In second grade, my gym teacher used to terrify kids by pretending to punch them in the face. In fifth grade, my gym teacher used to issue daily threats to students, claiming he was going to kick them so hard in the face or ass that his shoe would become lodged in their nose, mouth, or anus. And in seventh grade, my gym teacher taught me a very valuable lesson: violence is wrong, except when it is a grown man hitting a defenseless child with a weapon.
Our class had been broken up into two teams, and each team broken into neat little rows to designate who would serve the ball next. We were playing volleyball. Somebody would serve the ball, and when it hit the ground, everybody would move forward in their row, and the person who served the ball would move to the back. I began the game in front of John, a guy that I didn't get along with. He was a Star Trek nerd, while my friends and I were Dungeons and Dragons nerds. We made fun of him constantly, and he would respond by attacking our choice of nerd-vice, which we found amusing, because he clearly had no understanding of what Dungeons and Dragons even was.
After the first game was over, we were instructed to switch sides, but to maintain the order in which people served the ball. The game had progressed for a few minutes before I realized John had somehow moved in front of me in line. I attempted to remedy the situation by moving ahead of him, where I belonged. John shoved me. He towered over me, but I shoved him back.
"Hey!" Mr. Roberts yelled. We both stopped and looked at him. "There's no fighting in my class! Get in my office!"
Mr. Roberts stared us down as we walked silently to his office. We sat waiting until gym class was over. Mr. Roberts came in.
"There's no fighting in my class," he said, reaching for a drawer in his desk. He pulled the drawer out, and then pulled a large, wooden paddle from the drawer. He dropped it on the desk. It was heavy and loud. "The penalty for fighting is a swat. Go take your showers and then wait on the bleachers."
We went and showered with everyone else, and then came out of the locker room to wait on the bleachers with everyone else. When the bell rang, everybody left except us.
Mr. Roberts appeared at the door of the gym, bringing one of the shop teachers, Mr. Hummel, with him. "Paul, you're first," he said, gesturing me to follow him into his office. I did, and he closed the door behind me.
"Mr. Hummel is here as a witness," he said. Mr. Hummel was another sadistic asshole. He would later threaten to give me swats for not paying attention to Disney's Aladdin on the last day of school when there was no work to do and no tests to take. He was a piece of shit, and was probably just there because he liked seeing kids getting hit. He probably made the paddle himself.
"I called your mom and got authorization. Now, I'm a pretty good golfer and I've got a really nice swing. I swing pretty hard, but you're a little guy, so I'm only going to give you a half swat. Bend over and grab your knees."
I did, and then he hit me. I crumpled to the floor, the pain radiating through my ass and into the rest of my body. My eyes teared up and I clenched my teeth, both in pain and rage. The pain didn't make me feel like I shouldn't have shoved John back, it made me feel like beating John, Mr. Roberts, and Mr. Hummel to death with the paddle.
Seconds after swatting me, while I was still on the floor, crying, Mr. Roberts flung the door open. "Get to class," he said. I hobbled out, wondering what a full swat felt like if that was really only half a swat. The halls were empty, and I was late to class, but a tardy seemed better than being embarrassed by my tears.
Years later, my friend told me he heard Mr. Roberts was getting fired for threatening to beat up a 10 year old, among other things. I looked up the school on the internet recently, and was dismayed to see that he still worked there.
I mentioned the incident to my mom recently, and she told me she never would have given anybody permission to give me any swats.