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I guess you could say that I was a typical teenager in the sense that I would absent-mindedly not do something.  One of these incidents included not putting the toothpaste cap back on the toothpaste. I can only guess that this was the catalyst for this particular set of events.

I believe I was thirteen at the time and this incident just happened to be during a period of time when Jack A. was jobless.  Dealing with life during these times were a little more difficult than the normal difficult.  Normal difficult would be several ‘smacks’ across the face and a two-to-three hour yelling fest.  More than normal difficult would entail the forceful bodily introductions to furniture and household appliances.

It was summer and Jack A. didn’t have to be carful (or I guess I should say as careful) about where he hit me.  If my memory is correct, I was in my room when he came to get me.  He grabbed me by the and as you would a small child.  He led me to the bathroom and asked me what was out of place.

My first reaction was to look at his face… of course the smile was there.  My stomach immediately sank to the floor.  I knew that even if I had the right answer, I was still going to be hit.  The right answer would not get me out of the punishment he thought I deserved.  Of course I had no clue what was out of place.  Knowing him the way I did, it could have been anything from the way the towels were folded to the water spots being on the mirror.

I have to pause here for a moment to explain something or this story won’t make any sense.  When Jack A. would ask me a question that he expected a response to, there was one phrase that I was not aloud to use in my answer.

I don’t know.

This was a phrase that I was forbidden to use because in Jack A.’s mind, ‘I don’t know.’ wasn’t a legitimate response to any question.  The punishment would usually be more severe if I used ‘I don’t know.’ as an answer.

Back to the story…

When Jack A. asked me what was out of place, without thinking, I responded ‘I don’t know.’  Jack A shook his head and said:

What was that?  I don’t believe I heard you correctly.

He didn’t pause or wait for me to respond.  This was one of his rhetorical questions that were put there to look pretty like china in the china cabinet.

Now answer the question.  WHAT IS OUT OF PLACE?

There wasn’t much I could do but look around the room.  I proceeded to sort through my mental rolodex of the specifics I was responsible for in the bathroom.  I verbally went through the list as well.

The towels are folded correctly.

Jack A. shook his head.  The smile on his face getting a bit wider.

The shower curtain is closed.

Again, another negative response and a wider smile.

I washed the tub out yesterday.

Another negative.  At this point you can almost sense the pleasure he was getting out of this exchange.  I cringed and shrank further into my self and gave my final answer.  With a flat and emotionless voice, I said:

I don’t know.

He actually chuckled and said:

That’s what I thought.

He grabbed the hair at the back of my head and shoved my head at the sink.  I tried to resist and the resistance caused a slight change in my direction.  I smacked into the bottom of the mirror over the sink instead of the original destination (the sink faucet) that Jack A. had intended.  This upset Jack A. even more and he shoved my head down to where my eyes were level with the faucet and the rim of the sink where the toothpaste and toothbrushes were kept.

W-H-A-T I-S O-U-T O-F P-L-A-C-E?

Jack A. yelled.

Finally I saw that the toothpaste cap wasn’t on the toothpaste as I know it should be.  I then clearly stated what was out of place and Jack A. responded:

Bingo!

All I can recollect from this point was the force in which I was jerked off my feet.  My calves met the side of the tup and down I went.  The back of my head connected with the tiled wall at which point I became unconscious.  When I came to, I was in the bottom of the tub, fully clothed with the water on cold.

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