I used to like slapping boys. Hitting girls was okay but not nearly as exciting since they tended just to burst into tears and tattle. Boys, on the other hand, had a whole range of possible responses from reacting as a girl would and crying to swallowing back rage and walking away to giving as good as they got with a nice walloping return smack to the cheek. So I guess part of the thrill of slapping boys was the mystery of their response and then my own ensuing reaction. Some slaps, however, turned out to have quite undesirable, even unfortunately catastrophic, results.
One such doozer happened when my parents were building their second or third house. Most of the building was constructed for us but my stepfather was doing the finish work himself. It was a full-fledged equal opportunity family experience with everyone compelled to contribute to their level of ability. I was old enough to sand, paint, and stain, to hold pieces of wood for long periods of time, and to sit for what seemed like forever while our not particularly well-tempered foreman drank one of his beverages of choice–coffee or beer–and contemplated the emerging masterpiece. I guess I mainly learned patience, at least as much as can be taught to a redhead.
One day the whole family meaning my two brothers, the parents, and I were all at the house working. My younger brothers started complaining that they were hungry. They were ignored for as long as my parents could tolerate it. Finally their whining became too much. My mother relented and handed me the picnic basket to take to the backyard to feed them. We had a miniature picnic table there which barely held the three of us. My youngest brother still loved to sit at it but my other brother and I hated it, feeling it was childish not to mention uncomfortable. Add to our disgruntlement the fact that we were not under parental surveillance, leaving the ginger in charge, and we are fast approaching the perfect storm for some major sibling discord. In my house this usually ended in blood, sweat, and tears.
The unravelling started slowly and innocuously with me first taking the fixings for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of the basket and putting them on the table. I then began to assemble them in my own fastidious way. My brother who is closest to me in age didn’t approve of the speed with which I was serving the needs of his growling stomach. So he began badgering me.
I’m not sure what he specifically was saying but he quickly got on my last nerve which happens to be in extremely close proximity to all of my other nerves. I started arguing with him, the discussion and I becoming more and more heated, and my skin reddening to match my hair. His antagonizing accelerated as he saw he was succeeding at his goal to irritate me. The imbecilic arguing escalated until finally I went full redhead on him and slapped him right across his snotty little freckled face. Shockingly, instantaneously, a bright red geyser gushed out of his nose all over the slices of Wonder bread on the table beneath him. And then the wailing began.
“Shut up!” I threatened, looking desperately around for something with which to plug the dam. There wasn’t a freaking thing available, not a paper towel, not a napkin, not a tissue. I tore myself from the too-small picnic table bench and raced around the house through the garage to the family room. On the family room floor I spied a bed sheet we had been using as a painting drop cloth, picked it up, and went running for the sliding glass door. Luckily it was open so there was no need to decelerate.
Now we were both crying and my parents were in hot pursuit, my stepfather yelling and swearing. My mother scooped up her precious, bleeding angel, tending to his battle wound and to the other crying whineass while I “got something to cry about”.
Trust me when I say that I ended up in far more pain then my brother and that I was completely disinterested in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for years after that incident. Rest assured also that this was far from the last time this ginger didn’t hold back from delivering a good slap where it was merited.