A trip to the shoe shop

“May I help you, madam?” the assistant asked my mother. Even at the tender age of 13, it was my habit at that time to look at people I didn’t know and imagine what they did for a living, whether they were married, had children, had secret lives as spies etc.

I fancied that when I grew up I would become a writer and this was part of the process. I did this now with the woman who had asked the question – she was short, middle-aged, in a simple black dress, black tights and shiny patent leather shoes. Her silver hair was tied up in a bun and her gold rimmed glasses were attached to a chain around her neck.

She looked to me as if she had once been a teacher – but of course I didn’t have to guess what she did for a living now. She sold shoes.

“I’m looking for plimsolls for my daughter.” my mother replied. “Certainly, madam – what size?” “The biggest you’ve got.”

The assistant looked down at my petite teenage feet and flashed a raised eyebrow and sympathetic smile. The sympathy was not for me, I should say, but for my mother having to cope with a 13-year-old daughter driving her to the end of her tether.

“Would I be correct in assuming that it’s just the one plimsoll you need?” the assistant asked. “You would indeed,” Mum replied. “They’re not for her feet – they’re for her bottom.” I blushed like a tomato at the mention of this delicate part of my anatomy in front of a stranger.

“Then I may be able to save you some money. I’m sure you’ve noticed that in the racks outside we only have on display left shoes, to deter thieves?” Mum nodded.

The assistant continued: “Unfortunately, we still get some thefts – I think it’s mostly children taking one for a dare, to be honest. Anyway, I have a box full of right shoes in the back which I can’t sell. You might find something suitable there, which I could let you have for a pound?”

Ever a woman with a nose for a bargain, Mum replied that she would indeed be interested and the lady led us into the staff room, where she fished out a large cardboard box and placed it on the table. “I need to be in the shop,” she said, “so I’ll leave you here to look through this lot. Take your time and just come and get me if you find something suitable.”

“Thank you very much,” Mum replied. “Would it be all right if I tested some of them out?” I blushed to my boots again but the assistant nodded and smiled, clearly liking the idea. “Feel free!” Then she left us.

Now, my mother always liked jumble sales and I could see she was enjoying rummaging through the contents of the box. Whenever she pulled out something that might suit her purpose, she placed it on the table, and soon had a formidable-looking collection of plimsolls, slippers and sandals.

She placed the box back in the corner and examined her ‘shortlist’, picking up each implement in turn and testing its heft and flexibility. A few failed to impress her and were returned to the box without any need for my involvement in the testing process. In the end, there were just six six items of assorted footwear left on the table.

Mum looked at me with a glint in her eye. “Right then, young lady – which of these do you think we should try first?” Well, naturally I didn’t want to try any of them but I knew there was no point in arguing with her. I definitely didn’t want her to spank me in this room, my cries overheard by the shopkeeper and any other customers.

I pointed to a large canvas plimsoll with a thick rubber sole. “You know you’re going to choose that one,” I said, “So why don’t you just buy it and we’ll go home?” Mum gave a little laugh. “Oh no!” she said. “I’m going to try all of these before I decide – but I’m happy to go with this as your first choice.” She picked up the plimsoll.

Now, when Mum spanked me at home I was generally put over her knee for the punishment. However, on this occasion, I guess because she was going to keep swapping implements, she thought it would be more convenient for me to adopt the traditional school position for corporal punishment.

So I was ordered to bend over the back of the wooden dining chair I had been sitting on while my mother was rummaging through the box, then Mum lifted my skirt and pulled down my pants.

For a moment, my biggest concern was that the assistant would come into the staff room and see my bare bottom but a moment later I had bigger things to worry about, as Mum brought the plimsoll down across my buttocks with all the force she could muster. It stung like hell!

I managed to stifle an initial yell of anguish but when Mum brought the plimsoll back down for another stroke I was unable to keep from crying out.

For some reason, I thought that Mum would go on to try another weapon after a couple of sample whacks – but I was wrong. She gave me another four blistering strokes with that plimsoll before putting it down. By this time I was a snivelling wreck and openly weeping.

In vain, I hoped that the reason Mum had given me six of the best was because she had decided that the plimsoll would be fine for her purposes and she wouldn’t need to try any of the others.

No chance. She selected a Dr Scholl’s sandal with a wooden sole and returned to her position on my left. The pain when she brought the broad piece of wood across my already tender backside was excruciating. Mum showed no mercy in spite of my pitiful crying. Again, after six whacks she put down her weapon and picked up another – this time a leather-soled man’s slipper, and play continued as you might say.

By the time Mum had fully tested all six of the implements, my bottom was so sore I could barely walk – I certainly wouldn’t be sitting down for some time. During the course of my punishment, I had heard the shop doorbell ring several times, so I knew that other people had heard me having my bottom tanned, and no doubt been chatting to the shopkeeper about what was happening.

I had prayed there would be no customers in the shop when Mum and I finally emerged from the staff room but to my dismay there was something of a small crowd who had lingered over their browsing in order to get a good look at the unfortunate girl with the smacked bottom when she came out. No doubt today someone would be reporting my mum to the police but back then most of them looked more inclined to give her a round of applause.

Despite the fact that she would only be able to use one implement at a time, Mum decided to purchase four of the six items she had tested on my poor botty. She handed over four pounds with the observation ‘variety is the spice of life’, and the shopkeeper put the mismatched pairs into two shoeboxes.

Back home, much to my embarrassment, Mum recounted the events of the afternoon to my dad and sister and showed off her purchases. Dad tapped the man’s slipper against the palm of his hand. “I think this’ll do very nicely if I ever need to get involved in disciplining you girls,” he said.

Mum pointed at my sister. “You might as well make a start straight away,” she said. “This one was supposed to have tidied her room while we were in town. I’ve just looked and it’s still a complete mess.”

Dad looked stern, stood up and took my sister by the hand. “Come along, young lady,” he announced, “we’ll see what a good sore bottom will do for you too!” He led her upstairs, already crying.

For the next few minutes, Mum and I sat facing each other as we listened to the spanking in process upstairs, the ‘whop’ of the leather sole across my sister’s bare bottom provoking squeals of anguish which punctuated her constant crying. Mum looked at me with grim satisfaction. “It sounds like your father is making a proper job of your sister’s backside,” she said quietly.

When the spanking sounds finally ceased, Mum looked up at me. “Right – up to your room, this minute. You’re both going straight to bed with no tea, and we’ll see if we have two better-behaved girls in the morning.”

It goes without saying that she had. Before I turned in, I looked in on my sister and we compared our bottoms, concluding that on this occasion at least, mine had got the worst of it.

Mum kept to her word regarding ‘variety’ – all of her purchases from that day got a great deal of use on her two children’s bottoms over the coming years.

Contributor: Harriet

All Maman stories are copyright, unauthorised reproduction may lead to legal action.