Monday, June 28, 2010

Bottom of the First, Part II: Roses Are Black, Bruises Are Blue

Among them were a young Baltimore police officer, a Wall Street exec with stockings and satin panties under his pinstriped suit, a pony-tailed I.T. guy, and a college instructor from a small Midwestern town. Six in all, the men silently slid the ropes attached to my wrist and ankle cuffs through the loops on opposite sides of the wooden frame. I kicked off the four-inch candy-red pumps to improve my leverage, to increase my "give" against sudden sharp motion. Mouthing the words to my favorite dark cabaret CD on the boombox behind us, I felt each brush of a muscled arm against my skin like a shock. My eyes shut tight.

A lifelong fan of roller-coasters, I'll ride one again and again until I can boast that I've kept my eyes open the whole time. Somehow I grew up thinking that if I watched the illusion of my own demise, I've conquered it; if I saw death coming head-on, it would slink away. And so it was in those few moments before the "scene" started. I forced my eyes open and consciously recorded every detail: other chessboard squares alive with their own dramas, cheap ballroom carpet and chandeliers, observers starting to gather around us in anticipation. Closer, the laying out of "toys" on a bench to my left: flogger, crop, dildo, violet wand, whip, and ... blindfold? Despite my protests, the last was gently placed over my eyes, hair lifted by one set of hands, strings tied by another. I could no longer say I was completely nude.

"It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure." So wrote Donatien Alphonse Fran├žois (a.k.a. Marquis de Sade)in the 18th century.(Personally I would substitute "sometimes" for "always," but who am I to edit a renowned libertine, writer, and revolutionary? Wikipedia -- of all places -- describes him with a line I really like: "He was a proponent of extreme freedom, unrestrained by morality, religion, or law.") All digressions aside, though, in the "Scene" (which defines either an individual play session or BDSM in general), I had the reputation as a "pain slut" and "uppity bottom" who shunned the use of safewords. I expected tops to hold nothing back, and would of course offer the same in return. Give me all you got, but you can bet I will fight you tooth and nail. This is not theater with expensive costumes and props -- for me, it is a real and raw exchange of power. Both Dominant and Submissive walk (or limp) away forever changed, even in some small way; bodies and minds exhausted for a time, but stronger and bigger for the collision.

I knew it was coming, but the first strike still made me stagger. A crop to the thighs instantly transported me into a state of adrenalized hyper-awareness stronger than any drug. For the next half-hour or so, I was pure anima; sensing each new contact and moving toward it; the impossible child of Psyche and Aphrodite; alternately gasping, laughing, smiling, and sobbing.

I've always envied those who believe in Something, and only in the first few post-scene moments, when I was untied or taken down or picked up, I had fleeting flashes of an all-loving Absolute. Too soon, always too soon, the vision would give way once again to agnosticism, the keepsake stripes and bruises would fade back into skin, and only the memory of both would remain.