The Switch Dance   

  On my last trip to that human hell hole [Wal-Mart], and after having had the pleasure of hearing—“You’re going to time out when we get home mister” or “I’m going to count to three…one…two…” I startled the wife by wondering aloud.   

  Whatever happened to switches?   

   I recall a time when these handy backyard disciplinarians froze young folks in their tracks. The mere mention of this word turned demons into angels without threats, Ritalin, or losing X-box privileges.   

  A switch to parents not only symbolized the crowning moment in ass-kickery, it came fully programmed to seek and swat bare legs. This twig of destruction remains the ultimate skin conditioner for ghastly manners, forgotten chores, or sneaking a sip of your Dad’s beverage.  I firmly believe I kept in great shape during the summer months by one simple exercise—the switch dance.   

  For the other crowd having a hard time following, try this in your next aerobics class. Have someone hold one arm at a right angle, roughly 45-degrees, and place your free hand behind your backside (ensure complete coverage of your fanny). Now run in circles high stepping until you collapse to the ground. Remain in fetal position for 30-seconds to gather thoughts while gurgling for air, and then make an obscene gesture, or mutter my all-time favorite…    

   That didn‘t hurt!”   

  The sheer idiocy of this statement—knowing full well the outcome—mystifies me, and we all tried it at least once.    

  Next, spring to your feet repeating the previous act until one person smacks the ground toes up, eyes rolled back in the head, and blowing snot-bubbles. The only sound ranked close on the petrified-scale of a switch cutting the air. The sonic crack of my father’s belt slicing the sound barrier as it passed each belt loop. The entire movement completed in the blink of an eye and left Dad poised in a fencer’s on-guard position. Dropping down in a Kung-Fu stance, he could whip the belt with a snap and magically turn it into a doubled-over attitude adjuster (Bruce Lee didn’t have crap on Dad’s back then).   

  I see so many low hanging branches in yards these days, but then again, I guess the branches seemed a little higher to a kid. They don’t scare me anymore, and I have come to enjoy the music they provide as the shade creeps along their lengths. It’s not often I cut a switch for personal use, and on those rare occasions, I draw great pleasure from their company—I whittle. As the shavings litter the ground at my feet, their memories loose slightly that rough edge of yesteryear and leave the purest of times…sadly gone forever.   

   I tried to pull my belt off with the same flair and grace as my Father, and I guess some manly characteristics are handed down, some are not. There’s no snap or showmanship for me, and not an ounce of flair, grace, or coordination resembling that of a true Master. My technique leaves a distorted impression of Otis from Mayberry trying to break-dance. I don’t remember Dad’s belt being this long doubled-over, so I guess waistlines are subject to the passing of time, as are memories.


Uncle Buck