Certain misdeeds chase me like demons of doom: most of the time I get punished for things I had already done wrong before, and suffered the consequences for, possibly several times.
It would be tempting to say: "Well, obviously, spanking doesn't work if you re-offend," but it's not so simple.
I don't react well to being expected to reform once and for all after only one occasion. Whether there's a spanking involved or not, the "go forth and sin no more, EVER" approach only makes me resentful: if I *could* avoid certain undesirable behaviour for the rest of my life, then I would, punishment or no punishment. I expect to live for a long time, though, and I don't anticipate spending any part of my life as a saint - which would certainly be the implication if all my usual quirks and badnesses were corrected forever within the next few years.*
One of my pet hates is hearing the phrase "Obviously, last time I didn't punish you hard enough." I don't hate it in a love/hate way: it just irritates the hell out of me. I'm not receptive to punishment when I'm irritated.
On the other hand, the phrase "I let you off last time", said in a hurt, regretful tone shred me into tiny little pieces.
This is what Abel said to me upon discovering that the space-shuttle-taking-off noise emanating from our coffee machine was caused by an overflowing dead coffee drawer. That drawer and I have a painful history. Our most recent clash happened about two months ago, when the mould creatures that had evolved there had started to take over the inner works of the machine, no doubt with designs upon the rest of the kitchen.
I was horrified, but Abel must have decided that my terror was a punishment in itself. He pondered dealing with me after all, but in the end he let it go. This time I neither expected such mercy, nor was I given it.
Despite the early hour - the machine had choked on our morning coffee - and the tantalising smell of cooking toast, Abel gripped me by the wrist and took me upstairs. I went as meekly as a Gorean slavegirl. It was then that he uttered the shattering, injured reproach: I let you off last time. I could have cried if I wasn't so pissed off with myself for the unnecessary pain I had brought upon myself.
The retribution was swift and to the point: no delay, no lecture; he simply made me assume the position - over the edge of the bed, - announced the sentence - ten strokes of the cane - and delivered the cuts slowly enough for each one to sink in, but quickly enough that the waiting didn't border on cruelty. One of the advantages of having already been punished for a particular offence is that you've already heard the lecture.
Do I intend to avoid allowing the coffee monsters to breed again for as long as possible? Yes, absolutely. It's not as though I revel in growing penicillin; I'm going to do my best at keeping an eye on it.
Do I expect that it was the last time I've ever slipped up? Not for an instant: there are so many things in life that need keeping an eye on, that my attention is bound to slip at one point or another. I'm not applying for sainthood yet.
Do I expect to be punished when the unlucky day comes? Oh, yes. All I can do is make sure it's not any time soon.
* You don't expect I have enough flaws to last me for more than a decade at a push, right?