I stared at the phone in disbelief, not anger just disbelief. We were being sucked into a financial maelstrom, and there would appear to be very little that I could do about it.
It seemed to me, every time I thought I could see some light at the end of the tunnel, it would turn out to be a train driven by my wife Susie. I knew I had no choice but to call Marsha, my mother in law; she may have some advice upon how to curb Susie's enthusiasm for madcap money making projects.
“Hi hon, how are doing?” Marsha asked as she heard my voice.
“Been better,” I replied, then gave Marsha a brief outline of my current predicament.
“Tell you what hon, I think it would be best if you came over to see me. We can talk face to face over coffee, and see if we can sort something out. Have you anything on now?"
“No, I could be over to you in the hour,” I told her. “you know, if it's not putting you out at all?”
“Don't be a silly boy Ronnie, just get yourself over here!” She said, by way of a light-hearted admonishment.
The journey from Auburn to Opelika seemed quicker than usual, the traffic was very light, the food joints and filling stations appeared to whiz past me, as I was lost in my thoughts.
I was trying to work out how to explain our current financial quandary to Marsha, without looking like I was just blaming her daughter for everything?
The thing is though, all of our problems did stem from Susie's madcap moneymaking schemes. It wasn't that she was spending money on luxuries or clothes for herself. It was just that she could not accept the fact that she did not really have a head for business. She followed the “speculate to accumulate” theory to extreme, she believed wholeheartedly that if you threw enough money at something, it would eventually succeed.
When I arrived at Marsha's house, I was in no way surprised to find her in the kitchen. Despite her comparative youth in being a mother in law, she was not yet forty and young looking for her age. She was still very much a traditional southern lady, and to her the hub of the home was the kitchen. As always, when I visited Marsha's the radio was on and tuned to a Country station.
So, as she made the coffee, I listened to a man praying for rain in California, so that he could get drunk on wine in Chicago while listening to music from Tennessee. In an odd way, I was jealous of him, wishing that wine and music could solve my predicament.
“OK, Ronnie, spill the beans.” Marsha said as she placed the strong smelling black coffee in front of me. “Tell me what my daughter has been up to now!”
I was surprised by the matter of fact tone of her voice; it was almost as if she had been waiting for this situation to arise.
The tone of her voice, somehow made it easier for me to talk to her. It was almost as if she had broken a levy, and now the water, in the form of my words, flowed fast and free.
I explained how Susie had used our savings to purchase perfumes to sell to her friends and colleagues, in the forlorn hope of doubling our money. These perfumes were second-line scents, the sort that were supposed to smell like designer bottles, but at about half the price of the originals.
I pointed out to her that the profit margins, by the time she had covered her overheads of holding a “perfume party”, she would only, at best come away with a little pin money.
This information did nothing to deter her enthusiasm In fact it spurred her on to spend even more of our savings upon Stell and Dot jewelry, which she planned to sell from a barrow stall in the mall. No matter how hard I tried, to tell her about how the overheads would just eat all of her profits, the more stubborn and sure she became upon the idea.
Then this morning was the last straw, I received a phone call from the mall, saying that they could after all upgrade her stall to a shop outlet, of course for a much higher ground rent.
I didn't know what reaction I expected from Marsha, but the one I got stunned me, as she merely smiled.
“Ronnie, I feel a little to blame for all of this. I should have warned you, when you and Susie first got engaged. You see, the very things that most likely made Susie attractive to you, are the same things that are causing your current problems. You know, her happy go lucky everything is good attitude?” Marsha said, then with a dreamlike look on her face she continued. “You never knew her father; he died before you and your kin came over from England. You know though that he was a musician and a songwriter?”
I nodded, not at all sure as to where this conversation was going.
“He was quite successful, not Nashville guitar shaped swimming pools successful, but he did well enough. He instilled a feeling in Susie that everyone had something inside them that if they worked at it, they would be a great success and everything would be rosy. Of course, this is great if you work at your talents, the way he did, sadly Susie did not get that part of the message.
After her father had died, she became a Pollyanna, with her very own version of the Glad Game, it was like if she just thought something nice, it would happen. All you have to do is look around this house, and you'll find a multitude of discarded musical instruments. No doubt you thought they all belonged to her father?”
I nodded again, this time now seeing the thread she was forming.
“All my husband had was two guitars, the rest they are all Susie's. After about a year of letting her flit about from one thing to another. I decided it was time to put my foot down. It was time to give her a reality check. You know what I mean by that don't you?”
I shook my head.
“I re-introduced spanking into the house” Marsha informed me in the most matter of fact manner.
I quickly worked out the years; Susie's father died when she was about sixteen, just weeks before I started at her high school, so a year later....
“You mean you started spanking her again when she was seventeen, when I was going out with her?”
“No, you got your math wrong there Ronnie, she was eighteen.” Marsha corrected me. “Hey, don't look so shocked, it ain't that out of the ordinary down here. It's just that it ain't something that comes up in conversation.
I got myself a big wooden backed clothes brush which I named the Reality Checker, as a hand spanking even on her bare butt, didn't cut it at that age.”
I must have looked even more shocked as she then said.
“Hey boy, drop them raised eyebrows. I'm not some kinda sexual sadist; I was just trying to keep my daughters head in the here and now. Believe me, a well-blistered ass quickly brings a daydreamer down from the clouds.”
I shook my head, still not taking in all of this information.
“You know Ronnie, I can't make my mind up whether you are disgusted with me, or you just plain don't believe what I'm telling you?”
“I just find it all...a bit crazy and strange, a young adult being spanked.” I replied, just stopping myself from saying intriguing.
“OK, I'll give you a good, but somewhat extreme example of her Pollyanna ways. Do you recall two months before you got hitched, I took Susie on a Carribean cruise for her birthday treat?”
I nodded as if I could have forgotten my fiance going away for two weeks just prior to our wedding.
“Well, that cruise ship was pretty snazzy, it had a full spa onboard, so we did the whole nine yards. We had all the beauty treatments and massages; Susie was particularly taken with the hot stones. Then before I knew it, she was ringing the local college to see about massage lessons. I let it ride as I thought it's just another little flash in the pan. Then I caught on the sundeck her calling Tiger Town, to see if they had any available units that she could convert into a salon. Any of this sound familiar to you?”
I sighed and replied, “Yeah, a bit too familiar.”
“Well, I grabbed her cell out of her hand, 'you're in for a reality check young lady' I told her as I marched her back down to our cabin. Once we got there, I realised I had a problem, as I didn't expect to need the Reality Checker on vacation, I had left it here at home. Then my eyes fell upon her denim cutoffs, or I should say upon her belt.
'Take of that belt and give it to me, then drop your shorts and panties and get over the bed' I told her.
'Please Ma, not here...these walls are so thin people will hear!'
You know, the doe-eyed look on her face nearly melted my resolve, but I knew she needed that infernal blind optimism curbed. Moreso with her approaching wedding and her stepping into real adulthood.
'Just give me that belt and get your bare butt over that bed. Now!'
She was almost in tears as she handed me the belt and shrugged down her shorts and under panties. I knew that I had to make this one a spanking to remember. I took me a few tries to get my aim in and to get the correct swing. Soon enough though, I had her squirming, and her bare bottom was colouring up nicely with purple weals. By the time I finished and threw the belt onto the cabin floor, Susie was sobbing and apologising.
The following day, I made her wear her bikini on the sundeck, so that everyone would see that she was a naughty nineteen-year-old girl who had been well punished!
To be honest, I thought that that harsh punishment, and then the rather cruel way I made her display the evidence of the punishment would have been enough to set her up for marriage. Clearly I was wrong, and I apologise for that Ronnie. It would seem it is now the time for you to become the head of the household in your home.”
Marsha then rose from her seat; she went over to a set of drawers, and returned handing me the Reality Checker.