The only time my mother ever slapped me, I was 16, we were on the front lawn, and she was holding a Bible. Which was a little weird. She was a preacher's daughter with a sense of humor, but looking back, I think she thought I was about to become One of Those Wild Girls who smoked, maybe finished high school, fooled around, got pregnant, and lived a much more restricted life than she wanted for me.
After all, she was a banker's wife, the only one any of us knew who insisted on getting her Master's and continuing to teach school. She loved teaching. All the other bankers' wives we knew played bridge and lunched at nice places. And I am proud of her for that.
There must have been an argument preceding the slap. Probably over my curfew. I wasn't allowed to date until I WAS 16, excellent decision unto today, but my curfew was 10 p.m. No dates during the week. 10 p.m. on Friday, even with a football game, 10 p.m. on Saturday. I had to sing in the choir at 8 a.m.
Dad would loosen it a little, but they were a team. And there were times he was the strict one and she sympathized. They agreed to go together on whoever was more strict. (sigh).
When I was 15, neither of them know I was at a street dance in a new subdivision, streets in, no houses, and several cars of us kids drove up, put the radios up high on the same station, and we danced. And some of us were Good Girls, and some of us were more daring. So a group of kids dared Ted, a gangly boy with clear skin, glasses, a reputation for scholarship and a smart aleck attitude, to French kiss me. I had no idea what that was, and I had a tiny crush, and all of a sudden, in front of everyone, ewwweew! his tongue was in my mouth and I did what any surprised, sensible girl would do.
"She bit me!" he said with a hand over his mouth that came away covered with blood. Ummm. We never dated later, you understand?
I was paralyzed with fear as the laughter started. Then I relaxed. They were laughing at HIM!
When I was 16, I began dating a boy I liked, and he taught me that this particular kiss could be enjoyable. Given my curfew allowed only 5-10 minutes at the most to experience it, the kiss wasn't particularly dangerous, but my mother thought it was.
So dangerous that for the first time in my life, she pulled out a Bible and told me to swear on it that I would never, ever till I married, French kiss a boy.
She included the information that such kissing had never occurred until the GIs came back from WWII. They learned from Wicked Women overseas, she said. I realized (heavily expurgated understanding) that my parents, who adored each other, might have tried this and she may have found it ....moving.(Cringe. journalistic mind stored deep for much later retrieval.)
So anyway, I not only laughed and refused, I laughed defiantly and disrespectfully. I did. I remember doing it on purpose.
And she slapped me. We looked at each other, and then we both cried. And apologized. And hugged.
It never came up again.
She saw me graduate from college, get the job I loved, marry the man I loved.
It all worked out.
I've wondered whether we always kissed with our tongues in America, or if, indeed, the wars abroad brought new elements into American courting. SHE thought so. She was there at the time. And I find a lot of stuff in history aren't quite the same as personal chronicles.
Kind of a verbal diary referrant.
This would be late 1950s.
God, I'm old.