Much Wealthier

       I got the job!

       The interview was almost shockingly unprofessional.  We met at a restaurant because the campus was closed.  I got there early and stood out in the cold, trying to cool down because I was nervous.  I was wearing my best suit.  I must have looked intense, because the passing crackheads didn’t panhandle from me.  

      I found the members of the hiring committee quickly enough.  Incredibly, they were eating

       “Where did you say you were from, again?” one of them asked me.

       I told him.

       Then, the inevitable: he got a puzzled look on his face and asked me, “What do you do out there?”

      When I get this, I always want to say sarcastically: “Why, we ride horses to school and have spitoons in all the classrooms!  I got my degree in Barn Raising!”

       New Yorkers can be aggressively parochial.  They think that the rest of the USA is, like, Los Angeles and Chicago.  Beyond that, they’re stumped.  And no matter how well-read I am, no matter how cultured I become, in their minds I will always be, fundamentally, a barbarian (and possibly a closet white supremacist).  I used to be so annoyed with it that I wore cowboy boots and posted my certificate of completion for firearms training on the fridge, just to fuck with people.  

     We talked shop. 

     Success! 
       *                          *                       *                             * 
        

     The Mathematician came over to celebrate.  I gave him his Christmas gifts.  We turned on the lights of the Christmas Tree..  

      (By the way–yesterday morning he sent me a text message suggesting that I leave early in order to make it to the airport in the bad weather.  He is very responsible.  I like that he’s a good father.  On some level, I think that I want him to be my dad.  Do you think that’s bad?)

      I asked him how he got the star on top of his hugeass Christmas tree.

      “I have an orchard ladder!”

      “What is that?”

      An orchard ladder has a third leg for support, so that a person can climb up in it and pick fruit!  What a cool, practical invention!  See, that’s the sort of thing I could never come up with.  I have no common sense.  

        We made love.  It wasn’t violent, but I had a lot of fun.  He’s really a handsome man, in an understated, conventional way.  Athletic.  It’s weird, because he’s not the type of man that I’d usually be focused on if I saw him on the street…but knowing myself as I do, that’s probably a good thing (the Surgeon’s look always stopped me in my tracks).  

     I could feel him caressing and holding my body in various positions and knew what he was doing: comparing my size and the proportions of my body to that of his most recent lover (“You’re really tall!” he announced, out of nowhere, when we were in the shower).  It didn’t bother me at all; it’s only natural to do this when we’re with someone new.  I was doing it myself.  He has a big skull.  His hair is shorter and softer.   The Mathematician is tall and strong.  He has big hands and feet.

      Then we lay in bed talking and cuddling.  He is very affectionate.  The Surgeon seldom touches me unless he’s being violent or giving me sex, and he doesn’t like to be touched (by anyone) unless he’s excited, which I always thought was sort of weird for a physician.  Shit–it’s sort of weird for anyone.  Even John, my psycho ex I had to get the restraining order for, liked to snuggle.  

      It was then that I broached The Issue.

      “There’s something that I need to talk to you about,” I said.  “I wasn’t sure when to bring it up–right now or on New Year’s, or in bed or out of it–because I didn’t want to be perceived as manipulative.  But I guess we might as well talk about it now.”

      He immediately looked concerned, and got up on one elbow.  “Uh, okay.”

      “Don’t be scared.  It’s nothing bad.  I just….”  I drifted off, trying to remember exactly how I’d rehearsed the lines.  I totally blanked.  I stammered something and he looked more and more frightened.  Eventually, I just blurted:  “Look, we can keep things just the same if you really want to, but I’d feel a lot better if I stopped taking your money.  It’s important to me that I maintain this boundary and I also don’t want you to think that I’m having sex with you or hanging out with you just because you’re paying me.”

      “I don’t think that.  I never thought that.”

       Okay, good.

       “But I’ve been where you are, when you’re trying to survive and you haven’t gotten started in your career yet, really, and I like knowing that I’m helping you out.  I like knowing that I contribute.  I want you to be happy and successful in life.  Is there anything that I can do?  Do you need money for books or a computer or new clothes for this new job?  It’s no strings attached.”

       He paused.  Then: “I really admire how independent and resourceful you are.  But you seem all alone on your own, without much help.  That’s a hard way to be.”

        I didn’t tell him that I feel like I’ve been an adult since I was about fourteen years old.  TMI.

      I thought about it for a minute.

      “Tell you what.  I’ll accept the things from you that I’d accept from a boyfriend who makes more money than I do.  You can always take me to eat or help with groceries, or books, or travel.  Clothes and sex toys if and when you feel like it.  If we go to the movies you can get the tickets.”

      “Okay.  Let me know if I can help with anything else.”

      And that was that.t.

      I’m out $200.

     But I feel much, much wealthier.   

You Must Expect To Be Humiliated

    This was the sagacious advice given to me by a gentleman I dated a few years ago.  

     We had an odd relationship which defied classification–he fell somewhere in the gray area between client and boyfriend.  We spent time together when he was in New York.  I grew tremendously fond of him as I got to know him better–he was one of the most talented, fascinating people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting.  He’d made a vast fortune through his creativity and industry.  He didn’t care about money, but he’d made a ton of it–a ton of it. The guy was a visionary, and I’m not just throwing that word around. Sort of like Steve Jobs, except that he wasn’t a total fucking asshole.  He was very warm, actually, and he had a great sense of humor.  

      Our relationship developed to the point where I could talk about my life and ask for his advice about things.  One time, over dinner, I told him that sometimes I’d still get stage fright when speaking in public or addressing a classroom.  

       Even though I had lots of experience.  

       Even though I knew the material.   

       “I hate getting nervous!” I cried.  “When am I going to become more confident?  Why do I never know when I’m going to get a case of the nerves?”

       He looked at me.  “You must expect to be humiliated.” 

       “What?” 

       “It happens to everyone who takes any risks in life whatesoever.  It cannot be avoided.  It is going to happen sometimes.  You will humiliate yourself.”

       This wise man’s zen-like acceptance of human frailty and suffering provided me with a terrific insight.  I was so impressed by You Must Expect To Be Humiliated that I printed it out and hung it on the wall in my office for a while, like a personal motto.  It made me feel so relieved.  

      “I’ve humiliated myself and been wrong so many times!” said this incredibly successful individual.  “Wait till you humiliate yourself with other peoples’ money and jobs at stake!  It’s not fun!”

       Sometimes in life, you’re going to fuck it up.  Sometimes you’re going to crash and burn.  

      But you can’t let the fear of that stop you from trying.  A person can waste their life avoiding pain.  And not just pain, but the possibility of pain.

      It reminds me of alcoholism, in that it does one no good to hate oneself forever for all the bad things and poor decisions one committed when one was drinking.  

      I am not advocating that humiliation and failure are character-building experiences–I’ll leave that horseshit sermon to the Church and the State.  They definitely can be, but mostly I think they’re just demoralizing at best and traumatizing at worst.  

     But they cannot be avoided.  They are the collection booths on the great toll road that is life (is that a bad metaphor?). 

      I bring this up because I’m about to go to a job interview.  I woke up early and prepared and prepared all day yesterday and there’s literally nothing else I can prepare for.  I was freaking out about the possibility of freaking out.   

      I got to thinking about what my wise friend told me over dinner.

      All that I can do is the best that I can do.  There is no more. And if I blow it–which, realistically, is improbable–well then, I blow it.  So what.  I’ve done it before and I will do it again, unless I plan to hide in my room through life and drink my fear away.  

      Here is my MASCOT, Beaker!  In this video, Beaker is humiliated whilst singing “Feelings” for the crowd…but he doesn’t run away!  He sticks it out!  And his friend, Animal, comes to help him!


        P.S.  Mathematician is coming by this afternoon!  YAY!  

Greetings from WallyWorld Country

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   Speaking of Mom’s dog (so cute! SO CUTE!), I found some of the dog’s leftover pain medication from when she had surgery.  It seems to be the same sort of synthetic morphine humans take (Drug Monkey!  Where are you now?).  Now, my Sponsor wouldn’t approve of this, but…do you think that this stuff is safe to eat?  

       Or is eating your dog’s leftover codeine some disgusting, degenerate junkie behavior?  

       I guess I could ask the Surgeon, but he’d probably tell me to airmail it to him.  Kidding!  Kidding!

      I’ll leave it in the medicine cabinet.  If the dog ever got sick and needed pain relief and didn’t have any because it ate it while watching Jeopardy!, I’d feel like a complete scumbag.  

       Bad news and good news: bad news is that I have to go home to NYC a day early and it’s making my Mom sad.  

       Good news is that I have to go home early cause I got a job interview!

        A normal job, too!  A job that would utilize the knowledge, skills, and abilities I cultivated in many years of college!

       I’m being sarcastic, of course.  My secret job utilizes many of these talents, also.  Grad students and untenured academics are the lowest of masochistic slaves.  The Dean of my last program is a sadistic control freak who might actually be the only man I’ve ever met who is a bigger egomaniac than the Surgeon.  I’m not kidding. 

       It’s for a teaching job.  The pro who was supposed to teach the class next semester quit all at once, and they need to fill the position ASAP.  Margo to the rescue!  If I do the math, I think that it pays approx. $0.72/hour.  (Says the Mathematician: Don’t depress yourself and do the math!  I used to be an adjunct!  Don’t do the math!)

      Even if the wage is crap, I’ll do it if I get the job.  The tutoring job that I have now pays well, and if I do just two or three independent secret job sessions a week–which I could do in a day now!–I’ll be comfortable.  Heck, I could save the secret job stuff for the weekend, and devote my weekdays to living…like a fulltime professional academic. 

       I could have a normal life.  Modest, but normal.  Scheduled.  No more rushing from school to the Surgeon to the insanity at the Superstudio to AA, lying every stop of the way.  I mean, I’d still have to lie…but just a little.  

       I could have a man in my life.  Not the Surgeon or these party animals like Mr. Wolf (bless his heart) who jump out of planes for recreation.  A normal man, for a normal life.  Or as normal as I think I could possibly get anytime in the immediate future.  

       Which brings us to… 

       The Mathematician sent me an email with pictures of his dog and his huuuuugeass Christmas tree.  I am not exaggerating–it really is a hugeass Christmas tree.  Where do you get a tree this big? Is it a fucking redwood?  How did he get it in the door?  How do you get the star on top of it?   

       I turned my computer around towards my mother so that she could take a look at the screen.  

       “Awww!  He’s a very nice-looking man!  And what is that big bird doing out of its cage?” asked Mom.

        “The bird is his friend!” I explained.  

         Maybe I could be his friend…?

         Okay, enough heavy stuff.  Want a peep inside life in the redneck state of my birth?  My homeland, where part of my soul will always hail?

        Today, I went with my Mom and my brother to WalMart.  It was not my idea.  Mom wanted to buy a big light-up Snowman decoration for the front lawn–it was 70% off on the after-holiday sale.  My brother needed ammo.  Lots of ammo.  

       They sell ammo in KMarts here.  

        Anyway, I know that some of my New York readers may have never been inside of a WalMart.  I find them bizarre and unlikable for a number of different reasons.  One reason is that they are HUGE.

       No exaggeration.  HUGE.  

       WalMarts are so big inside that even though you can see the ceiling and it’s climate-controlled and artificially lighted, you feel like you’re outdoors.  Or at least I do.  Yeah.  I feel outdoors.  

        The only thing remotely comparable that I’ve ever experienced is an indoor football stadium.  

“Does this place have an echo?”  Why yes, yes it goes.  And a pharmacy, a nail salon, a hair salon, a McDonald’s, and a plant nursery.  And an optometrist.  Jesus Christ.  

LOW LOW PRICES!!!
     This fish display in the pet section just about killed me.  For fish, this truly must be hell on earth.  Well, I told myself, you can’t save them all! 

Fish Hell: “Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here.”
      My camera could not adequately capture the horror of this image: a huuuuuge long table with acres and acres and acres of inferior, diabetes-provoking pastry.  It boggles my mind.  Full disclosure: I love those cheapass sweet sugar cookies with the soft icing on the top.  Or at least I did. Those ones in the very front.  I think I last had one in 2008.  So sad.  

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Merry Christmas from The Mathematician

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     I feel happy today!

    Not sure how to tell you…so I’ll just spill it…

     I had sex with the Mathematician…and it was great!

       He came to my apartment yesterday and brought me a Christmas gift!  My first Christmas gift this year (besides ‘Secret Santa’ at the Superstudio)! Isn’t that nice?

      He gave me a present from Victoria’s Secret.  Part of it was undies–and yeah, all ladies know that when a man gives you lingerie, he’s basically buying a gift for himself–but he also hooked me up with a flight back home to see my family for Christmas.  I had a really awful flight planned–redeye with two layovers, because it was the only thing on Expedia.com remotely reasonable in price–and when I mentioned it to the Mathematician, he surprised me with reservations on a much better flight!  What a darlingheart! 




       We had a snack and talked for a long time and then we were fooling around on top of my bed.  I was turned on and feeling very close to him.  I decided, what the hell–we are both adults and we can do whatever we want, and this man has treated me with nothing but respect and affection from the moment he met me.  

      “Hey,” I said.  “Would you like to have sex?  No pressure; I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable.  I always enjoy what we usually do when we spend time together.”

      (I’m very up-front when I proposition men.  I don’t do silly theatrical seduction gestures unless I’m getting paid for it.  Why be coy?)

      Seeing a highly intelligent man like the Mathematician hear the question and do the decision-calculus in his brain is pretty damn entertaining.  

       He said yes.

       I think that it would be disrespectful of me to blab about the particulars to random internet strangers, but I can tell you that we had fun and the experience was very satisfactory. 

      “You’re so beautiful!” he said afterward.  And–get this–he took my glasses off of my face, cleaned them, and put them back on me.  “There you go!”

        Mathematician is so nice.  He is such a thoughtful person.  

       At the end, we were sitting on my sofa playing with Parrot (Mathematician has a big parrot.  And a dog!).  I decided to tell him about a problem I’m having at work.  After we made love I was having second thoughts about asking him for his advice, because I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable visualizing the stuff I do in my professional capacity.  But then I thought…he already knows what I do; he knows where he met me.  I don’t have to lie.  

       He knows about my secret life, and he’s interested in me anyway. 

      I told him about my problem.  

      Mathematician looked off into space and thought about it for a minute.  He’s the boss at work; he’s had experience with problematical, difficult employees.  That’s why I thought he would be good to ask for advice. 

      “No contact,” he said. Then he said some things I can’t write here. 

      Then he asked: “Have you thought about quitting at the Studio?”

      “Yes.  Often.”

      “I’m worried about the way other men might treat you there.”

     When the Surgeon made me quit at my last dungeon, he didn’t do it because he was concerned about the way other men were treating me.  

      He made me quit because he hated the idea of other men touching his stuff.  

      I went to my analyst and told her what happened with the Mathematician.  She has reservations about him–she thinks it doesn’t make sense of a man like him to be going to a dungeon in the first place; she thinks he’s repressed–but she agrees that he’s a million times healthier than the men I usually get attached to.

     “How do I turn down his money?  I can’t take it anymore.  I know it sounds arbitrary, but I feel that this is an important boundary to maintain my mental health and well-being.”  

       Tell him: I want to change our relationship.  How do you feel about that?

       And that is exactly what I’m going to say the next time I see him.  Wish me luck!

       But the Surgeon…what to do about the Surgeon…?  I am seriously worried about the man.  I think he’s finally…well, I think that the wheels are finally coming off.  

      Busy, busy week at the secret job.  My new photos are making me a lot of money.  God this work is crazy and dangerous…but it feels great to be solvent.  

      Thank God opaque black tights are still fashionable this season. They’re the only thing that can cover up the marks.  Even tattoo coverup makeup won’t do it this week:


Sez the Photographer: “What Else Is There?”

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Pretty picture…

    I can’t write long because I need to jump in the shower and start getting ready.  It’s going to be a long day…

     The Mathematician is coming over for a few hours when he gets off work this afternoon.  
   
      He took me out to dinner on Tuesday night.  We went to Dos Caminos on 14th Street.  Dos Caminos makes excellent guacamole.  Their margaritas are fantastic as well, as I remember, though it’s been a while since I had one.  

     He’s easy to make happy, this one.  He wants to be with me all the time.  He sends me text messages and email notes throughout the day.  I wouldn’t let a client do that.  Actually, if a client did that, I might have to call the police, because a client wouldn’t do that.  Not unless there was something wrong with him (I do  have an issue with a weirdo client to tell you about, but I’ll get to that later).  The Surgeon doesn’t usually pay that much attention to me, unless he’s in a strange mood or he’s concerned that I might be making a break for it.  Concerned that I was, you know, getting squirrely.  

     Here’s the thing: the Mathematician’s still paying me. 

     What to do, what to do?  I haven’t stressed out about it much since I wrote the Decision Flow Chart blog post, but it’s still an issue, no getting around it.  

      Money keeps it safe. But every instinct that I have tells me that this man wants to have a relationship with me.  I could be mistaken, but I doubt it.  The Mathematician is a pretty transparent person, as healthy, sane guys usually are.  

      Money keeps it safe.  

      Maybe I’ll try something this afternoon.  I bought him a Christmas card.  This afternoon, I’ll ask him for his advice regarding a little problem I’m having at my teaching-center job.  See how he responds to it.  It is not my habit to burden clients with my personal problems–that’s inappropriate on a number of levels.  

      Moving on…here’s another question I have for you, Gentle Reader:  why are photographers such sleazebags?  Is there such a thing as a photographer in NYC who doesn’t try to date his models? Do I need to start looking specifically for gay photographers, or what?  Women photographers?  

       I had a photoshoot this week.  Picked the guy at random after I found his work on the internet and decided that I liked it.  He was talented; some of the images came out very well.  But he was sleazy.  Sleazy!   I didn’t confront him on it because there’s no point–he’s clueless–but in my head I was thinking, Guy, I’m paying you $200/hour.  That’s the going rate for a good physician or a lawyer.  For an architect.  Is it too much to expect that you conduct yourself with a similar degree of decorum and professionalism?  

      There was a funny moment when he asked me if I wanted him to “send some work” my way.  I could tell that he was confused.

      “I’m strictly fetish,” I told him.

      He blinked.  “Huh?”

      “Strictly fetish.  No sex.  At least, not in the traditional sense of the word.”

      He stared at me, incomprehending.  “No sex?”

      “Nope.”

      “So what do you do?

       “Just about anything else.”

       “What else is there?”

       I started laughing.  The sex lives of my fellow Americans, I swear.  

       I have a story about a creepy client, but I’ll tell you about that later.  Maybe you can give me a little advice about it.  

Meeting Vladimir at the Belvedere

    This evening I finished work and took a taxi uptown to a tony hotel.  

     I’d never been to the hotel before, and I’d never met my date before, either.  We’d exchanged a grand total of 3 emails in 48 hours.  I was slightly nervous–as I’ve written in the past, going in blind is a bit of stressful.  

       I pulled up a chair at the lounge and ordered a Diet Coke.  I kinda wanted to play that blind date game, where you look at the other people in the room and guess which one is the one you’re going to meet, but I couldn’t do it–not in a bar.  A single women staring at men invites too much attention.  So I tried to read the front section of the New York Times.  

        He found me right away. 

        He was a slim man about my height who looked a lot like Vladimir Putin:

“Come here often?”

     
         I noticed right away that he seemed slightly uncomfortable.  Usually that’s good news, because a cop wouldn’t be scared.  The question is, though: is he uncomfortable because he’s married and meeting a professional sadomasochist for the first time that he found off of a shady internet bullituon board?  Or is he uncomfortable because he’s planning to rape me, strangle me, and leave my body under the bed, and he’s anxious about tipping me off?  That, my friends, is the question!  

       I gave him a big smile and shook his hand.  I gave him my fake name.  Then I asked–because he’d never told me in his emails–“What did you say your name was again?”

        There was a four-second beat before he said, “Kevin.”   So, he made it up.  That’s fine.   A cop would have it rehearsed.  Kevin had to just be married and nervous. 

        “Has anyone ever told you that you look a lot like Vladimir Putin?”  

       That startled him.  Then he started laughing.  “No, but now that you point it out, I see the resemblance.  I saw him in St. Petersburg.”

       We talked about Eastern Europe for fifteen minutes.  Broke the ice.  The guy seemed okay.  Educated.  Not pushy, not charming, but smart and well-spoken.  He showed up sober and only had one drink. While there are always exceptions–the vile Dominique Strauss-Kahn springs to mind–men like this are usually pretty safe.  They are afraid of me.  They are afraid of getting caught.   

        The men you have to watch out for–the ones I walk away from–are drunk men, pushy men, and men like the Surgeon: coiled, intense smooth talkers.  Flirtatious is fine, but anyone who tries to seduce a worker in the sex industry has ulterior motives.  I also ditch men who engage in vulgar, explicit sexual conversation prior to the start of the session.  Besides being a tip-of for law enforcement, it signals to me that the man thinks he can be crude with me because he’s paying (or intends to pay) for the privilage.  He thinks he doesn’t have to act with me like he would a “normal girl.”  He doesn’t respect me, in other words–and you don’t want to be in a compromising situation with a man like that.  

       Kevin was polite.  Normal.  He had a trace of that nasal, middle-class New York accent people here have.  He paid for my soda.  

       “You seem highly intelligent,” he said.  Usually it pisses me off when men say that–I want to ask them, Why wouldn’t I be?  But this one seemed to be saying it as a statement of observation, rather than surprise.  

      “Except for this crazy shit that I do,” I gestured at us and then at the leather bag on the chair beside me, “I am. Shall we go up?”

        *                   *                *              *              *           * 

      I sat on the edge of the bed in his room and sent a text message in front of him.

     “So, Kevin,” I said.  “Nothing personal, but I’m sure you understand that I have to take precautions.  If my friend doesn’t hear from me in an hour and a half, she’s calling the cops.”

     “That’s fine.”  

      “It surely is.  I’m not worried.  You seem all right, and I can tell you’re not a cop.  I shouldn’t even have to worry about that, given the nature of my services, but the attitude is ‘Arrest em and let the judge sort em out.'”

      “How do you know that I’m not the police?” he asked.  He was sitting in the chair by the bed.  I noticed that he was actually a graceful man.  Interesting.  I wondered what his profession was. 

      “Well, first of all, now that I’ve seen more of this hotel, there is no way that the management of this place is going to give the NYPD permission to conduct a vice sting on the premises.  Guests are not paying $300 a night so that they can see women led through the halls and the lobby in handcuffs into a squad car.  If anything, they probably expect the concierge to hook them up.  Two: your clothes are a little too expensive.  And finally: if you were police, at your age and with your education you’d be at least a detective.  The  department is not going to use a man with those skills and pay grade to work as a prostitution decoy.  You cost too much–it’d be like hiring a physician to change bandages and insert IV’s.”  

      He laughed.  “You ought to be a detective.  You’re perceptive.”

      This man sees me, I realized. 

      I started to get excited.  I don’t usually feel chemistry with the people I meet at my secret job, but when I do, it’s very entertaining.  It’s a game, it’s a thrill.  I know the dance, but the partner is new–what’s going to happen? Who is this person?  I wasn’t crushing on Kevin, but I was curious about him, and a little attracted.  

     “You said you’d never done this before?  Hired a prosub?”

     “No.  Never.”  

     I believed him.

    “Want to see what I brought in my bag?” I asked.

    “Very much.”

    I fetched my bag and carefully laid its contents out on top of the bedspread, explaining a few of them.  

    “What shall I do next?  How would you like to start?” I asked.
   
    “Take off that dress and come talk to me.”

    I pulled my dress over my head and folded it and put it on the bed.  Then I kneeled at his feet.  He didn’t touch me.  He wanted to know how and when I understood that my sexuality was like this.  It wasn’t an interrogation–I think he was honestly curious because he was inexperienced.  I told him about a few of my recollections and experiences.  We must’ve talked for twenty, thirty minutes.  

     Then–I got to do ONE OF THE BEST THINGS EVAH!!! with a random internet stranger!!!

     He told me to take off his shoes.  They were nice shiny dark brown shoes.  Almost black.  I had to untie them and pull the laces loose, and then I held his foot and pulled them off.  I sneaked a glance at the size and brand–it was something Italian, but I didn’t recognize it.  

      Then he said, my socks.

      Then he said, my tie.

      I was gentle with it.  I took it off him, unfurled the knot, and folded it.  I placed it on top of the dresser.

     Then he said, my shirt.

      It was bright white.  I worked at the buttons.  The arms had a nice crease in the fabric.  Fastidious person, this man.  Who was he?  What did he do?   I have always been fascinated with men–their masculine clothing, their masculine rituals.  I don’t always admire them, or even approve of them, but they do fascinate me.  

      “Should I hang it up?” I asked.

      “Fold it.”

      I folded it and put it by the necktie.  I could be wrong, but I think that he appreciated how careful I was with it.  

     “Every morning I walk my Australian Shepard.  He knows how to heel.  He’s a well-trained boy.  Do you know how to do that?”

      Bet your ass! Put the collar on and we did a few laps around the room.  

       Then he smacked me around a little bit.  It was very, very mild.  It was obvious that he had no experience with this sort of violence. I tried to give him the reactions that I thought he wanted, though.  

     At the end, I shimmied into my dress and tossed my things back into my bag.  I’d clean and bleach them at home.  It took five minutes at most.  

      He seemed both happy and slightly worried.  This emotional combination is very common in the Biz.  In their heads, dudes are conflicted.

     I gave him a light hug and invited him to call me if he ever wanted to.  He said that he’d like that.  I have no idea whether I’ll ever see him again or not, though.  

     Happiness in the taxicab back to my apartment.  Relief I’d pulled it off.  Relief that I was safe and sound.  Joy that I got paid so, so much money for an experience I would have been grateful to have for free (I can’t believe I charged so little for such a long time.  Do you know what pro-switches in NYC can charge?  It’s absurd!  ABSURD!). 

     Thrills.  Just like drugs. 

Knocked Out II: The Strange Case of Mel (or, Wait Until Your Father Comes Home)

        Let me start by saying that I like Mel.  He’s a very likable guy. I don’t know him in his outside life, but I bet that he’s a pretty good egg.

        I want to respect his privacy, so I’m changing some of the details about his life to protect him.  

       Mel is a middle aged professional white guy.  He’s smart and in a position of authority at a job that is practical and important for society…kinda like civil engineering.  He must be good at it, because it’s not a job where you can mess up and stay employed–there is no room for mediocrity.  He isn’t particularly handsome, but I’ve always been a little attracted to him, even though he’s really hairy and absurdly masculine.  He has a warm personality, but there’s something hard underneath it.  It’s hard to describe.  Let’s put it this way: he’s never been anything but friendly and generous with me, but I’d hate to be working for this man and mess something up.  And I certainly wouldn’t challenge him.  

       Mel’s a top.  His scenes always involve a domestic role-play scenario and corporal punishment.  

       Heavy corporal punishment.  

       Of the women at the Studio who work as switches or subs, almost none of them can take it–either the pain is intolerable or the bruising is unacceptable.  They session with him once or twice and then decline, despite the fact that he tips very well and aside from, you know, unbearable pain, he’s a great client.  

       Needless to say, little Margo hit it off with Mel right away.  I’ve been seeing Mel a couple times a month for….gosh, a long time now.  The only time I turn him down is when I have a date or plan to see the Surgeon in the immediate future and can’t have marks on my skin.  

        (Interestingly, though, I don’t bruise like the others do, despite the fact that I have such fair skin and he’s hitting me as hard, or harder, and he always does.  Why is that?  Is it because I’m experienced?  Does anyone know?  Some of my friends look like they were hit by a truck after an hour with Mel, whereas my marks are pretty superficial.)  

     The scenario is always the same: I’m his step-daughter or someone he’s responsible for, and I do something bad–lie about something, show up to dinner late, trash the car, whatever.  After my error is exposed and a full confession made, I get a spanking or a strapping–all for my own good, of course.  Then he forgives me and is warm, loving daddy again.  

       Nothing to it!  Some days I don’t feel up to it, but most of the time, I kinda think it’s fun.  It’s a challenge.  

       Except…

       Except some of the other women at the Studio know all about Mel…a few of them, who have been there for a long time, have a history with him.  A few of them saw him regularly, like me, until they couldn’t anymore.  Nobody’s had a run with him as long as I have.  They look at me like I’m crazy.  

       “You’re still seeing him?  Still?” Asked the English one, Betsy, recently.  She used to see Mel regularly a few years ago.

         “Sure.  Why wouldn’t I?  Nice guy.  The money’s great and the pain’s not a huge problem for me.  Why did you stop seeing him?”

          Betsy looked me straight in the eyes:  “He’s a sick, sick man, Margo.  That’s why.”

          Huh…?  I looked at her, honestly confused.  I had no idea what she was talking about. “What do you mean?  Sick?  Him?  Compared to some of the wackadoos that come in here?”

          Another woman with a history of seeing him told me, “I don’t know how you can handle being with him.  It got to the point with me where I’d go home and keep thinking about the things he said.  I had to stop.”

          “What?  Things he said?”  I asked her.  

           “He hasn’t talked with you about his Dad?”

           “Yes, I know about his Dad.  It doesn’t freak me out.”  

           As Mel and I grew more comfortable with each other, we started to talk more.  I expressed curiosity about how he’d come to be interested in the activities we engaged in.  

         Mel’s father was a violent man.  

          This didn’t disturb me–I had no clue why the other girls were creeped out.  Lots of people eroticize traumatic things that happened to them.  Shit, look at me–do you think it’s a coincidence that I ended up with this strange sexuality?  Who am I to judge Mel?  And as I see it, Mel is dealing with this in a respectable, acceptable way.  

        Time goes on, and I learned more and more about Mel’s formative years.  

         Mel’s father was a very violent man.  What Mel does to me is a little tiptoe through the tulips compared to what Mel’s dad did to him.  Bad stuff, gentle reader–just take my word for it.  Today, if a child was beaten that way, CPS would take him out of the home. 

        Mel didn’t look upset when he told me these stories.  He was calm.  Maybe he sounded a little nostalgic, believe it or not.  

       One time, he told me about getting strapped for the awful crime of getting water-soluble marker on the kitchen linolium floor.  Six years old.

        “Well, I’m really sorry that happened to you,” I said.

        Mel shrugged.  “It was a different time, then.  Different era.  People thought differently.” 

         “Yes, I know.  My father got the stuffing knocked out of him too.  But it’s never okay to hit a child.”  

           “Well, I know that he loved me.  He thought that it was for the best.”   Mel tilted his head to the side, considering, and then said the most incredible thing I’ve ever heard come out of a client’s mouth:  “It’s not like it screwed me up or anything.”  

         I almost started laughing–it was clearly a joke.  I waited for him to laugh, but he didn’t.  

         He wasn’t kidding.

         Yeah, that was an instant classic.  I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t want to offend him, but I wanted to ask, Buddy, do you SEE WHERE YOU ARE?  You are compulsive enough to act out the same scenario, over and over again, at the expense of many thousands of dollars, for your entire adult life.  

         That’s when I got my first inkling of what the other women were talking about when they said that something was really, really wrong with Mel.  

         Just an inkling.  It passed very quickly, and I forgot.

        Because Mel isn’t the only person in the room with issues.  Readers of my little blog will know that I have a blind spot for a certain type of dysfunctional man.  For a certain type of dysfunctional man, his dysfunctions fail to frighten or repulse me, the way they do 99% of other people who get a good look at them.  Remember the Attorney?  He was a kook!  A kook!  Didn’t bother me at all.  

           So, this brings us up to the panic attack I had at the Studio the other day.  

           I still don’t know why it happened to me then–why there was such a change in my understanding or perception of Mel and the things we did together.  I honestly have no idea.  Was it because I was tired and stressed out?  Too much weirdness the day before, which sapped my emotional resiliency?  Why’d it hit me?  

         The receptionist came in back and said, “Margo–Mel’s coming in for you.  He’ll be here in thirty minutes.”

         I said okay and stood up to walk to my locker.  I unlocked it.  I looked at the clock.  

        Thirty minutes to get ready.  

        Thirty minutes can be a long time.  Pain distorts one’s conception of time…slows it down.

        Thirty minutes can be a long time to wait.  

        Then I thought, I wonder what it felt like to Mel when he was waiting for his father to come home?  

         Then the empathy hit me–this huge, and very unwelcome, hit of empathy.  Welcome to the haunted house. I understood exactly how Mel must have felt, and let me tell you, it was pretty fucking terrible.  

          The adrenaline was released in my brain, and when that happens, it’s all over.  When you get scared like that, it doesn’t matter if you understand intellectually that you’re not in danger, or if you earnestly want to calm down….there’s nothing you can do but ride it out and wait for the chemicals to stop working.  

         My hands started shaking.  I couldn’t open the buttons on my dress.  The strength went out of my legs.  I tried to stay standing and then gave up.  I sat down on the floor.  

           I looked at the clock.  Twenty-eight minutes to go.  

           I can’t go through with it.  

            I waited until the shuddering stopped.  Then I stood up and told the receptionist that I couldn’t keep the appointment and that I needed to go home.  

             I took some time off.  I feel fine now.  Refreshed.

             My relationship with Mel has run its course.  If he inquires after me again–when he inquires–I’ll just let him know that I’m unable to see him again.  He’ll take it graciously.  He won’t ask for an explanation.  

           A part of me does wonder what he would think, though, if he knew the truth.  Would he be pleased?  Upset?  Would it make him uncomfortable with himself?  I mean, the guy clearly isn’t big on self-reflection–at least, not about this.  If he wanted to change this part of himself, he would have tired to by now.  

         That’s all for this evening–I’m going to a meeting, and then out to the movies.  I’ve written a lot and my carpal tunnel is kicking up.  

         I have happy stuff to write about, too.  Next time!

        You know, I almost didn’t write about Mel, but I’m glad that I did.  It feels good to talk about it.  As it were.  Lol.  

Knocked Out

    Sorry about that.  I had to take a few days off.  Things were getting a little too weird.  I had to knock it off for a little while.  

      I had a panic attack at the Studio.  A minor one, but that’s what it was: a panic attack.  After that, I was like, time out.  

      This is what happened:

       The previous day I’d come to the Studio on my day off to make a five-hour appointment with some guy whom I’d never met before.  He’s usually a night person.  What that means, in this industry, is that he is crazy, because the crazies come out at night, and that includes the Studio women who work the night shift.  I’m not exaggerating.  Half of those bitches who work the night shift are certifiable–at 1 AM, it’s like hazing night in some horror-movie sorority from hell in there, and as I understand it, it’s been especially dysfunctional the last few weeks.  No idea why.  Maybe it’s the holidays.  

      (I don’t get involved in any of the political diva-drama, by the way.  Nope!  I am a nice polite person, and when I’m not making money, I hole up in the back and try to get some writing done, or do my nails and watch a little YouTube.)

       So anyway, I rolled in on my day off for a 5-hour appointment. The guy was fine and everything went well–I made a lot of money–but when it was over I was physically and emotionally exhausted.  Readers might be wondering to themselves, “What do you do in a session in a dungeon for five hours at a time?”  Good question!  

        The answer is: everything.  Yeah, it was a lot of work.  

        I finished and washed up and then went to my locker to change clothes.  There, affixed to the door with a piece of scotch tape, was a nasty passive-aggressive note from the Studio’s notorious resident psycho.  

         I took the high road and threw it in the trash.  I’m not going to be goaded into fighting with this person.  Ugh.  

         At the same time, there was an argument going on in the other lounge.  Someone was flipping out on C.  I’ve written about C. before–I like her a lot, actually, and we’ve always gotten along.  She’s tremendously entertaining to talk to.  But I wouldn’t flip out on her, I wouldn’t get in her face, because anyone with two brain cells to rub together is able to tell that C. is a dangerous person.  She’s volatile and fearless as a teenage boy.  

         Well, I didn’t see it, but it happened: C. shut the other girl up by punching her in the face

         I wish that the person C. punched was the psycho who put the note on my locker.  That would have made my day, which is an awful thing to say, but it’s the truth.  But no, it was someone else.

        I didn’t stick around–I grabbed my wages, deposited them in the bank, dragged myself home, and collapsed on the sofa.  I was fried.  Absolutely fried.  I almost never miss drinking –drinking alcoholically is a goddamned nightmare–but that night, I definitely could have used some Scotch.  In fact, it’s probably a good thing that the liquor stores were closed.  

      C. didn’t get canned, by the way.  I don’t know how you can punch your co-worker in the face on the job and not get fired, but hey.  The ferocious Russian manager operates according to the standards of Russian professionalism, I suppose. 

      Weird dreams that night.  Really weird.  

      So, the next morning I went back in, and I have to tell you, my morale was very low.  I don’t know why, because I’ve seen plenty of crazy stuff happen at the Studio, but that punch was very discouraging.  I mean, what is this, a goddamned prison yard?  Can we please have a work environment where we don’t have to worry about getting punched in the face?  And am I the only one who think that women engaging in this kind of behavior is really trashy? I know that femininity is a tool of oppression in the patriarchy, but for heaven’s sake, is there anything more unattractive than watching women get violent with each other?  It’s bad enough that men do it!  

       Like celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay always screams on his cooking shows: “Standards!  Can we get some standards, people!  What the fuck happened to your standards?”  

         “What happened last night after I left?”  I asked the other girls in the locker area.  Most of the day-shift people are nice non-psycho individuals.  “Did the cops come?”  

        “No.  They gave (woman who got punched) a bag of frozen vegetables to hold over her face and then she went home.”  

        Nice, huh?  She hasn’t been back, either.  Can’t say that I blame her.  

        But Margo, what about the panic attack? I hear you wondering.

        The panic attack came a few hours later, seemingly out of nowhere, when the receptionist came in the back and told me that I had an appointment in half an hour.  

       With…let’s call him Mel.  

       Mel’s a very interesting case.  I’ve spent a lot of time with Mel. I’ve been thinking about writing about him for a long time, actually.  

       I’ll give you the story in the next installment.  

Welcome to the Dark Side

     The Dark Side. Emotional wear and tear.  Let’s talk about that. 

     I’ve tried to write about this before, attacking the subject badly from three or four different angles, but none of the drafts made it to publication because I found them all lacking.  I’m going to try again.

      At my job at the Studio, I have close encounters with the sexuality of complete strangers.  That sexuality is usually, to use a value-neutral description, not normal.  I very seldom meet a man there who wants to have an experience that could easily be done with his wife or girlfriend, or an escort or a stripper.  I’m in the business of not-normal.  Usually I just call it “weird.” 

     Close encounters of the weird kind.

     Weird can be a lot of fun.  It is almost always fascinating to me, which I really like–whatever else it is, this work sure as hell ain’t boring. There’s never a dull day at the office.  

      Know what else weird can be..?

      Fucking nerve-wracking. 

      It is nerve-wracking to walk through that door and come face-to-face with a stranger and the most private aspects of his personality.  I almost never get stage fright anymore, but a faint case of nerves–similar to the anticipation of meeting a blind date for the first time–is very common.  It’s not easy, because let me tell you: you never know what you’re going to get. 

      And not everyone is there to have a good time. 

      Boundaries are crucial to maintain one’s well-being and peace of mind in this work.  This is ironic, because Topping frequently involves the aggressive violation of normal boundaries.  It’s what they hire me for.  In any other context, a many of the things I do–especially the stuff I’m really good at, like violence–would be transparently abusive and even criminal. I don’t think that anyone else in society gets to do this (or has to do it) legally except for law enforcement officers.  

      If one is prone to rumination, as I am, one just might find themselves laying awake at night every now and again, pondering the difference between real violence and fake violence, real abuse and fake abuse.  Because I don’t care what anyone else says–consent is not some magical substance that, when sprinkled liberally upon all participating parties, absolves everyone from personal responsibility and pathology.  I hear this argument a lot.  It’s never impressed me.  Consent can render the obscene and criminal acceptable and permissible.  It does not automatically make an activity wholesome.  That is not a popular opinion, but I believe it is accurate.  

      “Sadomasochism isn’t real.  It’s role-play.”  Well, yes and no.  It’s true that I never hurt anyone who didn’t want to be hurt.  Consent makes it a game, but it doesn’t make it pretend.  It’s largely an act, at least on my end of the dynamic, but that doesn’t mean that it’s make-believe.  We aren’t children playing House. It’s not fake if you really do it. 

       Let’s lighten the mood a bit, and use a humorous example: remember Milton, the guy I gave a swirly?  That was a goofy role-play scenario.  But the fact remains that I gave the dude a swirly.  

        Working as a prodomme (or, sometimes, a prosub) is sort of like being a professional entertainer in some wacky fantasyland hospitality industry.  It’s not like the S&M I practice in my private life with my boyfriends.  At the Studio, I’m a Service Top, meaning that most of the activities I do there are not my idea.  It’s drive-through domination, man–“Hi, Miss Margo!  Nice to meet you!  Can I get you to make copies of these bank statements and threaten to blackmail me with them, and kick me in the nuts, Puh-leeze?  Oh–in red boots.  Do you have red boots?  Thanks!  Can we make this fast?  I have to return some video tapes!” 

       Now, the good thing about this–most of it not being my idea–is that I have little emotional investment in it.  I can easily keep healthy boundaries (although, if you want to do a good job, you have to establish and maintain an emotional connection with the other person.  Nobody wants mechanical.).  

       The bad thing about this is that, well…you never know what you’re going to get. 

       And not everyone is there to have a good time. 

       I’ve only had a handful of truly bad experiences, thank God, and most of them took place when I was just starting out–before I knew how to exert control and protect myself.  Before I knew what some people are capable of.  It really sucks, but in this business, you usually learn lessons the hard way.  

       Only a handful of truly bad experiences…but there have been other times when the weirdness takes a turn for the creepy.  Not bad or dangerous, necessarily, but creepy.  I brought this up at the Studio the other day, and every woman in the room knew exactly what I was describing, even though we’d never talked about it together before.  

       Usually it happens to me when, for whatever reason, I get a huge flash of empathy with someone I suddenly realize is, to put it diplomatically, disordered.   I don’t mean neurotic or eccentric or, shit, even full-on loony-toons here–we’re all at least a little strange, or else we wouldn’t be there, after all.  I mean someone who’s sick, and I realize it and get an idea of what made them that way.  

        It’s a jolt.  A nasty one.  Welcome to the haunted house. 

       It take a little while to decompress from moments like those.  I come home, take a shower, watch a movie, play with Parrot, call a friend.  Normalcy returns.  But I can’t un-see what I saw.  I’ve had lots of different jobs, and this is the only one where I have seen and heard things that I honestly wish I had not.  That’s a fact.  The Awful Truth. 

       Happened to me last week.  Maybe that’s why I’m thinking about it again.  Perhaps I ought to write about it.  Not sure.

My Mother Slew Me, My Father Ate Me

Miss Margo note: I did not write this.  It is the work of Laura Miller, from “A Tone Licked Clean: Fairy Tales and the Roots of Literature.”  Harper’s Dec 2012

This story is perfect.  I can’t stop thinking about it.

                            *                                     *                                   *                              *

There once was a woman who wanted, more than anything else, to have a child. One winter day, while peeling an apple under the juniper tree in her garden, she cut her finger, dripping blood on the snow. Nine months later, she gave birth to a boy with skin as white as snow and lips as red as blood. But she died when the child was born, and in time her husband took a new wife, who bore him a daughter.
The boy’s stepmother hated him, and made his life miserable. One day she offered him an apple from a chest; when the boy leaned inside to take it, she slammed the lid down and the child’s head was struck off. She placed his head back on his neck and sat him in a chair. When the evil woman’s daughter came home, she told the girl to ask her brother for an apple. “And if he doesn’t give you an answer, slap his face.” Of course the boy didn’t answer, and when his sister slapped him, his head flew off.
“Don’t worry, I know how to cover up your crime,” the woman told her daughter, and she chopped up the little boy and cooked the pieces in a stew. That evening, she served the stew to her unwitting husband, who liked it so much he ate the whole thing, tossing the bones under the table.
The sister, full of sorrow, gathered the bones of her brother and placed them at the roots of the juniper tree. A beautiful bird sprang from the branches and sang a ravishing song, with these words:
My mother, she slew me,
My father, he ate me,
My sister buried my bones
Under the juniper tree.
What a fine bird am I!