Bear in mind that this was in the early 80's when this occurred. The practices described below in the story was commonplace at the time. Relax and enjoy the story.
I had graduated a year earlier from a school for the deaf whose philosophy emphasized oral communication over sign language (meaning we learned how to speak and read lips) and I was mainstreamed; struggling to understand the brave new world in 7th grade where everyone was hearing and I was the only deaf student there.
Out of the blue, one of my "friends" had suddenly turned against me by spitting at me while at recess. What I meant by the quote marks on the word friends was I thought anyone who spoke to me and interacted with me was by definition, a friend. How naive I was.
Just like that, his spit landed on my shoulder near my neck. I was shocked by the insult and the shock quickly turned into fury. I spat back at him, making sure to hit his face and I nailed him a centimeter from his nose. That pissed him off enough to spit back.
I retaliated. He responded. This escalated to a spitting war on a global scale. A teacher ran in to break up the spitting war and I never forgot her reaction of disgust when she saw what had transpired.
She marched us to the principal's offce. The principal had only three chairs so we weren't far apart at all. The teacher then left us to face the principal. I had met him months earlier and he seemed cordial but supportive to me. He had understood that the school was having its first ever deaf pupil and he was setting the benchmark for all other students and faculty to follow.
The principal got up from behind his desk and came around and leaned back on his desk. He made a mistake of asking the boy first what had happened. The boy got very animated and tried everything under the sun to blame it all on me. I just sat there and waited for the principal to speak to me. I had learned that was a very important thing to do - wait and don't speak until spoken to.
The principal abruptly cut him off and then he looked at me and said, "So what happened?" I calmly explained how I thought he was my friend until today when he just spat at me for no reason at all. I had not done anything wrong to him and I did not know why he started this. The principal nodded as if all this made sense to him.
The boy, probably sensed that I had won the principal over, got loud and tried to speak over me and everyone else. The principal stood up and went to the cabinet as the boy loudly denied everything. He opened the cabinet and pulled out something large, round, and flat that I couldn't make out. He dropped it on his desk for sound effect and I could feel the vibration of that metallic thud from the large round flat object landing on the desk.
The boy shut up immediately. The principal questioned him again and the boy tried again, in a somewhat calmer tone to blame everything on me. The principal sighed and looked at me. He said, "what do you have to say?" I told him that I did spit on him only because he spat on me first and I was able to show the gobs of saliva on my clothes. That convinced the principal.
He went to the intercom and paged for a certain teacher to come in. After a minute, the teacher (albeit a different one) came in. The principal said to me, "Come over here." I got up and walked over to him. I was able to see what the object was. A paddle with holes drilled all over the area. "Why did he do that?" as I wondered while walking over to him.
"Bend over and grab your _____" and I thought he said "knees" so I did as instructed. He tapped me on my shoulder to get my attention and I looked at him. He pointed to my ankles and said, "No, grab your ankles." I did as told. He stepped away and after a moment, I felt a thud on my butt. I realized that he had just paddled me...but...what I thought was "That was it?" It didn't hurt at all. My dad had spanked me before and his hand hit HARDER than that paddle. Okay.
The principal tapped me and I looked at him. He said, "Go sit down." Okay. I sat down. The principal motioned for the boy to get over there. The boy didn't have to be told to grab his ankles - he did it right away. I got to watch how the principal used the paddle. Arm went up...high...pause to lock in the impact zone...left foot moved forward, swish, thwack! The boy jumped out of his grasp position and yelped and looked back at the principal...and he suddenly went back into the position.
I actually burst out in laughter and both the principal and the teacher looked at me sternly. I apologized while giggling, but it was just too damn funny to see a boy react so poorly to the exact same thing that didn't affect me at all...and not only that, but to see him JUMP BACK into the ankle grasp position...as if he would be punished again for breaking the grip.
The principal told us to not do it again. I nodded and shrugged. The boy was completely intimidated and barely nodded. It was my only time ever in my life that corporal punishment was administered to me by someone who wasn't my parent.
The boy tried to do a smear campaign on me afterward, but I made sure to tell everyone what had happened in the office...including my "That was it?" moment and how he reacted to the paddle. He became a non-factor in my life and had faded away into obscurity by the time we went on to 8th grade.
In Memory of my sweet Cricket
3 days ago