Friday, August 22, 2008

The Dreaded Swat

Here's some more ramblings that come to mind, this time from my life at Foshay Junior High.

Back in the days before people listened to psychologists and instead employed common sense, there were two forms of punishment meted out for misbehaving on the yard during lunch or recess. One was to pick up a specified amount of trash, such as 25 pieces of paper. The other was to be on the receiving end of the dreaded swat.

The paddle used to administer the swat was legendary. It was big. It was red. It had holes in it to eliminate air resistance and ensure the most efficient contact with the offending rear end. And we feared and respected it.

I'd had to pick up papers but never had gotten a swat. But one day.. I was running on the yard when and where I shouldn't have been and got nabbed by one of the teachers on yard duty. This time no mercy was shown me and I, along with several other bad boys, were marched over to the gym office to suffer the consequences of our sins.

I was too petrified to say anything. I already was overcome by shame - Asian kids weren't supposed to do the kind of things that resulted in getting whacked like that and I was already feeling like an outcast. The rest of my partners in crime, though, none of whom I knew, were a different story. I never, and I mean never, heard so much begging and pleading in my entire life. Talk about pathos..

It went like this:

Kid: Oh please sir please sir I won't do it again please sir oh sir sir sir sir sir sir..

Gym teacher:

Kid: Sir sir sir sir sir sir sir AUGH!!!!!!! AUGH!!!!! Oh sir sir AUGH!!!!!!!!

And that's how it went down the line, agonized screaming and then each boy exiting and rubbing his behind. Then it was my turn. I said nothing. My eyes watered, partly from anticipating the pain but mainly from shame. I bent over and..

And it was like getting a shot. I got my whack, I straightened up and hurried out of there and thought to myself, that really didn't hurt too much. But I also knew the teacher went easy on me. The more those other kids pleaded, the harder was the smack of the paddle and believe me, some of those whacks were loud, crisp and hard, like lightning bolts. I think they saved me for last so the others wouldn't see me getting a lighter swat than they did.

My classmates asked me what it was like. I felt so ashamed but they seemed to care less that I had been "bad" enough to get a swat; they were more curious about how painful it had been. Well, I guess I could have been like James Cagney and boasted how no copper was going to bring me to my knees but instead I told them it stung a little but that was it. I added that the teacher gave me some slack, though. I know he felt sorry for this tearful little Asian boy who was too scared to even look at him.

Come to think of it, that's like how some kids used to act prior to our having to get shots. Don't you remember? There were always kids who would scream and cry, even before the needle went in. Me, I never said a thing but would always hope they'd be giving us the vaccine on a sugar cube, and if not, then using a toothpick. There must have been some sadistic nurses who, sick and tired of the crying routine, would jam the needle a little bit harder for some kids than others.

Junior high was when I really got into music, as well. Music as in listening to KHJ, aka Boss Radio with its disc jockeys known as Boss Jocks, and KRLA as well. That's really when I started assembling the soundtrack for my life. Last weekend in my blog post I listed what I thought were the five greatest rock/pop songs ever written; I love those songs but they aren't my favorite ones. The best songs, meaning favorite songs, are always associated with memories.

That's why when those Time Life infomercials for collections of songs from the '60s and '70's are on television, I get hypnotized. Those master marketers know exactly what they're doing, playing just enough, a snippet of a song to conjure up memories of what was happening when that song was on the radio, and also release the emotions as well. Then the snippet is over and the next one comes, and you're being battered left and right and wanting to bring back those oldie but goodie feelings again. I guess I'm not the only one because otherwise they wouldn't keep repeating those infomercials for moths like me.

Even in junior high, for me it was music and writing. Those who knew me knew I liked to write all kinds of crazy stories. If any of you happen to be reading this, do you remember? I've always been a frustrated (frustrating?) writer and I suppose this blog serves as an avenue of release. Hey, take the poll in the right column!

How'd I get from swats to this? I had intended to relate a few Foshay memories, got caught up in that infamous day of my sore bottom - I can still picture the inside of the gym office - and then slid over to babbling about how much I love the music from the '60s and '70s. But it's taken up enough space already so I need to stop here. If you've come this far, just know that I'll be putting more memories to music in the coming posts - it all comes flooding back and I want to capture it on these pages. If Time Life can do it then so can I - and it won't be condensed into those little 3-second teases.





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