What My Father’s Belt Told Me by (2 Stories)

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

When I was about 10 years old a friend, Dougie, the neighborhood troublemaker, dared me to smoke a cigarette. My parents smoked, and I remember I would sometimes ride my bike to the corner store to pick up a pack of cigarettes for my father. But I knew that smoking was only for grown ups.

When I was about 10 years old a friend, Dougie, the neighborhood troublemaker, dared me to smoke a cigarette.

Dougie and I snuck off to our secret hideout in the woods behind my house and shared a cigarette he had snitched from his mother’s purse. We took turns puffing and imitating the cool way the cool people on TV smoked. I got a little light-headed buzz, which was a new feeling.

When I arrived home for supper my mother took one sniff and cornered me: “Have you been smoking?” I was so surprised that she could smell the cigarette smoke, I confessed. “What ’til your father gets home. Go to your room!” 

My father got home, came straight to my room, took off his belt, made me lean over the bed, and gave me a spanking that really hurt. He told me: “Smoking is an awful habit. I never want to catch you smoking a cigarette again.” 

Physical punishment was rare in our family, and this was the only time my father had ever used a belt. My fanny was sore the whole next day. But I forgot the pain after a couple days. What I never forgot was that my father had chosen the ultimate punishment to deliver his warning. I got the message. I never smoked a cigarette again. Even in college. 

Profile photo of steve steve

Tags: father, smoking, cigarettes, spanking
Characterizations: been there, well written


  1. Good message and the spanking seemed to have worked Steve, but of course the irony was your parents themselves smoked!

    Looking forward to more Retro stories from your pen, in what part of the country do you live?

    SB edit: Not irony, hypocrisy. But my parents did quit smoking a few years later, when the Surgeon General Report came out. I live near Philadelphia.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Glad you got the message not to smoke, despite the bad example set by your parents. I, too, occasionally got the “wait until you father comes homes” warning, and got spanked for some behavior, but NEVER with a belt, and was always outraged over the physical punishment. It did not happen often. Clearly, it made a huge impression on you!

  3. Marian says:

    The good that came out of this, Steve, is that you never smoked again. And, I am glad your parents quit, as my grandfather did (cold turkey) when the Surgeon General Report was issued. The belt made me cringe, though–glad you experienced that only once.

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    Good you avoided smoking—though that was pretty harsh, it was clearly effective and maybe came from concern for your well-being (instead of insubordination). Good to know your folks stopped too. My parents both smoked, told us not to, and my mother got emphysema and my dad lung cancer.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    I remember the days of “wait till your father gets home” quite well, although it was usually my brothers who were waiting for a long lecture, which they said was worse that a strap. Sorry the lesson hurt but it was obviously very effective.

  6. Suzy says:

    That belt made me cringe! I think I would have had the opposite reaction, thinking “how dare you do that to me, and I WILL smoke, just to spite you!” In fact, my parents did smoke, and so did I, but we never talked about it, and eventually everyone quit.

  7. Susan Bennet says:

    Of course you know your father was frightened for you, Steve, and probably acted as he did on the basis of that fear. When I see people smoking, especially young people, I recall vividly the damage it did to my parents’ health. Potentially a life-wrecker.

    I had a “near-“belt experience myself @ age 13. I had done something so unforgivingly mean (it had started as a joke) to a family member that my father removed his belt and half-heartedly and slowly looped it in the air. He had no intention of following through, I knew (he never had and never would, and I was a … girl!), but I felt such shock and such shame for eliciting this reaction in this gentle man, for disappointing him. Like you, I have remembered this moment always, not with disapproval but with sorrow that I could have been so cruel to someone I loved. And, like you, nothing remotely like this ever happened again!

  8. Dave Ventre says:

    My Mom smoked. It eventually diminished her life, then ended it. But I found the smell so offensive as far back as I can remember, there was never a need to warn me off the coffin nails. The idea was incomprehensible to me.

    My parents were more old-school re corporal punishment. We got hit frequently, with both hands and objects. Alcohol was sometimes a factor, although Dad didn’t drink at all.

Leave a Reply