Monday, September 1, 2008

The Switch



This road is located in the Glebe area of Mathews. I really, really wanted to go down it. I always want to know what's hiding at the end of these lanes. But in this particular instance there were too many signs talking about private property and trespassing and such. So I heeded the warnings, but not without much contemplation and deliberation.

When I was a kid, someone gave us a pony named Thunder, who was the most stubborn animal that ever lived aside from my two sisters.

Whenever I rode Thunder, I'd break a branch--otherwise known as a switch--off a bush to use as a crop, to give her a a gentle tap (and the occasional whack) when she walked instead of trotted; when she stopped dead in her tracks instead of moving forward, and when she reached around and bit me just because I nudged her with my heels to get her to move at all.

She was one ornery (pronounced AHN-ree) pony.

Back in those days, dinosoars roamed the Earth. And switches were often used on children, usually as a punishment for some wrong doing. Go ahead and call Social Services, but you ought to give them the whole truth, which was we all made out just fine in spite of the fact we were hit with switches, flyswatters made of steel, and hairbrushes made of lead.

But we're not talking about all that, we're talking about switches and I have a story about one switch in particular.

When I was about six, my sisters and I spent the night with my grandmother, Nanny, in Gloucester. Middle Sis and I fought a lot, but not just cat fights. No, these were legendary brawls involving teeth, hair and eyes, hitting, lots of kicking, biting and torture of all sorts.

Nanny knew what a tough job it was to prevent these fights. This particular occasion, to keep us in check, she carefully selected a very large switch from her yard and placed it on a shelf out of our reach but within sight. She told us she certainly hoped she would have no use for it, but reassured us that she wasn't afraid to use it if necessary. Then she returned to the kitchen to fry the best fried chicken ever to touch an iron skillet.

Chesapeake Bay Child, ordinarily a very loving and caring individual, especially to her younger sisters, suddenly felt an evil streak come over her. It hit her like a tidal wave and she could not fight it. For reasons that are not entirely clear, I pulled up a stool, stood on it and grabbed that switch off the shelf. I have no earthly idea why, but I then commenced to walk up to my grandmother, who was wearing a dress and hovering over the stove. I started to hit her bare legs. Yes, Chesapeake Bay Child took a switch to her own beloved, fried-chicken-making, favorite grandmother.

I have no idea how this story ends because I very successfully blocked out anything that happened next. I want to say that in spite of the egregious violation on my part, she resorted to laughter and a phone call to my mother. I don't recall flyswatters or hair brushes being used, so the humor must have outweighed the act of disobedience.

Note: No children, ponies or fried-chicken-cooking Nannys were harmed in the making of this post. A few bushes had their branches torn off, and one ornery sister got her hair pulled, but otherwise everyone came out unscathed. Physically, anyway. The jury is still out on the mental part.

14 comments:

Mental P Mama said...

Oh. My. God. This may be one of your funniest yet. I have a dim memory of hairbrush paddlings. And now I want to go soak some chicken in buttermilk. Thanks.

Grandma J said...

OH NO! You took the switch to your grandmothere? Before the chicken was done? The visual image had to be hilarious, and obviously it was.

My father never destroyed the vegetation to acquire a switch to use as a weapon, mainly because we didn't have any. No siree, he just used his three inch wide leather belt. And Rita! When she felt her authority threatened by five unruly kids, she wore her husbands belt draped around her neck. That was a warning signal.

We all survived and so far, none of us suffered permanent damage.

Rebeckah said...

That is hilarious : )! I think it is really funny that you don't know what happened after you switched her. Hopefully it was a funny ending like you are surmising! Also, LOVED your disclaimer at the end.

Anonymous said...

My typical memory is of being sent to "pick your switch." After an offense, sometimes CB Nanny would make you pick the weapon of your punishment. I would try to find the weakest twig in the yard, but that would make her even madder. With that said, she was a great lady, and I know she loved us dearly, although we tested her patience regularly!

And speaking of the pony.....when she wanted to get rid of a rider, she went straight for a low-hanging branch and took care of it. We must have been made of rubber in those days! Today, we'd be required to wear a helmet. -Middle Sis

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Middle Sis - That pony tried to kill me. Multiple times. The fact that any of us are still alive is nothing short of miraculous.

Nanny was the best. I don't ever recall her getting mad. Nervous, distraught, worried, yes, but not mad (which may explain why I so brazenly switched her).

Remember when she said repeatedly that nobody would ever come to her funeral? We would always reassure her that we would. And then guess who almost missed her funeral because the bridge at West Point was stuck open and we had to travel through Williamsburg to get home from college?

Poor Nanny. She was prophetic. We were late to her funeral and almost missed it.

TSannie said...

You. Are. Naughty!

And I'm laughing my arse off as I type!

Thank you for that!

Auds at Barking Mad said...

OMG that has to be the funniest thing I've read in ages!

And now, oddly enough, at 12:23AM I am craving fried chicken!

BTW, I had two old Dutch Aunts who helped raise me, and were VERY VERY fond of willow wood switches. OUCH. I can still hear the sound the switch made as it passed through the air on its way to wreak havoc on my behind.

It's been more than 30 years since one of those was used on me, but good Lord I can still remember the sting!

kaffy said...

I love this story. Thank you for the belly laugh. Wish I had some of Nanny's fried chicken right now, but I guess I'll have to settle for tuna fish.

Karen Deborah said...

Ummm love me some fried chicken, and I got the beegeezus whupped out of me, it didn't do a whole lot of good. I'm about as stubborn as your old horse. I think kids naw are missing life in all it's glory not to get a switch, swatter, or spoon; as evidenced by there lack of social graces. It is also dismal to have to wear knee pads and helmets to play, utter nonsense. Maybe that's why we have so many couch potatoes. Great post. Your Nanny must've loved you a lot not to flat kill you for switchin her legs, I might not have survived such an error in my ways.

foolery said...

My mom used a tri-cornered ruler, her hairbrush, or a wooden spoon. Perhaps that is why I never took up woodworking or cooking as a child, and why I always had messy hair?

When I come live on your lawn I will keep a watchful eye on you lest you should get the fever once more. I tend not to react too well to being smacked, you can ask my brothers.

Bear Naked said...

CBW
You played the old switcheroo on your dear old granny.
You are hilarious.

Bear((( )))

Anonymous said...

I love this story the most, simply because you ADMITTED to the childish, irrational behavior that forced you to: hunt down the out of reach switch, WHIP the bare legs of your hard working, loving grandmother WHO WAS SLAVING OVER HOT OIL AND BREADED CHICKEN TO MAKE DINNER FOR YOU, CHESAPEAKE BAY CHILD.Poor Nanny, I'm sure she was yelling "Chesapeake Bay Baby Sis, get on outta heah" before she realized it was her eldest,most respected, responsible grandchild. This is HILARIOUS. I want MORE stories where you lose control and do the wrong thing. See, I can see ME doing this, but not you...I would have been laughing the entire time, from just the THOUGHT of climbing up to get the switch, to the actual deliverance of the beating...I'm glad Nanny thought it was funny, too.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and speaking of Thunder....Thunder once bucked me off and I landed in the neighbors yard. On my chin. Maybe this is why my EX boyfriend says I have a chin like Jay Leno???
Love,
Baby Sis

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

OK, y'all are making me laugh. All of you.

Baby Sis - You will notice there is no mention of me duking it out with you because I was always in CHARGE of you as your CHILD CARE PROVIDER. Middle Sis was old enough to fend for herself, where our mother's definition of old enough was FOUR YEARS OLD, or out of diapers, whichever came first. (You may recall one of us took a little longer on that diaper part,but we certainly won't name names.)

Thankfully, aside from me torturing you with that battery-operated train, you were somewhat exempted from my ridiculous behavior.

Somewhat, that is.

I never knew Thunder was powerful enough to sculpt chins to celebrity status.

Have a great evening, everyone. Y'all are some funny people.