under my chin as he raises my eyes to meet his.

"So...." he'll repeat, this time a dash of impatience may be present in his voice, maybe not.

I'll take a deep breathe and begin my part in this play. "I want to be spanked."

"Have you done something to deserve a spanking?" His voice will be calm and controlled as his eyes remain fixed on mine. I'll try to look down but he won't let me. "Answer me little girl."

I'll confess whatever misdeed I have done. It may simply be swearing or missing a medication dose. It may be letting dishes pile up in the sink or not paying the bills on time. It may be staying up too late or working too hard. It may be that I just need a spanking. Regardless, I'll confess.

"Lower your pants, please," is the next line in this play. My hands may shake a little as I unsnap my pants. I'll place my hands on his shoulders as I lower them to my ankles with trembling hands...eyes gazing at the floor.

I'll feel myself gently moved to his side, his firm thighs underneath as I am pulled over his lap. His arm will firmly drape around my body, securing me next to him. I'll notice his hand resting on my bottom while he softly scolds me. The absence of his hand will alert my body...nerve endings will come alive. A sense of welcome and dread will fill my heart for a moment. It is hard for me to accept this desire...craving....need. Nonetheless, I will.

I'll jerk a little at the shock of his hand smacking my bottom. He'll quickly develop a rhythm as I slowly immerse myself in the hypnotizing cadence. I'll feel the weight of his hand...the increasing warmth spreading across my body as he continues to offer this gift. I'll hear the sound of each smack coupled with the increase in my breathing while relishing in intimacy. Yes, we can still participate in this play.

I'll be brought out of my reverie by the sensation of his hand simply resting on my ass. He'll continue scolding me for whatever transgression I confessed. His voice will remain soft but sternness will touch every word. I’ll refrain from speaking...this is my part of the play.

Eventually, I'll feel his hand reach under my panties as he slowly peels them down to my knees. A sharp intake of breath and possible plea for an end will pass my lips. "Not yet," will pass his.

The cool air will provide some comfort to my warm skin and I know a rosy hue is under the surface waiting to erupt. He'll gently rub my ass and may give a little squeeze to each cheek. His hand will leave as I am forced to wait. He’s in control now...that is my gift.

He can use his hand or paddle or belt to continue...choice is his. Another gift from me.

He'll pull me closer to his body and simply state, "I love you." I'll feel the burn as I hear the crack of something…his hand will feel hot, the paddle cold and the belt warm...choice is his.

He'll continue to smack my bottom as the rosy hue bubbles to the surface. The warmth evolve to stinging and eventually pain...pleasure...both. I'll get lost in the intensity of this world as my body reaches out for more. As it finally ends, he'll slowly caress my ass while summoning me to this world with his soothing words.

I'll make my way back, languishing in the pleasure of having this need satisfied...for now.

I'll find myself resting on his lap while his arms provide a secure blanket of comfort and safety. I will feel peace here...his gift to me. I'll nestle deeper into his chest and smile at the question in his gift to him.

What happens next is my dilemma. If we do have sex am I a slut? I think so, especially since I am in another monogamous relationship. Good, you agree.

If we don't have sex, am I a tease or a normal girl? Sure, it could be construed as teasing but it could also be considered flirting (which is normal human behavior). Now do you see my dilemma?!

Yeah, she thought so too…and likes the play.

Think I’ll be a normal girl after all.


I wonder...

I wonder if I'll ever be able to articulate my thoughts and feelings without resorting to this "prose."

Is it really easier for me to express them this way or just something I can hide behind ? A way to have a barrier between me and them take the edge off the rawness ?

Otherwise, they seem so intense, confusing and ...brutal.

I wonder if this is how true artists feel. If they experience the same sense of freedom I do...and the desperation.

The need to release becomes consuming...the fear of being devoured by them growing...until I write.

I wonder if this makes me an artist ? A wannabe ? Or simply desperate ?

I wonder if it will ever get easier. My head knows it will...has in the past.

Still, I wonder if that will be the truth.

Will the intensity wane...will I breath again ? I wonder when...

I wonder if it is worth it. Did I make the right choice ? For me ? My family ? For you ?

I wonder if I am just being selfish....I am.

I wonder what that makes me...human.

I wonder if that is has to be.

I know this is all I can do...for now.


Framing is the key

Part 6...usual disclaimers. Oh yeah, this one is also long so I suggest a comfy chair and empty bladder.

Shit. Looking around from my vantage point, I spot my anthropology book resting on the bedside table (I use it as a sleeping aid). Bolting out of the chair, I walk (run) to retrieve my school book and replace it with the novel (alright, trashy novel) I had been reading. See, I (Tina) set up a study schedule this semester, especially for boring classes like Anthropology. Yeah, I said it – boring! I am required to study this horrid class for at least a half-hour each day and one hour per night at least three days before a test. The bedtime reading apparently doesn’t count towards my study time per the School Czar. Nope, doesn’t count at all.

“Hi there,” states my beloved from the bedroom door. Whew, almost didn’t make it.

“Hi honey,” I reply from the comfort of my chair. “Dinner should be ready in about 30 minutes,” I inform her smiling innocently.

“Good, that gives me enough time to shower while you study.”

Now, I have options here – the first is “What do you mean – I’ve been studying since I got home.” Behind door number two is to simply ignore her comment and resume reading the book. I could provide an eye-roll or pout as an adjunct to door number two. Door number three is my personal favorite – just stand up and undress – this should provide a sufficient distraction and there is a chance she will completely forget about the study schedule. Seeing her arched eyebrow and arms crossed, I elect door number two.

See, this is the deal. I am a fulltime music teacher who decided to return to graduate school. I forgot how utterly boring some classes are and it just pisses me off that I am paying to be put to sleep (I can do that myself for free). I am in my third year and have got four more classes to complete before I am free of the collegiate shackles (pretty descriptive, huh? Living with an English professor does have advantages). I really hate school right now.

Apparently my interest has been waning the closer I get to graduation. I didn’t really see it and requested some objective data to support that statement (I know – pretty good comeback). Tina responded with three swats and asked if that was enough data. It was.

My major is music…MUSIC, not anthropology. One cool thing (and there is ONLY one) about this class is the field trip. We are scheduled to go on a “dig” somewhere in Utah (apparently a lot of old things are buried there) to uncover stuff. Yeah, an openly gay lesbian musician in the heart of Utah – sounds fun, huh? I’m sure there will be plenty of entertainment venues to explore.

Anyway, I am scheduled to go next week (taking freaking vacation time from work – can you believe that?). Tina will be unable to accompany me (she’s saving her vacation time for …vacation…. I hate school) during this excursion. I mentioned to Tina that Jan and Ian will be going (we’ve been classmates for the past two years) and I shouldn’t be too lonely (pout with glistening eyes – didn’t want to overdo it). She still decided to save her vacation time (I so hate school).

Engrossed in my book (hey, you’re not the only one surprised by that) I didn’t hear Tina come up behind me. “Come on honey, lets go eat,” she says while giving me a quick squeeze. Sounds good to me!! I’m hungry, will get credit for the meal and get to quit reading this book (I hear Alistair Cook from Masterpiece Theater narrating the book in my head – told you it was boring).

Placing the book on the table (leaving it on the floor would violate the MF ‘mess-free for you first time readers’ policy) I decide to follow the aroma of garlic (we’re having lasagna). Dinner proceeds nicely (Martha Stewart moment for me) and I really enjoy spending time with my partner. We discuss politics (republican free house), the events of the day and my upcoming trip. Life is good.

Finally, the day of my departure arrives. We say our good-byes (hug and kiss) as I race towards the bus. Thankfully it is a charter bus with relatively comfortable seats. We had ‘good-bye’ festivities before leaving the house…fun but lingering, know what I mean? Ah well, the slight discomfort with sitting was well worth it (she’s been studying also - bet she doesn’t hear Masterpiece theater when reading those books. Then again, Alistair Cook did have a sexy English accent…).

We arrive at the location and begin the process of disembarking. No, we aren’t sleeping in some flimsy tents like the Indiana Jones movies. Instead, we are staying at a quaint local motel. Yeah, quaint….real freaking quaint. A Bible, radio and TV (gets three channels) are the only “extras” in the room. The bed isn’t bad, sheets smell clean and there is a desk. The only evidence of twenty-first century know-how is a wireless network for my laptop (probably other people’s too). Apparently, this entire area if wi-fi. Go figure.

The actual work at the site is surprisingly interesting. Supposedly you can tell a lot about people based on buried stuff. Lot more interesting seeing it then reading about it, that’s for sure. The Utah sun is a bit bright and I am glad sunscreen had been tucked away in my bag (Tina is always looking out for my health) and a big floppy hat will adorn my head anytime I venture out into the sun. I have no problem sacrificing looks for comfort in Utah…no problem at all.

Now, I know what you are thinking and it isn’t true. I have no intention of offending the local folks in this area and will be very respectful of the quaint customs. In other words, I won’t wear the “I’m a lesbian and so are you?” button. People really do a double take when they first read the button (lesbian is in pink letters) and I frequently need to point out the whole” it’s a question, not a statement” thing. Still, I don’t want to get shot so the button will remain tucked away.

Digging all day is very tiring and I do find shoveling to be tasking. Kneeling on the ground while using a brush or little pick-ax thing isn’t a whole lot easier. Times like this I realize that I am, in fact, NOT a twenty-something kid… I really hate them right now.

Ibuprofen and Tylenol are quickly becoming a regular part of my diet and I learn how to dry swallow those pills. Let me point out what an amazing feat that is considering we are in the middle of a DESERT so spit is a luxury. Can’t wait to show Tina the new trick I learned in school (is the sarcasm apparent yet?).

The five days are quickly flying by and since I want to get the most out of my educational experience I elect to abstain from evening festivities. Okay, okay – I’m older than they are and ready for bed by 8pm – satisfied?! Man, I hate twenty-something people. Anyway, the last day finally arrives and we set about wrapping up the trip. A final briefing on the bus and I am making my way back to the welcoming arms of my beloved.

Oh yeah, I skipped something…just a little something but it does have the potential to throw a monkey wrench into the welcome home festivities. Granted, a little monkey wrench but a monkey wrench none the less. You know, I see the smirk and it really isn’t nice to revel in the misfortune, sorry, ‘potential’ misfortune of others…not nice at all.Yeah well, you’ll feel really stupid when everything works out FINE…I hope.

So anyway, this is what happened and it really wasn’t a big deal. Remember how I said the dig finally came to an end and we wrapped up the trip? What I forgot to mention was HOW we wrapped up the trip. We (Jan and Ian) decided to dine at a local establishment. The food was good and all was going well…a few laughs, high fives and we were having a grand time. While eating our burgers at the bar (didn’t mention that – sorry) we decided to support the local business owner and have a few beers (always civic minded). Now, I think everyone knows that beer automatically improves one’s pool game. Quit shaking your head – you know that you have thought the same thing.

Anyway, pool seemed like a good idea at the time and it only made sense to continue improving our game by whatever means were at our disposal(as long as we had cash there was plenty of beer at our disposal). We continued to play (and drink) for most of the evening. Around midnight it became apparent that we sucked at pool plus the cash was almost gone. It also became apparent to the bar owner that pool cues in the hands of drunk college students had the potential to inflict damage on both customers and glassware. It was time to go.

This is where the little monkey wrench makes an appearance. While walking home I decided that I was overdressed and went about rectifying that situation. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember that: 1. I wasn’t wearing a tank top underneath my blouse and 2. I had traded the sports bra for a black lacy thing. That lapse in memory was going to cost me.

I took off my blouse, looked like a hooker and had no idea of the aforementioned 1 and 2. It seemed fine to me. The local sheriff deputy didn’t share my opinion.

I could have simply put the blouse back on, apologized profusely to the man with a gun and all would have been well. Yeah, I could have but I didn’t. Instead my mouth opened and words began pouring out. I tried to explain that I was NOT in fact a hooker by pointing out the flaws in the deputy’s assessment (called him a hick cop with no concept of fashion) and insisting on my right to display my personal fashion preferences. He quickly followed up with his right to handcuff me and haul my ass to jail. This is the potential monkey wrench I was alluding to earlier (just in case you missed it).

Handcuffs have a sobering effect and I conceded his point well before entering the police station…well before!! As I was escorted inside the local station the kind officer noted a change in my demeanor. Okay, it may have been triggered by my weeping and continual apologizing during the trip – I don’t know.

Anyway, we arrived, handcuffs were removed and I was only issued a ticket for public intoxication. Apparently, the fashion Gods smiled down upon me and opened this man’s eyes…either that or the sobbing. The sobering effect of handcuffs seemed to extend to Jan and Ian by the time they arrived at the police station to collect me. I put the fine on my Visa and we made a beeline for the motel.

So, that brings us back to the bus briefing. The ride home seemed to drag on forever and I had already taken my last two Tylenol that morning with breakfast (a little toast, lots of coffee and a Pepto-Bismol chaser…mmmm). Arriving at the bus station, everyone quickly disembarks the bus and the three of us head to Jan’s BMW (she isn’t a teacher). She deposits me home fifteen minutes later and I stumble into the foyer, kick off my shoes, and lug the duffel bag to the laundry room…the contents will just have to wait until I have had a shower and nap. Yep, that is my plan and I am confident I will be able to adhere to it as I head up the stairs…first shower and then bed…goal met.

Slowly emerging from the blissful state of REM sleep, I quickly identify the soothing aroma of coffee. “It’s on the table,” Tina softly informs me while gently kissing my forehead. After being together for almost two decades, she knows how I am before coffee. She once described me as an adorable kitten with vampire fangs…hence, the forehead kiss.

I manage a “thank you” and proceed to focus on the lifesaving liquid before me. “It’s 10 by the way,” she casually mentions as she walks out the door. She must be psychic…then again, she knows how I feel about alarm clocks (product of the devil) and who the hell knows where my watch is. Wow, I must have been out cold since I have NO memory of anything after burrowing under the covers last night (yes, it was around 8pm and I am not old...just mature).

The coffee helps me return to the land of the living and the potential for becoming vertical increases with each sip. The final sip, however, cinches the deal and I decide to make my way to the kitchen. Arriving in the land of plenty, I notice the coffee pot is already on the table and breakfast is waiting (Martha Stewart moments aren’t exclusive to me). Sitting down, I fill my cup and begin to devour the bacon and eggs my beloved has prepared for me (and her too, I guess). Tina chuckles during my eating frenzy and I remind her that I am paying a compliment to her cooking. She mentions the potential for choking when inhaling food. Yeah well, I laugh in the face of danger so there. I didn’t realize how prophetic those words really were…

I make it through the perils of breakfast and we decide to enjoy our coffee on the back deck. A beautiful day, sun is shining and the birds are chirping – nothing can go wrong.

“So, Sam how was the trip,” she asks in a calm voice. Now, that is a perfectly reasonable question (or so the voice in my head says) and there is no cause for alarm.

“Good.” I’m thinking one word answers are the way to go right now. Hopefully she will get the hint and let me enjoy my coffee in silence. She doesn’t.

“What did you do?” Well now, that question is a potential minefield and I need to think about the intricacies of answering without actually lying.

Tina isn’t going to give me any flak about the drinking thing, being arrested or even the wardrobe malfunction…after all, we are both adults. She will, however, have an issue with the “disrespecting a man with a gun” thing. I need to think about the best way to “frame” the activities…yep, that is the key to the whole thing – framing while blurring the picture just a little (remember Cybil Shepard in the last season of Moonlighting…see, precedent? For those of you not old enough to remember Moonlighting, I hate you along with your twenty-something friends).

I quickly fill Tina in using phrases such as “you know school stuff” and “back-breaking digging” – figure I might as well go for the sympathy vote. I decide to end the narrative by telling her about our dining experience, performance enhancing techniques and subsequent run-in with law enforcement. I described that as “we were drunk, I took off my shirt without realizing I didn’t have on my tank top so the cop gave me a ticket. Oh, by the way, I put the $67.00 on the Visa.” Stop shaking your head like that – framing, remember?

“Wow, sounds like quite a trip,” she blurts out before succumbing to a laughing fit. “That explains the extended trip to slumberland.” I just nod my head and start laughing too. Laughter is contagious and important for mental health. It is also important for butt health, at least mine. A laughing Tina is a happy Tina and a distracted Tina…at least I hope.

Finally, we both stop laughing and make a run for the bathroom. Since I had not enjoyed my morning Tylenol/ibuprofen cocktail, she beat me to the downstairs bathroom. You would think the obviously injured person would be shown mercy…you would be wrong.

I am amazed by the pain relieving powers of urine or rather the desire to dispose of said urine. Yessiree Bob, I ran up those stairs and bolted into the bathroom while untying the drawstring on my pajamas in my dash for the bowl. Fortunately I was in the process of sitting down before the dribbling started so this goes in the win column. I’ll ask Miss Blizzard Feet if she had any dribbling before the finish line. Then again, if she did experience moisture, she may not think it is as funny as I do…fuck it, I’m going to ask anyway. (Hey twenty-something folks – enjoy being dribble-free while you can!)

Ten minutes later I am finally washing my hands and marveling at the strength of my sphincter muscles (it’s not THAT gross), open the door and head towards the stairs.

“Sam, why don’t you come sit by me.” I swear there is huskiness in her voice.

Turning around slowly, I see Tina sitting on the bed gently patting the spot next to her. I, of course, am still on an endorphin high after the run/pee endurance contest and figure it is time for some “welcome home” activities. I find out later how mistaken I am.

Quickly making my way to the bed, I decide to forgo tying my pajamas and step out of them on my way to a different “land of plenty.” I can’t wait to explore the inviting territory before me. As I reach my target, Tina reaches out and takes my hand. Guiding me across her lap, I conclude we are about to start the festivities. Seems reasonable to me. Stop shaking you head - must be nice to have a prophet license and see the future…fine, I concede that possibly, maybe there were a few hints along the way that I might be off base. I find out later that I’m not even in the ballpark (glad I could make you laugh).

Relaxing over her lap, I feel her hand gently rubbing my back and ass. Lulled into a false sense of safety, Tina asks me if there was anything else she should know before she gives me my welcome home present. “Uh uh baby,” I manage to say as my breathing increases. Shit, that woman knows me well!!

“And the conversation with the police officer?” Later I find out Jan had stuck a “get out of jail free” card in my bag and had written “replacement” on the back. Sucks that Tina wanted to get a head start on the laundry…really sucks. Still in an endorphin fog, I inform my beloved that I did get a little mouthy but he let me off with the public intoxication ticket once we got to the police station.

“You failed to mention that earlier.” That is all she says. You would think the sudden drop of two octaves in her voice (yes, it dropped that much…musician, remember?) plus the light flickering would tip me off…you would be wrong. Throw in the theme from “The Omen” and you get the idea. Tina waits patiently for the inevitable “click” in my brain. Fuck, I am dead and I have no one to blame but myself. Then it happened, reality came crashing down on my poor ass with a vengeance.

Not one to waste time on trivial matters (my sniveling), Tina goes about communicating her views in a passionate manner. I had no idea how swiftly endorphins wear off and my libido follows suit. After fourteen hours (no watch or alarm clock, remember?)of hard-hitting expression, Tina finally rests her hand (wooden) on my scorched bottom.

“Sam, why are you getting this spanking?” Like she doesn’t know? It is certainly NOT my idea so why should I answer the question?! Is she in an “information gathering” mode? Suddenly stricken with amnesia? Noooo, she asks this question to and I quote “make sure there are no misunderstandings.” Fuck, who cares about misunderstandings when all I can think about is being transported to the North Pole (beam me up Scotty) and sitting on an iceberg for the next ten years. Think about it - Tina would be responsible for glaciers melting. I’m not going to mention that right now.

A sharp smack brings me back from Santa’s homeland. “Because I didn’t tell you about my conversation with the cop.” That little revelation is met with the four words I dread the most. “Sam, please lift up.” No need to clarify “what” I need to lift or why. A small shudder runs down my spine as I comply with her request (demand). She takes a minute and rubs my back – she felt the shudder too. Tina is like that – making sure I know that she loves me and is there no matter what. That little act brings solace…a little.

Now that the lovefest is over, Tina sets about turning my blushing bottom into a hot, crimson mound of quivering flesh. I hope I have painted a vivid picture. Let me say it another way – I am fucked and this is going to hurt beyond the telling of it. I also need it to atone for lying. Tina forgave me a long time ago...I haven’t.

The sound of flesh meeting flesh echoes off the walls for five years (10 minutes, SUPPOSEDLY). Of course, “I’m sorry” mixed with “please stop” and “that’s too hard” make their way into the medley. Oh yeah, no “Sam spanking song” would be complete without the timeless “I’ll NEVER do it again.” Tina always makes sure I include all the choruses before ending.

Tina’s vocal contributions consist of “You will never do fill-in-the-blank again” and the occasional “knock it off Samantha Marie” – this happens when my hands/legs decide to sacrifice themselves to the “bottom buster” in an attempt to save my ass. The “bottom buster” always wins but there is a chance some leg or hand will get thru to provide a protective shield for the targeted area. I know, it NEVER works but a girl can dream.

Tina secures my arms and legs with ease (she has six hands) while continuing to make her point. Swat after swat rain down as tears roll down my face. Then it happens, I surrender and the guilt washes over me. Tina intuitively knows when this happens and quickly pulls me into the safety of her embrace. I nestle further into her chest and feel her arms wrap around me as she carries me to the rocking chair.

Tina continues to softly repeat those timeless words that all repentant souls long to hear. I love you…I forgive you…I’m right here. My tears continue as I struggle to trust her comfort and silence that voice that questions my worthiness to be forgiven. That voice always makes an appearance but has been rendered powerless over the years – almost. The voice is quelled as acceptance/love replaces my guilt. Tina’s response to that voice is simple – “Fuck off.” She does have a way with the English language, huh?

I shyly glance into her eyes. I know I will find compassion and unconditional love. I also know my eyes will reveal relief and contentment. Slowly crawling off her lap, I notice the arched eyebrow. My response is quick – removing my shirt I whisper, “It’s time for the ‘welcome home’ festivities to begin.”

Life is good. Life is very good.

This day keeps getting better and better

Part 5...usual disclaimers

Whoa, where the hell am I and who the hell is standing over me? “Lady, are you all right?” Hell yes I’m all right – why wouldn’t I be?

Scanning the surroundings a few things dawn on me. First – I am lying in the street which explains the “Lady” question. Second, my head is killing me and I am not sure I can get up. Third, squinting is the best I can do. Shit, this is a little awkward and people are beginning to gather ‘round. It’s time to get vertical again.

Slowly getting to a sitting position (much more dignified than lying on the street) I am overcome with a bout of dizziness coupled with nausea. Man this isn’t good. “Do I need to call someone?” my teenage Knight in Shining Armor asks as I struggle to retain my stomach contents. This isn’t going well.

Opening my eyes and glancing upward, I realize the sun is shooting arrows into my retinas. This is actually quite painful (arrow-retina thing). Using my eyelids as shields against the attacking sun, I realize my quest for verticalness (yeah, it’s not exactly a word but you get my drift) may need to be tweaked a bit. Quickly deciding vertical isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, I decide to go horizontal again. Yeah, it is a conscious decision, completely in my control. Completely.

A grandmotherly type woman, at least she sounds that way, gently pats my shoulder and tells me help is on the way. Now, usually I would insist that help was completely unnecessary; I was fine and quite capable of taking care of this myself. However, the arrows-retinas thing coupled with the ‘spins from hell’ leave me surprisingly agreeable. Amazing what pain and nausea can do to decision making processes.

Hearing the siren and yes, it is pretty freaking loud, only serves to bury the ‘retina arrows’ deeper into my brain as I struggle to get up. “Don’t even think about it.” I recognize that voice and quickly decide to remain prone.

You see, that voice belongs to my partner of seventeen years. She is a lovely woman with soft hazel eyes, long brown hair and an athlete’s body to die for. Tina is an English professor at the local college and was certainly not expected home at this hour – at least not by me. Yes siree Bob, her arrival is definitely an unexpected event and I have a feeling she has surveyed the surroundings and has a pretty good idea of the underlying cause of my current position. Oh yeah, she is a quick study and knows me well.

This is definitely not turning out how I planned.

Groaning, I do the only thing left and just let my head fall back. I feel her hand on my shoulder as she gives me a little squeeze. “You’ll be okay honey,” she whispers softly in my ear. For some reason her voice quells the nausea a little and she deftly places her hand over my eyes to further thwart the sun’s attempts to impale me. Bad sun…bad, bad sun.

The paramedics arrive, ask some basic questions and determine I would benefit from a quick trip to the ER. I don’t share their enthusiasm for this plan and am not shy about stating my views. Tina quickly takes their side (I’m the one she loves – not them!) and informs the nice healthcare professionals (and me) that I will be making the suggested trip.

“Don’t worry lady, I’ll put your board on your front porch,” my ever-so-helpful Knight in Shining Armor assures me. I can just hear the scowl (can’t open eyes) on Tina’s face. Yes, I said it… “hear” the scowl – ever heard of prose? A few things are bound to rub off from living with an English professor.

The nice paramedics quickly scan my body for injuries (ask “where does it hurt” – pretty scientific if you ask me). One attempts to open my eye and shine a 1000 watt spotlight in it to check for pupil response or so he says. This is quickly met with a wave of nausea as I attempt to explain the light-retina-arrows thing. Apparently the green hue on my face conveys the problem and I am quickly moved into the relative dimness of the ambulance. They do pause a moment to make sure I wasn’t actually going to hurl (just looked like it). This is definitely not turning out how I planned.

After asking a few more questions, ensuring I am securely fastened (tied down) to the stretcher, and placing a garden-hose (IV) in my left hand, the ambulance pulls away to begin the short trek to a healthcare facility. The waves of nausea subside as long as I keep my eyes closed and don’t move my head in any way. Focusing on not moving is a welcome distraction from the incessant throbbing right behind my left eye. Yeah, a definite silver lining moment.

See, this whole thing is gravity’s fault…maybe global warming too. We’ll see.

Anyway, this is what happened. I have been experiencing what can be described as a little restlessness as my fortieth birthday looms closer. Tina understood that (she experienced her fortieth last year) and has been very supportive of my need to change things up a little. Get out of the rut – know what I mean? Not get crazy (I didn’t dye my hair or stop wearing a seatbelt for God’s sake) or anything but I did decide to try some new sporting activities.

We had agreed a long time ago that I wouldn’t participate in a sport that involved leaving the ground – nothing that involved plummeting to the Earth- until I was eligible for Medicare. I’ve already begun scouting around for parachute instructors that offer AARP discounts.

Last week I noticed some kids riding this skateboard with only two wheels and it seemed to be two pieces. I asked about it the next day and was informed that is was a Ripstick. “It’s lots of fun” mixed with “It’s very easy” filled the classroom and I knew I had found the sport for me. Street surfing on a Ripstick – how cool is that? I went in search of this exciting object after work and quickly located a red one. Completing my purchase, I turned towards home and the exciting new world of street surfing. Oh yeah, this was definitely going to be fun.

There was only one problem (didn’t realize it until I got home, of course) with my plans. I discovered this after reading the directions (how hard can it be after all) and watching the instructional DVD (it really did look easy). I should have noted that no one under the age of twenty-five was in the DVD – that would have been helpful. Yeah… really wish I have been a little more observant.

You see, a helmet is suggested when riding this thing. Some might argue it is required (guess who?) but I subscribe to the “freedom of choice” camp (closeted Constitution fan). I knew there was a helmet somewhere in the garage. After an exhaustive search (five minutes) in which I scoured the bowels of our garage, no helmet was found. Oh well, how hard can it be…I’ll be fine.

Yeah, fine.

Quickly donning some sweats and tennis shoes, I bolted for the door with my new toy, sorry, exercise equipment. I was afraid Tina might not be as enthusiastic as I was about this and would point out the potential for injuries. I decided to save her from worrying (her well-being guides my every action) by beginning my Ripstick career two hours before she was due home. I figured I’ll be a pro by then so “no harm, no foul”, right? Let’s not forget this is actually a way to improve my health (exercise, remember?). This is turning out exactly how I planned.

So, I’m standing next to the car with my hand resting against it for balance as I step onto this board. Okay, it might be a little harder than I initially thought (apparently you need perfect balance) and will take a bit more practice. I am nothing if not tenacious and I set out on my quest. It’s not like I ever let a silly thing like ability keep me from doing something (case in point – the reason I’m horizontal now).

I can feel the years melting away as I ride this new mode of transportation, hair blowing behind me as I whisk down the paved streets of our neighborhood, neighbors stopping to marvel at my skill while kids shower me with cool points. Yeah, I’ll be the coolest teacher in my school. That’s how I saw it in my minds eye.

The truth is I would start and get maybe six inches before the board vacated its location from under my feet. Once I went a whole foot before Mr. Gravity reared his ugly head and I was once again standing still while the board continued on its journey. I would like to point out I always remained standing during this endeavor regardless of the circumstances. ALWAYS. Until that fateful moment (there’s always one in every story) when I fell forward as the board shot out from under my feet. Fortunately I was able to spare my hands and wrists from any injury as my left cheek broke my fall (always looking for the silver lining). Yeah, it was as nasty as it sounds…my left cheek landed on the pavement full force. BTW – the asphalt didn’t give at all. My face did.

So, that brings us to a tied-down me (not in a good way) riding in the back of an ambulance as it barrels down the road to a hospital. Thankfully the siren is off and this nice paramedic has put away the spotlight. We arrive at the emergency room where I am whisked into a room and surrounded by a bunch of people in white coats. Well, maybe not a bunch but certainly more than one. We go through the entire “where does it hurt” and “how did it happen” again (lack of communication is the bane of healthcare).

Someone puts twenty pieces of paper in front of me to read. I opt for the condensed version of the forms (amazing how flexible the rules are with the threat of projectile vomiting) and sign my name continuously for ten minutes (had to do this by feel due to the arrows-retinas thing). Sheesh, no wonder the rain forests are disappearing. Man, my head hurts – where is the morphine?

After determining I, in fact, am not going to die (they don’t know Tina) but a CAT scan would be prudent, the nice doctor authorizes some pain medication. It is about time!! I thought this but couldn’t really articulate my words (blinding pain thing). After four hours (supposedly five minutes) this nice teenage nurse brings me two Tylenol. I knew this had to be a mistake and am about to inform the youngster of this when Tina magically appears next to me. One look at my face and she knows what I am about to explain emphatically to this “supposed” healthcare provider.

“Sam, this is all you can have right now,” she gently informs me. Before I can respond, she further explains that any stronger pain medication would mask worsening symptoms. So what!!! I really didn’t care and inform the occupants of my room (probably the hall way too) that I need relief and they had better quit being so cruel to patients.

A voice whispers in my right ear, “Samantha, cool your jets right now.” Fuck, now I’m definitely not going to get any morphine. I decide the best course of action is to keep my mouth shut and simply lie here in excruciating pain. That will show them. I do take the Tylenol though – I’m not a masochist.

Finally I am informed of the CAT scan results (normal which I already knew) and am being released to the care of a responsible adult (not me). The next twenty four hours will require someone to wake me up every two hours (at their own peril) to make sure I don’t get worse. Of course I cannot have anything stronger than Tylenol for pain (this concussion thing sucks). This day keeps getting better and better.

The trip home is conducted in relative silence. I focus on preventing the vomit thing (coincidentally Tina is also focusing on ‘me preventing the vomit thing’). Definite conversation stopper. Thankfully we arrive home after thirty minutes (didn’t have to stop and pick up a prescription – lucky me).

Tina quickly comes around and helps me into the house which is a good thing as the freaking sun is still in the sky. She had the foresight to grab my sunglasses before heading to the hospital which provides some protection from the evil rays. Times like this I wish I had sacrificed appearance for those ugly-ass wrap around babies you see old people wear.

We (Tina) decide the safest place for me is the couch in the living room. Personally, I couldn’t care less as long as I can lie down in the privacy of my own home (public displays are uncouth and tend to require damage control later). I collapse onto the couch and quickly realize the importance of: 1. moving slowly and 2. ensuring no part of my face comes in contact with ANY surface (have a sneaking suspicion this won’t be the only part of me that will need to be contact-free). Finally I am able to find that perfect position in which all light is prevented from impaling me and my head is secure enough to prevent accidental movement (yeah, about a 5 on the vomit meter – don’t actually hurl until a 7).

“Get some rest honey,” my beloved tells me as she gently places a kiss on my forehead (I thought the same thing – what am I, a five year old). Placing a blanket over me (this is an adult thing – just shut up) I hear her quietly take a seat next to the couch. I know she won’t leave until I am asleep and she knows I am okay. This concussion thing does suck but having Tina within arms reach is nice.

Finally, sleep comes a calling… Feeling a nudge on my shoulder ten minutes (two hours per Miss Watcher) later, I am forced to surface from the relatively pain free state of slumber. Fuck – the arrows are still in my retinas and Bob Marley is playing the bongos in my head (Reggae rhythm – beats Barry Manilow). Moaning, I slowly open one eye and try to focus on the person foolish enough to attempt waking me. I’m irritable enough when rising from slumberland on a normal day, throw in pain and I become downright homicidal. Fortunately the excruciating pain with movement prevents any rash actions on my part…for now (wonder if I could get morphine in jail).

“Sammie honey, it’s me. I need you to open both eyes for a minute.” Yeah right, like that is going to happen. I respond with a “get away” and quickly snap my open eye shut.

“Come on honey, I need to make sure you’re okay and I have something for pain,” this glorious angel of mercy informs me in a soft voice. The mention of pain relief could be clouding my perspective bit. Gritting my teeth, I open my eyes and try to sit up. Suddenly the Earth gets tilted on its axis and begins to spin out of control. The other alternative is this spinning phenomenon may be related to my sports, sorry exercise, related injury.

Quickly discounting that option, I elect to resume my prone position - at least I’ll be comfortable for the eventual Earth crash (I should be able to get morphine then). Tina decides to ask a few questions (apparently she is oblivious to the upcoming disaster) regarding the state of my general health, head and presence of any additional symptoms.

After eliciting satisfactory answers from the patient, she offers me some soup, soda and two Tylenol. Did I mention the Bob Marley-in-head thing? That is not a pleasant experience and I have serious doubts that freaking Tylenol will be an adequate substitute for the required morphine. Big, big doubts!!!

Tina patiently informs me that Tylenol is the only option to prevent worsening symptoms from going undetected. Once again, who cares about that?? I would welcome worsening symptoms if it curtailed the throbbing pain in my head. Being conscious is not all it’s cracked up to be – a position I emphatically relate to my current healthcare provider. She is unmoved by my pleading words and refuses to provide anything stronger. Good thing she hasn’t quit her day job to be a nurse. I decide to keep this comment to myself – Tylenol is better than nothing.

Twenty four hours pass and I am finally allowed to sleep without interruption. I cannot begin to describe my appreciation at this possibility and eagerly embrace this future state of being.

I have moved into the bedroom (completely light-free) and snuggle under the covers. The pain is better and it is possible for me to bury my head in my pillow (silver fucking lining moment). Tina is off doing something – I probably should care but can’t quite bring myself to do so at the moment (quite shaking your head – I’m injured, remember? Fine, I’ll buy her a present later – satisfied?!)

The next couple of days pass without incidence as the pain in my head subsides and the nausea has completely left the building. Currently I have a little headache and Tylenol is actually an appropriate pain reliever for it…NOW. I am slowly resuming my life and have stowed the offending piece of exercise equipment in the closet (NO need to bring attention to it – no need at all). Tina has been wonderful and not said anything about my date with gravity. Great, I’m living with a Stepford lesbian (must come in two models now – het and ho). Truth is that is probably safer right now.

One Saturday (a week after the ‘unfortunate incident’) I have an inkling my day of reckoning is here. It's not that Tina says or does anything – it’s just this sixth sense I have developed over the years (I know – you’re surprised at that revelation - I am too).

Grabbing a cup of coffee, I make my way to the kitchen table. I give my lady a “good morning” and quick peck on the cheek first. Every little thing helps right now. She greets me with a smile and resumes reading the paper. Now, she knows I know something is up. She cannot hide behind this fa├žade of niceness forever and she knows the waiting is making me crazy.

Deciding that two can play at this game, I pick up the sports section (no, I’m not reading it – get real. Who could read under these circumstances ?) and look like I’m reading it. As the minutes tick away, the butterflies make their way to their summer residence (my stomach). Fine, I can wait for her – no need to borrow trouble here. Maybe I’m just over-reacting and she will be so filled with relief that all will be forgiven. Shit, I must have brain damage.

“So Sam, how are you feeling honey?” she asks in a soothing voice. Maybe I don’t have brain damage after all!!

“Better thanks. My head doesn’t hurt at all,” I reply before I can help myself. There is no reason, no reason at all to bring up the ‘unfortunate’ incident and I just did it with my head comment. Maybe she didn’t notice it…yeah, maybe.

“Good, I’m glad to hear that.” I can’t help but smile at that –she does love me. “Let’s go talk in the study.” Her tone of voice quickly brings my head up as I try to gauge what is going on.

There it is – she has her Gloria Steinem/Karl Malden face (odd pairing I know but that’s what she looks like – a shiver runs down my spine too). This is so not good.

Following her into the study, I decide the best course of action is to sit anywhere but the couch. Yeah, out of arms reach is a good idea about now. “Now Sam, care to explain to me how you ended up with a concussion?” Her voice is calm but flames are dancing in her eyes.

Gulping, I decide the best course of action is just the facts. “I decided to try something new to make exercising more appealing. The kids all raved about this Ripstick and it looked like fun.” So far she is sitting quietly and looks very relaxed. Yeah, so far.

“Anyway, I bought the board and decided to try it AFTER reading the instructions and watching the DVD.” Want to make sure I throw in that I did both and didn’t jump in half-cocked. Tina continues to lean back comfortably on the couch, her eyes never leaving my face (she is polite that way) and nods for me to continue.

Here is where it can get a little tricky for me. I need to tweak the truth without actually lying about it (yes, I DO see the problem with that statement but self-preservation trumps Miss Honesty-is-the-best-policy under these circumstances). After bitch-slapping Miss H. I decide to continue my rendition of events.

“I changed clothes and went out to try the board. As I was practicing, I must have lost my balance. The next thing I know I am lying in the street and you are next to me telling me I am going to be okay - that was very sweet by the way. You know the rest from there.” Doesn’t sound too bad, right?

Tina just sits there and continues to look in my direction. Yep, she just keeps sitting there and looking at me….she’s not even blinking.

“Sam!” Oops, I was focused on the non-blinking thing - didn’t realize she had turned on verbal mode.

“Sorry, honey. Guess I zoned for a minute,” I say with my angel eyes coupled with a look of total adoration. Maybe she will be overcome by the depth of my love for her and shower me with kisses (ya’ know I can see you rolling your eyes, right?).

Her face transforms into Karl/Gloria again and I wonder if I can become one with the chair.

“I asked you where your helmet was? I didn’t see it on the road.” Like she really thinks it rolled underneath a car …shit, I almost roll my eyes.

“Ididnothaveone,” I respond while examining the beautiful craftsmanship of the Tiffany lamp. Man, those freaking butterflies are having a field day and have been joined by their friend “butt tingle” (both unwelcome guests, btw).

“Didn’t think so.” She understands “Sam freak-speak” so it wasn’t necessary to repeat myself. With the preliminaries out of the way, she quietly asks (tells) me to join her.

Taking a deep breath, I manage to rise from my very comfortable seated position (it was nice while it lasted) and shuffle my way to her waiting hand. Grasping my hand, she quickly relieves my legs of their burden and allows them a needed rest from supporting my body. Yeah, they were really freaking tired.

I don’t have to wait long for the festivities to begin as Miss Iron-hand begins to make her views quite clear regarding my past follies. Damn, she spanks hard. First one cheek then the other in this unrelenting cadence from hell. Initially I decide to accept my punishment stoically– it was stupid to get on the board without a helmet and I knew better. After four minutes of my ass being pounded I’m wondering if I need to rethink that strategy. The decision to cry is in my control. Completely.

Finally, her hand comes to rest on my posterior (just in time, let me tell you). Tears are leaking out of my eyes by now and I have professed my deepest regret for my actions in the sincerest voice possible (aka begging her to stop and promising NEVER to do it again).

“Sam, why are you getting spanked?” I knew this was coming (Miss Predictable) and let out a little groan. I really, really, really, REALLY hate it when she does this – I become this naughty ten year old (the point – I know).

“Because I didn’t wear a helmet.” There really is no defense or anything else for me to say. She knows Mr. Self Loathing and Ms. How-Can-You-BE-So-Stupid have been visiting my head…and soul. Those voices lurk in the shadows, just waiting for a chance to make an entrance. I know these are remnants from my childhood and do not reflect the true me as a person. It just doesn’t feel that way right now.

“Lift up your hips Sammie,” she commands in a soft voice. I find comfort in that command, know that forgiveness will be forthcoming and this heavy blanket of guilt and shame will be lifted. Tina quickly lowers my pajama bottoms and rests her hand on my bare skin. I want this over with, this ache inside me to go away. I know Tina will take care of me. I feel her hand move away as she pulls me closer to her body. Shit, this is not going to be pleasant.

Smack followed by smack followed by smack descend on my bottom. I thought she was hitting hard before – it was nothing compared to what she was doing now. “Ow” mixed with “I’m sorry” and a little sprinkle of “please, stop” are my contribution to today’s events. Tina is contributing a little more.

Smack – YOU-Smack-WILL-Smack-NEV-Smack-ER-Smack-RISK-Smack-YOUR-Smack-HEALTH-Smack-A-Sma ck-GAIN!! She opted for the spank-per-syllable rule. The pain I am experiencing is beyond description right now. My entire being is consumed with this sensation of hot pokers touching every part of my ass. Does take my mind off the returning headache (lucky me).

DO-Smack-YOU-Smack-UN (please, not that word)-Smack-DER (no such luck)-Smack-STAND-Smack (guess she wanted to emphasize her point)? I quickly inform her I completely understand and will never do it again (luckily she understands Sam sob-speak also…multilingual).

Tina helps me up and deftly sits me on her lap. She makes sure nothing comes in contact with my ass (very skilled at that). I put my arms around her neck and continue to let the tears cascade down my cheeks. I feel her arms envelop me as she rocks my tired body. She whispers those words I need to hear to heal my heart. Those words that soothe my aching soul and quiet those voices in my head. I love you. All is forgiven. I’m not going anywhere. Those same words my mother whispered in my ear many years ago.

Finally the tears subside and I nestle close to her chest. I risk a glance at her face. She smiles softly as her eyes reflect love and acceptance. Tina offers unconditional love and acceptance to me - never withholds her forgiveness. I struggled to trust this gift. I don’t anymore. Finally I close my eyes and drift off to sleep. I know Tina will hold me in her arms as long I want …and need.

Life is good. Life is very good.

Home sweet home...F/M for a change

Part 4 with usual disclaimers...this is a long one but I needed someplace to post'll definitely want a beverage and an empty bladder before starting it.

Home sweet home, here I come. I love coming home, especially after a long day and today certainly qualifies. Qualifies in a huge freaking way!! Trudging through the snow to the front door I quickly remove one glove, slam the key into the front door and turn the lock as I use my hip to open the door. The frigid climate is an amazing motivator and I have gotten the key-door-hip move down pat. The trick is to keep from falling into the house once the door is open which I have done a few times. Hard not to look stupid lying on the floor in winter garb. Real hard.

The house is dark and eerily quiet as I make my way into the kitchen. Okay, so I track a little snow - it’s only water which will evaporate and help decrease the use of the humidifier. I am doing my part for the environment. Thankfully a chair is available in the kitchen corner for me to sit on and remove my winter garb. It also doubles as a “Sam’s winter gear” storage area. All I need to do is tuck the boots neatly underneath the chair and I have maintained our mess free home.

Now, let me explain the “mess free” policy we have recently adopted in our home. Tina is an obsessive-compulsive neat freak. I realize it is not her fault but the result of a tragic clothing/accidental wine stain incident. We don’t bring it up anymore for obvious reasons. This “incident” occurred when I was a freshman in college and she was the dorm monitor. She was visiting my dorm room for some reason. I was being hospitable and offered her a glass of wine. The distance between me and Tina proved somewhat perilous that day as I tripped over something (she said shoes, books and a candle) and the wine became airborne. Unfortunately, it landed on the white blouse Tina was wearing. I apologized and yet she still seemed upset later that evening. I repeat - it was an accident and I had apologized. She had a hard time letting it go (I agree that she was being unreasonable).

Anyway, that day marked the beginning of her “neat freak” mode and determination to indoctrinate me into her way of thinking. Over the last fifteen years we have compromised (me) and have been able to work out any differences. I learned the value of picking up after myself and putting things where they belong. She quit labeling everything and ensuring all the books were filed alphabetically (she agreed to grouping by subject). Works for us.

So, that brings us up to the “mess free” or the MF policy as I like to call it. I mentioned the cold weather, right? Now, I am not a cold weather person. I can deal with it but prefer to spend my time within the confines of a warm structure. Snowboarding and ice skating no longer have any appeal for me. Then there’s the “driving in the snow” issue – other people’s driving, not mine. I drive just fine and am well versed in remaining on the road (necessary to avoid the cold) under all circumstances. On a few occasions, other drivers have even sacrificed their space on the road to ensure I continued my journey (heart-warming, isn’t it?)

Anyway, I left my boots in front of the door (not exactly in front, more to the side) and Tina tripped (she really should look where she is going) one night. You can guess how the subsequent events unfolded and culminated in the MF policy.

Deciding to start dinner (yes I know - I am a keeper), I went in search of ingredients. I notice the answering machine light is off and there is no note on the “kitten” notepad on the front of the frig. Remaining in hunter-gatherer mode I locate carrots, celery, onions and a pork roast (hey, meat in any way designates me a hunter). Quickly placing all the ingredients in the roasting pan with some carefully measured seasonings (I see you smirking) and a few cups of water, I shove the whole meal in the oven at 375. Dinner should be ready in an hour and I can cook from any room in the house. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

Next, it’s off to shed the remaining remnants of this horrid day. After taking a quick shower and donning my favorite flannel sweats, I decide to wait in my favorite chair. Lost in my book, I didn’t realize what time it was until I heard the front door open. “Hi Sam.” I can hear the tension in her voice and know immediately something is wrong. Something is really, really wrong. I leave the comfort of my chair and make my way downstairs. Quickly…very quickly.

Tina is standing in the foyer and I quickly walk up to her. Seeing her face, I pull her into my arms – she has definitely had a bad day. Looking down at the floor, I can’t help but notice a second pair of boots. Now, most people (Tina) would expect to find two pairs of boots by the front door (the two people live here thing) but one compromise to our MF policy was allowing boots to be in any room with an outside door regardless of the location of entry. She had decided to throw me a bone – I don’t have a problem with a pity victory.

Before I can ask the question I hear the answer. “Hello Aunt Sam.” Quickly turning around I find myself looking at the chest of Ethan. Tilting my head up, I lock onto his beautiful green eyes and pull him into a big hug. Usually he reciprocates and I find myself dangling off the ground. Not this time.

See, Ethan was a kid we more or less adopted. Tina met him during her last year of teaching twelfth grade and immediately saw the scared little boy hiding in the sullen teenager. As the trust began to grow between the two, Tina discovered the source of the fear. Ethan’s dad was gone and his mom was an alcoholic. Now Ethan never said that, would never say anything bad about his mom but Tina was able to piece things together.

Ethan would come over for tutoring (conveniently around dinner time) twice a week. As his mother’s behavior became more erratic, the visits to the house increased in frequency and pretty soon he had a toothbrush and spare set of clothes in the guest bathroom. We visited Ethan’s mother a few weeks after Tina had started tutoring him. She looked at us with the saddest eyes I have ever seen and simply said “Thank you.” This woman knew she was drowning and didn’t want to take her son with her.

We gave him a key after discovering he had spent a few nights sleeping in the park. At first he denied there was any problem but soon we found him at the breakfast table at least four mornings a week. It quickly became clear that the late night entrances into our home could be problematic, especially if only one of us was home. On more than a few occasions we have met Ethan in the hallway with a baseball bat. Yeah, this needed to change. So, the deal was he had to be home by 9 pm if he was staying with us. No exceptions. He laughed and said it was a weird kind of curfew. We didn’t think so.

He violated that rule on two occasions. The first time we told him there would be consequences - that it was dangerous and someone was going to get hurt. The second time he experienced those consequences. I remember the utter look of shock on his face as Tina grabbed his ear and marched him to the couch. She sat down and pulled him over her lap in one smooth move (she’s had a little practice). Quickly bringing her hand down on his posterior, she was focused on the lesson at hand. Ethan tried to be stoic (manly as he says) but Tina is a spanker extraordinaire. That woman can spank and has a cast iron hand. I’ve done the stoic route before and knew the “manly” boy would soon become a pleading boy. She rained swats down in rapid succession for a good ten minutes making sure every inch of his bottom experienced her attention.

I remember little gasps at the 1 minute mark, yelps plus a foot twitch at 2 minutes, definite squirming at 3, tears at the 4 minute mark, rivers of tears pooling on the floor at 5 (actually, he was pretty manly), hands reaching back to cover the target area at the 5 ½ mark and pleas for mercy before the 6 minute mark. Of course, like the teacher she is, Tina used both physical and verbal methods to make her point. “Young man” made several appearances as did “do I make myself clear”. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the timeless “if you ever do that again, this spanking will seem like a walk in the park”. Tina’s goal wasn’t to make him cry but to learn the lesson at hand (hers). His safety was paramount – simple as that.

I also remember the way he fiercely held onto Tina as she held him in her arms afterwards. Ethan cried a long time that night. He cried for his mother, father and lost childhood. Later, he lay down on the couch with his head cradled in my lap, a few tears sneaking down his face. Tina kept stroking his hair and whispering words of comfort, holding that little boy safely to her heart. We became Aunt Tina and Aunt Sam that night – family. Neither of us could carry this “little boy” to bed so we left him on the couch. Tina slept in the recliner that night just to make sure he was okay. He was.

Hearing the oven timer go off, I announce that dinner is ready. Neither says anything as we all make our way to the kitchen. “Ethan, please set the table,” I ask while removing the delicious roast from the oven. I didn’t really need to say anything; we all know what our kitchen duties are. Grabbing two pot holders I place the scrumptious dinner on the table (a Donna Reed moment). I pray the tension would ease between my dinner companions as the aroma of dinner (very nice if I say so myself) continues to drift upward. No such luck.

"Look you two, I slaved hours over the stove to make this dinner. I have no intention of using my knife to cut the tension between you two so suck it up for thirty minutes and pretend to like each other’s company.” With that pronouncement, I decide to fill my plate with meat (falls off the bone), vegetables (sans carrots – hate cooked carrots) and hand the serving utensils to Tina.

“Need some help?” I inquire as she looks at me sheepishly.

“No thank you. This looks great. Thank you.” Yessirree Bob, I am wearing the pants in the family right now. This power can be a little intoxicating – know what I mean? I’ll just enjoy it while I can.

Tina offers to dish up a serving for Ethan. I notice she avoids the carrots as she fills his plate. He hates them too. Ethan notices her gesture also and I see him relax his shoulders...a little but still worth mentioning. Finally, dinner is served to all.

Now, I know this isn’t going to be a talkfest but I do like a little conversation around the dinner table. I have a feeling the real conversation will take place later. Tina catches my eye and my suspicions are validated. Ethan just answers my questions with one word answers but in a polite way. He’s trying, poor boy. Okay, maybe not a boy. This twenty year old “boy” is a junior in college, 180 pounds and 6’2”.

The rule (not the MF but another one) in our house is the cook doesn’t have to clean up – the other diners have that duty. Tonight, however, I’m thinking a change would be very helpful. Sending Ethan in search of a shower, I begin clearing the table. Hearing the shower running, I wait for Tina to begin. After five grueling minutes, I realize she is not going to break the silence. Closing the dishwasher (somewhat forcefully) I turn around and glare her way. Of course she has her back turned – so not fair.

“Okay, what the hell is going on?” Seemed like the appropriate question at the time and I am trying very hard to keep my temper in check. Sitting down, she meets my gaze. “Well, it’s like this. I picked Ethan up from the police station.” Not good…so not good.

“What!!! The police station.” I am sure you figured out my voice has risen somewhat in volume and I quickly make my way to join her at the table.

“Yes, the police station. It seems Ethan and a few friends decided it would be a good idea to improve the aesthetics (gotta love an English professor) of the chem building. Using spray paint, they decorated the back wall with an eclectic collection of words and pictures. The overall theme was pizza, sex and screw authority.” Well, that’s not a combo you see every day.

“A police officer happened upon this work of art and the boys, sorry men, decided to vacate the premises. Additional men in uniform blocked the escape routes and...well…the police station thing. Apparently our budding artist decided to utilize his extensive vocabulary upon seeing the initial police officer but was quickly dissuaded from that particular course of action.” Seeing my worried face Tina quickly assured me only verbal methods were used by the police officer.

“Wow, he certainly does make an impression,” I manage to say after whistling through my teeth.

“That he does,” Tina responds with a smile, “Anyway, the other boys called their parents. While the parents fetched their sons, Ethan sat handcuffed to the bench. Luckily, a campus police officer walked by, recognized Ethan and called me.” As she told the story, I could see the fatigue creep over her body and those worry wrinkles showed up. My baby did have a bad day.

“Ethan didn’t say anything when I arrived and has pretty much been mute. I was too shocked to speak when I saw him handcuffed.” At this junction, tears begin to roll down Tina’s cheeks. “Sam, I didn’t know what to say. When they released him from those handcuffs, I held onto him as tight as I could. When I pulled away, he had this look in his eye, reminded me of the little boy look he used to get. I took his hand and we walked out of that place.”

By now I am holding her hands in mine. Shit, I need to grab a Kleenex before the snot string makes contact with the table or my hand (oh please, we have ALL experienced the snot string before). Now, this is an art – reaching for the box of Kleenex while maintaining enough contact so Tina will NOT turn her head thus detaching said snot string and casting it into the night (sounds more poetic than kitchen and it’s not easy to bring poetry to “snot string”). I am successful, tears are dried and the snot string is safely secured. Mission accomplished.

Making a command decision, I take Tina’s hand and make my way to the bedroom with her in tow. She still looks pretty tired…very tired. “Okay, I’m going to draw you a bath and you will soak for awhile.” I put my fingers on her lips, effectively stopping her protest. “I will check on Ethan and make sure he is okay,” I softly reassure her.

Nodding slightly, I make my way to the bathroom and focus on a different recipe. The ingredients I need are different but the result will be the same… a more relaxed and content Tina. Adding the anti-anxiety or was it anti-oxidant bath salts, whatever…I walk out and give Tina a hug. “Go now, rest and relax. I’ve got Ethan.” My voice may be gentle but my eyes are firm. Okay, time to move onto the next family member.

Slowly making my way down the hall I listen for the sound of the shower. Noticing the absence of such sound, I can’t help but smile at his decision to avoid the shower delaying tactic...our little boy is maturing. Knocking softly on his door, I wait for an invitation to enter. No response – maybe he didn’t hear me due to hearing loss (kids today with their loud music). See, I know he couldn’t be purposely ignoring me so that made sense.

I knock a little louder this time and still get no response. Great, now I have to open the door and face the remote possibility he is ignoring me – I so do not want to shatter that dream. Taking a deep breath to prepare myself for the potential dream-shattering moment, I cross the bedroom threshold and head inside (courageous if you ask me – facing my fear and all). Spying Ethan sitting in the chair next to the window, I slowly inch my way in his direction (no need to accelerate the dream-shatter-moment). We both share that - gazing out the window from our chair to find some serenity, acceptance and clarity. It helps…sometimes more than others.

Softly calling his name I reach the chair. He is asleep, head listing to the right. Reaching for a blanket, I cover him up and kiss his forehead. Looking down, I smile and send a thank you to the Powers that Be for guiding this special creature into our lives. I savor the moment knowing this quiet will evaporate tomorrow. Yep, things are definitely going to get noisy around la casa tomorrow.

The next morning I am rudely roused from a blissful state of slumber by an annoying and high pitched beeping sound. Hoping that Tina will silence the source of my distress, I pull a pillow over my head and try to recapture my blissful state. Shit, can’t she hear that? Peeking out from under the pillow, I quickly understand why she has not silenced this technological irritant. She appears to have awakened from her state of slumber and is somewhere else at the moment. Great, now I have to silence the beast. Reaching out with my right arm, I search around for the damn alarm using the touch method. Where the hell is it? Finally reaching the pinnacle of my frustration, I role over and bring my arm/hand down somewhat forcefully. The result – wonderful silence. Tucking both hands under the pillow, I resume my quest for sleep.

“Sam, honey, wake up.” Great, someone or something else is screwing with my slumber. Opening one eye, actually squinting, I notice Tina is standing next to the bed holding a cup of ambrosia (coffee). Man, it is really bright in here – who let the sun in anyway?

“I see you hit the snooze on the alarm clock,” Tina casually mentions as she pulls the covers off my head. “Huh,” is all I can muster, “what time is it?” Handing me my coffee (she is a Godsend) Tina informs me that it is time to get up which usually translates into 7-7:30 am depending on her schedule during the week and around 9am on weekends. Shit, what day is this? Nonchalantly glancing towards the bedside table I plan on using the time to orient me to the day. Seeing the little bits of plastic I realize how she knew I had hit the snooze.

Look, alarm clocks seem to creep into that part of my psyche that is part Arnold and Stallone when I am emerging from sleep. Guess you noticed I am tenacious when it comes to preserving said sleep state. I’m getting better at treating the electronic devices gentler but at least once a month I bury an alarm clock. I know it will happen, Tina knows it will happen and she keeps a spare alarm clock on her side of the bed. Seemed the prudent thing to do. We also keep spares in the closet.

“Come on Sammie, let me make you breakfast,” she gently offers, “and it’s 9 by the way.” She knows me well.

After performing all those morning habits, I make my way into the kitchen. The aroma of bacon (should be an air freshener scent if you ask me) draws me to the stove. I’m not going to cook or anything but I’m still drawn.

“Put this on the table please.” A plate of eggs suddenly appears in my hand and I pick up the toast on my way to the designated location. Tina follows with the bacon and a pot of coffee. I decide to wait on her to begin the ‘Ethan’ conversation. After ten minutes I realize I may need to rethink my plan.

“Honey, about Ethan…” She looks up and I can see the smoldering anger mixed with fear in her eyes. My eyes reflect the same. “Yeah, Ethan…” she replies just as the person of interest appears in the kitchen. Kid has great timing.

Ethan grabs a cup of coffee and takes a seat at the table while completely avoiding eye contact. We both greet him with the customary “good morning” and sit back while drinking coffee. Catching Tina’s eye I begin the conversation. Ethan has a difficult time maintaining eye contact. Actually, he has a difficult looking anywhere but the floor.

“Ethan, look at us while we are talking to you,” Tina admonishes softly. As he picks his head up I notice the tears falling down his cheeks increase and his lip begins to quiver. Grabbing one hand while Tina grabbed the other, I take a deep breath and decide to plunge in. “I am sorry Aunt Tina and Aunt Sam. It should never have happened and it won’t happen again.” After all my preparations, the boy stole my thunder.

“We had a few beers and some of the guys suggested we have some fun. It seemed harmless at the time. I have no excuse for my behavior. I am planning on going over to the chem. building after breakfast and work on scrubbing the mess off the building. I already have an appointment with the Dean of Students (apparently he made one phone call from the police station) to discuss this and accept any consequences he deems appropriate. I’m meeting him at 10am. I cannot tell you why I joined in except to say it was a serious lapse in judgment.” Wow, you have to be kind of impressed at Ethan’s initiative…at least I am, not sure about Tina.

“Good, I am proud of you for accepting responsibility, honey,” I whisper in his ear as I reached over to give him a hug. “We’ll talk more tonight.” Rising and proceeding to begin the process of making restitution, he trudges off into the cold. Tina remains silent, a sadness reflected in her eyes. I’m not sure what is going on with my baby but I know there is more to this story. A lot more.

When we are alone again, I notice she still has that look…sadness and hurt hidden deep within her eyes but I can see it. I know her well. Reaching over, I gently brush her face. I give her my raised eyebrow coupled with “concern corners” – hard to resist combo. Oh yeah, let me explain “concern corners”. They are those little wrinkles that show up on the outer corner of your mouth when your lips scrunch together. They really are a nuisance and can cause lasting wrinkles. I try to avoid them – getting (vanity) and giving (painful).

“I’m okay, just tired.” Tired is code for “leave it alone for now”. Finishing the kitchen clean-up in silence (MF, remember) we both head off to do whatever we were going to do this Saturday. In my case a little reading, trip to the grocery store, maybe some laundry, piano time, and a chick flick. A quick kiss and Tina heads out the door to keep student office hours until 2pm. I like my plans better than hers.

Enjoying my piano time, I hear someone enter the front door. Actually, I hear the thumping of boots in an attempt to remove winter remnants. “Samantha…” heralds from said person. Shit, the use of my full name rarely bodes well for me.

“In here honey,” I respond using my most angelic voice (should have been practicing that). There is no reason for me to go to her – none at all. Close proximity doesn’t seem like a good thing right now. Don’t need a committee member to tell me that (committees occasionally form in my head with different voices (all mine) - not in a crazy way but rather in a think-outside-the-box look-at-both-sides-now way). It works for me.

I hear footsteps rapidly approaching my location and decide to remain behind the piano (pretty impressive barrier). “You would not believe what he did!!”

Whew, it’s not me that she is pissed at although it’s not good that it’s Ethan – just better that it isn’t ME. Coming out from behind the piano (safe to do) I head towards the couch (Tina’s location). Ya know, she looks ready to explode - I decide to sit back and wait. Man she is pissed – very pissed.

“He met with the Dean and discussed what happened. Apparently he had already cleaned off the artwork with his buddies.” Okay, this doesn’t sound too bad – seems like Ethan is on track. Nodding my head, she continues.

“After discussing everything, Dean Reynolds decided that each offender had to perform 15 hours of community service at the rec center and talk to the kids about their behavior, why it was wrong, etc.” Still waiting for the punch line and I can tell it is coming next.

“Ethan decides to pick that moment to become possessed with a sixteen year old BRAT. He tells Dean Reynolds that this is unfair, that the damage had already been taken care of and they have been punished enough…punished enough!!” Ohhhh, so that is why she is so pissed off.

“Wait Sam, it gets better.” Can’t see how that could happen.

“He continues to argue with Dean Reynolds and was this close (holding 2 fingers really, really close together) to getting thrown out of the office and suspended. Thankfully, campus security called me after they received the call from the Dean.” Shit, this really wasn’t good. Campus security in two days – his face must be plastered on their ‘call-if-trouble’ wall.

“I got there, had Ethan wait outside and calmed the Dean down. Ethan refused to apologize until I grabbed his ear and explained the error of his ways. He did apologize and agree to the community service. Sam, it was a close call.” Wow, where did the mature man from this morning scamper off to?

“Ah, Tina, where is he now?” I carefully inquire in a calm, cool and quiet voice.

A look passed over her face which can only be described as a rolling ball of fury. The hair on the back of my head began to stand up and I slowly edged my way to the far end of the couch – hopefully out of arms reach. “He’s not here?” asks the usually mentally stable person before me. Her voice has taken on this menacing quality and I swear she is growling. I elect to nod my head – no need to add fuel to this fire. It seems he was supposed to come back here. The boy probably went to the frat house – he’s not stupid. Then again…

Time drags by as this horrid day continues. I work very hard at staying out of Tina’s way and NOT irritating her in any way. Once she barked at me over a dish in the sink. I retorted that she shouldn’t be taking her frustration with Ethan out on me. She quickly apologized and all was forgiven. It really was a martyr moment for me. I savored it but climbed down off my cross after ten minutes or so. I know – I’m such a softy.

Around nine o’clock I hear the back door open. Tina has been asleep for an hour – she was completely drained and exhausted. She did spit out that she had been upset that Ethan hadn’t called us from the police station. My comment was “duh, he’s not stupid and he would have eventually made the call.” That seemed to make sense to her – we are on the same page. I will check out my theory with Ethan the next time I see him.

Making my way to the kitchen I spy the missing family member. “Hi Ethan,” I softly say as I make my way towards him.

“Hi Aunt Sam,” he responds as he returns my embrace.

“We need to talk,” I inform him, “now.” That came out a little sterner than I expected. Oh well.

I decide to inquire about his mental health. He raises his eyebrow with a slightly cocky look on his face. Shit, no wonder Tina almost lost it with him. “That is the only explanation I can think of to explain your apparent loss of manners, judgment and common courtesy.” I am on a roll now.

“Aunt Sam, I know I was out of line (understatement) but so was Aunt Tina.” This ought to be good. He certainly has my undivided attention.

“I am an adult and it was my problem to handle. The Dean was being unreasonable and I was perfectly within my rights to say so.” Perfectly within his rights…perfectly within his rights!! Law and Order has done this boy a disservice plus he has obviously lost his mind. I simply nod and clench my jaw – I can feel the headache looming before me. “I don’t know why campus security called Aunt Tina anyway. Talk about an over-reaction.” Okay, I have exercised amazing self control – have conducted myself in a manner befitting a nun. Tina was right – he is a sixteen year old brat.

“Ethan stop!” I need to get his attention. I quickly inform him he has been behaving like an ungrateful little brat and I have just the cure. Grabbing his arm (he’s too tall for me to reach his ear) I escort him to the den, sit down and deposit him over my lap. I recently had the chance to practice this technique with my niece and I am pleased with my performance. Securing him with my arm, I begin to school Ethan in the error of his ways. That sounds nicer than spanking the brat out of him. Either way works for me.

To say he was surprised is a gross understatement. The fifth swat lands before he can register what is happening. Then again, I am pissed so my arm is moving at a pretty quick clip. “Stop it right now.” All I need to say as he gives a half-hearted attempt to get up. I continue to land smack after smack on his hindquarters ensuring no area is left unattended. I notice his fists clenched tightly around the pillow he is holding. Either he is pissed or hurting – I really don’t care.

After a few minutes I decide to move things along at a brisker pace. “Lift up you hips,” I order. His hesitation is met with six sharp smacks and the command is repeated. This time my voice has dropped a few octaves and he complies. I grab his pants and quickly pull them down to his knees. He can’t help but inhale. At least he’s breathing.

I quickly focus on the task at hand. Maintaining a steady cadence, my hand rises and falls on the target area for several minutes. He remains stoic, sorry manly, but I see his foot twitch and pretty soon “ow’s” and “oh’s” begin to escape. I inform him that his behavior was inexcusable and he was lucky he didn’t get suspended. The only reason he caught a break was because of the strings Tina pulled. I decide to use the spank-per-word rule - lucky for him I’m not the English professor.

As the lesson continues, Ethan begins to kick his legs, and I hear sniffles (means the tears have arrived). Soon he is squirming over my lap and I know a fire has been ignited in his posterior. “I’m sorry” and “please stop” make an appearance and I can hear the contrition in his voice. Maintaining the spank-per-word rule, I pull out those timeless classics “You will never act like that again young man” and “You will apologize to Tina, campus security and anyone else we decide” - improvised on that one. I end with six swats to his sit spot – “Do I make myself clear?” (myself counted as 2 words – sue me). He assured me I had. He didn’t need any help extricating himself from my lap and quickly returned his pants to their previous position. He really is quite industrious when properly motivated.

Standing up, I pull him into my arms. I know he isn’t ready for a heart-warming moment right now so I simply tell him I love him and forgive him (actually I tell his chest). He gives me a little squeeze, lets go and heads upstairs to continue making restitution.

I hear him talking to Tina and know they have made peace with each other. I hear her tell him she loves him…I know he tells her the same. Finally, the time has come for him to leave our house and resume college life. He gives me a hug and an “I love you” before heading out into the cold. I don’t know where he will go or what he will do. I do know he will always be part of our family. This will always be his home. He knows that too.

Making my way to Tina and the comfort of her arms, I realize life is good.

Life is very good.

A glass half full moment

Okay, here's the 3rd story in the series with the usual disclaimers.

What the hell? Where is that sound coming from? My brain attempts to comprehend why it is being forced to leave the glorious state of slumber. Not anywhere near awake mode, I roll over making sure to keep my exposure to the elements at a minimum. I decide to open one eye - it wasn’t being protected under the comforter anyway. Besides, someone has to take one for the team and I have a spare.

Let me look, 3am (I didn’t smash the alarm clock this time – learning impulse control and all that). Damn, it’s cold. There it is again. Shit – it’s the doorbell.

“Somebody better be dead or they’re about to be,” I mumble while making my way from my toasty bed onto the cold, harsh tundra. I am able to keep the comforter wrapped around my body. Works okay as long as I take little baby steps. Stairs are a little trickier but I persevere until I reach my destination (sounds heroic, huh?).

“Girl, what is going on? Are you okay?” I inquire as my nineteen year old niece stumbles into my arms before the front door is barely open. Fortunately the officer (oh goody) has a grip on her coat so I am able to keep from falling (so there Mr. Gravity) as she elegantly embraces me (oh yeah, a glass half full moment). I quickly surmise what is interfering with Kate’s ability to remain erect.Yep, Kate has had a little too much to drink. At least I hope all she did was drink.

Mr. Campus Police Officer gives me the abbreviated version (she’s drunk...underage...a campus ticket...good luck...give my regards to Professor McAlister). On the positive side, nobody is dead. On the negative side (and there is one) an officer brought my drunk niece home at 3am. Can’t quite bring myself to the glass-half-full side of the Force. Nope, that’s definitely going to take a whole lot more work.

“Hi Aunt Sam. I couldn’t get the door to work,” she offers as an explanation to my raised eyebrow. Fortunately I speak drunk so I understand her slurred speech. I am also quite adept at navigating the house under such conditions, a skill which proves to be priceless as we (I) make our way (carry my niece) to the guest room. Kate is out like a light as soon as she stumbles onto the bed. Let’s see if I remember the put-a-drunk-to-bed steps: 1.remove shoes, 2. place a blanket over intoxicated person, 3. kiss goodnight.

No problem, like riding a bike. Uh oh, almost forgot number step 4 (don’t even try to pretend you don’t know). I quickly retrieve the little waste basket from the bathroom and place it next to the bed. Kate isn’t an experienced drinker (as least I hope not) so this may come in handy later if the “spins” visit her.

I quickly traverse the tundra (stairs) to reach my comforter and continue the journey to my inviting bed. Shit, it’ll take forever for me to get warm again. Get real - I’m not sleeping anymore tonight.

Lugging my old friend, I deposit myself in my rocking chair and surround my body with the fluffy, soothing comforter. Hopefully looking at the stars will bring me some sense of clarity as they have done so many times before.

Quietly pondering (some say sulking) my situation the committee decides to convene an emergency meeting. Yes…I am referring to the committee of voices that take up residence in my brain. When I revealed that to a friend from Georgia, she responded with, “Honey, bless your heart.” Took me a minute to realize she had just called me crazy. They are polite, those Southerners.

I prefer to view the committee as another charming aspect of my magnetic personality.

I remind the committee that Tina will be back tomorrow night and I can, in fact, handle this situation without her (she’s speaking at some symposium …I’m sure it has to do with books or something – I zoned out after “I’m talking to a group of professors about …”). I am a professional educator with years of experience. I am a mature responsible adult. Yes, glass is half full again!

I’ll have to remind myself of my glass-half-full position tomorrow as I am being the “Mean Aunt”. It’s just so much easier to go halfsies with Tina in these situations… “Almost Mean Aunt” has a better ring to it. Glass half full my ass.

Resting my chin on my knees (nicely padded thanks to my “get freaking warm” measures), I can’t help but smile thinking about Katie (sorry, Kate since she turned eighteen and obtained adult status). Being the first grandchild has afforded Kate with many benefits. Hey, I know what that’s like. I had my grandfather and father wrapped around my little finger too. Depending on the circumstances (getting what I wanted, same thing) a little pout, occasional tears, perfect smile or the angelic “I love you” went a long way with the male members of the family.

The women were a little more hip to my ploys, Mom much more so than Grams. Grams told me one time the nice thing about having grandchildren is you can spoil them and then send them home to their parents. She didn’t care if I had cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner as long as we didn’t mention it (wanted to spare Mom any worry about my dental health – she’s thoughtful that way). Some in the family have suggested Grams and I share some character traits. I know Kate and I do. Hey, not everyone can be as cool as we are. See, glass half full again!

Kate stays with us occasionally when she needs a break from dorm life (misses HBO). My brother felt much better about sending his fragile, little girl out into the big, bad world (aka college) knowing Tina and I were close by. It didn’t hurt that Tina was a professor at the college Kate elected to attend. I promised Jack we would look out for his little girl. At times this has been easier said then done.

Kate is a good kid for the most part and hasn’t gotten into any trouble. One time last year she went to a frat party and got drunk. Campus police brought her to our house as a favor to Tina and didn’t file any paperwork. According to Kate she was subjected to relentless interrogating (asking) and endless lecturing (twenty minutes or so). Kate promised to refrain from alcohol until she was twenty one. I think she showed a lot of maturity with her decision. Tina was convinced it was the pounding headache and upset stomach. Such a skeptic.

Kate decided to stay with us for three weeks (grounded but we didn’t call it that, her being an adult and all) to take a break from dorm life. Hey, she was an eighteen year old college kid living the college life. All the adults were satisfied that would be the end of it. Tina was even convinced. Damn, Kate’s good.

The unmistakable moan of someone waking up after a night of drinking (like you don’t know exactly what I mean) can be heard from the guest room. Time to put on my I’m-here-to-help Aunt face and minister to my sick niece. With a deep sigh (being an adult can suck at times) I leave the comfort of my chair and make my way to the kitchen. Coffee, a glass of water, toast and two aspirin await my niece’s arrival.

“Hi honey. How do you feel?” I use a very soft voice, have made sure any signs of irritation are erased from my face (not an easy thing) and even closed the blinds. Being the magnanimous person that I am, I let Kate recover from her night out without adding to her discomfort. I know, nice Aunt.

Kate apologizes profusely for last night. It did, however, become apparent to me that last night wasn’t the only night Kate had consumed the nectar of the Gods. You see, she retrieved “Hangover Helper” from her pocket. Hell, wish I had that in college. Back in the day we only had aspirin and a Bloody Mary. I decide not to share my reminiscing with Kate – might undermine my authority a little.

I lean against the stove, arms folded, neutral expression, and look pointedly in her direction as she gulps the mixture down. Wait, wait for it…BINGO – it dawns on her what she has just done. Her face has the “Oh shit!!!” expression as she quickly tries to hide the damning evidence. Such a rookie mistake.

I knew she is praying that she hasn’t been caught as she glances my way. I give her my do-you-think-I’m-stupid look (nice to be on the giving instead of receiving end). Nope, not going to make this easy for her.

And there is…head cradled in hands as the I’m-so-busted look creeps across her face (please, you know exactly what I’m talking about). Time for “I’m-here-to-help” Aunt to be replaced with “I’m-the-adult-so-there” Aunt. She’s more fun…for me, not necessarily Kate.

“All right Kate. This is what I’m going to do. You have exactly one hour to do whatever you need to do to get yourself together. After that, we are going to talk about last night. I will meet you in your bedroom. Understand?” Who knew I could sound so Mom-like!

She softly replies, “Yes ma’am.” Kate has never called me ma’am. Let me repeat – never, ever called me ma’am. As a matter of fact, I’ve only heard her use that when she’s in big trouble. Seems appropriate.

Leaving Kate to her own thoughts, I venture off in search of some guidance. Knowing Tina was doing her “presenting” thing and Kate’s parents were incommunicado (on some cruise – lucky them), I quickly decide to gain some wisdom from Mom and Grams (thank you three-way calling!).

After explaining the situation and enduring a game of twenty questions, both women come up with the same suggestion. I should point out they wanted to make sure I hadn’t overlooked some vital piece of information. Like what? How hard is it – drunk Kate…Campus Police…repeat offender.

Sorry, I digress. This quick resolution is an aberration. See, they don’t agree on much without endless negotiation/compromise (unless Grams pulls the because-I-said-so card – really pisses off Mom!) that goes on and on for hours. I’m thinking their suggestion isn’t going to be at the top of my wish list.

After some discussion and a little whining on my part (hey, I’m the one here with Kate), we (them) agree on the solution. I swear I hear Mom and Grams chuckle a little at my obvious discomfort. I seem to surround myself with funny women. Yay me.

Shit, I was hoping for some other suggestion… any other solution. Spanking doesn’t make the top 100 on my wish list.

I am well versed in the role of spankee (don’t even pretend to be surprised), had lots of practice and really have a talent or so I’ve been told. Spanker, not so talented. I express my concerns to two people who are very much aware of my extensive history being on the receiving end.

Grams offers words of encouragement. “Honey, I know you can do this. Do it for the Gipper!” She’s had a crush on Ronnie since he was Governor of California (betcha weren’t expecting a Reagan reference). Yeah, I’ll be the little engine that could. Where is that fucking glass again?

Mom struggles a bit before coming up with this little gem. “Honey, look at it this way. You have had the opportunity to participate in countless spankings.” Sooo, now I have years of spanking experience…remarkably similar to Hillary Clinton’s 35 years of political experience. Isn’t Mom the glass-half-full person.

I point out the flaw in her assessment – my participation, while extensive, did not allow me to actually see the technique, only feel the results. Neither woman has a response to my flawless logic. I begin to breathe a little easier – I’m not going to be required to be a Spanker after all.

As the conversation comes to a close, I am told “we love you (suck it up)” and “you love Kate (she needs you to do this)”. Yeah…I can read between the lines. No need for either woman to pull out the because-I-said-so card.

As I begin to review Kate’s conduct, feelings regarding her behavior bubble to the surface. Fear, anger, fear, hurt, fear…that sums it up. Maybe this won’t be so hard after all…the Spanker thing. The time has come for Kate to get exactly what she needs.

I make my way (with trepidation) to the bedroom and knock on the door. “Come in,” she quietly whispers. I know she’s as scared as I am. There she is, sitting on the bed looking much younger (and smaller) than her nineteen years. Her diminutive size (Kate’s maybe 90 pounds soaking wet) and Mickey Mouse shirt complete the picture. Great, I’m about to hit a little kid. Glass is not looking half full right now.

Her hands clasped in her lap, downcast eyes and sullen expression convey her contrition. I know she’s afraid of what she’ll see in my eyes. Slowly I make my way to her bed and sit down next to her. I notice the tears and wrap my arms around this suffering soul. I continue to rock her as she sobs, just like my mother has done countless times for me. “Shhh, everything will be okay,” I repeat over and over again, just like Mom did for me. After three hours (ten minutes), her sobbing subsides and I go in search of a Kleenex (for her, not me although I keep the box within reach).

“Katie, look at me please,” I softly say. I can see her take a deep breath and struggle to meet my gaze. “Aunt…” I quickly place my finger over her lips.

“Katie, I know how sorry you are. Let me talk now.” We’re both a little surprised at the firmness in my voice. Must be channeling Mom.

“This isn’t the only time since last year that you’ve been drinking, is it?” She doesn’t answer, doesn’t need to…her eyes say it all. “Yeah, I thought so. I know you think you’re old enough to make decisions on your own without any help, that you’re an adult. The decisions you have made regarding alcohol indicate otherwise.” She looks pleadingly at my face for some understanding.

Great, tears. This time they’re mine.

Can’t stop now Sammie. Come on, you can do it. Kate needs you to be the responsible adult here (sometimes I just want to bitch slap Miss Do-the Right-Thing). Do this for her.

Yes, I’m talking to myself again. So what? As a matter of fact, I think I gave myself a pretty good pep talk. Granted, there is usually dissent among the committee members so this is a little unusual. See, another example of my personal growth.

“Katie, what you did was illegal, stupid and very dangerous. Your behavior was unacceptable.”

Okay, deep breath time and… “I am going to make sure you never forget that.” With that, I grab her wrist and quickly pull her over my lap. Rather deftly if you ask me.

“Aunt Sam, what are you doing?” Katie asks in a somewhat surprised voice. Now, Kate isn’t dumb and I’m not about to be played. She’s messing with the Master now.

Not bothering to reply, I bring my hand down across the middle of her upturned bottom. I quickly follow that with three more smacks, alternating from cheek to cheek. For her part, Kate is playing the stoic-martyrish role. I’m cool with that – whatever she needs to do. After a few dozen swats, legs begin to twitch and little yelps are heard. Being stoic can be a burden.

I stop and rest my hand on her bottom. Damn, didn’t realize how much work spanking is and the sting in the hand- what an eye-opener! No wonder Tina always takes a little “lecture” break.

“Kate, why are you getting spanked?” I want to make sure she gets it, really gets it.

Ohhhh, the light bulb goes off… in my head, not Kate’s. I realize I can’t be resentful when Tina asks me the same question (asked – past tense – want to be clear - PAST need to borrow trouble). Isn’t insight a bitch.

“Because I got drunk.” I can hear the shame in her voice. Her regret. Her suffering.


Taking a deep breath, Kate blurts out, “I know I said I wouldn’t drink again after the first time and that is all it was drinking I mean but it really isn’t a problem and I just wanted to have some fun with my friends and I’m technically underage so I did break the law and Aunt Sam I am so sorry and it won’t happen again.” Wow, she did that all in one breath. At least I know she isn’t smoking!!


“And what?” is her whispered reply.

This adult prone across my lap has no idea. No idea that she is precious to so many people...that the idea of anyone, including her, taking chances with her health scares the hell out of me (and a whole bunch of other people!!). She was drunk at a party full of hormonal young men that she didn’t really know – how can she not realize the danger? Well, I’m about to school my young niece in the true precariousness of her situation – then and now.

I reach into her waistband and quickly pull her sweats and panties (a combo on the menu today) down to her knees. Kate is way too slow to react - she is still trying figure out why I am suddenly so pissed. My anger meter went from 3 to 10 in two seconds. How can she not have a clue? It baffles my mind (jeez, I am really being all parentally now).

“No, please Aunt Sammie!!” she pleads. She hasn’t called me Aunt Sammie since she was ten. Considering current events, that seems fitting.

I take a few seconds to calm down – deep breathing, count to ten (150, same thing) before I begin. Here I am, about to continue punishing this obvious adult like a little girl. I need to discuss this incongruency with Tina – then again she’ll just say it’s another thing Kate and I have in common. Yay, another funny woman in my life.

SMACK, SMACK, SMACK. Kate gives up all pretense of stoicism as her legs begin to flail. Soon the room is filled with “I’m sorry”, “please stop”, and the always present “owww”. The unmistakable sounds of a well-deserved spanking continue to resonate throughout the house (we have amazing surround sound acoustics). I painstakingly ensure no area of this child’s (and yes, she is a naughty child right now) bottom is left unattended. I can be very goal oriented. A few dozen smacks later and my mission is accomplished.

“Now, Kate, do I have your attention?” I ask in a loud voice (need to use a little more volume to overcome the sobs). “YES, YES, YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION!!”
Nice to see an emphatic response in the younger generation.

“Any idea what you left off your list of transgressions?” I ask, hoping is has dawned on her.

“Sorry, Aunt Samantha. I really don’t know what else to say.” I can hear the confusion in her voice (still pisses me off) and know she really doesn’t get it.

“Katie, do you have any idea what could have happened to you? How dangerous it was for you to get drunk? You could have been hurt...or worse… I don’t know what we would do if anything happened to you Katie-bear.” I don’t even try to keep the fear and frustration from my voice.

I wait a few seconds for my words to sink in. There it is…it dawns on my niece. I watch as her head falls, tears flow freely and her body begins to shake with her sobs. Shame comes to visit with guilt following closely.

“I am so sorry, so sorry. Please don’t hate me. I am so sorry. It will never happen again.” She’s right about the last sentence. I’m going to make sure of that.

“Okay baby. I don’t hate you and I know you’re sorry. We are going to take care of that right now.” SMACK, WHACK, SPANK. I pepper her reddened posterior (apparently I am a natural spanker – who knew?). Hitting my stride, I continue my assault on her upturned bottom for several more minutes. I inspect her deeply crimson and very warm posterior…time to use words again.

You, SMACK, will, SMACK, never, SMACK, SMACK, ever , SMACK, do, SMACK, that , SMACK, again!, SMACK, SMACK, SMACK. Do, SMACK, SMACK, you, SMACK, SMACK understand, SMACK, SMACK, me, SMACK, SMACK, little,SMACK, SMACK girl? SMACK, SMACK. Screw the spank-per-word rule – something this serious demands improvisation.

“YESSSSS, I UNDERSTAND!” she somehow manages to yell through the sobbing (I’m pretty impressed – I wouldn’t be able to do that). Her twin globes are glowing a brilliant red and radiating enough heat to warm our entire house.

I pull her tightly to my stomach and prepare to wind this down, the same way spankings have ended in our family for generations (Tina doesn’t know this tidbit and no, it’s not lying… I don’t know every little detail about her life…just shut up). Kate clenches her bottom in anticipation – she knows what’s coming.

Using all my strength, I quickly deliver six scorchers to her sit spot. Her howls fill the entire house. Mom would be proud (okay, not the most sympathetic thought but this was a big deal for me too!). I rub her back and tenderly kiss her head, also part of the family spanking ritual.

Long after the spanking is over, Kate’s bottom is still twitching a bit. I know from personal experience it will continue to do so for some time to come.

“Come here baby,” I softy whisper in her ear, placing her on my lap. I make sure her bottom doesn’t come in contact with my clothing. I have had the opportunity to observe this particular skill numerous times!!!

Arms embracing my Katie, I continue to rock her back and forth while the tears drip from her eyes. Pulling her snugly against my chest, I tell her the words I know I’ve always needed to hear. You’re forgiven. You’re a wonderful person (improvised a little so sue me). You are loved. The same words Mom (now Tina) used to comfort my aching heart so many times. After several minutes her tears dry up and I see the beginnings of a slight smile. This precious bundle begins to experience some measure of solace.

Completely exhausted and emotionally drained, I welcome this quiet time with my Katie. Rocking here, looking at the stars I feel her take in my love. She shyly looks up and brushes away a tear running down my face. I see apprehension in her eyes and I know forgiveness is reflected in mine. I smile and open my heart to this precious being. Katie snuggles closer, accepting the unconditional love I freely offer. It’s always there, that unconditional love. Sometimes Katie can’t bring herself to accept it. Another thing we have in common…but not tonight.

I feel Kate’s breathing slow; her body relax and know she has fallen asleep. Reaching for the comforter, I pull it snugly around us both as I drift off to sleep.

Life is good. Life is very good