Posted 02-25-2004 at 04:03:08
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I haven't thought of this in years. Even today if someone pinches me, it makes me mad enough to kill and one day I discovered why. I was sitting in a restaraunt with my kids and it all came rushing back to me.
My dad was a shy creature and easily embarrassed. We never failed to embarrass him in one way or another on social outings such as trips out to eat, and rather than just outright smack us, as he would have done were we at home, he used to get his point across with a sneaky pinch under the table.
I remember once my sister and I were arguing at the table in a restaraunt. I should have seen it coming. If not for the reason that it was his standard MO, then for the way that my sister suddenly stopped arguing, sat bolt upright in her chair and teared up. Then the mystery of her behavior was solved when I too was pinched surrepticiously under the table.
The man had hands the size of dinner plates and these big flat fingers, and if you've ever accidently pinched yourself with a pair of channel locks, you have some idea of what a pinch from him felt like. We learned real quick not to mess around in a restaraunt if Daddy was sitting nearby.
The last time I remember being a victim of the 'crushing Daddy pinch' we were at the local elementary school for a pancake dinner. This was the last time I ever got 'the pinch'. When it happened, it made me so mad that I embarrassed him far worse than what I got the pinch for.
I remember going through the line and having my tray piled with link sausage and pancakes and then to my delight and surprise, the last thing added to my tray was a scoop of ice cream.
Well of course that had to be what it was. The lady in the hair net put it on my tray with one of those little ice cream scoopers. I eyed that little scoop of ice cream all the way to the table, terrified that it was going to melt before I could get sat down somewhere and eat it.
Finally we found our seats and I sat down, picked up my fork, speared that scoop of ice cream and shoved it in my mouth. Then I promptly yakked it back onto my tray, with an audible 'bleeecchh!'
It was butter of course, to spread on the pancakes. While I occupied myself with scraping the butter off my tongue with a paper napkin, my father was getting in position. I honestly didn't see it coming. I wasn't arguing with anybody. I just made the fatal error of assuming that ice cream scoops were for ice cream and nothing else and now I knew better. It was so unexpected that I yelled out loud.
"Oooooow! What was THAT for?!"
He didn't say anything. Just turned about five different shades of red, and the school cafeteria that had been bustling with the sounds of utensils clattering and talking and laughter, suddenly fell silent as a tomb, and that's when it hit me that I had the perfect opportunity to get even.
"Jim!" My mother scolded my father as the tears started running down my cheeks.
The thing is though, I wasn't really hurt. I was mad as he11 and I made up my mind right then and there that it wasn't going to happen again. I stood up at the table. Tossed my napkin down, planted my hands on my hips and stared him down.
"What'd you pinch me for!" I demanded in a bold, yet squeaky indignant voice.
Well if I thought it was quiet in there before, I was wrong. By now you could have heard a mouse fart way back in the kitchen. Daddy just sat there, one cheek bulging with pancake and his eyes twin points of gray steel. I didn't care. I was a kid. Kids make mistakes, and I was fed up with the daddy pinch and I didn't care who knew it. Naturally he never answered me. In fact I don't think he spoke to me for a week after that, but the upside was, I never got the pinch again and was forever after that day considered the 'unruly' child and not to be taken lightly.
The Daddy pinch faded into history not only where I was concerned but as a parenting tool altogether. Not that any of the other kids would have had the brass to make a big deal out of it like I had, and frankly if I hadn't felt that it was all the lady in the hair nets fault for using the wrong tool for the job, I probably wouldn't have done so that fateful day either, but it just worked out that way.
I learned that day not to trust ladys in hair nets, or the contents of ice cream scoops, and that silence means acceptance. If you don't speak up for yourself (even if you have a mouth full of butter), nobody else is going to.