By Harvey Blumenthal
In 1972, when Billy, our four-year-old son, used an ink pen to aimlessly draw on the carpet while watching cartoons on TV, I spanked him, not for the offense, but for his impudent reply, “It doesn’t matter,” when I rebuked him for it. He got over it, but ever-after, even now, at age forty-eight, he will tease me about my “abuse” when the occasion arises.
Two years after this life-changing event, when Billy was six, he got even. One night he was already in his PJs and ran into my bathroom where I stood butt-naked while shaving at the wash basin; he slapped me on my fanny and shouted, “Plan Five!” I quickly turned around and clapped my hands together, which startled him; Billy jumped back, bumped into the open toilet bowl, lost his balance, and fell backward into the toilet. He began to cry as he struggled to pull himself up, and I quickly pulled him out, his green pajamas dripping wet. I helped remove these, toweled him off, and poured a little Brut aftershave in my hands and patted his cheeks and chest. I carried Billy, wrapped in the large bath towel, into his nearby bedroom and coaxed him into dry PJs, then we lay down on the bed and laughed about this incident, and I asked him why he cried out “Plan Five!” when he slapped me. What did that mean? Now, over forty-five years later, neither of us recall how he replied.
Many years later, Bill’s two little boys delighted in hearing stories of how their father misbehaved when he was a child. I have been requested to tell, over and over, the story of how their daddy got spanked for drawing on the carpet. They repeatedly had me take them upstairs to his old room and show them the exact spot where it happened. Little Ben inspected the carpet for the ink stains, and I explained how that old carpet had been replaced many years ago. At one later visit, Stevie and Ben led me upstairs to the scene of the crime and laughed while they challenged me as they pretended to write on the carpet and boastfully tell me, “ it doesn’t matter.” They loved to reenact the scene, and then they roughed me up, pulled me down, and turned me over because they wanted to spank—me!
About the Author
Harvey Blumenthal is a retired physician in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has published many essays and memoirs. He served two years (1970-72) active duty as a Navy physician during the Vietnam War.