September 1998
s m u g
smoking jacket
by Jack Smith

Like a Man

It started from the moment the rock went through the first window. The high pitched sound of the cheap glass of the garage breaking gave me such a rush. My parents told me not to break the windows on the abandoned garage. I soon found that I couldn't resist to the tune of 11 of them. One whole window with 9 panes Brady Bunch style. And two more from the next window. The fact that I didn't stop at the first full window probably made the spanking worse than would've had I shown some restraint and stopped. But I had to just rub it in. What the hell. Go for a couple more. I wasn't quite old enough to come up with a decent rationalization. I just liked hearing the glass break. This did not sit well with my parents who set down for my punishment the unholy trinity: A Good Talking To, Spanking, and Go To Your Room.

I always hated A Good Talking To the most because I had to sit there and face my parents while being told that what I did was "wrong." At 9, I wasn't quite smart enough to know how to use the airquotes but I was certainly wise enough to express remorse at this point in the punishment cycle to try and get lenience. "We told you not to break those windows."

"I'm sorry."

"Why did you insist on doing that when we told you not to?"

"I just liked the sound of the glass breaking."

"But to hear the glass breaking you'd first have to break a window. Wouldn't you?"


You can see where my defense is going. I was no match for their grown up intellectual prowess. Finally they said, "Why did you do it?" I thought for a second and fumbled until I found the defense that every kid uses when they can feel the hangman's noose: "I don't know." The Spanking soon followed.

Being spanked was never so bad. It didn't last nearly as long as A Good Talking To and after a short while my parents started to feel bad about the whole corporal punishment thing. This time was no different and I soon heard my mom say, "Go To Your Room."

Because I was an introvert I had a great fondess for spending time in my room. Probably not quite as much as Lou Barlow but I had a great time in there. Mostly I'd read or listen to the radio or try to bring dead grasshoppers back to life with t 9 volt battery. For me, this wasn't punishment at all. Even though at every opportunity I claimed that Go To Your Room was the most cruel and unusual of all punishments, a point that my younger sister supported me on. This time though I actually did think about what I had done. Only because I had so thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd always known that whizzing rocks and breaking things were fun. For the first time I realized the charge I got from doing what I was told not to do. A Good Talking To and Spanking weren't harsh enough to keep me from doing it again. Thumbing my nose at the warning was more fun than the act itself.

Thank god cable TV wasn't around then. A James Dean movie would've certainly sent me hurdling into a life of crime. Though I was primed to for the punk rock revolution, it never quite reached north eastern Kentucky in '77. (I know you're surprised.) So, I didn't get to see any of the civil disobedience and all around "fuck yous" like the Sex Pistols. I had to wait until college for that.

Elvis came along for me right at this time in my life. Somehow I understood that at Elvis did something big that someone told him not to do. I just felt that from the King. It was confirmed when I got the Sun Sessions 8-Track for Christmas when I was 10. As I look back, I was right. Elvis pissed off a lot of people who told him not to mix southern black and southern white music. Not only that but somebody, most likely Col Tom had to have told him that having 14 year old Priscilla move into Graceland was a bad idea. That seemed to work out pretty good for both of them.

Elvis eventually lost his high from breaking the rules because when he got famous no one ever told him no I lost the thrill because I was 10 years old, had a short attention span, and I learned that it's more fun to make the rules than break the rules.

To affect an sort of warning and make it stick there must be a threat. If you do , then will happen to you. To perfect the technique, I practiced on my little brother. The warnings started simple enough with "don't touch me or I'll scream." Then, they became more elaborate..."don't touch my stuff or I'll take you to the flea market and trade you to gypsies for a Carlton Fisk rookie card and a 16 ounce returnable BiCentennial Pepsi bottle." (This always scared the bejesus out of him when coupled with "you grew from a piece of lint we found under the television.")

As I grew up the thrill of this faded as well. Both these feelings return in cycles with my breaking the rules periods occurring when I started taking drugs, discovered punk rock, during the first wave of the SubPop Singles Club, and most recently when I tried that one day to wear work boots with a suit to work. On the activist scale, I've gone from standing in front of a tank for freedom to boycotting Starbucks because their Grande Mocha contains less than .001% chocolate.

Most males wouldn't admit it but it's good for a soul to be beaten down a bit. I took my few lumps like a man, chilled out, and now I'm ready to listen to some advice. If I were still reckless, I'd be sitting around at every 3am smoking too much hash pondering something that I'd forget 15 minutes later. Or maybe I'd have a jailbait girlfriend. (Just ask Roman Polanski how good an idea the last one is.) I figure I'm smart enough to know which warnings I should heed. I'm sure I'll still make bad decisions here and there after fair warning. When someone asks me why I didn't listen, I'll answer, "I don't know."



and such
and such

·feature· ·net worth· ·bumping uglies· ·smoking jacket· ·ear candy· ·feed hollywood· ·target audience· ·back issues· ·compulsion· ·posedown· ·the biswick files· ·mystery date· ·and such and such· ·blab· ·kissing booth·

·contents· ·freakshow· ·fan club· ·archive·


copyright © 1996 - 1998 fearless media