Dressing for the Collector

The Collector was in a foul mood and the best thing to say about it was that at least I had nothing to do with it: it was work-related.  The subject of his rage was a certain Irish attorney practicing in Dublin, whose primary offense, as far as I could judge, was “being recalcitrant.”

(Now, call me crazy, as I don’t know jack about the law, but I thought “being recalcitrant” on behalf of one’s clients was part of the job description.  I could be wrong.)

I cautiously tried to get him to talk about it, because most people like to talk about their problems and things that are making them upset, and I certainly didn’t want to come across as if I was oblivious (oblivious! to his bad mood! ha! ha!) to his unhappiness.

He kept scribbling notes in the margins of the document he was working on (like me, he prefers paper over screen-reading) and said, in all seriousness: “I am going to pan-fry this Mic’s balls on my stove and see if they turn green.”

“I see,” I squeaked, and beat a hasty retreat.

It’s probably a sign of an unhealthy relationship that when he gets into truly bad moods–whether they have to do with me or not–I become very fixated on figuring out what I can do to make  him relaxed and happy again.  The Surgeon was mercurial and moody, and when he got into one of his inexplicable bad moods, I’d try to reason with him for a few minutes and then hang up the phone and ignore him and check back in after a few days and viola! he was back to normal. With more normal (“healthier”) men, he wants to vent a little bit and then he wants space to be mad without someone picking at him, which is certainly easy enough to provide.  As long as he’s not taking it out on you, what’s the problem?  He comes to you for emotional support when he’s ready; you can’t force it upon him.

The reasons for my desire to “fix it” are pretty obvious: it’s no fun to be trapped in a house with a tense, dangerous animal whom you know from personal experience could turn on you.  It sort of sucks the tranquility out of life.

So, after about 48 hours of this (during which I stayed out of the apartment as much as possible when he was there), I decided that I would try to do something special in order to get his mind off things.  I felt a little bit guiltily about doing this, because I realized that his emotional well-being was not my responsibility, and if you wander into that role too often, it means your relationship has taken a turn into co-dependency or abuse.  But I did it anyway.

(Incidentally, he’d displayed very little interest in me sexually during this time, which was unheard of.  He’s a wolf; he’s on me all the time.  I actually don’t understand how a man of his age has the stamina.)

I went to my closet and picked out a dress he’d given me months ago that I’d always declined to wear:

creepy dress

Now, he gives me clothing whenever  the fancy takes me (I certainly never ask), and I usually enjoy it because the man has, let’s face it, truly exquisite taste.  The only thing that I don’t like about the clothes he buys me is that they are clearly more expensive than what I can afford, which makes me feel self-conscious about wearing them–it’s not a self-esteem issue, it’s not that I feel I don’t “deserve” a few new expensive clothes, it’s that I feel like I’m somehow misrepresenting myself.  Spend enough time in New York, and you get to meet a lot of money frauds and social climbers.  I certainly don’t want to be one of those people.

This dress, though, was different.

Something about it rubbed me the wrong way, and it took me a while to figure it out–I mean, objectively, there was nothing wrong with it.  It’s a beautiful dress, in fact.  It has a ton of detail, the pleating is beautiful, I love the colors, and it’s unique.  I also really like lacy dresses this year, and this dress has lacy sleeves and overlay.   Cute, right?  Perfect for Spring.

I still didn’t like it.

He suggested that I wear it out to lunch one day and I took it out of its box for about the tenth time and laid it on my bed and took a good, hard look at it, and it hit me:

It was the dress a 10-year-old would wear to Sunday Mass or some special occasion.

What the fuck?  I mean, seriously, what the fuck?

I picked it up and walked out to him, holding it out.

“Where did you buy this?”

“A very nice boutique close to my office.  I pass by it every day.”

I scowled.  “Is this a dress for a kid?”

“Does that matter?  Don’t you think it’s pretty?  Does it not fit you?”

I turned it inside out and rummaged for the size tag/laundry instruction tab sewed into the lower seam.

“Collector! This says size 14/16!  I’m not a 14/16 in Women’s or Junior’s!  This is a kid’s dress!” I groaned.

“Well, it looked like it would fit you,” he said, all innocent-sounding.

“I’m not wearing it to lunch!  It’s weird!”

“Wear whatever you like.  I would hate for you to be uncomfortable,” he said, incredibly and completely without irony.

I put on something else and put the frilly dress back in its box in the back of the closet, just like I stored its implications in the back of my mind. Anyone who reads this blog will know that I am one of the most sexually open-minded people you could hope to meet, but I do have my preferences, and any sort of age-play where I’m in the minor/submissive role squicks me out.  God knows I got a ton of cheesy spankings dressed in a schoolgirl outfit when I was still pro-Subbing, but that was professional, so it was mostly an eye-rolling embarrassment.

So, flash-forward to the present, when I’m asking myself exactly what I can do to knock this guy out of his bad mood because being in the house with him like this is making me grind my teeth with anxiety and Abe is not exactly enjoying it, either.

Now, unless he has a super-important deadline or a mandatory business call on Skype for some overseas client, he always makes time for dinner.  Sometimes he has me pick up carry-out and eats at his desk, but usually dinner is a sit-down affair, and he cooks it himself.

With trepidation, I took the dress out of the box and tried it on for the first time.

Well, he was right: it fit…mostly.  The bust was too snug, presumably because girls don’t have tits yet, and the hem was short because girls are usually not almost 5’10”.   It covered my ass by a few inches and I could wear it in public without causing a scandal, but I’d have to remember to be careful about picking things up, but I have a few dresses like that and once you get used to it, it’s not a big deal.  Just make a man do it for you.

I ran over to his office and rapped on the door, praying that this was not going to be a terrible decision.

He said I could come in, so I opened the door and and scampered inside, smiling widely.

“I just tried it on.  Can I wear it for dinner?”  (As you know, I’m usually not allowed to wear clothing in the house.)

He sat there at his desk, looking me up and down, bemused.

“You look very pretty.  What, pray tell, has brought this on?”

I gave him what I hoped was my sunniest smile.  I do have a pretty smile; my clients told me that all the time.

“I wanted to make you happy.”

“That, my dear, is always the right answer,” he said, and rolled back his chair, standing up.


*                                 *                                *

For dinner that evening, he was eating a small steak and snails with greens.  I got a grilled cheese sandwich with the crusts cut off and the sandwich itself was cut into cubes.  And a salad.

It took me halfway through the meal to raise the crucial point: “Uhh, Collector, why do you get steak while I’m eating kid food?”

“It’s not kid food. If it was kid food, I would have made it with Velveeta or that awful American ‘cheese product’ you eat over here. That sandwich has Gruyère!

If he ever reads this, I am going to be in deep trouble, but sometimes the things that come out of his mouth make me question his mental state.

He put down his silverware.  “Margo, allow me to suggest something to you.”

“By all means.”

“Sometimes, in our past, when something bad or traumatic happens, it’s a bit like a train track that was executed incorrectly, made crooked, so that the train could not follow.  It either stops moving or derails.  Do you see?”

“I think the metaphor is strange, but I cautiously think I understand what you mean.”

“When we get older, and have control over our lives, we can re-create these experiences and do them correctly, in a healing way.  We can make the train track straight.”

“It sounds to me like you’re just describing Repetition Compulsion.”

“Repetition Compulsion is futile and compounds our misery and we all do it, unfortunately, to some extent.  What I am describing is something else.

Do it again.  Do it correctly.  Take nourishment from it, and confidence, and….healing.”

“But you can’t go back again.  Nobody can go back.  Childhood’s gone, and who the fuck wants to visit that swampy nightmare, anyway?”

He nodded.  “People change, as, indeed, we must.  But we still contain all variations of ourselves.  That’s what I’ve been asking you to focus on in your therapy.”

“I’ll think about it.  I’m still not sure I fully understand.”

“Just keep an open mind.  We’ll revisit it later.  How is the grilled cheese?”

In fact, it was delicious.

8 thoughts on “Dressing for the Collector”

  1. Without being judgmental, but purely on the evidence, it sounds as if ‘getting back on track’ via a child’s dress reveals some fairly dark stuff with regard to the original derailment.

    He has a point about.doing it correctly though. As Aeschylus observed:

    “Man must suffer into truth.”

    Or as Sam Beckett put it.:

    “Try again, fail again. Fail better.”

    Alas, as a species, we don’t seem to have learned an awful lot in the intervening 2500 years.

  2. i am at a loss as to how to respond to stories about this fucker anymore, so i will just say that i love this quote:

    “Try again, fail again. Fail better.”

    thanks prof fraud.

    1. Well, you know shit’s gotten out of control when one finds Craven giving an A-Okay to Sigmund Fraud.

      I really don’t know how this happened so fast. It’s a head scratcher. Sometimes I think he’s nuts, but he looks great on paper, and at least he CARES about me. Cares in what way, is the creepy issue.

      I keep telling myself that nobody normal would make me eat lasagna off the floor. I never should have done that. I should have walked out. What sort of precedent did that send to the boys? I’ve been obsessing over it since it happened.

  3. Dear Miss Margo,

    This whole series of posts is very disturbing. I hope that this guy really pops your cork sexually. (I am hopeless with sexual metaphors, sorry.) I guess it’s the involvement of his family that is most troubling. It sounds like they are at least close to and maybe even over the age of consent. Even so, dominance/submission is a sexual game, designed to arouse the participants.

    The dinner scene was like something from a David Lynch movie. (I am thinking of ‘Fire Walk With Me.’) I cannot for the life of me think of any rationale that makes involving you with his sons the way he did acceptable. You should not be sexualized to them. And they should not have any control over whether you are humiliated or not, especially when that humiliation leads to an obvious spirited sex session right afterwards. It is very close to involving his son in a sexual game with the two of you. He was at least involved in the foreplay. No wonder one of the boys invited you into an enclosed space where he could make you a sexual object in the manner that his father demonstrated to him.

    And what exactly is this ‘therapy’ of which he speaks? Is he a psychologist/psychiatrist/psych ward orderly/talented amateur? I thought this was all supposed to be fun and sexy. I hope it is for you. These posts have been very light on the sexual stuff, unlike your posts on Heinrich or Fortinbras. I get off on the idea that I am being reformed, remade, or otherwise altered by a dominant, but ultimately it’s always been a game, and at the end it’s the same old me. But the sexual exhilaration was incredible.

    If wearing the dress gets you off, by all means do it. If it gets him off, and he gets you off so well and often that its a fair trade, have at it. To me, it looks like the dress Bette Davis was wearing at the end of ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’ when she was dancing on the beach insane with her crippled sister nearby dying of neglect.

    This man does not set proper sexual boundaries with his sons and he wants you to dress up as a little girl. Flags don’t come any redder that this.

    I think that the way to understand his plan for your ‘therapy’ is to realize that it is his ‘therapy.’ He is trying to fix himself, but cannot deal with his own pain, and projects it onto someone else. In my experience (I have done this to people), it ends in one of two ways. Either, I make the woman feel bad in a way that I once felt bad. In this way, I create someone who knows my pain (usually a miasma of vague guilt, shame, frustration and rage). Then I feel less alone without ever having to admit that I need someone to understand my inner pain. On the other hand, sometimes I have really helped someone through a difficult patch through my focus on her and her problems. When she felt better, she left me for a more normal relationship and I was crushed.

    As always, these are my opinions. I don’t really know you. And I hope I haven’t overstepped my bounds in anything I said. I am just reacting to what you have written.

    Wishing you all the best,

    1. Hi John;

      I have read through your comment a million times.

      First: inspired me to watch “Whatever happened to Baby Jane?” and it is freaking me the fuck out. When she served her sister her own parrot, I screamed out loud. If anyone did that to Abe, I’d shoot them. I know how to do it.

      I do not understand what is going on in the Collector’s head, except that I know he has some, umm, trauma (but don’t we all?).

      Of course I am never going to touch his kid. I am not remotely attracted to teenagers, even when I was one, and even if I was, I would never exploit a young man (or woman, but that’s not an issue). Never never never.

      Regarding the rest: I don’t know if he has pain. Like the Surgeon, he’s extremely self-confident and aggressive, only he runs cold (like me) where the Surgeon runs hot. He is impulsive, however.

      I think only one man loved me in my life. They have something they THINK is love, but it’s not love how you and I experience it. It’s an overwhelming desire to control and keep access to comfort and sexuality. It’s not love.

      Sad shit.

      As always, thanks for reading.

  4. Dear Miss Margo,

    ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane’ was a favorite when I was growing up. Today, I think that the scene of Bette Davis singing ‘I’m Writing a Letter to Daddy’ could be used to cure people of age play fantasies, Ludovico technique style.

    I don’t know if I ever mentioned this, but back when I got sober, a book by Alice Miller was very popular among the anonymi. It was called ‘The Drama of the Gifted Child.’ One friend of mine made fun of the title saying no one would buy it if it were called ‘The Drama of the Average Child.’ The thesis is that much of what is considered normal child-rearing is actually abusive, since parents do not consider the wants and feelings of the child as equal to those of adults. This results in myriad humiliations and much psychic damage.

    One thing in the book really stood out for me. She also talked about physically and emotionally abusive families. The children from these households seek out sadomasochistic relationships which are actually stronger and more enduring than loving relationships. I might be remembering it wrong and mixing her thoughts with my sense of horror at the recognition of this pattern in my own life. But here it is over thirty years later, and I still remember it.


  5. Dear John;

    I can tell you as a professional that a lot of BDSM is processing childhood trauma in order to experience it, as eroticized, and/or experience it to take mastery over it.

    I’ve had Hasidic Jews ask to be “baptized” (I did that twice, because it doesn’t resonate with me, but I never did any Nazi stuff because it disgusts me. No fault on the people who like it; I just can’t do it). All sooorts of step-Mom roleplay. Being the “bully girl” in school. Once I pantsed a guy in swim trucks because he wanted to re-create this experience he had when he was 11….that was the entire session. I wore a one-piece bathing suit and pantsed him and laughed. I was the older girl next door he had a mad crush on.

    Superheros too. I get Supergirl a lot because I’m light-haired.

    Regarding the rest: I’ve had two men whom I think were actually in love with me, the way normal adults can feel love. It means when you want to nurture someone and help them to be free in their hearts. You make them a better person.

    The rest were/are just obsessed with me. I think one thing I tend to do is that I liberate these men–I make them completely sexually uninhibited, and they go crazy. It’s why the Collector calls me a witch. The Surgeon never beat a woman before me, but I got him into it and he went nuts. They all go nuts.

    The worst thing is that, as my last shrink in New Jersey pointed out, I’m looking for an idealized father figure. But he’s not ideal, and I almost always keep finding the same….fucking…guy.


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