I remember it as if it happened yesterday. Scott was my nemesis all through my middle school years. His taunts and name-calling climaxed one day when we were in 9th grade. Scott’s insults in front of my girlfriend called me to action. I challenged him to a fight, and he accepted. We agreed to meet after school on the football field behind the bleachers.

The word got around among the students that there would be a fight after school. By the time I got to the football field a good crowd had assembled. Word must have reached Mr J, the school principal, because he showed up just as Scott and I were pushing one another but before any punches were landed. He marched us up to the office.

It was obvious that Mr J was angry and in a bad mood. He mumbled something about having to miss an important meeting just to ‘deal’ with us.

 I knew exactly how we were to be dealt with. It was made clear to us on the very first day of school that anyone caught fighting on campus would be paddled and possibly suspended. I knew this when I challenged Scott to the fight, and I was prepared for the consequences. I freely admitted to Mr J that I challenged Scott to fight and mentioned how Scott had been harassing me. Scott denied the charges and accused me of being verbally abusive to him. Mr J made it clear that even if Scott had been verbally hounding me, it did not give me the right to fight with him. He then said we would each be paddled. I was to get 5 swats for instigating the fight, while Scott was to receive 3 swats as a participant.

I started to protest the disparity in punishments but was warned that if I did, I would get even more swats. I decided to accept my fate without any further argument.

Scott was ordered to stand, empty his back pockets, and bend over the back of a chair Mr J had against the wall. Also, he was instructed to spread his legs shoulder-width apart. Mr J wasted no time in delivering three hard, rapid-fire swats across the seat of Scott’s jeans. Scott cried out “ow” after each one and vigorously rubbed his bottom as he straightened up and made room for me.

Then it was my turn.  I unbuttoned tho left rear pocket of my cream-colored cotton slacks, removed my wallet, and placed it on the desk. Next, I removed the comb from my right rear pocket and assumed the same position Scott was in for his paddling.

Mr J did not paddle me in the same way he paddled Scott. With me, he was much more methodical. He gently tapped each pocket of the seat of my pants before delivering one of the most powerful paddle swats I had ever received. Now, this was not my first school paddling. I got three swats in the hallway for chewing gum in class when I was in 6th grade. This one swat stung far more than all three of my 6th grade swats put together! Mr J took his time between each swat as if he wanted the sting to permeate my entire body before delivering the next one.

Like Scott, I cried out in pain after each lick and bit my lip to keep from crying. After my ordeal was over, I rubbed my sore bottom as hard as I could.

Notes went home to our parents, and both of us got whippings when we got home. The funny thing is that after this experience, Scott and I became good friends.

I got a few more paddlings in school, but they were from my baseball coaches for missing practice or goofing off. Dad gave me my last whipping when I was 18 for getting a speeding ticket, but those are stories for another time.