Simply Opinionated

November 11, 1896
Charles Birchwood

“One hundred dollars or twenty lashes on the courthouse steps.” The judge had ordered.

Some would say if I loved my wife I should have allowed her to pay for the crime with lashes. I however, am not one to be so cold. The harsh discipline of an officer of the court will offer none of the loving correction necessary to truly rehabilitate and I fail to understand how allowing it would be demonstrative of affection. But, my decision was not predicated on anything so compassionate.

I doubt I will ever admit it beyond the rumpled pages of this journal, but my personal opinion on the matter of voting does not reflect the laws of the nation. While anyone can clearly see women and men are far from equals in many regards I have often noted a woman will always prove more than equal to a man whenever her opinion is solicited.

Take for example, the normally quiet and reserved Miss Spooner when I asked for her thoughts today.

“Miss Spooner, do you prefer the melody of an instrument or a choir?” I asked.

“I thought a choir was an instrument.” She replied.

Could it be that she did not understand my question or was she attempting to ridicule me in front of the class or was there something more? Of course, I could not simply move on. I had to find out what exactly her purpose was.

“In the most general of senses you are correct, but you have avoided answering the question.” I said.

“I was confused.” She replied.

“Now that you are no longer confused, perhaps you would grace us with an answer.” I suggested.

“Would that I were not but I am still confused.”

I blinked at her, desperately trying to follow her choice of words which were ironically, if not purposefully, confusing. My sensitive ears detected the faint giggles of some of the girls. I ignored them in favor of pursuing Miss Spooner.

“What has you confused?” I asked.

“How can I choose a preference when my choices are essence the same. Given a choice between salad and salad, I will have the salad.” She said.

It was a strain not to reach out and wrap my hands around her throat. How can such a quiet, unobtrusive young woman turn into such an annoyance? I rolled my eyes despite myself and chose a different approach.

“Do you prefer music which contains vocals enunciation of lyrics or music which carries the melody without a lyrical enunciation?” I rephrased.

“I do not believe the two are comparable. Music meant to be accompanied by lyrics sounds best with the lyrical accompaniment and music written without lyrics is indeed best without lyrics.”

“Miss Spooner, are you endeavoring to avoid claiming an opinion?” I asked.

“No, sir.”

“Then please explain why you are complicating an otherwise uncomplicated question.”

“I only want to be clear in what my opinions are so as they might not be misconstrued into overly generic and stereotypical.”

“Then perhaps you would like to phrase your preferences to musical styles in your own words rather than as an answer to my questions.”

“Might I have a week to reflect on it and provide you with my impressions afterward?”

“Music does not require reflection, Miss Spooner. Music touches us on emotional level and connects with us through our impulses and instincts. If Miss Clemence were to sing to you right this moment, what would your reaction be?”


“No, Miss Spooner, your gut reaction is what I want. Do not think about it.”

“Is she crazy.” Margaret said.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“My first thought if she were to break out in song right this minute.”

I shook my head, truthfully in awe. Miss Spooner would give any lawyer or congressman in the nation a headache should they be foolish enough to argue with her. Fortunately, I have a simple way to win arguments although I admit it is not fair, it does work.

“Enough. If I cannot manage to get through to you with words perhaps my strap will do a better job.” I said.

Margaret visibly blanched. I almost felt sorry for her too, but then I recalled the giggles. There would be no giggles now.

“Front and center, Miss Spooner. Remove your dress and touch your toes.” I ordered.

She stood up at her desk, trembling. Her eyes were ready to sprout tears from that instant as she considered the fate her mouth had delivered upon her. No doubt, she blamed me more though. Her head down, she dragged her feet to the front of the room. There were several girls smiling in their seats which made me wonder just what Miss Spooner had done to them.

Her fingers struggled to reach the zipper on the back of her dress. Watching her it occurred to me that the only reason for such a design would be the designers firm belief that a woman’s dress would come on or off not on the woman’s wishes but the man’s to whom she belonged. I reached out and pulled the zipper down for her.

She blushed at me before slipping out of the shoulders and letting the dress fall to the floor. She picked it up and hugged it to the front of her as though the white slip still covering her skin did not exist. She looked at me with the obvious question of what to do with the dress on her face.

“Lay it on your desk.” I said with a lack of patience.

When she returned to the front I did not have to say anything more. She turned her back to the room and bent down, stretching her arms and fingers to touch her toes. I removed the small leather strap from my jacket and laid it lightly on the silky white slip stretched taunt over her buttocks. It was in many ways a more attractive sight than a fully bared bottom.

I swung the strap with a loose arm and followed through with the blow dragging the strap down and off her buttocks after the initial impact. She jerked noticeably but made no sound at all. I waited for the sting to build.

I finished silently counting to ten and swung again. Miss Spooner jerked again and for an instant her fingers left her toes. I decided to ignore the movement although I was annoyed enough the thought of adding extra did cross my mind. The class took a collective breath as I raised the strap high in the air preparing to swing again.

I waited until my arm was getting tired and then I allowed it to fall free again and with an awful snap, it connected once more. Miss Spooner moaned softly and then sniffled as tears no doubt began to fall. I felt satisfied as that was indeed the point of the exercise.

I did not make her wait as long for the next two. I swung the strap quickly for them, back to back. She cried out and nearly stood up as the second landed only moments after the first. She was crying in earnest then with tears dripping down to her toes.

I raised the strap high in the air for the last one and counted once again to ten. When I dropped my arm it was with a flurry of speed designed to make the impact something Miss Spooner would remember for a long time to come. She nearly leapt into the air and her hands grabbed uselessly at her buttocks. I smiled.

Margaret hopped from foot to foot and waved her arms in the air as she turned in a circle. She could not seem to decide whether to hold her bottom or let it bounce free. Looking at the class from the corner of my eye, I could see most were as amused as I.

“I think I have discovered Miss Spooner’s taste in dancing music.” I said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love your dry humor AND discipline.