I used to think that all the world’s problems could be solved by using one of two solutions: lobotomy or sterilization.
I have, in my old age and (I hope) increasing wisdom, come to the conclusion that while lobotomy and sterilization might be justified in certain instances, I need to add two other solutions to the repertoire. Those are the extreme head-on collision on the expressway, only between two deserving subjects, and the lesser solution, a regular Slap Room.
The first three are pretty much self-explanatory. The only problem anyone brings up with them is who gets to decide. The answer, of course, is: I do.
I also get to decide who goes into the Slap Room, but the general criterion for the Slap Room is lack of awareness, what my colleague and head of the English Department M.C.G., used to call negative AQ. AQ is like IQ, intelligence quotient, but you already know, since you are aware enough to read this, that AQ stands for Awareness Quotient.
When I was teaching, students who didn’t follow directions got negative AQ points, which I dutifully posted on a chart in the room.
I would extend AQ from the classroom to all sorts of other situations. For example:
Texting while driving would result in thirty minutes in the Slap Room (or death, which ever comes first) for each offense.
The woman who wore the T-shirt to court (and is now appealing the contempt of court jail time) that said “She who has the C**ze Gets to make the rules.” Another half hour in the Slap Room in addition to the jail time. And the lawyer who is handling her appeal would get the same amount of time.
The people who bring their little children to the dog park, in clear violation of the posted rules would get time in the Slap Room. The amount of time would depend on how many children, how long they stayed, how many big dogs were already at the park, and if they could read or not. Less time for the latter. More time for arguing about it.
Last winter a woman had a young child with her at the dog park, and when I pointed out - after I put my dogs on short leashes! - that the rules prohibited him, she told me that her child had been around dogs and knew how to act. She was non-plussed when I suggested it wasn’t the child that might instigate an attack, but an unbalanced dog. (Read my previous blog. We put Stella down because she began to attack people and we could no longer trust her, especially with children.) The dog park woman didn’t get it. Even when I told her there was no amount of liability insurance in the world that could compensate for a child being mauled by a dog. She thought I was kooky. Slap Room for her.
And she gets a lot of extra time in the Slap Room, not only because she flouted common sense, but because she set a terrible example for her child that she was above the rules.
I think there should be time in the Slap Room for people who text while having dinner with me and people who have to report their every move to their friends on their cell phones in line at stores. Or worse, those who sit behind me on the train and talk about their sex lives, their marriages, and their intimate operations.
People who use their children as pawns against their spouses and former spouses merit time in the Slap Room. Probably lots of time for every offense. They should also be relieved of custody at the same time.
People who are so self-absorbed they want to tell us their entire medical history and that of all their neighbors, belong in the Slap Room until they decide there are other topics in the world to talk about.
I suspect that people who enable their pets to misbehave deserve time in the Slap Room. This includes the ones who bark constantly, especially before dawn, when I’m lying down for a nap, or when I step outside my house. It also includes people who sneak people food to my dog. They may be aware of my rules, but they chose to ignore them. Slap Room. Now!
On the other hand, people who enforce silly rules indiscriminately deserve time in the Slap Room. Drawing a picture of a gun or using a stick to play Cops 'n Robbers at school may be a zero tolerance offense, but the people who institute it and those who enforce it deserve time in the Slap Room. When I first started teaching, I always confiscated squirt guns from students, and then emptied them, usually on their crotches. No doubt I’d get time in the Slap Room for that, but I thought then - and still believe - that the punishment should fit the crime.
I’m sure you have lots of ideas for the Slap Room, and we’d all like to see them, so please post them at comment below.