Don’t get me wrong. I love Quint. When I contemplate being without him (which I don’t do very often), my chest gets really tight and I tend to get clingy with him for a few hours until the feeling goes away. Everything in my life has gotten immeasurably better since he came along.
But sometimes, he is really fuckin’ annoying.
Such as when he sends me to the corner to “curb the attitude.” I’m standing here now, scowling at the paint and barely resisting the urge to kick the baseboard or cross my arms – both acts will, I know, do nothing except momentarily relieve my feelings and get me swatted – because he decided I was in a bad mood. Humph! It’s him who’s in a bad mood, and he has been since he got home from work.
I mean, I understand that his job is stressful. It can’t be easy dealing with sick kids and their worried parents day in and day out, but does he have to come home and take it out on me? I know he’d never let me get away with that. He’d say, “If you’ve had a bad day, Theo, I’m here for you. Tell me what went wrong, and if I can do anything to fix it, I will, and if not I’ll comfort you and hear you out. But you do not take out your bad mood on me, young man. All that does is put us both in an even worse mood, and create an unpleasant home environment. Done over a long period of time, that kind of behavior could seriously damage our relationship, and I won’t allow it.”
And then, of course, he’d spank me.
I wonder, briefly, what he would do if I turned around and gave him the whole “if you’ve had a bad day” lecture right now. With the mood he’s in, I’d probably get spanked anyway. Which really just isn’t fair.
When he’d come home half an hour ago, I was watching the House marathon on USA and doing my homework. I know, I know. “Don’t watch TV while you do your homework, Theodore. You can’t give it your full attention. Homework is done at the table with all electronic entertainment turned off. You have ADHD; you don’t need any additional distractions.”
But it’s not like I was paying that much attention to House. I mean, we have the first four seasons on DVD and they were just showing episodes from the whole Tritter plot arc in season three, so I’d seen it a thousand times before. It was just background noise. That argument didn’t work very well with Quint. As soon as he’d taken off his shoes and set his briefcase down, he crossed the room and turned off the TV, then gave me a look and pointed to the table.
“When you’re done with that, I’ll set you some lines to write. And if I come home and find you watching TV instead of doing your homework again, you’re getting a spanking. You know better,” he said.
“I wasn’t watching it!” I told him, and then explained my background-noise-helps-me- concentrate theory.
“No, it doesn’t. Table, now.”
You’d think a doctor would know that just saying something isn’t so doesn’t make it false. You have to have empirical data. Whatever happened to the scientific method?
I, unwisely, voiced that thought, adding that I assumed they would have taught such things at Harvard Med.
He sighed and closed his eyes. I could tell he was counting to ten, which made me reconsider my actions. It’s very hard to push Quint’s patience – even when I’m about to get spanked, he sends me to the corner to calm me down, not him. I half-expected him to just sit down beside me, move my books to the coffee table, and pull me down over his lap. Instead, he pointed to the corner. Didn’t say a thing, just pointed. Oh, this wasn’t good.
Looking back on it now, I can sort of see why he overreacted. I mean, it was obvious he’d had a bad day. I didn’t want to aggravate the situation, I just couldn’t help snapping “Fine!” and stomping over to the corner. Did I mention this was after I shoved my books onto the floor?
The swat he delivered as I reached the designated spot wasn’t unexpected, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.
“Ow!” I yelped. He didn’t take any notice of my pain.
“Now you can go back and put those on the table where they belong, and then come stand in the corner properly, without stomping, and curb the attitude, Theodore William.”
‘Curb the attitude’ is the last-warning phrase. It means stop it now, unless you’d really like that spanking. Coupled with my full first and middle names, it means I’m extremely close to the paddle. I turned and walked quickly back to the sofa, gathering up the books and papers that were scattered over the floor and under the coffee table and depositing them on the dining table, while managing not to stomp or slam the books down. I was actually a bit surprised at my self-control, but when I turned to look at him, he just pointed to the corner again. Which was really infuriating. Didn’t I deserve a bit of recognition for doing what he’d asked? I went quietly back to my corner, but my attitude, as Quint would say, was far from curbed.
He left me standing there fuming while he changed into his after-work clothes and started pulling things out of the pantry for dinner. Typical Quint. The world may be ending, but dinner will still be on the table by seven-fifteen. Any other time, I would have found that thought reassuring. Now, I just wanted him to notice that I was defiantly broadcasting attitude as I scowled at the paint.
I huffed out a breath experimentally. No reaction, other than the sound of the refrigerator door being opened. I heard him slide open the crisper and then the steady chopping sounds from his knife as he cut up whatever it was he’d pulled out. Garlic, from the smell. I discreetly checked my watch and found I’d only been standing there for five minutes. There was no way he was letting me out before ten minutes had passed, and probably not then, given his mood. I shifted from foot to foot and listened to him run water over something in the sink.
Dammit. Why does this work with me? I can already feel most of my temper leaking out and being soaked into the paint in front of me, my shoulders and neck relaxing as it does, and making me aware that they’re aching from the tension. Why is standing me in a corner like a six-year-old such an effective way of calming me down? And why did I ever have to let Quint on to that fact?
I know why, of course, deep down. We never could have gone on as we were two years ago, before we started this aspect of our relationship – the discipline aspect. As much as we’d loved each other, it was never quite right. I knew I was a Brat, but he didn’t know he was a Top – at least, not in those terms. He’s a naturally dominant guy, but he’s also naturally very gentle. He never would have dreamed of spanking me until I suggested it, and even then, it took considerable effort on my part and days of discussion before he agreed that it was the right thing to do. Sounds crazy, I know, but the choice was between that and the tension that was mounting higher every day finally leading to a break-up, and like I said before, I don’t like to contemplate being without him.
I also know, deep down, that it wasn’t really him that instigated this particular fight. Sure, he was in a bad mood, and maybe it was from work, or maybe it was from finding me with my homework on the sofa, watching TV, but the fact was, if I had just moved to the table right off, I probably could have escaped with a short lecture and a few hundred lines. Not fun, but infinitely preferable to this. It was the way he didn’t even say hello or ask me to turn the TV off that set me off. And the counting-to-ten thing just added to it. I hate it when he’s in a bad mood. Most of the time, when I pick up on the cues I’ll go into angel-mode and try to cheer him up, but this afternoon I was having a hard time with one of my homework problems, so I was frustrated and in a bad mood myself. And when I’m like that, I just can’t help pushing his buttons. Which always makes me feel rotten once I’ve calmed down.
“Have you got that attitude under control, young man?”
I sigh. Here’s the beginning of the script I hate, however much I deserve it. “Yes, sir,” I answer quietly, not moving from my corner until I hear him say, “Come here, then,” in his firm, calm voice.
I turn around, and he’s sitting on the sofa, looking over his shoulder at me and holding out his right hand. I look at it apprehensively. “Quiiinnt…” I say, drawing his name out in a plea.
“Now, Theo,” he answers, unmoved. “Let’s get this over with.”
I take a few steps closer, giving him the full-on puppy look. “I’m sorry, really, I am.”
“I’m glad to hear it, but you’re still going to be spanked. You know better than to throw temper tantrums like that.”
I stop, still about a foot shy of where he can reach me, and ask, “Did you have a bad day?”
Quint sighs. “Yes, I did, and I’ll tell you about it over dinner. Which is going to be ready in about fifteen minutes, so I’d really like to get this over with.”
“We could just skip it?” I suggest half-heartedly.
I take a step closer. “I’m sorry I threw a tantrum when you were already having a bad day,” I say, tearing up a bit.
“Thank you for apologizing,” he replies, and leans forward to catch my belt loop with his index finger, using it to draw me over to his right side. He unbuttons and unzips my pants very efficiently, and then pushes them together with my boxers down around my knees before he pulls me over his lap. I bury my face in my arms as my feet dangle over the end of the sofa behind me. The first swat seems incredibly loud, and I once again think, as I do every time I’m in this position, how grateful I am that our apartment is so well soundproofed I could invite my band over for practice without the neighbors noticing a thing. Then the second and third and fourth swats land, and I give myself over to just thinking about how much it hurts.
“We’ve gone over the proper place for you to do your homework before, Theodore,” Quint says, punctuating every couple of syllables with another swat. “And when I tell you to do something, I expect you to do it, not give me lip about it. We’ve also gone over why it’s not okay to throw things when you’re angry.”
“I didn’t throw them,” I protest, half-sobbing between swats. “I just shoved them onto the floor.”
“Do not split hairs with me, young man. Shoving things onto the floor is no more acceptable than throwing, and you know it.”
The best response I can come up with is “owww…”, and Quint takes that as a sign that he’s gotten his point across. That doesn’t stop him from spanking me until I’m fully crying into the cushion, though. He punctuates the spanking with four final hard swats to the tops of my thighs, and then lets me lie there and sob for a few minutes while he rubs circles on my back under my t-shirt and makes soothing noises.
I manage to kneel and throw my arms around his neck, burying my face in his chest as he hugs me back and kisses the top of my head. “There now, angel. It’s alright. It’s all over now,” he says softly, and I think, not for the first time, how great he must be with kids who are scared of getting their shots. Maybe if I’d had a pediatrician like him when I was young, I wouldn’t have my phobia of needles.
By the time the oven timer goes off, my sobs have quieted to the occasional sniffle, and Quint shifts me gently off him so he can go stop our dinner from burning. I straighten my clothes, wincing a bit as I pull them over my sore butt, and trail into the kitchen after him, feeling clingy like I always do after a spanking. He’s pulling a pan of chicken out of the oven. “I mixed up some salad,” he says. “Could you get it out of the fridge?”
I make a face. “Rabbit food?”
“You’ll live,” he says, smiling at me, and he drops a kiss on my cheek before he starts taking plates out of the cupboard.
Yeah, and I wouldn’t want to do it any other way.