When I was eight years old, I woke up early one saturday morning, like I always did to watch cartoons. It was 6 am and I took a cup of red fruit punch down to the family room and happily drank it as I watched Mega Man.
I was not allowed to drink fruit juice in the family room, but my parents were asleep, and I thought I could get away with it, so I decided to drink it anyways. Saturday morning cartoons were always a treat, and I could get a bit excited at times. One of those moments happened, and I accidentally kicked over the fruit juice. There was now a huge red stain on our cream colored carpet. My parents were going to kill me!
So I did what any smart eight year old would do. I tried to clean up the mess. I got towels and soap and water and tried and tried, but the stain wouldn’t leave.
Stupid corporations and their indestructible red dye!
I knew I was going to get the spanking of a lifetime, so I decided to turn to where I always turned when I ran out of options: Jesus Christ. I remember the prayer like it was yesterday, I said, “Dear Lord, please forgive me for disobeying my parents and drinking juice by the TV. I’m sorry and I promise never to do it again! Please, *sniff*, please, help me figure out a way to get this juice out of the carpet, my parents are going to beat me and ground me if I don’t. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”
With tears in my eyes, but faith in my heart, I immediately got a brilliant idea! I knew it came straight from heaven. It had to, after all I had just prayed. I remember saying out loud over and over with a big smile on my face, “Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus!” So I immediately acted on my genius idea that I got from heaven. I went into the laundry room, and brought out the jug of bleach. Yes, bleach. And I went over to the stain, thrilled by the adrenaline rush of the thought that I would get away with this, and poured the bleach lavishly on the stain. I waited. As I predicted, the stain started to disappear. “Thank you Jesus!” Then to my utter and supreme disgust, the stain slowly turned bright orange, and then settled in on a bright yellow.
“Dear God in heaven, I’m ruined!”
Immediately, I realized three things. #1 Jesus did not answer my prayer. #2 I’m going to get the spanking of a lifetime #3 Bleach only does positive things to materials that are pure white. So that’s why mom never uses bleach with colored clothes…
With that realization, I resigned myself to my destiny like a man on death row. I honorably put away the bleach, turned off the TV, went to my room, shut the blinds, went under my blanket, and waited through 8 hours of utter misery for “them” to call my name. The reason I had to wait so long was because they didn’t notice it right away. They actually left the house to go shopping at Home Depot and some other places. It was a brand new house, and they were still decorating.
I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t listen to music. I just stared at the ceiling awaiting my doom. Finally I heard the call, the sound every Nigerian child knows all too well. The sound of the second coming of Jesus Christ.
I marched myself downstairs and told my parents exactly what happened. In typical Nigerian fashion I was placed through some torture before my execution.
“Kneel down and raise your hands!!!!”
So I went over to the laundry room, knelt down on the tile floor with my back erect and both my arms straight up in the air. *sigh* I was there for 45 minutes.
You give it a try real quick. Stop reading this for a second, kneel down on the ground (as if you were standing on your knees) and raise both your arms vertically for just 1 minute. Seriously, just 60 seconds, and tell me how it feels…ya, that’s right, 45 minutes. Well I cant totally be sure it was 45 minutes, but it sure felt like it. You know how time passes exponentially for young kids.
After the time was up my father said to me,
“Get me my belt.”
As if it wasn’t bad enough, I had to go and pick out the instrument of my destruction. Why couldn’t he just get the belt himself? No, I had to get it. West African psychological terror has been honed, passed down, and improved upon from generation to generation for thousands of years.
What choice did I have? I walked upstairs to my parents room, and then their closet, to pick out the softest belt I could find. You learn a lot about belts as a Nigerian child. Different grades, different textures…different levels of pain. So I sorted through till I found a reasonably hard, reasonably soft cloth belt. No way I was picking one of his leather ones. No. Frikking. Way.
There is a trick to doing this, though. If you get a belt that is too hard you’re screwed and have a spanking that hurts more than it needs to. If you pick a really soft belt, your parents will send you back up and tell you to get a leather belt. So you need to pick a belt that isn’t too hard, but isn’t too conspicuously soft.
Then I saw it! The Holy Grail, the perfect belt, and my old favorite: the white cloth belt with the two blue stripes through it. Not much of a looker, but it was my friend. I could count on it in a tough spot like the one I was in. I remember that belt, I loved that belt. I’m sure to this very day if I look through my parents’ old things I could spot it. (Note to self: Find that belt and hang it somewhere as a memorial to all the spankings I got as a child).
I know Jesus didn’t answer my prayer the first time, but I still believed I could convince him to, somehow through his miraculous work, lessen the blows of the belt. I said a quick prayer, then I came back downstairs with the belt. I handed it to my father, laid down on my stomach and prepared to have my ass whipped.
I’m sure for a couple years my dad thought I was a pussy. Because whenever I got spanked I would scream and cry as loud as possible so it would seem like the belt was making a big effect. This translated into less “strokes of the cain” as my father called them. The louder you scream, the less you are spanked (an inverse relationship). I wasn’t stupid, this was no place for courage, not with my IQ, and not with Saddam Hussein about to beat you. If you didn’t know, Nigerian men rule with unchecked authority, but that’s another story.
I laid on the tears and took my 10 strokes, which I was forced to count out loud while crying. Yes, I had to count them out loud. Nigerians aren’t stupid. They know how to get a point across. *whip* “Ooooone!…whahahaha…*whip*…..Twoooo!…” After it was done. I was told that I was grounded for 1 month from TV. And that, my friends, was that.
I look back on it and my decision to use bleach. I believe God has a sense of humor. I learned that its good to be clever, but not too clever. If I hadn’t used bleach, my parents could have easily gotten the proper cleaning items and shampooed the stain out. And sure I got a spanking, but I also got a funny story and some character building at the same time.
You ever wonder why people are the way they are? This story is just a little part of what makes me, me. I regret nothing.
Photo Credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R79742 / CC-BY-SA