This is my first memory of a secret I failed to keep at my first opportunity. My dad was not happy, but what I did was not nice.
The occasions were birthdays for two aunts, one from each side of my family. For the occasions, my dad gave cards with cash to both of my aunts. I’m not sure why he divulged the gift amounts to me, but he shouldn’t have. He certainly underestimated my lack of discretion.
He was giving his sister more and my mom’s sister less. Makes sense, right? And generous too. I don’t know any twenty-something who gives cash to a former sister-in-law. Regardless, bad move dad, and right before we left to go to see her.
We were at my grandparent’s house when my dad gave my mom’s sister her card. I was playing in the ‘sandbox’ in the backyard. My cousin, three years younger, was with me. We called it a ‘sandbox,’ but it didn’t contain actual sand. It was more like a box of dirt. It was closer to soil than what you might find on the side of a road. If you dug just under the surface, you would easily discover earthworms. Whatever it was, nobody ever shot a Corona commercial on it.
My aunt, who received her card, came outside to check on the two of us playing in the box of dirt.
I proceeded to inform her, as my father had me, that she, in fact, received less money than my dad’s sister. I didn’t note her expression because I didn’t stop there. I also told her that she shouldn’t be upset because my other aunt was his real sister.
She laughed; I assumed she thought it was cute. While walking back inside I heard her say, “Walt, guess what Travis just told me…” and the door closed. She had a big mouth too.
Soon after, my dad opened the door and charged down the stairs, clearly upset about what I said. I messed up. The message was clear. Just wait until we get home. He returned inside.
Back in the box, my cousin and I continued to unearth earthworms because that’s what we typically did in that box of not sand. I began worrying about the anticipated spanking. I knew it was wrong and shouldn’t have said anything to my aunt. Someday I would learn better, but that day wasn’t the day. We continued to dig for worms as I lamented to my cousin how much I didn’t want to get spanked. She appeared to not care, but she was definitely listening.
Eventually it was time to leave; my dad retrieved me from the worm box. As we walked away, my cousin did it. She said, “Uncle Walter, Travis doesn’t want to be spanked.”
Do you see a theme here?
All I could do was look down and avoid my dad’s piercing eyes as we approached the truck. For the record, I didn’t get spanked that day.