Reader Mailbag: “How Old Were You When You Knew…?”

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“How old were you when you when you knew you were a ‘sadomasochist’ (to use your very old-fashioned term)?  I can trace a lot of my kinks back to childhood and a lot of kinksters I’ve talked to remember acting it out in games.”
                                                     –Random Internet Stranger

         The word is old-fashioned but accurate, at least for me. 

         I knew that my sexuality was weird years before I became sexually self-actualized and many years before I learned that BDSM was a thing with a name that people did.  I knew that I was weird because I didn’t have the fascination with normal sexy crap that most people think is arousing.  I wasn’t interested in nudity, I didn’t compare myself to the grown women in Playboy like most of the girl I knew, and the sexy scene in the mystery and thriller-suspense books I was sneaking out of the library didn’t do much for me.  Nor do I recall being attracted to any of my male peers.  I didn’t fantasize about sex much at all.

         What I did fantasize about was violence and interactions with imaginary men who were some sort of awful deplorable authority figures.  The fantasies were seldom sexually explicit, but they were very exciting to me and they are not radically dissimilar to the fantasies I have today.  I’m just more experienced and desensitized now, and I no longer have the embarrassment for my needs that I once felt.  I guess most girls were paging through romance novels trying to get to the sexy parts, but I was sneaking out detective/police novels because they were invariably full of violence and men acting like dickheads.  The interesting thing is that I’m a fairly sensitive person and I find violence politically repulsive and I am not exactly a big fan of the patriarchy.  But nobody can help who or what they are sexually attracted to.  I do believe that.

            I spent most of my childhood being afraid of my exploitive and very controlling father, who is (was?) a strange and awful person.  I can think of a few good things about him, but not many.  He’d do some really weird things that I still do not understand, and I also think that he came close to killing me a few times.  I also got a Teutonic cultural heritage and years of formal Catholic education.  Roman Catholicism is the perfect religion for any proud, upstanding sadomasochist.  The history is full of the most appalling, violent shit you can imagine and the art is both sensual and gruesome.  

Bernini The Ecstasy of St. Teresa c. 1652

Execution victim hanging on the wall.

      Then you get a mindfuck when the clergy turns around and tells you that it’s really all about love.  What it’s really about, of course, is power and politics, which, as fortune would have it, became the focus of much of my academic attention. 

       I moved out when I was 19 and secured my first Top within months.  I was doing eroticized violence before I had intercourse, which really says something.  

        I lucked out: he was good.  I met him on the internet, of course, the same way I meet most of these guys.  Yahoo! personals, back when it was still popular and free.  His name was Gregg.  He was married, late 30s, and he had a job coordinating the sale of parts for corporate jet airplanes.  I thought he was very handsome, in an austere, hard sort of way.  He looked a lot like Lance Armstrong.  He was very friendly, except when he wasn’t, and he always respected my boundaries and didn’t try to have sex with me.  I never saw the man naked.  Now that I have over a decade of experience with scores of various male sadists, I can tell you that Gregg was worth his weight in gold.  

          He had a good deal with me.  He’s swing by my apartment once a week (his sports car looked very weird parked in front of my dilapidated building) for a progress report and a beating.  I’d get the hand if I was doing well and the belt if I wasn’t.  His aim was true and he knew what he was doing.   

          (And, in case you’re wondering, his wife knew what he was doing with me.  I met her several times and even ate dinner with them.  She was a knockout and I actually found her a little attractive, which almost never happens to me with women.  I’m pretty sure that she had some sort of open relationship agreement with Gregg, but I never asked because it didn’t seem like it was my business.)  

          I saw Gregg for about six months.  Then he received a promotion and moved to San Diego.   I got a boyfriend and we lost touch, though I did keep sending him Christmas cards for a few years.

          Good memories, though.  My grades were excellent that year, too. 

Heinrich Throws a Going-Away Party (II)

Heinrich is a great Top.   He’s creative and he has a rare knack for cruelty and intimidation.  When he turns on, he’s serious as a heart attack—you’d think the guy was a prison warden instead of a book collector and art geek.  He never flinches.  He is not swayed by screams, and he is not swayed by pleas.  Heinrich has the courage of his convictions. 
          
  I’ve been his friend and apprentice and worked with him for years, and I still don’t understand him.  In many ways, he is a very private person.  He is the rare sort of man who can have real, meaningful platonic friendships with women.  He also identifies strongly with other men and bonds with them through mutual sexual interest in a woman.  It really gets him off, for reasons that I do not entirely understand—there’s no homoerotic undertone that I can discern.
          
When I left the Studio at the end of the day shift, I knew that there might be more than one man waiting in Heinrich’s apartment.  The anticipation was making me sweat and shiver.  I was hoping that he would be in a good mood—Germany was playing Argentina in the World Cup. 
          
  I took the train to Brooklyn.  En route, I received a text message from Heinrich telling me to walk into his apartment when I arrived—he left the door unlocked.
            
Anticipation.  Feels so good.  Sometimes I think that I’d walk into hell to know what it really feels like.  In 48 hours, I was cutting myself off at the knees—leaving New York and moving back to my hick home town, on purpose.  To get away from exactly what I was indulging in.
          
  I announced myself to the doorman—“I’m here to see Mr. Romer”—and he let me through.
          
  Sure enough, when I tried the knob on his door, it slipped easily in my hand.  I still gave the door a tentative knock before I let myself in.
            “Hello…?” I closed the door behind me and tip-tapped cautiously through the hallway and into the living room.
            
“Here!  We are in the office!” Heinrich shouted, and I made my way towards it. 
            
Brahms on the stereo.  Not Bach.  And over it, two voices—Heinrich and another man.  I recognized the language as German, and I did not understand.  I know words and some phrases, and I can read a little of it, but I don’t understand when they talk fast.
           
I entered the office and stopped just inside the doorway.  His office is small-ish, looks like a converted bedroom.  Heinrich and his friend were seated across from each other over a small table. 
        
    They stopped their conversation and stared at me.  Neither one greeted me, or stood up, or formally acknowledged my presence.
           
I was on fire, just like that.
            Heinrich was dressed in grey trousers and an off-white button-up (I don’t think I’ve ever seen the man wearing a shirt that didn’t have buttons).  The other man was wearing a suit, a dark blue pinstriped suit.  Looked like he was coming from work, but it was Sunday.  He seemed about ten years older than Heinrich, and his light brown hair was parted on one side and combed severely back, giving his head the round, sleek look of an otter.  He had glasses with gold wire rims.  Little bit handsome, in a bland sort of way.   
          
  Heinrich said: “Please bring us the wine.  It is on ice in the kitchen.”

        
    The servant.  

Adventures in Unemployment: The Temp Agency

      Today I applied for work at a temp agency. 

      The process was surprisingly intensive.  I had to submit my resume and then fill out a pages-long application and then sit for an interview.  They gave me a series of tests to make sure that the little hamster upstairs was running in its wheel okay–simple math problems, a reading comprehension test.  They timed my typing speed (75+ wpm, arguably the most useful thing I learned in High School).  They gave me a page of text and I had to spot all of the typos and spelling errors.

        “Have you ever been convicted or plead guilty to a felony?” asked my case manager. 

       “No,” I said.

       “Nothing?  Don’t lie!” she said, as if I had tried to do this.

       “Nope, nothing.”  It’s true.  

       We went over my work history.  She did not ask me how I managed to live on the wages I’d written down for my teaching and tutoring jobs, but she did ask a few other awkward questions: 

         “What did you like best about teaching, Margo?”

          Wasn’t expecting that.  What a weird question.  I thought about it for a minute, and then I told her the truth, like a moron:  “I like lecturing to my captive audience about stuff that is important to me.  I also like the freedom to work how I want without a lot of direct supervision.  I could have taught in a gorilla suit at my last college, and administration wouldn’t care as long as I turned in the grades.”

         Her brow furrowed and she tapped her pen on the table.

         “Uhhh, I don’t think that I ought to write that one down in your file.  Can you think of anything else?”

           “I enjoy cultivating my students’ intellectual development and I like helping them succeed and graduate.”

           That one made it onto my file. 

           “What are you hoping to get?” she asked me.

           “Huh?”

           “Your wage.”

           “What I’m hoping to get?”  

           She gave a small shrug and had the decency to look embarrassed.  “It’s what we have to ask all applicants.”

           I think that “What are you hoping to get?” ought to go up there with “disconnected worker” on the list of disingenuous corporate lingo related to unemployment.   I’m hoping to get $30/hour–hell, why not make it $40?–and an office with a view, or a book contract, and a bunch of hot male co-workers, how about that?  A health plan with vision and dental.  I’m hoping for fresh floral arrangements all over the office.  I’m hoping I can bring my parrot to work.  Boy, a girl could hope all day. 



            What she was really asking me was: What is the minimum you are willing to work for?  I wish she would’ve, or could’ve, just said it that way.  I could respect that.  It’s an honest question.

          Big sigh.

          “I think with my credentials and KSA I’m worth at least $20 to start, but beggars can’t be choosers and I don’t expect that here.”  I did the math in my head.  I’d done it before, many times, but I did it again, and I quoted her the minimum living wage for this area: $12.  

        Then I had to watch a video about safety protocol in warehouses, in the off chance that I get a shift in a warehouse.  The guy on the video said that workers themselves were responsible for the vast majority of workplace injuries.  He told us to always use PPE (personal protection equipment).  He told us not to stand on chairs to reach things.  Always lift with the legs and not the back.  I took notes because there was a quiz at the end of the video.   The blonde, pony-tailed guy next to me doodled lightening bolts. 

         I had to take a drug test, but that didn’t bother me.  What did bother me was that they actually checked out my references.   I wasn’t expecting that, and it was a bit nerve-wracking because two of them were fake.  I’m sorry (well, actually, I’m not), but there was no way that I was going to let an employment agency  call up my old boss or my best references in New York and inquire about me.  I’d die of embarrassment.  So I had my brother lie for me and pretend to be a guy who hired me to teach his son the ACT.  

         I went to an AA meeting and then came home and waited for the phone to ring.  Being unemployed involves a lot of waiting. 

         I’m going to be alone for the next few days.  I’ve decided that I can’t risk bringing a client to my mother’s home–too dangerous, and too disrespectful to her property.  If I was hosting a guest and found out that she was inviting random internet strangers to my house for sessions, I think my guest and I would be parting ways.

         That still leaves the possibility of doing outcalls.   If I screened them, really, what would be the harm?   I’ve done it a million times.  Except for the crippling anxiety and social alienation, there’s nothing to it.  

          I don’t know what the right thing to do is.        

Jewelry Box

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     It’s past midnight and I can’t sleep.  I’m also too tired to write anything substantial. 

     I went through my jewelry today, which I haven’t done in a few years.  I made an inventory, cleaned all the good stuff, polished the silver, and gave away the pieces I do not or will not wear.  

      These are some of the things from my jewelry box:

      Buffalo nickles that I’ve had since I was a child.  I don’t care about coins, but I like these:

Buffalo Nickles

         This lovely silver spoon was inexplicably given to me as I was leaving his apartment by my former client, Mr. Crush, aka Sad Divorced Dad, our favorite follower of postmodern poetry and fan of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (you can read about Mr. Crush here1, here2, and here3).  Probably the most lonely and emotionally needy client I had in the last year.  Three sessions was all I could handle.  Too bad, because he has a very prestigious job in publishing and he repeatedly offered his assistance.  Alas, it came with too many strings.  Fucking him and being a fun date once a week would have been fine, but the guy was a hurt, needy black hole with boundaries issues. 

          He gave me the spoon on a whim, for no apparent reason.   I was standing at the door with my gear bag over my shoulder when he ran into his kitchen and came out with the spoon.  He said it was family silverware.  It has his initials on the back of the handle.

         “Uh, are you sure you want to break up a set?” I asked, confused.

         He cocked his head to the side: “Well, it’s not the only set, of course.”

          Okay, well.  

          I kept it because it’s pretty, but I don’t know what to do with it.  I guess I could eat with it, but it seems too fancy to eat with.

Mr. Crush’s spoon
        
          My best pair of earrings.  The photo doesn’t do em justice.  The sapphires are a carat each.  I have the opportunity to wear them maybe three times a year.  I almost sold them for cash when I was in danger of losing my lease two summers ago (the summer where I ended up in the strip club, remember that?), but jewelry has very low resell value, so I kept them, and I’m glad that I did.

          Last time I wore them was when Fortinbras took me to Lincoln Center.  I expect that they’ll be sitting in my jewelry box for a very, very long spell. 

Sapphire Earrings
       I got these in Telluride, Colorado.  Love the mountains.  These are very small, so I can wear them with everything.

Telluride Earrings
      
         Detail of the bracelet the Surgeon gave me.   The more visible and conventional partner of the tattoo he put on my ass. The clasp was soldered and I had to go to a goldmith repair place to get it cut off my wrist.  I wore this thing for years.  

Don’t Forget
        This is a picture of the nice black kitty cat who lived in the Deli across the street from my East Village apartment.  His name is Timmy.   Timmy always napped by the newspaper rack, or even on top of the papers.  

 

I miss Timmy.


      This is the money I made on my last shift at the Studio.  I went out with a bang. 

Take it and run.

No Rest for the Wicked

     UPDATE: I have added a (mostly) facetious POLL to the sidebar over there.  

                         *                           *                      *        

      My mother discovered that the salsa is missing.

       Yes, that salsa.  The salsa that I returned to the store to get money so that I could buy body lotion. 

        I was hoping that it would go missing completely unnoticed.  I would never notice a jar of salsa was gone from my cupboard, unless I’d literally just bought it hours before.  A clever thief could probably steal half the things in my apartment (what apartment, ha ha?) and I wouldn’t notice they were gone for ages.  I don’t pay attention to that sort of thing.

        My mother does pay attention to that sort of thing. 

        “Margo, have you seen the new jar of salsa?” she screamed from the kitchen.

        “The what?”  I kept typing on my laptop and didn’t look up, pretending that I had no idea what she was talking about.

         “I bought a fresh jar of salsa at the grocery store last time!  Have you seen it?  Did you eat it?”

          “Nope, sorry.  I haven’t eaten salsa in a long time.  I don’t know where it is.”

           “Well, dammit, it’s got to be here somewhere.”

           Then she started to take everything out of the cupboard.  She was determined to find it.  I felt guilty. 

            “Mom, don’t worry about it.  I’m sure that the checker at the grocery store just forgot to put it in the bag.  That happens sometimes,” I said, throwing the poor innocent bagger (who, unlike me, is employed) under the bus.  

             “I guess that’s what must have happened,” she said, but she didn’t stop looking.

            I left the kitchen, feeling guilty.  Oh, that jar of Pace Picante Mild (my mother has shit taste in salsa), it was coming back to haunt me.  

             “Are you sure you didn’t eat it?” she wailed.   

            “Positive,” I said.  Not a lie this time.

            When she was finally done putting the stuff back into the cupboard, she went to the receipt bag, where she keeps all the receipts.  I watched her go with growing foreboding. 

           “I can’t even find the receipt to check and see if they charged me for it or not! I must have thrown it out!  But when did I throw it out?”

            “Dunno.  Mom, do you want me to go to the store and buy a new can of salsa?”

            “Never mind!  I just won’t have salsa tonight, I guess.  I’ll make something else.”

             It was finally over…the but Incident of the Disappearing Salsa will be repeating itself soon…several times.  Because I also returned a jar of peanut butter, a jar of 1-a-Day vitamins, and a 2-liter bottle of Coke.  All of these items had multiples in the pantry (except for the salsa), which is why your pathetic, impoverished correspondent chose to TAKE THEM TO THE STORE AND RETURN THEM FOR CASH.  It was less than $15 all told.

           I will see this same scenario play out again the next time Mom realizes that something is missing.  What do I do?  I can cop to it, so that she doesn’t drive herself crazy looking for the item, but that is going to raise unpleasant questions, such as: why did you lie the first time? And, much more significant: Why didn’t you just ask me for $15?

           Late at night, feeling both sad and anxious, I fell back on what I knew.  

           I had a little relapse.

           I logged on to the local Craigslist and started hunting the Casual Encounters and Men Seeking Women and Misc Romance ads.  All the personals ad, basically.

          Keywords: fetish, shoe, feet, generous, domme, trampling. 

          I dislike foot fetish sessions because I’m ticklish on my feet and I don’t like the feel of a stranger’s mouth there, but I’ve done a million of them.  Aside from the unpleasant physical sensation, they don’t bother me at all.  I have no emotional reaction about them one way or the other.  

         Which would make doing another one safe, I told myself.  It wouldn’t be a relapse.  It would be more like a slip

         Sure enough, I found a guy named Stanley who wanted to worship a woman’s shoes (in NYC there would be a dozen of these ads, but here, there was only one.  And it was a BAD ad.  No useful information at all.  My response was a total Hail Mary). 

          I responded with a bullshit story, saying that I was cleaning out my closet and was going to sell my shoes on the internet.  

           Have u done this be4?  Stanley asked.  I recalled that his ad had stipulated “NO PROS!” (pro what?  Professional shoe sellers?  Pro dommes?  What the fuck?)

           I took a calculated risk and said Nope, never done this before with a stranger, but my boyfriend liked to play with my shoes, so I have heard of things like this.

          The next morning, I put on a pair of well-used ballet flats and rode my bike over the Stanley’s sad little apartment (“You better not flake on me, Stanley, it’s 90* outside,” I wrote).  My first home-town outcall, Ladies and Gentlemen!  

           Stanley looked like a sad little weird white guy.  Just a weird old guy, you know, the type that sits in the park all day.  But his clothes were clean and he seemed nice.

           I leaned against the wall by the inside of the door and lifted my right foot.  He got down on the floor and took my shoe off. Then he took off the other one.  Then he huffed them a few times and lay down on his back on the linoleum floor and put the shoes over his face.  He seemed to forget about me entirely.

           I watched for a few minutes and them leaned over the tapped him on the shoulder.  He sat up, reached into his front pocket, and paid me $45, the agreed-upon amount (hey, I was desperate…and for a 10-minute session, that’s not too bad…though that’s not counting in the time it took me to bike there).  Over email, Stanley had told me that $45 was all he could spend.  Looking at his apartment, I believed him.

           I got back on my bike and took a pair of flip-flops out of the basket and put them on my feet.  Then I rode to the grocery store and bought replacement items for the things that I took.  Tomorrow, when she goes out to walk the dog, I’ll put them in the kitchen (right now, they’re hidden in my bedroom).

            I have enough money left over to put an ad on Backpage.  Backpage isn’t as good as Eros (though, to be fair, I’ve met some of my best clients on Backpage, including Fortinbras and Mr. Wolf), but it’s cheap, and I get work on it.  My mother’s going to be away this weekend and early next week. The market for professional BDSM here is very small, but I could still work.  Even three or four sessions would give me enough money to tide me over for a while so that I didn’t have to resort to returning groceries for money. 

            Margo, you cannot have CLIENT WACKADOODLES come to your mother’s house, my mind screams.  What if they BEAT YOU UP AND ROBBED HER?  What will you do FOR SECURITY?
         
         I’ll tell them that I’m not alone in the house and the other girls I work with are in the spare bedrooms.  The guys will believe me.  I’ll put on the spare TV.  The men are always nervous, anyway.  I can invite company over!  How is this any different? (except that I know exactly how it’s different)

           What about the DOG?  Are you going to do BDSM in front of the DOG?  And your High School PORTRAITS? 

            Yeah, that’s kind of gross.  Little bit gross. Yeah.

            You could do OUTCALLS!  

            And what?  Ride your bike to a wackadoodle’s house?  Take Mom’s car and get a ticket for driving without a license?

            I don’t know what to do.  I don’t want to do it, but I feel like I ought to be doing SOMETHING.  Hunting for fetish guys on Craigslist felt a little sleazy and guilty, but I also felt productive, and back on stable ground.  It was familiar.  I feel terrible not working and I need to make some money.  I don’t need to go shopping or buy anything big, but I’d like to be able to stream a movie on Amazon or buy a new e-book to read at night, you know?  I’m trying to get a library card, but I need a state ID for that, and my ID is New York.

             Don’t know.  Not sure.

             I have the rest of the week.  Maybe someone will call me about a job.  If I get a job offer, I’ll stay put.  Promise. 

             P.S.  If you want to buy some shoes please let me know and I will ship them to you overnight.

Life Still Sucks

      It’s Sunday night, and life still sucks. 

      I cannot handle being unemployed another week.  I’m bored, flat broke, and I feel like a failure as an adult.  Today I returned a jar of pickles and a some paper towels to the grocery store (don’t tell mom) so that I could get enough money to buy some moisturizing lotion for my skin.  The climate is hot and dry here, which is nice, but it’s hard on my skin and I’m worried that I’m going to actually get a job interview and show up looking like a mummy.

       I found five new public service jobs in the newspaper, so that’s going to be my day tomorrow.  I also need to ride my bike down to the welfare office and check on my Medicaid application.  I feel bad about that.  I knew that moving back here was going to be a challenge, but I thought I’d find something to do for work within a month! 

      I keep having to call the people in New York that I’m using for references/writing me letters of recommendation–they are mostly former professors or employers.  Let me tell you something: I’m not proud, but it still doesn’t feel too good to be asking a tenured professor at Columbia who once paid me the respect of presenting our research at a conference in Washington D.C. if he can write me a letter of recommendation for a position as a legislative secretary out here in the sticks.  

       “Of course I’ll do it.  I’ll do it this weekend.  Who do I made it out to again?  What’s the address?”

        I told him.

        “Oh, Margo….” he said.  He sounded sad.  

         I wanted to throw the phone. Instead, I said: “Times is tough, Doctor, times is tough.  Tough for everyone.  I walked dogs in New York.”

         And paddled about a million old guys just like you.  And walked on them wearing stilettos.  And let them play with my feet.  And zapped them with a canine anti-bark collar.  And—

         My mother and I had a bad day today.  I almost don’t want to write about this, because I’m really trying to respect her and her privacy.  I feel sleazy sharing our dirty laundry.  I’m happy to throw my father under the bus, because he’s an awful person that nobody should feel sorry for.  My mother, though….I mean, I’m living in her house, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful or disloyal. 

          She pulled some really weird shit today, though.  Some really weird, judgmental shit, and it’s gotten under my skin and hurt my feelings and I don’t know what to do about it.  

          She had errands to run, so I asked her if she would drop me off at a nearby AA meeting on the way.  I walk or ride my bike places as much as possible so as not to inconvenience her, but it was 100* today, and that is too hot to be out in the sun, even with sunscreen on (I wear sunscreen every day, btw.  Everyone should do it, especially women, because it keeps the skin looking young.  Even my makeup has sunscreen).

         Well, she dropped me off, and I could see her checking out a few of the guys standing outside.  They were young guys and they looked a little rough, because they do manual labor, but I’ve talked to them before a few times, and they’ve always been friendly and polite to me.  One of them waved when we pulled up.

         Mom got a little tense.  I felt it.  I also could have sworn that I felt something else: she was embarrassed to be there.  

          Yup, definitely embarrassment and disapproval.  I guess having a child who is an alcoholic isn’t quite the same as having one who wins Gold in the Olympics, but, for fuck’s sake, I never drank in her house or around her and it’s not like I sold the TV set for booze or brought a drunkard boyfriend home.  Nor is it like I’m the only junkie in the family.  At least I’m trying to do something about it. 

         So, I go to the meeting.  It was nice and cool inside and I liked the people there okay, but  had to sit out the conversation because it was about spirituality in recovery, and I know this crowd because I grew up in this culture: The minute I drop the “A” bomb (atheist), I am going to alienate or offend half the group.   Some of the more well-intensioned ones will start bringing me Chick Tracts or invitations to church picnics.  I need to stay friendly with these people.  

         Mom picked me up after the meeting.  She’d run her errands and then taken her dog on a walk at the park across the street.

         She seemed weird.  She had the weird voice, the “We need to talk about something very important” voice.  This is usually the voice she has just before she lays down some sort of reproach.

          Uh-oh, I thought. 

          She drove over to the park.

          “I want you to pay very close attention to the woman standing under the tree,” she said.

           There was a sunburned blonde woman standing under the tree.  She was talking to herself and seemed upset.  There was nobody else around.  She did not look good.  She didn’t look like one of the hardcore homeless–I didn’t see any bags of property or cans, and her clothes looked sort of clean.  But she did look mentally unwell, and her mannerisms were not normal.  She was not talking to someone on a bluetooth.  I tried to listen to what she was saying, and I couldn’t make it out, but she sounded distressed.

         I watched her for a minute, waiting for Mom to say something, because I could not, for the life of me, figure out why Mom was showing me this woman.   This isn’t NYC, but it’s not a tiny little town, either.  We have homeless and mentally ill on the street here.  It’s a part of living in any community of size. 

          “Huh,” I said.  “Well, that’s sad.  It’s too bad.”  I didn’t know what else to say.

          “If you don’t quit drinking, that’s going to be you one day!  That woman is clearly an alcoholic.  I watched her while I walked the dog.  She’s been talking to herself the entire time.  That is what will become of you.”

          Well, well, well.  Where to begin unpacking this?

         I sighed.  “Actually, Mom, I’m not a psychiatrist–and neither are you–but to me, it looks like she’s mentally ill, maybe a schizophrenic suffering from hallucinations, and I don’t see her drinking anything, and, if anything, we ought to leave or call her an ambulance instead of using her unfortunate condition as some sort of morality-play figure to teach me a lesson.”

          I don’t get it.  For the life of me, I have no idea what was going on in her head for her to do and say something like that to me.  I found it troubling and rather harsh on her part, not to mention WEIRD, and I wanted to tell her that I’d kill myself before I was reduced to homelessness and frying on the lawn in this shithole town, but that could be construed as emotionally manipulative of me, not to mention sort of unfair to that poor homeless lady.

        I don’t know.  Weird.  In fact, I think it was mean.  Why would she be mean?  I pick up after myself and don’t ask her for anything.  I’m not exploiting her hospitality.  I am eating her food, but I don’t eat that much.  And if she didn’t want me here, she could have told me not to come, or ask me to leave…but she’s been nagging me to move back ever since I left for New York years ago.  

        Confused.  Maybe she’ll be better tomorrow.  She can be moody.

       But I can tell you this much: from now on, I’ll bike to the AA meetings, or get a ride from someone else.  

My Story of Teenaged Sexual Horror

      I ran into my highschool boyfriend at the grocery store.  I could barely recognize him.  He had a very distinctive look to him, a look that you come across all too often in this part of the country:

         He looked like a tweaker.  Meth zombies all look the same.  

         Not to be too judgmental, as I’m a fine, upstanding alcoholic and a serial relapser who has definitely fucked up my adulthood, but crystal meth is the worst drug on the planet and the only one that I consider too terrifying to even consider using.  I’ve seen a lot of it around my home town.  The damage that it causes to families is incalculable.  It’s a hideous drug and tweakers are hideous people. Give me a crackhead or a heroin junkie any day of the week.  

        It’s too bad about Scott, because he was really a handsome man.  Looked a lot like a very young Tom Cruise.   Beautiful smile.  I mean, he could have sold toothpaste on TV.

         Scott was my first boyfriend.  We started dating when I was 17 and he was 19.  We worked together at a fast food restaurant.  His family were Mormons.  They were always nice to me, but there’s something I’ve noticed about Mormons: you can be friends with them, and they’ll take you into their home and eat dinner with you, but unless you’re a member of their faith, they become impenetrable at a certain point.  

           Scott did not like Mormonism, but he had to go to church because his Dad was a Bishop.  

          I wish that every young woman could have a formative relationship like the one I had with Scott.   A lot of teen girls really get taken advantage of by dickheads in high school because the guys run the show and the girls don’t yet realize that females are the ones with all the sexual power.   I hate jockish teenage meathead boys.  Little do they know that their days of enjoying unreciprocated oral sex are numbered and by the time they’re 25 they’ll be jumping hurdles and spending tons of cash in order to even get a chance at a blowjob.  

         But I digress…

        Why would I want my daughter to have an initial relationship like the one that I had with Scott…?  

          I’ll tell you why: I fucking controlled it.  

          He was my guinea pig boyfriend.   Two years in a relationship, and I refused to have sex with him.  A few years later–say, college age–and a guy would stop dating a girl if she didn’t sleep with him after, I dunno, a month at most?  But, Scott was a virgin, too, and didn’t know what he was doing.  

          Readers might wonder why an enthusiastic and unrepentant slut like myself refused to give up the cookie.  After all, I’ve had sex with lots of ugly, inappropriate men just because I felt like it.  Scott was a sweet, handsome fella who actually treated me pretty well.

         You see, it was the principle of the thing: Scott was the last one of his guy friends who was still a virgin, and they teased him about it constantly.   He felt very self-conscious about it.

          Even as a teenager, I was totally unsentimental about sex, but tell you what: I wasn’t going to put out just so that his friends would get off his back.  I didn’t have great expectations for my first time, but I did want it to be at least a little more significant, in the guy’s eyes, than a vehicle to end his childhood.  

          So, I dug my heels in, and that was that.

          Don’t feel too badly for the guy.  We fooled around a lot.   He got a lot of orgasms out of the deal, which is more than I got (I couldn’t come until I was 20).  What I got was experience, familiarity with the male body, and a lot of self-confidence. 

           Teenage dating is so ridiculous.  It’s a wonder that anyone survives it.  We’d do stuff like get fast Chinese food and park at…well, a park, and then make out in the back seat.   Having sexytimes in an automobile is so lame.  I’ve done my share of it–the Surgeon, in particular, found it exciting for some reason–but I don’t care if I never do it again.  A limousine is somewhat acceptable because at least you can move around and fantasize that you’re in a hip-hop music video (you wouldn’t believe how much head I’ve given in idling limos outside of Lincoln Center), but the drivers always make me self-conscious.  

         Anyway, let me wrap up this meandering blog post with a blast from the past: a tale of Teenage Sexual Horror.   This is the tale I always tell at cringe festivals, where you’re sitting around with friends and sharing stories about something humiliating or cringe-worthy that happened to you (it’s a terrific, and usually hilarious, bonding experience).  

          Scott and I were fooling around in the backseat of his father’s Ford Taurus.  It was late autumn and very dark outside.  We were parked at a park we often went to because it was isolated and sometimes on the weekends there’d be drag races on a street nearby.  

           There was a lot of groping involved.  My pants were down around my knees.  My shirt and bra were pushed up. The windows were fogged up and fortune-cookie wrappers littered the front seat.  A little grunge rock on the stereo.  Probably Pearl Jam.  

           Above me, Scott froze.  He stopped kissing me (sort of a relief.  I hate to be disloyal, but the guy was a terrible kisser.  It felt like he was trying to eat my head.  I thought that I hated kissing because I had no basis of comparison).  

           “Uh, Margo…?  Are you okay?”

           “Huh?  What?” I asked, confused.   

            He reached up and turned on the overhead light.

            And screamed.

           There. Was. Blood. Everywhere.   I mean, it looked like a fucking scene from a horror movie or CSI.   Blood all over his hands.   Blood on my hands.  Blood on my jeans.   Blood on the seat beneath me.  There was a big bloody handprint on the back of the driver’s seat.  

           It wasn’t my period.  I’d broken my hymen.  Or he had, with his hand (the only good thing about this story: I’d been worried that it would hurt when it finally happened, but I didn’t even feel it rupture).  

           Blood.  

           All over the dove-gray fabric of his father’s car.  His father, the conservative Mormon Bishop. 

          Scott looked like he was being electrocuted.  The expression on his face was memorable.  To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man look so scared.  

          I have to say: I’m really proud of how I handled the situation.

          I reached into the front seat and grabbed some napkins left over from our meal.  I shoved them between my thighs and pulled my underwear up, and then my pants.  Then I told Scott to go to the restroom in the park to wash his hands. I needed to get him out of the car so that I could assess the damage. 

           He went, and then I got up and stood outside of the car so that I could see how bad it really was.

             It was bad.  I’d had no idea that a ruptured hymen could bleed that much.  I was amazed that I hadn’t felt it happen, because the amount of blood spilled looked like it could have come from a stab wound.

          Scott came back with clean hands.  There was blood on his shirt, which he’d tried to rinse out.

           “My parents are going to kill me.  It might be better to just burn the car,” he said.

            “It will be okay.  We need to act fast, though, before the blood dries.  We need cold water, soap, and towels.”

             I went to the bathroom to wash my hands.  Then we drove to WalMart and bought gallons of bottled water and rags and detergent.  We scrubbed the upholstery for an hour, over and over again.  The stain was resilient.  People stared at us as they walked by.  We looked like criminals getting rid of evidence.  We felt like criminals.  

             “If worst comes to worst, I’ll say that I got my period,” I said.

              “But in the back seat?  Why would you be riding in the back seat?”

               “Well, maybe we should spill something red back there, like a cherry slurpee.  I’ll take responsibility for it and offer to pay to have it professionally cleaned.”

               We got out most of the stains.  It took a long time, because we kept finding blood in new places.  Then we sat in the car with the heater on full-blast to dry the fabric.  

                He dropped me off at my house and went home to meet his face.  Poor Scott.  He looked taumatized.  I probably did, too, and I had to sneak past my mother wearing bloody jeans.

             The next morning–Sunday morning–I called Scott every twenty minutes to see if his family had spotted any stains in the back seat.  

             Nobody noticed, and nobody said anything.  We pulled it off.

             I’ve had my share of awkward sexual moments, but I don’t think that anything compares to that.  It’s sort of funny in retrospect, but at the time it was terrifying. 

             I dated Scott for another year.  We went to prom.  Prom was okay.  We went to Ichiban for dinner.  When I was 17, I thought Ichiban was the fanciest place in the world. 

             That’s the story.  I haven’t thought of Scott in years, until I ran into him at the grocery store.  

         

Heinrich Throws a Going-Away Party (I)

      The day after I gave notice at the Studio, I contacted my friend Heinrich and told him that I was leaving town. 

      “You are moving?  Why?  You do not like it there!”  I could hear his voice echoing a bit over the phone.  It sounded like he was in his kitchen.  His kitchen has tiles and weird acoustics.  Not like his living room, which is soundproofed (I’ve never seen a private home that was as tricked out for BDSM as Heinrich’s place.  I mean, it should be covered by Home & Garden‘s annual perv issue or used as a marketing point if he ever decides to sell the place.  It’s faultlessly executed–everything either blends in with the decor or is hidden from view.  For instance, the curtain rods are heavy metal and sunk deep into the beams behind the wall…perfect to use as bondage anchor points.  One of his coffee tables is screwed securely to the floor. The most conspicuous thing is the O-ring on the ceiling.  Unlike the ugly one in my apartment, his collapses flat against the ceiling so it doesn’t hang down when not in use.  If anyone inquires about it, he says he uses it to suspend a punching bag.  For training.  He says this with a straight face.  Quite a little inside joke, that).  

       “I’m overworked  and the Studio isn’t good for me.  I can’t handle it anymore!  I need to at least take a break and get some perspective!  It’ll be like pouring all the booze down the sink and moving thousands of miles away from the nearest liquor store.”  

       “Is it because your lease almost finished?  I thought you had found a place to sublet for two months.  Have you house difficulty?  Do you need a place to stay?”

          We talked for a while longer.  I explained that no, I had to go.

          “There is one thing that you can do for me that I would really appreciate,” I said.

          “Yes?  I will help if I can.”

          “I want us to have a going-away dinner and I want to get on the airplane with something to remember you by.  One last fix, for Lord knows how long.  There’s nobody like you where I’m going.  You are the only one here I know and trust to do this for me.”

           He barked laughter into the phone.  Heinrich’s mannerisms are fairly understated, unless you pay special attention to how he carries the tension in his body and his face.  You’d think his laughter would be understated, as well, but the sound of the laugh is either a smiling chortle he’s trying to repress, or a big bark.  It’s startling and sounds almost like a cough. 

     “Oh, Margo,” he laughed, “I knew that it would not be a lift to the airport.”  

        “I know it’s short notice.  I didn’t expect everything to happen so quickly.”  

         Long pause.  Then: “Shall we arrange for Sunday evening after the game?  That will give time for planning.  I will call you soon.  My place, this is okay with you?”

        “Of course.  I love your apartment.” 

        “Any special requests?  What experience do you want to have?”

        “You know what I like.  Surprise me.”

        “Miss Adler, that is a very dangerous thing to tell a sadist such as myself.  You should be more careful.”  The tone of his voice was joking rebuke.

         “You’re not dangerous.  You’re safe.  That’s why I trust you.”

         “Oh dear.  I think you trust me too much, then.   We will have to talk about this.  We will have to talk about this very much.”  No joke at all in his voice this time.

         In the interest of full disclosure, I will confess that when I heard him say that, I started to get turned on.  My heartbeat sped up.  But…I couldn’t help but egg him on a little bit:

        “It’s okay, Heinrich!  We’re friends.  And besides, it’s not like you need to inspire fear in your subject to be a great Top.  It doesn’t mean that they don’t take you seriously or anything.”  

        He laughed again.  This time, it was a sarcastic, fake laugh.  You know, the laugh you make when the joke is stupid or not funny.

        We talked a while longer, and made plans to keep in touch while I was gone.

        Approx. 27 hours later, Heinrich sent me a text message: May I invite a guest to our party?

         Me: Uhhh….what kind of guest?  A guy, right?

         H: Yes, a guy.  

         Me: Hell, yes, you can bring him!  Did you really need to ask? Bring them ALL!

         He wrote back: Good, thanks!

         It wasn’t until later that evening that I realized what I might have just gotten myself into. 

              TO BE CONTINUED

The End: Part IV

        I moved home.   It had to be done.  There was nowhere else I could go–I didn’t have the financial reserves to support myself for long without doing sex work.  

        I also did it because I knew that the proximity of my family and the people from my old life would force me to be accountable, or at least instill enough fear of getting caught in me to make me behave.  I mean, what am I going to do, sneak out of my mother’s house on the pretext of visiting a friend, go do a professional BDSM session in a hotel room, and then come back with my leather clothes and stuff in a duffel bag?  Answer client emails at the breakfast table?  Come on!

          At least, that’s what I thought.  

          I’m going on three weeks of being an unemployed loser.  This morning I applied for a job teaching the ACT and SAT to High School Seniors.  Then I applied for a job as a “Feline Attendant” at the local SPCA.  I am not too proud to clean litter boxes.  Once you’ve hung a guy upside down from the ceiling and penetrated his urethra with an electrified sound, changing litter and feeding kitties their de-worming medication is positively pedestrian. 

            My mother wants me to go see a career counselor who knows much more about the local economy than I do these days.  I’ll do it if she wants me to because it is very important to keep peace in the household, but my problem with that is that I am not looking for a “career” in this town.  I do not want to live here for more than a few months.   I can look for a career later.  I have to get out of education anyway.   Right now, I just need a stupid JOB that will keep me busy during the day and allow me to sock away a little cash.  

          Emphasis on “a little.”

         I charged between $20 and $80/hour for tutoring in NYC.  The community college job paid peanuts but at least it helped me keep one foot in the regular world and filled up the gap in my resume.  Data management and law office secretarial positions here pay $10-$12/hour.  I have not worked for that little money since I was an undergraduate.  My last school worked the research assistants like beasts of burden, but at least we got free tuition out of it.  

          I am stuck here until I make the money to leave again.  

         I did this to myself on purpose.  This was my design. 

         I am already establishing a routine here.  My mother gets up at 6.  At 7, her little dog comes into my room (“my room!” At my age!) and serenades me with an awful squeak toy.  I get up, I take a shower, I drink two cans of Diet Pespi, and then I tackle the job ads.  I apply to at least two jobs a day.  I could do more, but some of them require cover letters, which means I have to do research into whatever company or industry or office I’m applying to in order to write a competitive letter.  

         I check my bank balance.  It’s looking bad.

         I go to AA.  My mother takes me, or I ride a bike.  I’ve spent enough time in the local rooms now to be able to identify which ones are the crazies and which ones have their shit more or less together.  There is a woman about my age who runs the Tuesday night meeting.  I like her.  I think I might approach her to be AA friends.  

          I apply for Medicaid.  

          I clean up after myself as much as possible.  I volunteer to do chores.  I try to be inconspicuous.  I don’t want to be an imposition.  I don’t want to wear out my welcome. 

           I’ve been out to lunch a few times with my mother and her friends, which is excruciatingly embarrassing.  They all want to know why I came back.  What I want to say is Don’t ask if you don’t want to know, but what I really say is, “I needed a break,” which is not really a lie. 

           I write when I feel up to it.  It passes the time.  

           I go to my brother’s for dinner.  His freezer is full of ducks he’s blown out of the sky.  He shows me an unusually fine specimen that he’s taking to the taxidermist.  We grill ducks. 

            My mother told my Uncle that I have a drinking problem.  This is the only thing that she has done so far that pisses me off.  My Uncle is a very judgmental man.  I do not think that he will like me so much from now on.

            I water the garden.  I collect tomatoes.  

            At night I look at the ads on Backpage and Eros.  I am older than a lot of the women, but I’m also better-looking and more sophisticated.  Their photos are all bathroom selfies with bad lighting.  I think about what my Russian manager would say about these awful photographs.  Compared to them, I would be a classy hoe.  Hell, I could be the classiest hoe in town!  

           Too dangerous.  Smaller community.  People know me here.  This was my design.  It’s why I came back.  Accountability. 

           I left New York to get away from that field of work and the entire double-life craziness.   The last six months of it was pretty unpleasant (with a few exceptions).  Why on earth would I even want to consider it now?

           It’s not easy money, but it is fast money.  

           And life is sad and boring, and I was certainly never bored when I was zipping uptown to meet a new client with my bag o’ swag on my zap.  Nope, not bored then, not even a little.  In fact, I was usually wishing I had a drink in order to curb the anxiety that this client might FINALLY be the client who was going to rape me and leave my body under the bed.  And I wasn’t bored when I walked out with $400, either.

              But…no more sessions that are so bizarre that they give me PTSD.  No babysitting cokeheads at 3 AM.   No more schoolgirl outfits.  No more masturbating wackadoodles.  I have not seen a naked stranger in three weeks.  WOW that is sort sort of record.

           I just have to wait it out.  Things will get better.  If nothing else, maybe I should go down to the local Democratic Party office and offer to volunteer until I get a job.  Anything to keep me busy.  Idle hands, and all that.

           Cause the phone isn’t ringing. 

What I Did to My Birds

       The hardest part of completely changing my life practically overnight was parting with my birds.  I lost most of my furniture because I couldn’t sell it in time and I couldn’t afford to store it.  The shipping company lost two big boxes of clothes that constituted half my wardrobe (thank God I had the good sense to pack my best suits and business clothes in my carry-on), for which I was compensated $200, which barely covered the cost of one of my dinner-date with Fortinbras dresses.  I lost my wrought iron bedframe, which was all tricked out for bondage sexytimes (but, it was the bed on which I cavorted with Drs. Cockatoo Fraud and my Housecall-making Ex, so maybe it’s good that it’s gone).  I even lost my desk, because it was too big to fit into the storage unit.  I loved that hugeass desk.  It was huge and heavy and beat to hell.  That desk was through the wars with me.  It was the first piece of furniture I bought when I moved to the East Coast for school.  I’m typing this on a piece of shit I bought off Craiglist for $20 which is only nominally better than a TV tray.  

       All in all, between the stuff that I had to sell and the stuff that I had to abandon and the stuff that was lost by the shipping company, I lost more than half of my property.  The only thing that remains entirely intact is my library.   I kept almost every book.

       None of it hurt me like giving up my birds.

       I have had many dreams and nightmares about my birds, and my deceased Parrot.  They play heavily symbolic roles in my dreams.  (2 links..click both if interested) 

        My analyst says that my birds represent my heart. 

        I contacted my avian vet and arranged to have them boarded.  One reason I’m so broke right now is because it cost me a fucking fortune, but I knew that I could trust this place.  They feed the birds top-quality pellets and change the toys and clean the cages multiple times per day and let them out to fly in a special room every few days (flying is very good for birds’ souls and emotional health.  When Parrot fledged for the first time under my care, she immediately became more confident and curious).  

      But….I couldn’t give them up.

        The last week I was in New York, I took my birds almost everywhere with me.  I just wanted to be close to them.  I put them into their travel cages and brought them with me to the Studio.  The other dommes loved them.  We fed them apple slices.  I bought them so many toys.  I was with them whenever I wasn’t in a session.  I’d never bring Parrot to work because she was shy and timid, but my other birds are very comfortable as long as they’re together in their flock, especially if they see me around them. 

        At night, after my shift ended, I’d walk home with them.  Yeah, I walked around Manhattan carrying a birdcage, like a crazy person.   The traffic noises would make them vocalize.  They loved to check out the pigeons.  They looked up at the sky a lot, which kinda broke my heart, to tell you the truth.   They are meant to be flying in the sky.  I tried to give them the best quality of life that I could and be sensitive to their needs and respectful of them, but the fact is that almost all pet hookbilled birds (parrots) not kept in an aviary environment are essentially being locked up in prison. Even if it’s a relatively cushy minimum-security prison like they have in Norway, it’s still a prison, and the bird can’t live like a bird and do birdy things.  

       I wheeled their cage into my bedroom at night so that I could be with them.  I let them out to fly and they’d hop around my desk or hang out on the curtain rod.  I took them out and held them, one by one, to say goodbye to them.

        Every day, I’d call the Vet and say that I was bringing my birds in after work.  And every day, I put it off, because I wanted one more day with them.  One more day.  One more night so I wasn’t alone in my apartment with its ever-growing content of movers’ boxes.  

      I put it off for an entire week.  In the end, I had to ask for help.  My English Domme friend from the Studio, Betsy, came to me literally 4 hours before I had to get on the airplane.  She helped me put my luggage into the cab and held my hand while I leaked tears and hugged the bird cage with my other arm.  My hair got into the cage and the birds nibbled at it.  

         I felt badly for crying because my birds are sensitive and they know when I am upset and it makes them scared, just like little children.  I always tried not to let the birds see me when I was furious or really sad.  I hate that Parrot saw the Surgeon when he came over that last time. 

          In the end, I just couldn’t do it.  I know it was my responsibility, but I couldn’t.  I guess I am a coward.  I did not want to cry in front of the receptionist and make people uncomfortable. 

         Betsy took the birds in and turned them over for me.  

         The stupid taxi driver kept trying to talk to me and ask me about my birds.  He was one of those really talkative taxi drivers.  I didn’t want to talk to him.  I just wanted to be alone.  I was quiet and he would just keep talking and asking me questions. 

        Betsy came back to the cab and said, “It’s done, Bird.  They’re fine.”

        She held my hand all the way back to her apartment.

        Then, I went straight to the airport.