The Kiss

    August 2011

    The Surgeon and I were watching a televised boxing match in my living room.  I like to watch men fight.  It excites me.  I downloaded twenty hours of MMA fights off the internet and watch it late at night sometimes.  I can’t watch boxing in public.  It feels too pornographic. 

    “I want to get punched in the stomach!” I declared.  

    The Surgeon did not look surprised.  I had asked for much stranger things.  

    “That would hurt a lot,” he observed.  

     “Do you know how to do it?” I asked him.

     “Well, I guess.  It’s not hard.”

     “When’s the last time you punched someone other than me?” I asked, happily.  Storytime! 

      “Summer camp.  No, wait–med school.”

      “Really?   So that was, like, 1950, huh?”

      “Smartass.  Keep it up.”  

      “Who’d you fight?  Wow, muy macho!  Did you win?”  

      “It wasn’t really a fight.  I’ll tell you about it sometime.  You know, you are really strange.  A really strange girl.”

      “You know you love it!  I want to get punched in the stomach right now.  I want to know what it feels like.  I heard that if you get knocked in your solar plexus, it’ll make you fall down!”

      “If you get knocked anywhere hard enough, it’ll make you fall down.”

     “Do it to me now!”

      He smiled and put his drink down on the coffee table.  “Well, all right.”

       We stood up.

      “What do I do?” I asked.  I was suddenly nervous.  

      “Close your eyes.”  

      I closed them.  I remembered back to the beginning of our relationship, when I was beginning to open up to him about my sexual proclivities.  He’d said: I would do those things to you, but I could never hit a woman. 

      I’d laughed in his face.  Even then, I’d know that he could.  He was only saying that he couldn’t because that was the socially correct answer. “Oh yes, you could.”

      And I was right.  My intuition about his capacity for violence was always right.  If anything, I underestimated him.  He was more intemperate and savage than I could ever believe.  Sometimes I’d watch him presenting a lecture at a conference and be struck by an unnerving feeling of strangeness.  He passes himself off as a normal person, I’d think. 

      I felt him moving around me, felt his weight shift on the wooden floor.  I was suddenly scared.  Sometimes it’s worse when you can’t see it coming.  He knew it; he was using it.  The Surgeon had a flair for showmanship.  I’d started to sweat and clenched the muscles in my torso in anticipation of the punch.  Wait for it.  When I felt him move again, I flinched.  He laughed. 

       The blow hit my diaphragm and caused me to exhale all my air in a violent whoop.  My legs gave out immediately and I started to collapse backward.

     He caught me in his arms, bent over me, and kissed me deeply.  

     He told me that he loved me. 

     For a while, I even believed it.   

The Attorney: Birds of a Feather

    I met a man. 

    He emailed me to set up an appointment.  He wanted to be beaten–that is it, that is all.  The letter was concise, precise, and  businesslike.  We arranged the particulars in about ten minutes.  

     When I saw him walking up the stairs, I was utterly astonished.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  

      The man looked perfect. I don’t mean that he was spectacularly handsome–he was conventionally attractive, but not movie-star good-looking–but that his bearing and appearance was impeccable. He ran up the stairs quickly, effortlessly.  His posture was ramrod straight.  

     I welcomed him in and introduced myself, shaking his hand.  He was an attorney.  His hand was not soft.  I felt callouses on the base of the fingers.  Weights, maybe?  He did not look me up-and-down the way most men do (consciously or not) when they meet me.  He looked me right in the eyes, taking in my face.  

     He had a high-and-tight military hairdo.  His shirt was blindingly white.  The necktie, the cufflinks, the locked briefcase.  

     He reminded me of me. 

     He reminded me of The Surgeon.  

     I brought him a glass of water.  We chatted for a few minutes.

     I did not detect the slightest bit of nervousness in him.  I have never had someone visit me who was not nervous before.  He said that he identified primarily as a sadist (I believe him), but for whatever reason wanted to be beaten every now and again.  

     He undressed.  Usually, they strip like 10-year-olds, leaving their clothes wherever they drop, and I have to get on them: “Were you expecting your mother?!  Pick that up and fold it!”  This one folded everything perfectly.  Perfectly!  He paid attention to the crease in his blouse!  

      “Do you want safewords?” I asked.

      “No,” he said.  Matter-of-fact.  
       I said: “You can lean over and grab the edge of that dresser if you need something to brace yourself.”  

       He didn’t need to brace himself.  

       I beat that man.  I beat that man.  I made him sweat, and turn red, but he didn’t make noise and didn’t ask for a breather. I looked at him frequently, checking in.  His brow was furrowed, he was off somewhere inside of himself.  Processing the pain, perhaps, or keeping his equilibrium.  

       At the end, I said: “You have quite a few welts.  Do you want an Advil? Ice?” 

       He shook his head no and cleaned himself up with a washcloth and some wet naps.  Then he got dressed.  I watched him, fascinated.   He was so intense.  Like a hawk.  

       He turned to me.  “You’re very serious about this.”

       It startled me.  That was just what I was thinking about him. “Yes.  This is an expression of my sexuality and personality.” 

       “I see that.  I’d like to make another appointment.  What are your limits when you switch?”
        How did he know that I switch?  Birds of a feather….  

       We scheduled a session for next week.  

         Anxiety.  Anticipation.  

         If I am attracted to him like this, something must be WRONG.   This is how I met the Surgeon.  This is kinda how I met John, my truly bad Ex.  

Grovelling Over Gucci Loafers

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Gucci Loafers: Preferred Footwear of the Oppressing Class 

    I remember furtively snapping this photo with my cell phone when he stepped out of my bedroom to retrieve the syringe from the refrigerator.  Freshly groveled over, the brown suede was still wet.  The protective metal plate underneath the toe tasted like a penny.  

    After I received what I was administered, he and I had a long talk.  I don’t remember that part very well at all, though.  

Hard Vanilla

      This afternoon, I had the good fortune to be hired by a fellow who wanted the services I specialize best in.  He wanted them in the worst possible way.  This guy was the real deal (like me).  There are not too many out there like him.

       I landed on him like a ton of bricks.

       We made quite a racket.  I talked a lot.  He made…interesting vocalizations.

     After I showed him out (he limped down the stairs, clutching the handrail like a feeble old man), my two African-American coworkers stared at me wide-eyed, perched on the edge of their chairs.  They looked at me like I’d grown a second head.

       “Oh my God!” one of them said.  “I’m surprised that guy walked out of here!  It sounded like you were putting him in traction! ‘Confession is good for the soul!’ All that stuff you said! Oh my God, you were hard!  I’m going to start calling you Hard Vanilla!”

      I started to laugh as I snapped on a fresh pair of surgical gloves and fetched the bleach and mop bucket.

Homework Assignment II

      Sometime soon–perhaps this weekend--I intend to have someone write an essay about the following passage: 

     “Real power, the power we have to fight for night and day, is not power over things, but over men.”  (O’Brein) paused, and for a moment assumed again his air of a schoolmaster questioning a promising pupil: “How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?”  
     Winston thought.  “By making him suffer,” he said.  
     “Exactly.  By making him suffer.  Obedience is not enough.  Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own?”  

     –From 1984, by George Orwell

      Very rich.  Very rich.  How can you be sure, indeed?  
      For the Sadist, power can only be felt when it is wielded, used.    

Homework Assignment

       I like homework.  I sincerely desire to cultivate the intellect and ability of my pupil(s). 
       And I assigned this one on Friday with a Tuesday AM deadline!  What a bitch, right…?  

            In your own words, describe how Petruchio manipulates Katharina in this scene.  What is his ‘style’, and what does that style suggest about his personality and attitude towards Katharina?   Explain the reason(s) for Petruchio’s success. 
            3-5 double-spaced pages
From The Taming of the Shrew
By William Shakespeare
Act IV, Scene 5
SCENE V. A public road.



    Come on, i’ God’s name; once more toward our father’s.
    Good Lord, how bright and goodly shines the moon!


    The moon! the sun: it is not moonlight now.


    I say it is the moon that shines so bright.


    I know it is the sun that shines so bright.


    Now, by my mother’s son, and that’s myself,
    It shall be moon, or star, or what I list,
    Or ere I journey to your father’s house.
    Go on, and fetch our horses back again.
    Evermore cross’d and cross’d; nothing but cross’d!


    Say as he says, or we shall never go.


    Forward, I pray, since we have come so far,
    And be it moon, or sun, or what you please:
    An if you please to call it a rush-candle,
    Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me.


    I say it is the moon.


    I know it is the moon.


    Nay, then you lie: it is the blessed sun.


    Then, God be bless’d, it is the blessed sun:
    But sun it is not, when you say it is not;
    And the moon changes even as your mind.
    What you will have it named, even that it is;
    And so it shall be so for Katharina.


    Petruchio, go thy ways; the field is won.


    Well, forward, forward! thus the bowl should run,
    And not unluckily against the bias.

Meeting No. 29 (Part II): I am the Frederick Taylor of Pain and Suffering

            I leaned against the desk and leafed through the folder.  “So, I have a lot of information about you here, David.  I think we’ll have to talk about it.  I have some concerns.”  I kept my voice friendly, but when I looked up at him, I saw that his smile suddenly looked fake and his eyes were wider.  That was good.
           I took a sharpie marker off the desk and held it open over the top of the folder.  “I still need to assign you a number, David.”  I tried to write on the folder.  The marker wouldn’t write.  I sighed and shook it and tried to write again.  No ink. 
        “This sharpie doesn’t work!” I announced.  I made it sound like I was irritated.  “Go get me a new one.” 
          “What..?”  he stood there and blinked, confused and startled, like a mole thrust suddenly into sunlight.
          “Go get me a sharpie.  I need a new sharpie.”  I waved the pen in front of him.  “Like this one!” 
           After a pause, he asked, “Where…?” as if I’d asked him to fetch me something totally bizarre and arcane, like an autographed photo of Vladimir Putin.  I could practically see his brain emptying out in panic and confusion, which was exactly what I wanted.  
          “Well, Mr. Engineering Degree, this is Manhattan, so there is a Duane Reade every other city block.  I’m sure you’ll be able to figure something out.” 
          He paused and for a moment I thought that I was going to have to bark at him, but finally he turned to go.  When he opened the door, I called his name and he looked back at me over his shoulder.  I removed a silver-plated pocket watch from my front trousers and opened it in front of him.  The face was big and there were two chronographs on the dial. It made a faint clicking noise, although I doubted that he could hear it from where he stood.  I’d discovered that if I held it in my hand in a perfectly still room, I could feel it vibrate in my hand, as if it was a living creature. 
           I set the watch and pressed the button.  “I’m timing you, David.”
           His mouth dropped open and then he ran out the door.  I shouted at him not to kill himself on the stairs. I heard him running quickly down two flights of stairs, and then it was silent again.

Someone Lost His Shirt….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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