Torture Me Please, Mr. Neeson

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This evening I came across the film Taken entirely by accident whilst channel surfing.  Normally I’d rather amputate my own arm with a chainsaw than watch an action movie, but when I saw Liam Neeson on the screen, I decided to give it a shot.   I am of the opinion that Mr. Neeson is one of the sexiest men walking around on God’s green earth. 
            HOTTEST MOVIE EVER!!!!  Why haven’t I seen this movie before…?!  It came out in 2008, for God’s sake!  I could have been jerking off to it for three years by now!  

           Yes, Taken is exploitive predictable trash.  So what.  I thought Neeson was hot in Kinsey (bizarre, I know, but that’s how I roll):  

            “If you think I’m irresistible as a tweedy 1940s Midwestern college professor, wait until you see me punch someone in the face!  By the way, Miss Margo is a very eager student.” 

          In Taken, Mr. Neeson is even older and gets to intimidate, torture, and kill dozens of other good-looking well-dressed men!  The violence is absolutely relentless!  Every ten seconds, he was kicking someone’s ass!  This film had it all.  Sex slavery (trafficking is grotesque, of course, but the way it’s portrayed in the movie is so preposterous that I could enjoy it guilt-free)!  Gorgeous French locations!  Home invasion!  Knife fights and hand-to-hand combat!  Liam Neeson!  A scene where the bad guys have Neeson tied up and suspended from a pipe on the ceiling!  Oh my God!  And Neeson is kicking all this ass in order to rescue his daughter, which excites my….ah…Freudian issues. 

            I was reheating a slice of pizza in the oven while I was watching the movie.  Burned the hell out of it—set off the smoke detector and scared the shit out of my birds. 
            Then I got online and read Roger Ebert’s review.  An excerpt:
 “Taken” reopens a question I’ve had. A lot of movies involve secret clubs or covens of rich white men who meet for the purposes of despoiling innocent women in despicable perversity. The men are usually dressed in elegant formalwear, smoke cigars and have champagne poured for them by discreet servants. Do such clubs actually exist?
            Excellent question, Mr. Ebert!  And if they do, where can I sign up?  Especially if I could be rescued by Mr. Neeson.  Or despoiled by Mr. Neeson.  Or beaten up by Mr. Neeson.  I wonder how much it would cost to hire Mr. Neeson to beat me up.  If he could be paid to do it in a film, I bet he could be paid to do it for real.  It would probably be really expensive, though.  Maybe I could send him an email and inquire.  
        “I am looking for this young lady, Miss Margo, so that I can beat her with a coathanger.  And then take her out for ice cream.”  

                   “I would rather be invading Miss Margo’s apartment at dinnertime!” 

            “I am even sexier than Dr. Drew Pinsky and this firearm is clearly a phallic symbol.” 

The Detective

This happened in Lyon, France, a few years ago.
            The four of us were seated in the studio-like space adjacent to his professional office.  One wall had floor-to-ceiling windows and the furniture was modern and chic, but comfortable—not hard and spare, the way the modern style often is.  It was like Ikea, if Ikea furniture cost a zillion dollars and was handcrafted by white Europeans.  Lots of glass and white leather; not many visible electronics (but they were there, oh yes.  I saw the electronic eyes, but I have always been an observant girl, and I knew how to look). 
            Our host offered us champagne and small individual porcelain bowls of mixed nuts.  We sat on chairs and a sofa, but he sat on the edge of a desk.  It elevated him slightly in height over the other people in the room.  Not much—hardly enough to be noticeable—but I noticed it.  Indeed, I did.  His posture was good but not ramrod-straight—he gave the impression of being relaxed.  I wondered if he really was, though.  Relaxed.
            I didn’t talk much at first—in new environments, I prefer to keep quiet and observe my company, and I was also the youngest member of the group by far.  Even our host’s beautiful (secretary? office manager? I didn’t understand the French title) was at least ten years older than me.  Usually I don’t pay much attention to women, but she was so glamorous —so sparkling–that I just wanted to watch her and listen to her voice. (In truth, I wanted to learn from her.  She had regressed me.) 

          I picked at my mixed nuts, eating my favorites first, and looked around the room, fascinated but trying not to appear owlish.  The glass on the window slightly distorted the view of the red-tiled roofs of Lyon.  Later, I found out that was because the glass was bulletproof.  Our host was wearing a navy blue pinstripe suit.  The pinstripes were subtle, not at all ostentatious.  His necktie was deep purple.  The cut of his clothing was perfect.  I mean perfect, as much as a layperson like myself can discern that.  Yet simultaneously, there was nothing vain about the man.  For instance, he wasn’t like the Surgeon, who is a flamboyant peacock, god love him.    

            The host suddenly rose from his desk and walked over to me.  He was a largish man—a six-footer, at least, and he was wearing hard leather-soled shoes on wooden floors, but he made almost no sound as he moved. 
             He plucked my bowl of nuts from my hand and said, “Let me refill that for you.  I see you’ve eaten all the pumpkin seeds; there are plenty more in the cabinet.”  His had a slight smile on his face; his voice was so warm, and amused.
            I sat there, blinking.  I didn’t know what to say; I was speechless.  His small smile opened up and then he was beaming; happy but also self-satisfied.  He had a gorgeous smile. (I also appreciated the fact that he served his guests himself, instead of asking his secretary to do it.) 
            “Don’t let this office distract you.  I am a detective.  That’s what I am.  A detective.” 
            I had a realization then, crystal clear: men (and probably a few women) had sat on this sofa, in this office, in this chic civilized room, and been seduced by this extremely charming and affable man to spill their guts about whatever the hell he wanted them to talk about—and the entire time, they’d had no idea what was really going on behind his warm brown eyes.  
(A priest, a lawyer, would do anything for that sort of talent.  Later, I would find out that my host had been both.)   
            And in my head, I thought:  I’m sold. Sold.  No effort at seduction is necessary.  I will gladly give you access to me whenever you like, as often as you like, whenever it is practically feasible. 

Someone Lost His Shirt….

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…both figuratively and literally.  I presume he took a taxicab back rather than risk police scrutiny on the subway (assuming that he could hail a cab, half-naked and wild-eyed as he was…and the marks on his flesh probably did not inspire much confidence from strangers).  I bet the cab driver snapped on a pair of surgical gloves and fetched the Lysol out of the trunk 10 seconds after his passenger vacated his vehicle. 

      Maybe the fellow honestly thought I was gambling when I proffered the wager.  If so, he either doesn’t know me well (but then again, who does…?) or else he was in male lust-induced lala-land. (Men make fantastically bad choices in lust-induced lala-land, and I don’t think that saying that is sexist, condescending, or derogatory. It is just purveying the obvious.) 

       Or, more likely, he accepted the wager and fully expected to lose.  To win would have been a bit of a letdown.

      I can relate to the feeling.  I played Scrabble once with a handsome Org Psych professor.  He was twice my age and he annihilated my agitated, embarrassed game with ease (I had been so confident in my vocabulary, and so eager to make a good impression!).  It was like being at the Alamo.

      It seemed that he was only halfway concentrating on the game (which made it even more humiliating for me), but I do remember him commenting, more than once, on the way that I kept staring at his hands.  I don’t imagine the answers are in these hands of mine, Miss Margo, he would say, and smirk.  By God, I’ll never know, but my radar is very very good, and I’ll be damned if that man was not a sadist, practicing or not.

      That Scrabble game was one of the sexiest experiences I had that year.  After it was over, of course.  That’s one of the mysteries of masochism–sometimes it’s very exciting while it’s actually happening, but oftentimes the thrill comes afterwards, in the memory.  This is what makes the satisfaction so enduring.  Nobody actively enjoys the twentieth mile of a marathon, when they are sweating and shaking in pain.  The pleasure comes afterward…and it will always be there for you.  Like education, it is one of the only things in life that nobody can take away from you.

      And I’ll never forget that professor, or his hands.

      Perhaps yesterday’s guest will share this perspective.  Who knows?  But I enjoyed myself tremendously, and I wish him all the best.

I’m modeling the shirt in the image below.  Like they say: pics, or it didn’t happen.

Learning to Accept the Loss

            The following is an excerpt from a private journal of mine.  I wrote this passage around late 2008.  I have never shared it with anyone, of course, for obvious reasons.  But I will share it with you. 
        The things I share on this blog are secret things, which is why I started this blog in this first place.  People in my life who might recognize me in one entry would never (I confidently presume) associate me with another.  I do this to myself. I would like to be more…transparent, however.  Actually, what I “would like” is irrelevant–the fact of the matter is that I need to get used to other people knowing who I am and how I live my life (fyi: I think the psychologists call this “intimacy.”  I am being sarcastic.  Mostly).  
          When I read this passage now, I am struck by the relentlessness of my will.  And I wonder: where did I learn such pitilessness towards myself, and such poorly-applied discipline…? 
            This has been edited only to protect my anonymity.  
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Learning how to lose weight, and how to maintain my weight at its current unnaturally low point, was very difficult.  It took a lot of practice, a lot of trial and error.  Oh, last fall and winter, when I weighed around 140 lbs and I decided I wanted to lose it, I remember how I struggled.  How difficult it was to get down to 135 lbs, and then 127 lbs, and then 125 lbs.  It was so slow at first, and the minute I let my guard down, I would gain again.  I was frustrated at the time; perplexed.  Now I realize it was because I was trying to have my cake and eat it too, pardon the blackly ironic metaphor (metaphorical cake is the only cake allowed around here these days).  I was trying to get thin while still eating like a normal person (a healthy normal person, that is). 
It took me a long time to figure out what I needed to do.  Cutting back on one thing…and then another…and then another.  Eliminating whole groups of food, like pastry.  Making up rules and sticking to them, such as no food after 6 PM.  It was so difficult to do at first.  So painfulSo hard to learn.  It felt so unnatural to give up food and regular eating habits.  I would feel frustrated and cheated.  I was rebellious against myself; I would feel angry at not being able to eat a slice of pizza.  Everyone else was enjoying it, why couldn’t I?  That is how I felt. 
But little by little, I mastered the art of deprivation.  My concentration can be relentless (I guess you could call it a gift if it wasn’t likely to kill me one of these days).  Who in hell devotes themselves to depriving themselves of basic human needs?  Monks?  Hermits? Crackpot terrorists, political revolutionaries, ill-adjusted creative types, professional athletes? 

In any case, I gradually got the hang of it.  I got the knack.  I gave up almost all of the foods I used to eat, and then I learned to accept the loss. This is the crucial part, you see, this is where the proverbial rubber hits the road—the acceptance.   I learned to accept the discomfort of hunger.  I learned how to measure and weigh the portions, how to skip meals when necessary.   I learned how to not eat, and I don’t mind telling you that it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. 

I had to reject social convention, almost everything I used to think about eating, and a lifetime of habit. To accept: I do not eat breakfast; there is no such thing as breakfast for me.   I had to reject corporal instinct; to accept: I am hungry, but my hunger is irrelevant and shall not intrude upon the other matters at hand.  I had to reject the perfidious parts of my brain.  I had to reject my heart, to accept: it hurts to not eat with the others…but what you want you must choose, and what you choose, you must give priority.  

(What you want you must choose, and what you choose, you must give priority.   This is one of my most deeply held beliefs.  Right up there with Everybody has to take a beating sometime, (and I am not talking about the nice beatings). And Everyone pays, even for the things they didn’t do.)  

 Little by little, I mastered my appetite, and then finally I mastered my body.  By the time I got down to 125 lbs, and could maintain it, I had it figured out!  And then I knew what to do, as Sylvia Plath might say.  I made a model of you...  The next 5 lbs was easy.  Size 6, size 4, size 2.  And then finally, I had my old body back.  From the neck down, I looked almost like a teenager again.  When I got down to 115 lbs—which I had not weighed since I was around 20—I stood nude in front of the mirror and assessed myself lovingly, with pride and approval.  The way my hipbones stuck out a little, the cage of my ribs, the flatness of my belly.  My underwear and pantyhose did not indent my flesh.  I felt like I had restored myself to the way that I looked before I met my last great love, Scott, who hit me in a bad way and whom I had to get a restraining order from.
I had re-achieved my beauty (as I saw it, at least).  My autonomy.  And for the first time in years, there was nothing to cause me shame.  A tangible achievement.  I had done something well.  I had, in fact, done something extraordinary. 
But at what cost?  What cost?
That question has no relevancy to me.  

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