The other day my wife walked through the door and started yelling. Of course I quickly went through the list of things she might have found out that I’d done. I came up empty. I believe it was a loss of memory that comes with age more than any angelic behavior on my part—just the backlog of the last forty-five years should fill a three-ring binder. When I was younger, I would see my wife get out of the car with a scowl on her face, and I would run out to the garden and pick her a bouquet of flowers. I was always guilty of something. It was just a matter of finding out which one she had discovered. It’s the part of being an empty-nester nobody ever talks about. When I had a house full of kids, I could always blame it on one of them. Now all I have is a dog, and it’s a female so I can’t even put leaving the toilet seat up on her. It turned out my wife was upset because some company had billed her for something she’d already paid for, so it had nothing to do with me. Figure the odds of that happening. I made a note of it on the calendar.
Growing up I had a lot of brothers and sisters. You would think with eight kids it would be easy to spread the blame around. If everyone took turns stepping up and taking blame, nobody should have gotten punished more than once a week, but it never happened that way. I was always the one who got the blame, even for the few things I didn’t do—to this day I’m sure I was spanked for The Bay of Pigs fiasco, The Cuban Missile Crisis and the Alaskan earthquake of 1964. (I think sometimes Mom just wanted to keep her arm loose, the way a relief pitcher throws some balls around if he hasn’t pitched in a few days.)
When I was young and we lived in South Dakota, I didn’t have anyone I could slough the blame off on when something went wrong. There were only five of us kids then. I couldn’t blame my oldest sister for anything, because she was mean and vicious. Even if she got punished for something, she’d give it to me ten times worse with her razor-sharp eagle’s talons. My second oldest sister had a sweet innocent face that made Snow White look like the Wicked Witch of the West. If I blamed her, no one would believe me, and I’d get punished twice as much for lying. I had a younger brother and sister, but my sister could turn on the waterworks as if she had a switch. Within five minutes of accusing her of anything she’d be standing in a puddle of tears:
“Waa. I didn’t do anything, and now you’ve made my sore arm hurt.”
For as long as I lived at home, she always had a sore arm and I never knew why. Most of the time I had a sore butt, and I knew exactly why.
My younger brother was the baby of the family and the Golden Boy. He couldn’t do anything wrong. I swear he would poop his pants, and I’d get blamed for it:
“When he kept saying, ‘I got to go potty. I got to go potty.’ You should have taken him to the bathroom.”
Like he couldn’t crawl there himself.
These days, they say if you spank kids they could end up getting psychological damage. I’m skeptical. I got spanked and I’m fine. Okay, I do write murder/mysteries where people sometimes get killed in horrific ways, and I just finished a horror novel, The Almond People, where a lot of creepy weird things happen, but it had nothing to do with being spanked … I think. I’ll have to ask my therapist at the next session and see what she thinks about it.
Click the covers below to go to Amazon and check out my books.