The Worst Punishment Ever Growing up, my father was a wise man. I just didn’t know it. My dad was an expert in mind games by the time I came rolling around. In the war to civilize his sons, he usually came out the victor. For example, when I was in high school, my father bumped into one of my friends in the hallway of our house one Saturday evening. My dad looked at my friend and quietly said, “I know what you guys did last night. You can either tell me your side of the story or I am going to call your father.”   My friend told him everything. I am pretty sure he would have coughed up the Lindberg baby kidnappers if he had known.  I lost my car keys for a couple of weeks out of that one. The only thing my father knew before my friend sang like a stoolpigeon was if you have a teenage boy, on a Friday night, especially if his friends are idiots, there is a better chance than not that he has done something stupid. I am going to tell you the worst punishment my father inflicted on me as a kid.  It was a punishment so severe that it stays with me to this day. It was not the time I walked up to my father, handed him the spanking brush, and told him to spank me. He asked me why. I told him to just spank me because by the time he found out why I need to be spanked I just wanted the punishment over with. I had put a book in my pants to lessen the blow. In my brain, I thought there would be a bit of compassion because he could see how contrite I was. No, he removed the book and spanked me for my unknown crime. He then went outside and saw that I had shot put a few cans of house paint out of a second story window of the house onto the sidewalk below. I got spanked again. The fact that he did not remove every scrap of skin from my backside should tell you what a gentle and good man he was. That was not the worst punishment.   There was the time in second grade, I decided to take the family pickup truck for a cruise around the back pasture. Again, no. He was actually pretty cool about that one. Third grade, I will just say the words mini-bikes and beer. Again, the fact that I am writing this today proves what a tolerant man he was.  There was the time in high school when the chief of police sat in my parents’ living room and said, “We are not dealing with fireworks here, Mr. and Mrs. Soderstrum. We are dealing with explosives.” My father handled it extremely well. I did things, repeatedly and often, where my father should have choked me to death, left me in the desert for birds to pick at my bones, and no jury in the world would have convicted him. In fact, they probably would have organized a parade for him. No, the worst punishment I ever got was just before my fourteenth birthday. I was not yet old enough to drive a car (Let me stress legally) and still had to use my yellow ten-speed bicycle to get into and out of town. When I was a youth seeing the opposite sex nude was extremely rare.  Today, with the Internet, a few strokes on the keyboard, it is what freak adventure do you want to unfold on the screen before you. Young people seem to be texting pictures to each other that would make Linda Lovelace blush. Nudity is seemingly everywhere. Given that in some ways this is the best generation of young people ever, it doesn’t seem to be hurting them. It is just strange. I don’t quite know what to make of it. When I was their age, nudity was forbidden. Oh, there were magazines, but you risked your mom finding them. If one of your friends was lucky enough to have cable television, there was Cinemax after dark or as it was popularly known Skinemax. That usually meant parents not being home on a Friday evening, which rarely happened. It was like they didn’t trust us.  Oh, there were the occasional glimpses, usually involving an older brother’s girlfriends or a friend’s sister. When a kid talked about it the next day on the playground, it was like describing a unicorn. No one was quite sure whether to believe him or not.  It was mythical and you were pretty sure you were never going to see that. There was nothing sexual in any of this. It was the simple curiosity that all boys have.   It was into this void that I, as a young Republican businessman, stepped. VHS tapes were becoming commonplace. I had a relative that managed the local mom and pop video store, who was willing to rent dirty movies because I was hilarious and knew more about movies than anyone in the county. More importantly, video stores also rented VHS players because they were still too expensive for many people to own.   So, I had the marketplace and I had the product. I could rent movies where women appeared nude in them and get paid for it. If I charged between three to four dollars a head, with just half a dozen costumers, I would be rich, rich, rich. It was the American dream for a teenager on a ten-speed.   I just needed a location to set up my movie theater.  The answer came like lightening from the heavens, my dad’s office. I could show the movies on a Friday night and roll in the money the rest of the weekend. Friday night came. Every chair was filled with boys my age. I think I had eight or nine dollars of pure profit. “Get ready for Naked Ladies,” I announced to the half dozen of my friends that were there as I hit play on the VHS player. As the film rolled, I thought I must have rented the wrong movie. It was a real snooze-fest. Nothing and I mean nothing happened in the first half hour. All the women seemed determined to keep their clothes on. It was so clean it could have been shown at Disneyland to nuns. It was a major disappointment. Everyone, except for my best friend Matt, bailed. I didn’t care. I had a firm no refund policy. As the movie continued to play in the background, my friend helped me put the chairs back into place so we could go home. It was then that I turned around to discover my father standing in the doorway. He informed me that it was too dark for me to ride my bike on the highway at night and he was there to drive me home. I thanked him and informed him that we could leave as soon as I turned the movie off. My father said, “No, you boys should watch your movie. I’ll just take a nap on the couch until it is over.” The couch was located directly behind our chairs and in the darkness there was no way of seeing my father. The moment I heard the springs squeak as he laid down on the couch the cleanest dirty movie ever made turned into the filthiest thing ever. There was sex everywhere. If it could get naked, it got naked. There were things happening that I am still not sure are physically possible. It was horrifying, truly horrifying. For the next hour-and-a-half, with each physically impossible act after physically impossible act, my face got redder and redder with embarrassment. Bodies were bending in ways they don’t bend, making sounds they don’t make. I am pretty sure a parade permit was needed for a couple of the scenes. I knew at any moment my father was going to rise up, read me the riot act, and snatch me baldheaded. It was truly the worst moment of my young life. Each time a spring on the couch would make a sound, I somehow got more crimson. In the glow the television screen, my friend Matt could see my face and started to giggle. It became a full body contortion by the conclusion of the film. He was laughing so hard he fell into the bushes in front of my dad’s office as he tried to wave to me as we left. I thought, “Well, maybe my father is waiting until my friend is gone to let me have it.” He didn’t say a word. We got into the car. Nothing, I thought maybe he doesn’t want any witnesses around when he kills me. The whole drive home, which maybe takes a grand total of five minutes, but felt like five hours, not a word. I was sure he was going to let me have it with both barrels when we got home. He just went to bed. Surely, he was tired. I mean he seemed really old to me, like in his 40s. That was why he was not yelling at me, I thought.  Tomorrow morning I am a dead man. Tomorrow morning came and went, and the next day and the next day after that, then a week and a month, nothing. It was torture. The whole time that Damocles sword just waiting to come down on my head.  It was only years later that I realized that that was the punishment, the worst punishment ever.          
The Worst Punishment Ever Growing up, my father was a wise man. I just didn’t know it. My dad was an expert in mind games by the time I came rolling around. In the war to civilize his sons, he usually came out the victor. For example, when I was in high school, my father bumped into one of my friends in the hallway of our house one Saturday evening. My dad looked at my friend and quietly said, “I know what you guys did last night. You can either tell me your side of the story or I am going to call your father.”   My friend told him everything. I am pretty sure he would have coughed up the Lindberg baby kidnappers if he had known.  I lost my car keys for a couple of weeks out of that one. The only thing my father knew before my friend sang like a stoolpigeon was if you have a teenage boy, on a Friday night, especially if his friends are idiots, there is a better chance than not that he has done something stupid. I am going to tell you the worst punishment my father inflicted on me as a kid.  It was a punishment so severe that it stays with me to this day. It was not the time I walked up to my father, handed him the spanking brush, and told him to spank me. He asked me why. I told him to just spank me because by the time he found out why I need to be spanked I just wanted the punishment over with. I had put a book in my pants to lessen the blow. In my brain, I thought there would be a bit of compassion because he could see how contrite I was. No, he removed the book and spanked me for my unknown crime. He then went outside and saw that I had shot put a few cans of house paint out of a second story window of the house onto the sidewalk below. I got spanked again. The fact that he did not remove every scrap of skin from my backside should tell you what a gentle and good man he was. That was not the worst punishment.   There was the time in second grade, I decided to take the family pickup truck for a cruise around the back pasture. Again, no. He was actually pretty cool about that one. Third grade, I will just say the words mini-bikes and beer. Again, the fact that I am writing this today proves what a tolerant man he was.  There was the time in high school when the chief of police sat in my parents’ living room and said, “We are not dealing with fireworks here, Mr. and Mrs. Soderstrum. We are dealing with explosives.” My father handled it extremely well. I did things, repeatedly and often, where my father should have choked me to death, left me in the desert for birds to pick at my bones, and no jury in the world would have convicted him. In fact, they probably would have organized a parade for him. No, the worst punishment I ever got was just before my fourteenth birthday. I was not yet old enough to drive a car (Let me stress legally) and still had to use my yellow ten-speed bicycle to get into and out of town. When I was a youth seeing the opposite sex nude was extremely rare.  Today, with the Internet, a few strokes on the keyboard, it is what freak adventure do you want to unfold on the screen before you. Young people seem to be texting pictures to each other that would make Linda Lovelace blush. Nudity is seemingly everywhere. Given that in some ways this is the best generation of young people ever, it doesn’t seem to be hurting them. It is just strange. I don’t quite know what to make of it. When I was their age, nudity was forbidden. Oh, there were magazines, but you risked your mom finding them. If one of your friends was lucky enough to have cable television, there was Cinemax after dark or as it was popularly known Skinemax. That usually meant parents not being home on a Friday evening, which rarely happened. It was like they didn’t trust us.  Oh, there were the occasional glimpses, usually involving an older brother’s girlfriends or a friend’s sister. When a kid talked about it the next day on the playground, it was like describing a unicorn. No one was quite sure whether to believe him or not.  It was mythical and you were pretty sure you were never going to see that. There was nothing sexual in any of this. It was the simple curiosity that all boys have.   It was into this void that I, as a young Republican businessman, stepped. VHS tapes were becoming commonplace. I had a relative that managed the local mom and pop video store, who was willing to rent dirty movies because I was hilarious and knew more about movies than anyone in the county. More importantly, video stores also rented VHS players because they were still too expensive for many people to own.   So, I had the marketplace and I had the product. I could rent movies where women appeared nude in them and get paid for it. If I charged between three to four dollars a head, with just half a dozen costumers, I would be rich, rich, rich. It was the American dream for a teenager on a ten-speed.   I just needed a location to set up my movie theater.  The answer came like lightening from the heavens, my dad’s office. I could show the movies on a Friday night and roll in the money the rest of the weekend. Friday night came. Every chair was filled with boys my age. I think I had eight or nine dollars of pure profit. “Get ready for Naked Ladies,” I announced to the half dozen of my friends that were there as I hit play on the VHS player. As the film rolled, I thought I must have rented the wrong movie. It was a real snooze-fest. Nothing and I mean nothing happened in the first half hour. All the women seemed determined to keep their clothes on. It was so clean it could have been shown at Disneyland to nuns. It was a major disappointment. Everyone, except for my best friend Matt, bailed. I didn’t care. I had a firm no refund policy. As the movie continued to play in the background, my friend helped me put the chairs back into place so we could go home. It was then that I turned around to discover my father standing in the doorway. He informed me that it was too dark for me to ride my bike on the highway at night and he was there to drive me home. I thanked him and informed him that we could leave as soon as I turned the movie off. My father said, “No, you boys should watch your movie. I’ll just take a nap on the couch until it is over.” The couch was located directly behind our chairs and in the darkness there was no way of seeing my father. The moment I heard the springs squeak as he laid down on the couch the cleanest dirty movie ever made turned into the filthiest thing ever. There was sex everywhere. If it could get naked, it got naked. There were things happening that I am still not sure are physically possible. It was horrifying, truly horrifying. For the next hour-and-a-half, with each physically impossible act after physically impossible act, my face got redder and redder with embarrassment. Bodies were bending in ways they don’t bend, making sounds they don’t make. I am pretty sure a parade permit was needed for a couple of the scenes. I knew at any moment my father was going to rise up, read me the riot act, and snatch me baldheaded. It was truly the worst moment of my young life. Each time a spring on the couch would make a sound, I somehow got more crimson. In the glow the television screen, my friend Matt could see my face and started to giggle. It became a full body contortion by the conclusion of the film. He was laughing so hard he fell into the bushes in front of my dad’s office as he tried to wave to me as we left. I thought, “Well, maybe my father is waiting until my friend is gone to let me have it.” He didn’t say a word. We got into the car. Nothing, I thought maybe he doesn’t want any witnesses around when he kills me. The whole drive home, which maybe takes a grand total of five minutes, but felt like five hours, not a word. I was sure he was going to let me have it with both barrels when we got home. He just went to bed. Surely, he was tired. I mean he seemed really old to me, like in his 40s. That was why he was not yelling at me, I thought.  Tomorrow morning I am a dead man. Tomorrow morning came and went, and the next day and the next day after that, then a week and a month, nothing. It was torture. The whole time that Damocles sword just waiting to come down on my head.  It was only years later that I realized that that was the punishment, the worst punishment ever.