A Thousand Pieces of Margo: The Best & Personal Favorites

       This will be the 679 post published on this blog.  I have 321 in the drafts folder which are redacted, unfinished, axed, or otherwise unpublished, for one reason or another.  

        A thousand posts, in all.  

        At this time, these are my favorite posts, either because I think they contain some of my best writing, or because I just like them.   New readers without the inclination to dig through three years of posts for the good stuff will find a decent sample of my work below.

          In (mostly) chronological order, but in no particular order of favorite: 

          The SkyMall Catalog is Decadent and Depraved.   Exactly one reader, John, has had the good taste to enjoy my send-up of the Skymall catalog.  I have no idea why other people don’t find Skymall as weird as I do.

         Love Letter  I identify primarily as a submissive masochist, but I do have an authentic sadistic streak.  This is what I feel like when I go there.  It’s very personal–I wrote it for my only personal sub, No. 29.  My analyst loved this one.  She kept it for herself.   

        The Surgeon Takes Control  The summer of 2012 was a difficult one for me.  My landlord refused to renew my lease unless I could come up with 3 months’ rent in advance.  Business at the Studio was dead, my tutoring jobs were out for summer, and I didn’t know yet how to hustle independently.  In sheer desperation, completely terrified, I went and got a job at a strip club.  My first night there, I broke down…and called the Surgeon for financial help.  I’d left him months ago and rebuffed his attempts at reconciliation.  His reaction to my call was…interesting.  Very intense blog post.  I’m sweating just remembering it. 

        Signed, Sealed & Delivered  The Surgeon delivers the cash and saves my ass.  An entire summer of sleepless nights and crushing anxiety, and the man made the problem disappear as casually as if he ate a corn chip.  Of course, the money came with strings.  

       CollarMe Hell: Dudes Love Their Wheels  I loved the CollarMe Hell series.  I wish I could have continued it, but I just couldn’t bear to be on CollarMe anymore.  I think that CollarMe is the worst place on the internet.   

        Good Girls Get Gifts  Probably the first strong piece of writing on this blog.  My boyfriend buys me a gift from Bloomingdale’s.  Boy, does this one take me back.  The Surgeon’s a freak, but we had chemistry. 

           Black Market Cipro   Your humble correspondent gets a UTI and voyages deep into the Bronx to buy black market antibiotics.  Pharmacist blogger DrugMonkey helps me through this one.  

          Why Doesn’t He Have a Girlfriend?  Written the morning the Mathematician told me that he was married.  I don’t like to re-read it, but I’ve received lots of personal comments about it.

           An Open Letter to the Mathematician   Rawest piece of writing on the blog.  I don’t re-read this one, either.

         April Fool 1 and April Fool 2   I know it’s cruel, but this was fucking hilarious.  Mistress C and I play an April Fool’s joke on her douchebag ex-boyfriend, Alec.  

          Covered in Ants: What Could Go Wrong?   One of the most memorable session requests of my career.  Must be read to be believed. 

          Dining in Copenhagen  Meeting my favorite client, Fortinbras, the King of Denmark.  I was very attracted to this guy, and came very close to becoming infatuated with him.  Completely my type, impressed the hell out of me, stomped the disco boogie all over my Daddy issues.  Fortunately, bitter experience, my analyst, and a few concerned readers saved me from making the same mistake a third time (fourth time, if you count the Attorney): I kept my wits about me, and he became stayed a very enjoyed and well-respected clients. 

          Scenes from My Drunkalogue: In the Eye of the Beholder  A very tight piece of writing.  One of the best on the blog in terms of style, I believe.  Going through with a session I really do not want to take. 

        The Blowjob Wars  Everything you wanted to know about Miss Margo and blowjobs. 

       Beluga Eats a Dog Turd   Another memorable session.  Well-written and received a ton of comments (well, for this unread blog).  
       There are another ten best….I’ll post them in the next installment!


How to Clean a Bathtub

      Things in this household run on time.  If my mother was a man and went into the Army, I would have been the daughter of a drill sergeant.  

       Like her predecessor, Henri Fayol, she believes there is one best way of doing things.  Cleaning the bathtub, for instance.

       The bathtubs and sinks in the house have to be replaced about every seven years.  

        Because of the way they are cleaned.

        This is the way that it goes:

        After you bathe, you dry yourself off in the shower so that you don’t track water everywhere.

          Then you take the squeegee thing and squeegee the moisture off of the inside of the shower doors and the tiles.  Moisture creates mildew.

              Then you take the soap out of the dish and put it back in its cardboard container, to be placed outside of the shower beside the towel rack.  If the soap is left in water, it will leave gummy soap deposits in the soap dish.

          Get the special soap rag.  Clean the soap dish with the rag.  Rag goes back under the sink.

          Fetch the bleach.  Spray down the inside of the bathtub with bleach solution.  Let it sit for a minute.  

          (Be sure to crack the window first, too.  The fumes get a little intense.) 

          Turn on the hot water and scrub the bathtub with the brush.  Then rinse all the bleach out.

           Return bleach and brush under the sink.

           Check.  Make sure there is no hair in bathtub.

           Put toiletries back in place.  Put the cap back on the safety razor.  

           Wipe the chrome with a soft cloth so that it is shiny and there are no water spots.  Put the cloth away.

             Hang up the bath mat.  Must be hung lengthwise and it must be perfectly even.

             Hang up bath towel.  Ditto.

             Now you can leave the bathroom.  Leave the door open so that the mirror unfogs and you can use it to apply your makeup or put in your contact lenses or whatever.  You can’t use a towel to wipe off the fog because it leaves streaks. 

              This is done every time you take a shower.  You have to ration your time correctly, because it must be done, even if you’re in a hurry to leave the house.

              The good news is, once you get the system down, you can execute this chore in about five minutes.  

              The bad news is: it’s….well, do I really need to tell you why it’s bad…?

           I one bad memory about this from my childhood.   I think I was about eleven, and my brother was eight (he remembers this one too, by the way).

            Bathtime was after dinner, before bed.  Sometimes he’d go first, sometimes I would.  Anyway, we took our baths and went to our rooms and everything was normal until I heard Mom shouting at us to come to the bathroom.

            Someone had left a wet towel on the floor, and she wanted to know who had left it.

          She was pissed.  I remember her standing there and pointing at it, like a cop pointing at a murder weapon and telling the accused that he might as well confess. 

          Well, I wasn’t taking the blame for that one.  Nope.  No siree.

         My brother denied it also. 

          Mom told us that we could just wait there in the bathroom until someone took the blame and then hung up the towel. 

          Oh boy.  

           We both settled down to wait.  She went to take her bath and get ready for bed.  

          My brother and I bickered back and forth a little over whose fault it was.  I continued to insist it was not mine, but here it is, The Awful Truth: I was lying.  I was the one who left the towel.  I’d just forgotten it…but I sure as hell wasn’t going to admit it.  Not when I’d get into trouble.

          This is also The Awful Truth: I was older and stronger, and I knew he’d break first. 

         And he did.  It probably took an hour and a half, judging from the sounds on the television. 

          He started crying and said that he did it, and then Mom let him hang up the towel and go to bed. 

          Many years later, I was drinking at my brother’s house, and I told him that I knew he wasn’t the one who left the towel.

          “Oh, I know,” he said.  “Believe me, I know.”

          I apologized.  He accepted. 

         I told my shrink about that one.  She thought that my mother overreacted.  It was just a towel, she said.

        The bathtubs are replaced because all that bleach destroys the enamel.   Privately, I think this is sort of funny.  We had to destroy the bathtub in order to clean it! 

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. 

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.

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).  


           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.  


John’s Annual Background Check

     Many times, I’ve thought about whether to tell the story about my relationship with John, my restraining-order Ex, on this blog.  I’ve written bits and pieces along the way, mostly about his stalking me after I left him.  Eventually, I’ll write about him, but I still haven’t got the emotional fortitude.  

       I do, however, have a SHORT John story that’s worth sharing.  I’m sharing it because I think it’s funny, and also as a warning to nice, normal, mostly-well-adjusted people that there are people like this out there.

       Over the weekend, I paid for a background check on John.  I do this every year (and the first five years after the relationship ended, I did it TWICE per year).  I don’t do the background check to be creepy or invasive–I don’t give a shit what he’s up to, and I certainly don’t try to contact him in any way. I do it so that I know where he is.  I would not feel safe knowing that he lived in the same city as myself.  

        I started out with the Google.  The first thing that came up when I Googled his name is that he is living in a $20 million condo on Central Park West, here in Manhattan.

         Huh, I thought.  That’s weird.  His family had some money–I was with him when he folks died, and they left him a gorgeous condo that had to be sold to share with his brother, and about $1.5 million in inheritance.   That’s a lot of money by any objective standard, but it’s not Central Park West.

         Maybe he got married, I thought.  Maybe he married a really rich woman. I supposed it was possible, even though any woman with that sort of money ought to know how to protect it from a scam artist like John, unlike naive 20-year-old Margo here (I was 20 when I met John). 

         I continued to Google.  I found an online resume John had posted on a professional social-networking site. 

         His official job title…?  “President and CEO.”

          Oh, this is going to be good, I thought to myself, and whipped out the credit card, because it was time for the paid background check.  

         The one that tells you the truth

        The one that I should’ve run the minute I started to get serious with him, because it would have saved me years in an absolutely hellish relationship with a narcissistic con artist who makes the Surgeon look like Boyfriend of the Year and Outstanding Humanitarian.  The one I didn’t run until my lawyer did it for me, when I was selling all my shit and moving to a secure, undisclosed location because I was worried John was going to blow my fucking head off.  The background check that showed that John had lied about many things in his past, including where he had worked, where he went to school, and whether his ex-wife had a restraining order against him.

          The background check is a little pricey, but I recommend it.  I will run it on every man I get serious with in the future.  I learned how important it was the hard way.

        Annnnd…..two days later, the results came back.

        John does not live on Central Park West, and he is President and CEO of nothing.

         He is unemployed, or self-employed (doing what? he can’t practice law in California!), and living in a very modest tract house in Truckee, California.  He is a ski bum who sponges off his relatives. 

         Now…nice, normal, mostly well-adjusted readers will be asking themselves: Why would he lie?  Why is there fictitious, self-aggrandizing information about him on the internet?

       Because he’s sick.  Because he’s pathetic.  Because he’s trying to control appearances.   Because he’s meeting women out there in Truckee, and telling them that the house he’s living in is a rental (which it is! HA HA!), and he actually has a $30 million condo on Central Park West, in New York.

       And they will believe him, because it’s on the internet, and he’s got business cards, and correspondence with law firm letterheads on it, and he obviously grew up in New York.  I mean, until it happens to you, you just don’t expect people to fabricate huge parts of their personal history out of thin air.  

         You don’t expect someone to look you in the face and lie to you.  Especially when you mean them no harm, and are being honest with them.

         Learn from my mistake, Ladies.   The background check is your friend.  Men like this are out there (and, to be fair, I’m sure there are women running these cons, too).   

        Don’t let a man like John happen to you.

       P.S.  This is petty, but I admit it: I derive tremendous satisfaction knowing that he is broke, because I’m sure that he finds that humiliating.  WHAT A LOSER. 


Read More

     I used to date a veterinarian who immigrated to the USA from New Zealand.  I met him when I brought my birds to him for their annual checkups and vaccinations, and I was intrigued by him.  He was new to New York, so we made small talk about all the things to do here.  The next day, I took his business card out of my wallet and asked him out to dinner via email.  

      “Steven” was an interesting case.  I did not find him handsome, although many other women certainly would.  He was slightly overweight, with tightly curled hair and a ridge on his brow that I think of as the “cro-magnon” ridge.  

       Steven was definitely not a cro-magnon.  What attracted me to him was his intense focus on my birds as he examined them.  I could see him assessing them, looking underneath their tiny colored feathers to imagine what was beneath.  He handled them carefully, with respect, even Monster, who is a total asshole who bites the shit out of you whenever you touch him.   People are always at their most attractive when they are doing the activity they love best; whatever it is they are born to do, whether it be cooking or fixing machines or teaching.  Steven was a born animal physician. 

        We went out to dinner, and after three dates, we commenced a six-month relationship.

       He treated me well.  He had his neurosis (as do we all), but he was a healthy man.  He was, however, still in a lot of pain from a recent divorce.  His wife ended the relationship a year previous.  I could perceive that he wasn’t over it, nor did I expect him to be.

        I was, of course, dating the Surgeon at the time and I had to plans to change that.  After several months, Steven was startled to learn that I wasn’t monogamous.  He’d assumed that we were.  My natural view is that until you have the DTR (“Defining the Relationship”) discussion, where you commit to each other, both partners are free to do whatever the hell they want.  I just met the guy eight weeks ago–what does he expect?

         Anyway, I hurt him.  He was one of those guys who latches on, and he liked me more than I liked him.  The person who cares the least controls the relationship.  I liked Steven, and I always did what I said that I would do with him, but even still, the relationship was recreational for me.  I never came close to falling in love with him. 

       I enjoyed studying him, though, and I learned a lot by comparing him to the Surgeon.  I noted that although both were physicians, the Surgeon was by no means a healer, but Steven was.

      I remember one night I was with Steven while he was making the rounds at his hospital.  He took out a huge Macaw in order to feed it its medicine.  

       A Macaw, if you don’t know, is an enormous parrot–probably the largest kept as pets.  They are magnificent animals, and they have tremendous, sensitive beaks that can break a walnut or sever a person’s finger.

     The bird, understandably scared, freaked out and turned on Steven, biting his lower arm.  It broke the skin.  Deeply.

      Steven hissed air over his teeth in pain, but did not flinch.  He got his hand on both sides of the bird’s head to stabilize it, and waited till it calmed down.

       “That bird bit the shit out of you! Are you okay? It’s mean!” I said.

       “The animal is never at fault,” he said.  “The animal is never at fault.”  

       It occurred to me then, out of nowhere: This man would be a good father. 

      One time, we were at his apartment close to Central Park.  I was sitting on his couch and he was laying down with his head in my lap.  I think it was the second week of our relationship.  We were talking about his past, his life.

      He had a framed photograph of a parrot on his wall.  I asked him who the bird was.

       He said that the bird was his and his ex-wife’s, and when they divorced, his wife wanted the bird, so he gave her up.  He didn’t want to fight over the bird, even though he loved it.

      He started to tear up.  Actual water came out.  This was weird to me, because the men in my family don’t cry. 

       I bent down and kissed his forehead, and then held him for a long time.  I said, “It’s okay, Steven.  You did the right thing.  Your bird will always love you.”

      When I sat up again, he looked at me.  He looked at me the way he examined my birds the first time I met him.  He saw me.  He really saw me. 

      “You’re such a kind person,” he said.

       I’ve always remembered it.  It was one of the most meaningful compliments I’ve ever received in my life. 

       But I kept Steven at arm’s length.  I liked him a lot, and I like to think that I appreciated him, but I wasn’t that attracted to him.  I found him interesting. I gave him a lot–got to know his colleagues, listened to his work drama, nursed him through a cancer scare–but I wasn’t really there.  

        He dumped me, which was a complete surprise (he did it via text-message, too, which was completely uncharacteristic for him–I think he was trying to treat me with the same casual indifference I’d been treating him.  The text, which I’ll never forget, said “It’s been fun, but we’re done!  Adios!”  I almost fell off my barstool.  I texted back: “Did you just break up with me via a text?  Keep it classy, Steven!”) .  I had zero expectations out of him. It was a dinner-conversation-sex relationship.  Most men would kill to have that sort of relationship.  Hell, they PAY me to do it now (we have BDSM and not sex, but you know what I mean). 

       I wasn’t very hurt when he broke up with me, just surprised. I don’t know why I couldn’t fall in love with him.  He didn’t capture my imagination, probably because he didn’t want to kill me.  I did learn from him, however.  

       I hurt him, and I do feel badly about that. 

“Because I’ve Abused You”

     We were in my bedroom, on the bed.  

      The Surgeon was on top of me, drilling into me.  He’d placed a pillow over my head, presumably because he wouldn’t have to look at my face, but possibly because he fantasized about smothering me to death with it.  In the future, whenever I thought about going back to him, I’d tell myself: remember the pillows.

      He was having difficulty achieving orgasm.

      “When I leave, I’m going to turn off the lights, and you’re going to stay in bed.  You’re going to stay in bed and cry.  Do you know why?”

        “Why?” I asked, from under the pillow.

         “Because I’ve abused you,” he said.

         And with the vision of that event in his head, he was finally able to come.

          How do you think that made me feel?

         When he left, he turned off the lights.

         And me…?

         I stayed.  I stayed for two more years.

Postmortem of a House Call (Or, Christmas with the Surgeon)

    It’s been almost eight months since the Surgeon made his House Call.  At first, I didn’t think that it had affected me that much emotionally.  It wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened to me.  It wasn’t even the worst thing he’d ever done to me.  I was a little shocked, of course, and then very pissed off, and also worried that he might come back and try again.  I think the baby card offended me more than anything. 

      It did seem to provide him with some closure.  He won, he got a little revenge, he could sleep at night feeling that he was the one on top.  And I’m sure the lawyer’s letter and the threat of a restraining order didn’t hurt either.  He is very protective of his practice, and the only thing that he loves more than philandering and fucking people up is making money. 

      So it was finally over. I had to deal with loneliness, but I’m used to that, and I had to grieve the loss of the relationship, which was the most significant one of my adult life.  The House Call, though, I did’t think affected me much.

      I was wrong.

      It sneaked up on me over a period of months, and I’d find myself laying in bed or sitting at my desk in a state of high agitation, outraged at the fact that he really did that to me.  He really did it! 

       And on the heels of that: pain.  Quite a bit of hurt, actually, which is strange, because I really ought to know better.  Nothing about his behavior should surprise me anymore. The Surgeon has some very, shall we say, interesting neuroses and some very interesting sexual proclivities, all of which I am too decent (or, perhaps, too cowardly) to share on this blog, but he is also a man of habit and thoroughly predictable.  He’s an asshole.  He acts like an asshole.  Why should I be hurt that he acted like an asshole towards me?  Because he said that he loved me? 

      Well, yes.  Because he said that he loved me.  I’ve had a lot of emotional labor to do in order to work through that in the last few months.

      Let’s move on.  He made the House Call in September.  Then I got a letter from him in late December, which was right about the time I’d left him for the Mathematician a year earlier (thankfully, I have no feelz for him except for contempt and, I admit, a lingering fascination with his cockatoo-borrowing. That has to be a new low in Things Men Will Do To Impress Girls.  A cockatoo!  Fucker.).

     This is the Surgeon’s letter.  It’s not actually what he wrote–think of it as the Executive Summary.  It’s all over the map.  I think he might have been drunk when he wrote it.  He’s always impulsive and when he drinks, forget about it. 

Dear Miss Margo, 

I feel a little badly about my House Call and what I did.  I hope you realize that I did it because the way that you treated me is unconscionable.  I also wanted to give you a baby.  Our relationship never should have ended.  I have never had this much emotion for anyone in my life.  You need to come back to me and be my girlfriend again.  I think of you every day.  What you have done is not right. I will make a financial commitment and not abandon you.  Even your own mother did not help you, but I did.  Have you ever asked yourself why?  I love you and we are met to be together.

     Who’s the guy you left me for?  Sorry it didn’t work out but I have no idea how you thought you could better-deal me.  Want me to hurt him?  Tell me who he is.

      The Surgeon

     Unconscionable.  He really used that word.  To describe my behavior. 

      I read it to my friend, Drug Monkey, who said, and I quote: “Wow, what a loser.” 

      Professor T-Rex found it sort of pitiful and told me to give it to my lawyer, which I did.

     But since we’re on the subject of unconscionable behavior, let’s revisit the scene of the crime: Christmas, five years previous.

     I was in my Ph.D. program and my relationship with the Surgeon was just over the two-year mark.  It was as serious as it was ever going to get.  He almost destroyed it.

      It was the week leading up to Christmas, which was a very busy time at my University because that school scheduled finals right up until Christmas Eve, which was a nightmare.  I can’t tell you how many times I dropped off a hard copy of my final research assignment or essay en route to the airport for an all-day flight back home.  So, a stressful week. 

      The Surgeon was in a weird mood, too.  He was having staffing problems (he always had staffing problems.  Wonder why?), and then he had to do holiday family shit.  The Surgeon would rather be eaten alive by rabid wolverines than spend time with his family, but he forces himself to do it.  If I hated my family that much, I would just dump them.

     Well, the Surgeon called me and I knew that I was in trouble because I could hear the tension in his voice.  He had a very specific tone of voice that he used when he was dangerous.  I identified it as the “I am under pressure and I am going to fuck you up” tone of voice. He can smile when he talks this way, and even laugh, but I’m telling you, it’s spooky.  Usually when I heard that tone of voice, I just made myself scarce for a few days until it blew over, because that tone of voice meant that someone was going to get it. I just went out for that proverbial pack of cigarettes and stayed gone. 

          The Surgeon had Christmas day off because his practice was closed, and he told me that he wanted to see me.

          “But, Surgeon, I’m flying home on Christmas Eve.”

          “Change the flight.  Leave on the 26th.”

           “Surgeon, I only see my family twice a year now, and you know that my mother is a Christmas fanatic.  My family is expecting me.”

          “But I was planning to see you on the 25th.”

           I knew this was bullshit.  He’d never mentioned any such thing!

          “Surgeon, you’re being unreasonable.  What am I supposed to tell my family?”

         “Tell her that you need to see your boyfriend and you’ll be there on the 26th.”

           “You want me to ruin my mother’s Christmas?  She’s sentimental!”

            “Make it happen,” he said, and hung up the phone.

            I was fucked.  The double bind, the Surgeon’s favorite form of torture.  There was absolutely no way to win in that situation.  My only choice was to pick who I was going to hurt and piss off: my family, or the Surgeon. 

           I was miserable.

           The Surgeon gave me an hour in which to stew in my anxiety and misery, and then called me back.  I didn’t want to take the call, but I had to.

           “Tell me something good,” he said.  Yup, the voice was intense. I felt it with the same foreboding a Kansan ranchwoman feels when tornado clouds assemble on the horizon. 

            “Surgeon, I can’t cancel Christmas!  Come on!  I wouldn’t ask you to do this for me!”

             “Why not?  This is a tremendous disappointment to me.  You are ruining my plans.  Just call your Mom and tell her that you’ll be there on the 26th.”

             He kept at me all…fucking…day.   I do sadism for a living, but I have to tell you, I do not think that I am capable of pressuring someone the way that he was pressuring me.  I was so upset that I was sick to my stomach.  I was trying to finish a final exam, too–so much for that.

           All he wanted was a validation of his power over me.  He just wanted to make me do something that he knew I really didn’t want to do.  He just wanted to see me jump.  It’s no different, really, than the asshole boss who calls you out of the blue on a Saturday night at 10 PM asking for a project status report…only much, much crueler.

        It took most of the day, as well as a panic attack and some hysterical begging on my part not to make me go through with it, but eventually I caved.  I was outgunned.  It was like being at the Alamo.

        I called my Mom and told her that I had a job interview on the morning of the 27th and it was for a last-minute teaching job, and would she mind if I flew in immediately afterward?  I really needed the money from the teaching job, I said.

        (I should have just said, Mom, my fucking awful boyfriend is forcing me to do this, see you on Friday, but I didn’t.  I was ashamed of myself.)

          The disappointment in her voice was palpable, but she said that she understood.

        I called the Surgeon back to tell him what I’d done.

       “That’s great!” he said, and his own demeanor changed.  He was happy and smiling again.  But there was something else I detected in his voice: gloating.

           Then he let me go and said that he’d call me back after his meeting.

         I felt fucking miserable, but at least it was OVER.  At least it got him off my back.

         Or so I thought.

         I still cried a lot that night.  I felt really badly and guilty about the whole thing.

         So, what does he do?  What does the Surgeon do?

         It wasn’t enough.  He needed more

         He fucking called me back the next morning, cheerful and happy.

         “Hi, Baby!  How’s my girl?  Hey, I’m sorry if I was a little tense yesterday.  All that shit at the office, you know.  But, hey, I wanted to tell you…I forgot that I have to pick up my dogs from the dog-sitter on Christmas so that they aren’t here when her family comes over.  I’m going to have to run them out to Long Island, it’s a long drive.  Can we get together on the 26th instead?  That’d be great.”

         I just sat there.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

        “You want me to spend Christmas alone, after I cancelled my family plans, so that you can pick up your dogs from the dog-sitter?”
       “I forgot!” he said.  He didn’t fucking forget.  I could hear it in his voice.  He just wanted to hurt me and humiliate me that much more.  He was enjoying himself.  Like I said, the man is a sadist for real.  Besides, the excuse was proposterous on its face.  He could have paid someone to pick up his dogs.  He could have gotten them the day before.  It made no sense.

          “I’m going home!” I screamed into the phone.  Then I hung up and changed my flights back to Christmas Eve.  It cost me a pretty penny and I had to take the red-eye, too.

          Then I cried a lot.  It really hurt.

           He was furious that I left, but he also knew that he’d gone too far, and he gave me space.  I cut him off for about five months. He never did admit what a cruel and fucked-up thing he did, he only apologized for “being selfish” and he acknowledged that I “saw the situation differently” than he did.

           He knew what he did.  He never fucked with my relationship with my family again. He went too far in other areas, at other times, but he was on his best behavior around Christmas after that.

           For my part, I never saw him the same way after that.  I withdrew emotionally and always treated him with caution after that, like a dangerous dog.  I acknowledged to myself that he was sick and that he would hurt me if I left him.  I also acknowledged to myself that he did not really love me, because he would not have done that if he did.  I started dating other men. 

          Calling me the next morning was premature.  I don’t think that he thought that through.  If he hadn’t been doing his victory-lap jerkoff sadism-fest, he would have figured out that the truly  awful thing to do would be to just abandon me and leave me hanging on Christmas day, when it was too late for me to go home.

           Or come over on Christmas (without so much as a card), fuck me, and leave after twenty minutes.  I think that I’m really lucky that that did not happen to me.  If he thought about it more, that’s what he would have done.

          I am sure that he has done this to another woman–made her compromise her holiday or travel plans, and then leave her hanging.  Probably more than one woman.

         And then he calls me leaving him “unconscionable.”

        And he makes his house call, banging down the door, and I wonder to myself, I can’t believe he did it!  

         Yeah, I can believe it.  I can believe it.

         It still would have been sort of fun, though, to watch him eat the Mathematician for lunch.


    She was a good student, but vulnerable, and that was the most important thing.  That was why the teacher picked her.

    Separating her from her classmates was not particularly difficult, because she’d already done that of her own accord: she did not have many close friendships, or any close friendships, as far as he could tell (and you better believe that he looked very carefully).  She spent a lot of her free time reading or drawing in a notebook with colored pencils.  Her concentration was fine during class and he seldom caught her attention wandering–she had a lot of discipline for a girl her age, actually–but in Church, she seemed to daydream a lot.  People would call her name and she wouldn’t hear them right away.

      So, it was very easy for the teacher to become her friend. Especially since he actually enjoyed her: he told himself that they had a lot in common and that he reminded him of his younger self, which might or might not have been true.  It was easy to talk with her about what she was reading in the library, or when the students sat in the Churchyard garden during lunchtime.  And it was especially easy to talk to her because it never would have occurred to her to rebuff the conversation of a teacher: if an adult authority figure wanted to talk with her, she talked, and that was all there was to it.  He’d met both of her parents–had sat down for coffee with them, even.  The mother was stern, concerned primarily with her daughter’s grades, and worked 60 hours a week.  The father was borderline rude and, curiously, jealous of any other adult’s affect on his daughter’s intellectual development. The important thing was that the daughter seemed afraid of him, which was optimal, as far as the teacher was concerned. 

      So, the teacher started talking to her outside of class.  It started with books, goings-on about town, and things that were happening on the news, but in time, as the weeks passed, the conversation shifted to other things. He talked to her as nobody had ever talked to her before: he asked her the right questions, the questions someone would ask if they really cared.  He would listen to her answers carefully, and look for insights to her character and personality.  He treated her with more respect than she had ever known.  He would bring special foods to give to her at lunch, none of which she had ever eaten before.

     In no time at all, the teacher had become very special to her.  In fact, one could say that he became one of the most important parts of her daily life. She cared about him and wanted to impress him.  She did, in fact, flourish under all of the attention, which was, after all, not dissimilar to real love.  It is probable that the teacher told himself this often as a justification for the actualization of his true desires, which were rather less altruistic. 

      Perhaps other people noticed how much time the two of them were spending together outside of class, but nobody ever said anything about it…except for one older boy, who’d displayed a romantic interest in her the previous year (and been rejected).  He cornered her after gym class one day and asked:

       “Hey.  What’s going on with you and Mr. Teacher?”

       “What do you mean?” she asked, honestly confused.

       “There’s nothing going on with you and Mr. Teacher?”

       “I don’t understand what you mean,” she said.

       She thought about it later that night and decided that the boy was just jealous because the teacher liked her more.

       Then the day came when the teacher asked her to stay after class.  She was confused, because he seemed tense, and she hadn’t done anything wrong that she could think of.

         He told her to go stand in the corner, and when she did, he pressed up behind her and put his hand underneath her skirt.  She could feel his erection through his pants.  She’d never seen an adult man’s penis before, but she knew what an erection was.

       She was terrified and bolted for the door.  She shouted after her, but didn’t chase her.

       She went home and didn’t tell anybody what happened.

       And just like that, everything changed.

      From then on, he ignored her completely.  All of the affection and attention he’d lavished on her previously was totally revoked. He did not make eye contact with her, he did not call on her in class, and her essays and homework assignments were returned to her with the minimum amount of grading possible. 

      She was, of course, devastated, and very confused.  She wanted him to not be angry with her anymore.  One time, she tried to return a book to him and talk about it, like they used to do, and all he said was, “I don’t have time for you right now.”  

     She thought about what happened all the time. She kept wondering if she had misinterpreted something, or if what happened hadn’t actually happened as she remembered.  And, naturally, she came to wonder if it was her fault. 

       One day, she went to his office when the others were in Church.  She heard him typing on his word processor.  He looked up when she came into the room.

       “Yes?  What do you want?”

      “I want it to be like it was before!  I’m sorry!” she said, wondering if she was going to cry.

      He leaned back in his chair and put one of his ankles up on his knee, and asked the question that sealed her fate:

     “Well, what are you going to do to make this up to me?”