We found our special spanking belt by accident, really. It was on a clear, brisk Saturday morning, early last spring. There were still little traces of snow on the neighborhood lawns, but the sun was up and the birds were chirping, so I wanted to go for a walk.
My husband, Ronnie, was up early, as usual, rattling around in our detached cinderblock garage out back and preparing to tinker with something or another. But before he got too involved, I gently convinced him (with a loving swat on the rear) to first walk with me over to the local coffee shop, about eight blocks away.
On the way back home, we strolled slowly along the sidewalks of our mid-century subdivision, headed more or less in the direction of the house. And that was when we noticed a local family apparently setting up for a yard sale in their driveway.
Now we live in a relatively small 1950s-era bungalow, so I’m very careful about buying unnecessary things. There’s almost nowhere to put them. I really have to insist that Ron help me keep the clutter to a minimum. (Or else.)
Despite this, Ronnie’s pace had slowed and I could tell by his swiveling head that he was about to turn toward the potential treasures being unboxed just a few steps away. Normally at this point I would cup my right hand under his backside and sort of march him forward, away from temptation. But then something interesting caught my eye.
It was a wide, thick, well-worn leather belt, coiled on a folding table, lying next to a flaking pair of cowboy boots and what I surmised were a set of old branding irons. The belt was far more robust than anything you typically see today, but it was so weathered and broken in that it was almost as flexible as a piece of rope. There wasn’t even a buckle, as the stitched loops on that end of the belt had completely worn through.
The woman holding the garage sale told me that her father had been a rancher and that he wore the old belt almost every day when she was growing up. When the buckle finally broke free, he refused to throw the belt out and vowed to stitch it back together one day.
With Ronnie watching wide-eyed from the sidewalk, nervously swaying from foot to foot, I paid the woman a princely sum of one dollar for her father’s belt, then rolled the leather into a coil and popped it inside my purse. As I thanked the woman, she peered briefly over at Ron, then locked eyes with me and, ever so slightly, she smiled.
Less than an hour later, Ron was face-down on our bed, in his birthday suit, with his head buried in a pillow and with a cylindrical bolster cushion propping up his hips. Our new belt was freshly cleaned and waxed, and the doubled-up leather was feeling both heavy and supple in my hands.
I paused a moment to admire Ronnie’s firm, white bottom. (Was it quivering slightly?) Then I took a breath, raised the belt high above my shoulder and snapped it down hard across the lower portion of my husband’s upraised cheeks.
I swear, that was the best dollar I ever spent.