I’m currently 47, and when I was a teenager in the 1970s, it was the height of fashion to have long, shaggy hair – or so I thought. My misconception was corrected the summer that I left my liberal Southern California home to spend my vacation at my Aunt Julie’s dude ranch in West Virginia.
My mother was something of a free spirit who was nothing like her conservative family, which I discovered the moment I arrived and Aunt Julie got a look at my shoulder length locks.
“I’m not having a hippie boy staying under my roof,” she said, as she regarded my hair with distaste. “I’m getting the dog clippers and then I’m taking you into the bathroom for a crew cut. Now.”
My eyes grew to the size of dish plates when I heard Aunt Julie’s welcome. At the time, crew cuts were the geekiest look imaginable and I felt a sudden surge of panic that I haven’t experienced since. “No fucking way!” I shouted back.
Curse words were used frequently at my house, but I got another rude awakening when a lighting-quick slap came ringing across my face. Too shocked to respond, I felt myself being grabbed by the arm and being marched to a forbidding-looking armless wooden chair in the corner.
Aunt Julie wasted no time settling herself in the chair, and in a move that couldn’t have taken more than two seconds (but always replays in my memory in the slowest of slow motion), she yanked my jeans and underwear down to my ankles and pulled me over her blue jean-clad lap.
Needless to say, I had never been spanked before, so I was probably across her lap a good 30 seconds before I even realised what was going on. Aunt Julie was scolding me the entire time but by the time my brain was able to focus on what was happening, I was crying so hard that I couldn’t hear a word she said.
The spanking lasted about five minutes, and I was pretty close to hysterical by the time she finally peeled off her lap and stationed me squarely in the corner so she could fetch the clippers.
I was still crying when she retrieved me about two minutes later and marched me into the bathroom, and by the time I finally calmed down, I was lying on the fold-out sofa that served as my bed that summer and my head was barely covered with a short stubble.
Aunt Julie spanked me three more times that summer, but I learned to sit quietly as she gave me my weekly buzzing every Saturday morning after that.
I’ve never told anyone this story before, and Aunt Julie never spanked me again after that summer. However, it always puzzled my mother that just before Julie made one of her infrequent visits to see us, I’d ask to be taken to the barber shop for a crew cut.