Fakin’ the Tears, Payin’ the Price

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Fakin’ the Tears, Payin’ the Price

 James R. Aist

My brother, Johnny, and I are only 17 months apart in age, and when we were growing up together, we lived way out in the “sticks” of central Arkansas at first, and then, when Daddy became an ordained minister in the Methodist church, we moved from one small, rural community to the next. In the rural areas of Arkansas back then, we often were unable to make many other friends, and, when we did, there were days at a time when we were not able to get together with them. So, out of necessity, we did a lot of things together. Things like playing, arguing, disobeying Mamma and suffering the consequences.

Well, Johnny and I were about as close to being cute little angels most of the time as you could imagine, but every now and then we would mess up, get caught and find ourselves cross-wise of the family disciplinarian, who was, you guessed it, Mamma. Now, these were the days before “political correctness”, and so Mamma was hesitant to “spare the rod”, if you get my drift. When our transgressions were relatively minor, we would get off with just a short lecture and a stern warning. But, now and then, we foolishly crossed an invisible line and had to face the dreaded consequences: a meaningful whipping applied to our backsides with whatever was the latest, or most convenient, hand-wielded, wooden flogging device; usually a stick of some sort. But hey, at least this gave us yet another thing to do together!

After undergoing several of these painful and embarrassing disciplinary sessions over a period of time, we began comparing notes about a pattern we had noticed. Mamma would strike us, in turn, over and over – whap, whap, whap, etc. – until we could no longer hold back the tears, and then we would begin to cry. Well, now, we reasoned, if crying was what convinced her to stop the whipping, why don’t we just start crying with the first blow, even if we don’t really have to, and, cleverly, spare ourselves the remainder of the whipping? So, we coveted with each other to do just that the next time we were “in for it”, thinking we would surely get off easy. Keep in mind, now, that the timing of this little scheme was everything. We had to absorb the first blow; then, and only then, would we burst suddenly into tears and, magically, “make” her stop.

Well, sure enough, it wasn’t long before we were “in for it” again. As Mamma was herding us into the torture chamber to administer the inevitable punishment, Johnny and I gave each other a “knowing” look to make sure we were both on the same page with our plan to fake the tears. Now, you know as well as I do that a plan is only as good as the execution of it, and that’s where we got caught in the act…literally. Don’t ask me why, but we both, in turn, burst into tears just before the first blow, instead of just after it! Now our Mamma was no fool, and she sensed immediately that we were trying to put one over on her, much to our surprise and chagrin. We knew, right then and there, that this was not to going to end well for us. And so it didn’t; Mamma proceeded to give us the worst whipping we had ever deserved, and, trust me, the tears were real! “Ow, ow, ow…no, I’m not alright, thanks for asking!”

Now, the moral of this story is two-fold: 1) execute, execute, execute; and 2) don’t ever think you can put one over on a seasoned veteran like Mamma! The price of getting caught – and you will get caught — isn’t worth it.

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