I was a pretty good student. I got good marks, behaved well etc.
In Grade five though I almost got the strap. I have gone over this incident in my head for the succeeding 39 years and now wish to come clean.
When I was in school we had corporal punishment which meant being hit on the hand with a modified leather strap a number of times depending on the severity of your offense or your record. "The Strap" was administered out of sight in the Principal's office or occasionally in the hall or the cloakroom by your teacher. Usually 1-2 children got "The Strap" every year which increased the mystique behind it.
I never got "The Strap" which I will explain later but I suspect it hurt a lot less than the spankings most of us got from our parents. It was the mystique behind "The Strap" which was sufficient to keep most of us in order.
Now I say I was well behaved but this may not have been the case in Grade 5. We had that year, a very old teacher who had always taught Grade 1 and 2 but this year was given a split Grade 5 and 6 class. Not only that, but she was given the worst Grade 6s in the school. So things got a little out of control in our class shall we say, and I probably took advantage of that. Nothing serious, more talking out of turn, that sort of stuff.
On the day in question, two or more of the Grade 6 boys had got a piece of pipe-cleaner from an art project and had rolled it into a small compact stick that they were throwing back and forth around the class. Every once in a while the teacher at the blackboard would catch it out of the corner of her eye and wheel around. It got quite annoying actually.
Just after lunch, the projectile landed on my desk. I had two conflicting emotions. I was fed up at this thing being thrown around the class, but at the same time now that it was on my desk, I was scared that I was going to be blamed. Logically I should have closed my hand around it, stood up walked to the garbage and deposited it. Instead I did something really stupid. I threw the projectile in the general direction of the garbage can which was next to the teacher's desk, which was where she was sitting at that time. Instead of landing in the garbage can, it landed on the teachers desk.
The result that I, along with two Grade 6 boys, was marched to the principal's office. The principal however was sick that day and the secretary who normally would have summoned the vice-principal (who gave the strap much harder than the principal) to the office was not at her desk. Our teacher said, fine we'll come back after school.
I remember coming back to my desk and shaking uncontrollably. I don't think I learned a thing that afternoon.
After school the three of us stayed at our desks, waiting to be taken to the office. A few people in the class hung around to watch us make the walk. The teacher came to us and said, "Are you ready to go?", I said yes. She said "Do you want to go" I said no. She said that if we promised to behave for the rest of the year we would not get "The Strap".
I left the school feeling freer than I have ever felt before or after.