It was December 2002 and A. was my ambiguously undefined cyber-guy. We had been chatting (and flirting) online for months and finally declared over Yahoo Messenger that we really cared about each other. That we were a couple – you know, in an ambiguously undefined way.
Even more ambiguously undefined was how we'd ever be a couple in a clear and defined way. I was in Oregon. He was in England. I was bedridden. He was on the dole. I was praying just to get on the dole.
One afternoon – at least afternoon on my side of the Atlantic – we were doing the Nick Cohen End of the Year quiz at the Observer website. A. told me not to cheat by looking down at the answers. Which meant, of course, that I totally had to cheat.
"You really need your backside tanned, young lady," A. typed.
"Nuh uh," I replied.
"Hrm...well luckily for you, and your bottom, I am a few thousand miles away."
I grinned at first. But that longing to be together quickly stole my smugness and replaced it with grim silence.
"I do have an exercise book by my PC," A. finally typed.
"An exercise book?" I asked.
"It is a lined book for writing in," he explained.
"Oh oh -- you mean like a punishment book?"
"It could act as such, yes." There was a pause. "What is the date today?" he asked.
"December 29," I answered.
"Okay..." A. wrote a minute or two later. "Your misdemeanor has been entered...'Dec 29: Cheating at a quiz after promising not to. Attempting to justify cheating.'" He paused again. "It will be interesting to see what words keep cropping up in your punishment book...When it is all read out it may sound very bad indeed."
"Yeah, " I wrote back, feeling like a naughty little girl who was finally being held to account and a hopeful lover excited to have witnessed such a romantic gesture of faith.
Sure A. lost the exercise-cum-punishment book by the time we met in person nine months later. But by that point, our relationship was no longer ambiguously undefined.
A. hates surprises.
On Christmas Eve I could tell he totally wanted me to open right then the presents he bought for me a few hours earlier rather than wait until the next day.
The first present was a black satin nightie from Torrid.
The second was a light blue book tied with white satin ribbons and a clear window on the front cover behind which read "Punishment Book" in pink italics.
I always knew that the solution to his penchant for losing my punishment book was to leave it with me.
There is only one misdemeanor recorded so far. After a rare trip out to Walmart (which probably deserves an entry just on its own), I didn't rest once I got home but bounced around the apartment setting up the new lamp and the new drawers replacing my bedside table (all those pill bottles were getting to be a real hassle). By the time I did rest, I was very sore – a foreboding sign as I usually don't feel it until the next day. After a thorough hand spanking, A. recorded the following:
Jan 21 – Not taking the required rest needed after a lengthy shopping trip.
It actually takes up two lines. The deal is once I fill up a page, I get an extra spanking. Very mean, I know.
There are probably two entries missing at this point (which I may well be ordered to add) as I've been punished since then for not remembering to do my physical therapy exercises (important for regaining the use of my index finger after my tumble down the stairs in November, as well as reducing the pain in my pelvic floor), and for going to bed too late last week.
That last spanking I got Saturday night. After asking A. to tuck me into bed a half hour before the deadline (now 3 am), I suggested my early retirement totally made up for going to bed late earlier that week. Needless to say, A. didn't agree. Plus, I'd forgotten my leftover yakisoba noodles at the Thai restaurant up the street where my godfather and his partner took us for dinner earlier that night. A., being the best boyfriend in the world that he is, went and retrieved it for me.
"That was very naughty making Daddy fetch your dinner like that," he teased me.
"I know. It was." I nodded while snuggling up to him. To be honest, I felt like I owed him a spanking just for going all the way back and getting my dinner. Not that I was going to admit that.
"I think somebody needs a spanking," he said.
"Nuh uh." My standard answer, being code for "yes I do but I also want to be cute and coy."
I made my way over to his side of the bed and took my pajama bottoms down. There was some hand spanking and some smart-assed comments, which earned me the ping pong paddle. After a bit of that, A. decided it was time for the hairbrush (actually, it's a clothesbrush – sorta halfway between a bathbrush and a hairbrush).
"In a few days you're not going to have anyone here to make sure you go to bed on time," A. said.
"That's right. Then I can go to bed whenever I want," I sneered. As soon as I said it, the rational part of my brain and my ass were screaming at my mouth to shut the hell up. I buried my face in my teddy bear as I awaited the inevitable.
As soon as I heard A.'s tone, I started to feel contrite even before the first stroke of the brush. And I certainly felt even more repentant afterwards.
"You (whack) are going (whack) to be in bed (whack) before 3 am (whack) and not a minute later (whack). Is that (whack) understood (whack)?"
"Yes...yes, Sir. I'm sorry. I promise."
My pleas of repentance and obedience didn't stop him from whacking that brush on my bruising backside a few more times. And when he finished, I looked back at him with sober submission while he stroked my hair.
"Is it okay if you rub some arnica gel on my ass?" I asked.
I tried to reach for the drawer on the other side of the bed, but as it was out of reach, I simply got up and walked around to the other side. I didn't notice A. staring at me while I opened the drawer and picked out the tube of arnica.
"Did I say you could get up?" His voice was very grave.
I froze. I gulped. I felt slightly sick.
"I'm sorry. I...I didn't mean to..." I staggered and scurried back to the other side of the bed and over his lap. It's not that I wasn't genuinely contrite beforehand, but at that moment, I'd reached a whole new level of contrition.
"You do not get up until you are given permission," A. scolded as he spanked my already throbbing cheeks. "Right. I'm going to finish off with eight on each cheek. Count them please."
Ugh. Sixteen more? How on earth would I take that many more strokes?
"Yes, Sir," I replied meekly.
I counted and squeezed my teddy bear and kicked and squirmed my way through those sixteen strokes. And a few extra A. added on when I was done counting.
"Okay. Big cuddle for my girl," A. said softly as he sifted the hair away from my face. I let go of my teddy bear and grabbed A. After cuddling he rubbed the arnica gel on my purple bruises and put a couple of bags of frozen peas on top. Twenty minutes later, once the slightly mushy peas had done their job and were returned to the freezer, I sheepishly asked if I could pull my pj bottoms up. A. nodded in that authoritative way of his. I pulled up my flowery knit pants, laid my head down on his chest, and fell asleep as PBS flickered in the early morning darkness.
Not quite twenty-four hours ago A. put on his big winter coat, grabbed the handle of the rolling backpack, and kissed me for the last time before heading out into the pre-dawn cold where the MAX and then the airport awaited.
"You make sure you get to bed on time," he told me with a grin. "You've got your punishment book now."