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The consequences of telling the truth

My parents never believed in corporal punishment, and usually my biggest misdeeds were met with a time-out, and later on in life, a grounding. There was one time, however, I received the classic parental discipline. A spanking.

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I believe that there is something to be said about having a two parent household. When one parent is having a bad day or over-reacting, the other can step in to even out the situation. And while I believe my mother did a supremely excellent job of being a single parent, there have been one or two times I wish she had had another voice beside her. This is the story of one of those times.

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We were living in Wyoming, and my mom decided to let my sister and me turn one of the rooms in our house and in the basement into a playroom. We are artistic types, so my mom bought a bunch of paint and let us go nuts and paint the walls. We ended up with a fantastic mural, there was an Ariel, a Prince Phillip, and even a Maleficent-turned-dragon. My then 7 year old sister painted a monkey with pink overalls in one of the trees.

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My sister’s monkey was a much lighter color and smiled.

One day I came down to inspect our work and I saw that the light switch cover had been taken off and painted pink. It was on a piece of plastic on the floor and I noticed that some of the paint had pooled and created a puddle on the side. Thinking I could rip it off and even it out, I unpeeled the fixture from the plastic and ripped off the puddle. Unfortunately, semi-dry paint doesn’t work that way and the paint ripped off a little into the plate as well.

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I spent the next 20 or so minutes trying to even out the paint on the edges, and eventually I gave it up as a los, peeled the paint from the whole cover, and left it back on the plastic sheet. I did not realize then, how great my mistake would be.

Several hours later, my mom came home from work. I was chilling in my bedroom when I heard her stomping down the hall towards my room and then my bedroom door shook with a deafening knock. BOOM BOOM BOOM

I reluctantly answered the door. “Yes, Mom?”

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She held up the paint-free light cover in her hands. “DID YOU DO THIS?!”

My eyes got wide with fear from her unanticipated rage. I hesitated.

“DID YOU DO THIS?!!”

My voice was small and plaintive. “No, mom.”

“You Didn’t Do This?”

“No, mom.”

I watched her march down the hall and pound on my sister’s door. I closed my door but just for a crack and watched the scene unfold. Claire opened the door with trepidation.

“Did You Do This?!” My mom held up the light switch cover in front of my sister’s face.

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Why?

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mama.” Claire replied.

“I KNOW you did this! Your sister said she didn’t do this and your sister NEVER LIES!”

I saw my sister break into tears as my mom grabbed her hand and led her to the basement. At this point, my feelings of guilt started to seep in. As annoying and invasive of my private life as my sister had become, she was still the biggest friend I had and I was tormented with the idea that she would receive the punishment I so rightfully deserved.

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Which one of you did this?

I stealthily followed them into the basement and cautiously stayed around the corner of the stairs while I listened to their arguments of accusal and denial. I was so scared of my mom’s wrath that I was determined to stick to my story until I heard that she was about to do something she had never done before. Spank my sister.

“Five spanks because you did this! Five MORE because you are lying about it!” I heard my mom yell.

My sister’s cries of innocence were too much more than I could handle. I was suddenly transformed into George Washington. About to confess to his father that he in fact, did, cut down that cherry tree.

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I ran out into the room and screamed, “No, Mom, don’t!”

Confused, and with her hand raised about to spank my sister she turned to me and asked why.

“It was I.” I confessed.

At this point I was so upset with my sister’s potential first spanking, and was so overwrought with guilt that I burst into tears.

“I was the one who took the paint off the thingy,” I sobbed. “It wasn’t Claire. She knew nothing about it.”

My mother looked at me, bewildered. I pleaded with her.

“It was I! I took the paint off. I didn’t mean to, it just kind of… happened.” I looked at my sister with regret and humiliation.

“I’m so sorry, Claire.” I cried.

“It’s okay,” she answered with tear soaked eyes.

My mother, unaware of what to do, and the rage she felt before evaporating, decided that my punishment should be the original five spanks, with two less because I told the “ABSOLUTE” truth. I was spanked three times, though I think my mom used less force than she should have.

I think now that I could have gotten away with it, but sisterly love is more important than a spanking.

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I will always love you.

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I Have Had a Dream, Past the Wit of Man to Say What Dream it Was

I just woke up from a dream that I have to write down. Most of my dreams are strange, I never outgrew the imagination phase of childhood. I frequently am a pirate, or I am a witch excavating the ruins of an alien city, or recently a dinosaur farmer. For those who are unfamiliar with dinosaur farming, it’s like owning a ranch, but with gigantic lizard-like beasts instead of cows.

Today’s dream is brought to you by Al Pacino. I’m dreaming I’m in the mafia. My mafia dreams are more like the Jets vs. the Sharks than the Sopranos, by the way. I have to kill these two guys who are going to try to kill me once they realize how important I am in the family. I’m injecting poison into some ravioli to serve them when they come in for dinner at my restaurant.

Now here’s where it gets weird. On my side is a young Ron Howard from Happy Days. He is dressed like the Man in Black from the Princess Bride. Both of these things do not seem abnormal to my sleeping self. Ron tells me he will serve the bad guys the poison ravioli. I tell him no, it’s too dangerous, but courageous Ron does not know the meaning of danger.

Ron Howard in full pirate attire leaves the kitchen with the ravioli and goes to the table where the bad guys are sitting. But no! Something about the situation must have tipped these cunning gangsters off because they pull out their guns! Ron starts to run, but he gets shot in the back. I will avenge you, Ron! I come running out of the kitchen, firing both my guns (which have magically appeared in my hands) and start shooting at the bad guys.

Let it be noted that I am a pacifist, and although I have used magic, my ninja skills, and a shovel to kill bad guys and zombies in my dreams, I NEVER use guns. It is unusual for me to dream about guns, which is I think why after firing all my bullets I didn’t hit anything. The bad guys and myself looked at each other for a second, pondering our next move, and then my alarm went off and I woke up.

Now I need to make myself lunch. When I return with the next installment, I will tell the cyber-verse about my dream where Dave Coulier with green eyeshadow and a faux-hawk is a Terminator sent to destroy me. I don’t know why.

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Our Trip to Germany (or If Something Can Go Wrong, it Probably Will)

A lot of things haven’t been going very well for me lately. I was almost reduced to accepting a job that I really don’t want to do, but when you’re down to your last hundred dollars, with no way of paying your bills, you end up doing things you never thought you could do. I might have a tiny, tenuous grasp of integrity left, as I refused to work in a Bikini bar, though I did think about it very hard.

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Of course, this is far from the first time things have looked so hopeless, and I’m reminded of the time that I went to visit my little sister in France and we took a day trip to Baden Baden, a place in Germany with natural hot springs. I don’t know why the universe picked that day to screw with us, but things kept going terribly wrong.

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So my younger sister Claire was taking a semester abroad in Strasbourg, France and I went to visit her. She has always been a perfect hostess and wanted to do something special for me during my stay. She had been to Baden Baden with her fellow exchange students the previous month, and thought we could take the trip just the two of us without too much difficulty, even though neither of us speaks a lick of German other than, “Gesundheit.”

The day started out fine. We woke up late morning and grabbed a mozzarella sandwich from the delicatessen. Immediately Claire and I got into a bizarre conversation.

We started chatting about allergies and how it would be hard in a country where you didn’t speak the language to tell someone you’re allergic to strawberries. What would you do if you saw someone go into anaphylactic shock? How would you diagnose that and how could you save them?

This is when the conversation took a sharp turn for the worse. I blame medical TV shows like House and Grey’s Anatomy.

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Claire: I would perform an emergency tracheotomy and save their life.

Me: Claire, you don’t know how to perform an emergency tracheotomy.

Claire: (getting more eager) Yes! I could get this pen I have in my bag and remove the end bits and the ink in the middle and save their life!

Me: That could go horribly wrong.

Claire: I would do it to you!! If you were dying and needed me to do it I would take this pen and jab it in your neck!!!

Me: … *blink* … Listen to me. No, focus and listen.    … I would rather die.

It was like some kind of nightmarish roller coaster ride, and the more she thought about it, the wider her eyes got and more excited she became, like a very enthusiastic and pretty lunatic.

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It took all my conversational skills to talk her down from this idea. For a good half hour she was convinced that I might need an emergency tracheotomy and even took out a writing utensil to show me exactly how she would stab me with a pen. Let the record show I have no food allergies.

At this point, my internal warning signals should have been blaring to cancel the whole trip from this obviously insane start, but I knew how much it meant to Claire so I went along with her, though I will forever be a touch afraid of the woman.

We navigated the public transportation of Strasbourg to make our way to the train station. Turns out what should have been a 15 minute ride took us over an hour, and we arrived at the train station with only 5 minutes before the train to Baden Baden was scheduled to leave.

Timing is everything.

Timing is everything.

We realized that we would probably not make this train, as we still had to purchase the tickets, but decided to not worry and wait for the next train to Baden Baden leaving in another hour. It wasn’t a direct train, but Claire and I thought we could handle one little transfer. Feeling a little deflated, but spirits still high, we chatted and listened to music on my iPod to pass the time.

We got off to transfer, and proudly read directions and communicated with the conductor in his broken English and our abysmal German to find which platform to go to. Once located, we found some chairs to relax on, as we would probably be waiting for another half hour.

My sister and I have very similar taste in music, and we were getting really into singing along to my iPod. After a particularly rousing rendition of Queen’s Somebody To Love (and since there was no one within earshot to mock us) we decided to use my camera to videotape our performance. We can get really into the music…

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… and being naturally gifted performers we were so involved with the music and video that you can actually see the train we were supposed to catch pull up behind us, and leave again without us the wiser. I wish I could post that video here, but alas I think it is forever lost on an old laptop of mine.

When we realized our error we looked for someone to blame, but as we had only ourselves we managed to shrug it off and wait semi-patiently for the next train to arrive in another hour. The rest of the journey there was fairly uneventful, and our time in Baden Baden was relaxing and fun. We even splurged on dinner (a delicious spaghetti bolognese) and the only other minor hiccup was when I saw a full frontal of a 60+ year old man coming down the stairs in front of me.

Claire had neglected to mention that the upper levels of the establishment were clothing-optional.

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After the harrowing journey getting there we made sure to know exactly what time we had to leave to make the train back to France. We made the train in plenty of time, but started to become concerned when 15 minutes after the “departure time” we were still in the station.

After a while we heard some announcements, but as neither of us speaks German we were at a loss for what to do. I began making calculations in my head as to how much a taxi would be from Baden Baden to Strasbourg and panicked when I realized it would come out to approximately 600 American dollars. I was halfway convinced it was a necessary expenditure, though, because Claire had a final exam to take the next morning.

Then, an angel of the universe appeared in the form of an old German businessman who spoke English and let us know that there had been a suicide on the tracks and that if we were to make it back to France, we needed to high-tail it out of there and catch the last train of the night on the opposite platform. Now, some of you may say that this person was not an angel, but trust me. At this particular juncture in my life when looking at spending the night in a German train station, he was.

Help is on the way, dear!

Help is on the way, dear!

Claire and I hastily grabbed our belongings and sprinted to the other platform. It was a cinematic movie ending, with the doors closing just as the back of my heel cleared.

By the time we made it back home it was 2am and Claire and I were both exhausted and picking on each other. I won’t get into the fight that ended our night, it was mostly petty and we forgave each other by morning. Suffice it to say it was a memorable trip, and even now when things seem to be darkest I know the dawn will come.

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