All posts by Nic

Midas Touch

Midas’ Daughter Turned to Gold, from A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls by Nathaniel Hawthorne

He is on the floor, on my striped beach towel, bound with words because I don’t have the patience for rope. I walk around him, admiring, toying with the switch in my hand. He doesn’t try to look up, just follows my feet with his eyes. I’m wearing cork stilettos flecked with gold. They shine, bright gold in the harsh light around his face, quicksilver in the black light by his legs. He shifts when I move out of his line of sight, and I pause, waiting to see if I will have to remind him to be still. I’m nervous, uncertain. I’m aware of the others around us, though no one seems to be watching. Being aware of them annoys me, makes me feel that I’m putting on a show, that I’m not in control.

I keep walking, idly touching him with the end of the switch. I wish there were more light, or a bench to put him in easier reach. I prod at him, trying to see him tense, which touches make him nervous, which ones make him hopeful. I flick his left thigh and his whole body jumps. I smile and hit him again, holding the switch loosely, tapping a quick rhythm up and down his thigh. He starts to flinch and wriggle after a few minutes, so I put one foot on his calf, just enough pressure to remind him to keep his leg still. His whole body relaxes in an instant. I lean forward to strike with a bit more force, watch his skin turn slowly red. I crouch by his legs, put my hand on his thigh to feel the warmth of it.

“You’re very quiet,” I tell him. “May I try a bit harder?” I drag my fingernail across the redness on his skin, and he flinches.

“Yes, okay.”

I grip the switch tighter, still crouching. I’m too tall to use the switch standing while he’s on the ground. I bring it down on his right thigh, hard. His mouth is a hard line, closed and silent. Again, thwack, the line not quite parallel to the first. This irks me, so I make another mark crossing them both. He makes a strangled sound.

“Sorry?” I sit back on my heels. “Does this (thwack) hurt?”

“Yes.”

“More or less than this did?” I pinch the redness of his left leg, rougher than I mean to.

He makes a sound like a dog sneezing. “More.”

I “tsk” and immediately regret it (everyone sounds ridiculous making that noise). “Are you saying that this hurts more?” I hit him again, a few inches below the marks I’ve already made “or are you asking for more?”

“Yes,” his tone is shy, a little too quiet under the club music.  I have a moment of delight, a moment of wanting him just for that shiver in his voice, but he clears his throat and it’s gone.

I stand and pace–crouching is just as uncomfortable as it looks, and moreso in heels–trying to decide how best to position myself. I walk in front of him, nudge his chin with the toe of my shoe to make him look up. “Full sentences, please. What are you asking for?”

He closes his eyes. For a moment I think this isn’t working, we’re going to have to stop now, but he opens them again, looks steadily at the floor, and says “Please, cane me harder, miss.”

“Good boy.” The phrase doesn’t seem to affect him, but I smile anyway, thinking of someone it would. I move to kneel between his feet and lay into him, keeping beat with the rest of the song, and the next one. “You’re very quiet,” I can’t decide whether to be impressed or annoyed: I know from experience that this switch stings like a wasp, and he has a few welts coming up purple on his calves and thighs.

“I was trying to please you.” He’s speaking quietly, so that I have to lean in and ask him to repeat himself. His leg, when I rest my hand on it, is hot to the touch.

“Did I say I liked to hit quiet boys?” He whimpers (adorable!) and I wait, count silently to three. “Did I?”

“No.”

The scene gets better after that, becomes a heady blur of images I can’t string together. I lean in asking questions, trying to keep him talking to hear his voice break. I’m scratching his shoulders, whispering in his ear, when he starts to beg, “please, miss, step on me.”

I hesitate. “We didn’t discuss that,” but I slide my foot onto his thigh, scrape the point of my heel over the red canvas of his skin.

He’s saying “please” over and over between mewling, ragged breaths. I don’t move at all, don’t say a word, and he’s pleading. I couldn’t move if I tried.

My mouth is dry. “Full sentences,” I mean to whisper but it comes out loud.

He gives me paragraphs. He begs, voice shaking, and I am transfixed by it, the desperation, the rambling nonsense, the sudden eloquence for which he is later embarrassed “Walk over me and turn me gold like Midas,” he says, amid groveling and moaning that he deserves to be impaled.

It’s the reference to Midas that convinces me. Half a dozen interpretations of that myth in this context swirl half-realized through my mind in an instant. I’m uncomfortably aware that several of them are not pleasant, but all of them are in some way aesthetic.

I stand carefully. I rest the point of my switch on the ground for balance, make sure to keep most of my weight on my toes, and walk, carefully, gingerly, up from his calves to the top of his thighs. Even moving slowly, this takes less than a minute. I’m out of breath as though it were an hour’s climb up a mountain. He starts to shake, and I step down. He’s sobbing. I gather him up in a spare towel, hushing and holding and stroking his hair. I’m unnerved, a little frightened: I had not meant to make him cry. When I ask if he’s okay he smiles, says “good,” and “thank you, miss,” and snuggles into my arms as though he doesn’t have a care in the world. Within minutes he’s joking and laughing with someone else in the room while he puts his clothes back on. I ask what he was thinking, when he mentioned Midas. He blushes, says that it didn’t mean anything at all, that he was only thinking of my gold shoes.

Just Kidding

Senr Paulo as Clown by J. L. Marks

A friend of mine is threatening to tickle his wife. She’s dancing away, squeaking “No, I mean it, stop!” before hiding behind my husband. He backs off, hands raised. “No isn’t a safeword.” He’s laughing as he says it, and most everyone else in the room laughs, too. My husband and I share a look. That wasn’t funny, right?

Now I know he didn’t mean it. I’ve played with him several times now, and watched him at parties. He checks in often, and acts more than responsible in that context. His wife isn’t actually afraid of non-consensual tickling or anything else he might do. Hell, she laughed at the joke.

And yet, I’m uncomfortable. I wonder why everyone else seems to think this is funny. It isn’t that I think he’s a rapist, it’s that the joke seems irresponsible. Not everyone here knows this couple. Not everyone even knows that they are a couple. All a new person or infrequent visitor is going to see in this exchange is a man implying that it’s okay to ignore a “no” if he feels like it. There’s an implication that a bottom or a sub or a woman’s consent only matters as long as a top/dominant/man feels like indulging her. And by laughing, like so many people did, or by keeping quiet, like I did, his audience implied that we were okay with this.

Do I think there was a person in the room who left more likely to rape because of this joke? No, of course not. But what about the other jokes? How many men in bars and clubs will say “your mouth says no, but [I don’t care what the rest of this sentence says, it’s kind of rapey]”, and complain that a woman has no sense of humor when she doesn’t laugh (or sleep with him)? Why are there multiple different t-shirt designs depicting rohypnol as basically a dating aid? Why is any woman who says no to sex at any time, for any reason, accused of teasing or “blue-balling” a man, as though he has a fundamental right to have sex with any available female simply because he wishes to? Any one of these things in isolation is a joke in bad taste. The prevalence of them points to a cultural undercurrent that accepts rape as normal and expected. And a culture that treats rape as the norm is going to produce more rapists.

In the BDSM community, I would have expected more care. Consent gets blurred, sometimes deliberately for scenes, and people will sit down and discuss doing things to each other that would be felony assault in almost any other context. Saying “no is not a safeword,” even in jest, even to someone you know well, suggests that choosing a safeword, defining how and when consent can be given and rescinded, is a right that is not granted to every person participating in a scene. And deciding that one person has more or less right to consent than another? That’s what makes people think rape is okay.

I won’t get into statistics or finer sociological points. Others have done their research and stated it in terms more eloquent than I could. I’m just here to say it’s not funny to joke about rape.

Folks who have said it better include:

Cliff Pervocracy

Sex Geek

Organon

Human Punching Bag

His fist is part of the pain is part of my shoulder. It lands again and again, knuckles conspiring with scapula to gnash like teeth at the muscles between. He punches the same point over and over, until I lean forward too far, trying to get away, not wanting to get away; until he pulls me back with an arm across my chest, until I lean into his fist again. The air feels too hot around my mouth. I gasp, filling it with curses, inchoate sounds.

He leans in. Asks “okay?” almost too quietly to hear over the music, over the quiet space settling around my mind. Harder, I think. “Good,” I say. He sits back. His fist is part of the pain is part of my shoulder. I hear the beat of music, feel it in the impact followed half a beat later by a fugue of white pain like a tooth cracked in half, nerves exposed. I hear voices, calm, sitting at the same table in matching chairs, hear my own voice curse softly in order not to interrupt their conversation. I move into the half beat between impact and pain.

He moves. Shifts to pummel the left side. Back and forth. Six beats on the right. Four to the left. I slip between. The music isn’t a phenomenon of sound anymore. It becomes the beat, the pain, the image of shoulder blade slicing through a pulp of muscle. I twist, lean forward, wish I were sitting backwards in this chair so that its back could stop me pulling away. His arm across my chest again, coaxing me upright. “Okay?” “Good.” I’m amazed that I can speak, even a monosyllable. Sound and pain and light and pain are blending into one sense that I can only describe obliquely. The surface of the table, the bodies in the room swimming across my vision like the green and violet fringes of a migraine.

His focus moves to the right again. It’s surer on that side, steady and bright and explosive; the silent, impossibly hot flare of a spark in a jar of oxyacetylene. I push myself back, towards him, though for a moment there is no him, only moments of bright impact followed by a welling up of soreness. I focus on breathing. I choose random numbers and convert them to base six. List favorite words beginning with P. Anything to keep my mind clear above the pain. Then his arm moves around me again, and stays there, holding my torso rigid and upright as he punches hard, harder, and I am pulled into it wholly. I try to bite back an unmistakably sexual moan, but my mouth won’t close. I let my head fall back against him, eyes closed. “Okay?” he asks. “Fine.” I know it isn’t the same as good, am not sure how much more I can take.

The impact is lighter now, no less pain but the force of it no longer shakes me from wrist to hip. I think I’m approaching a limit, like I’m surfing a good wave but losing my balance. The point of my scapula burns. It will crack from stress and heat, spill marrow, burst shards through skin. The sounds coming from my mouth are cracked already. His fist moves, not far, from infraspinatous fascia to teres major. I lean back into it and for a moment the fist-is-pain-is-shoulder bites down hard enough that I forget to breathe, only for the length of a hiccup, only until the next blow forces air out and I remember to bring more in after it.

He pulls me back against him. I hear song instead of beat, see objects instead of images. I relax. Sit up straight, rotate my shoulder to feel the damage. He flexes his hand, offers water, talks in low tones.  I press the fingers of my left hand under my shoulder blade, twist my body to provide resistance. I hear a frown in his voice. “You okay?”

“Yeah. There’s a crunchy spot.”

“Like a knot?”

“Mhmm”

“Here?” Two knuckles, pressed against the knot.

“There.” He hits the spot, hard, precise, I don’t know how many times. When I rotate that shoulder again, it moves more smoothly.

A day later he sees a picture of the bruises, looking small and innocuous on top of muscles too sore to carry a purse without wincing. I get a message: “Note to self: SAP gloves and kicking next time…”

Sadistic Puppy

I’ve met a sadistic puppy dog. The boy is adorable, awkward, shy, goofy, and clearly newer to BDSM than he’d like to admit.

He’s just like this. Honestly. He’s practically begging to have his toy taken away.

Every one of those things makes me want him. And every one of them draws out my most predatory instincts. He’s a self-proclaimed dominant, and I just want to turn around and overpower him.

We met at the first board game night I went to here. My husband found him grating. I found him charming. At the Halloween party he was gracious, humorous, self-effacing. I remember thinking it was a shame he was a top, that I would love to just tear him apart and play with the pieces.  We chatted, flirted (read: threatened each other with violence while smiling oh-so-pleasantly), and I didn’t think another thing of it.

Then last weekend I went to a play party that was preceded by an auction. The auction didn’t much interest me–there were maybe two items that were vaguely tempting, but I was quickly outbid on both of them and not interested enough to keep after them.

The sadistic puppy won them both. I asked to see them after the auction: a pretty green flogger, and a vicious strip of thick studded leather. I had just enough tact not to smell them. I wondered what they would sound like, hitting flesh. I handed them back to him and said “very pretty.”

“Yeah, now I just need someone to test them out on.”

I almost laughed. I was dressed as domme-ly as can be, in leather pencil skirt, high boots, and a bun. I had just spent ten minutes whaling on a man’s shoulder with a leather strap. (He wanted to be sure I knew he was not a masochist, just trying to alleviate shoulder stiffness. Because obviously only a not-a-masochist asks a woman dressed as a dominatrix/librarian to beat the hell out of him in a dungeon.) Given that, and our previous flirtation, the sadopup had apparently decided that I wasn’t interested in being hurt. “I’m available.” I said.

His jaw nearly hit the floor.

I’m new to scene negotiation. First of all, I live in a world where “no,” “stop,” and “wait” mean “no,” “stop,” and “wait,” no exceptions, and in the relationships I’ve had before we just play and check in and pay attention. Certainly as a top I’m fond of saying “I want to X” and looking for a green light to do it. I don’t know how to negotiate as a bottom, because I want to hear what a top wants and say yea, nay, or yes with a caveat. In this case, that didn’t seem to require negotiating. He had several floggers and paddles he wanted to play with, and I didn’t feel the need for any more detail to say “cool, I’m down with it.” But that sounds very misleading, as though I’m claiming a sort of no-limits badassery that certainly isn’t true. At the same time, it seems unnecessary to mention that I can’t stand having my feet hit when my boots are staying on for the scene, or that I’m not into blood play, when it isn’t on the table. But hitting? I’ve reached the point of thinking “I can’t take much more of this,” of telling myself that after three more punches I’m going to have to say “wait, give me a minute to breathe” but so far, it hasn’t actually happened.

So I stripped down and stood holding a cross. We joked and talked while he swapped between toys. It was enjoyable. He was disappointed that I didn’t react much, and I had to tell him he just wasn’t hitting hard enough to get me there. This was true, but only half-true: even when he put more force into it, I got a bit gaspy but had no trouble at all keeping up conversation. The other half was that he’s such a puppy that playing felt like playing: silly and fun, but not intense or hot or needy.

Still, it was fun. The bruising was extensive, and I may do it again.

I just think that with this particular boy, I’d rather be hurting him.

Coming Home

We were just looking for a gaming group.

See, my husband and I just moved. A job transfer to Louisiana meant all sorts of exciting changes, but also leaving behind all of our friends. We didn’t know anyone here at all. So we went online looking for places to meet fellow nerds.

We found one in the form of a local BDSM club hosting a regular board game night. Now, I love board games. I thoroughly enjoy BDSM. But neither of us had ever considered joining a club of this sort before. The idea seemed ridiculous. After all, I’ve never had a problem finding partners interested in BDSM in the past, and meeting them naturally ensured that we had other things in common than just kink.

On the other hand, board games. We went to a munch at a coffee shop and left with membership cards and a giddy sense of rebelliousness. We played board games with them the next week.  A month later, we went to our first play party.

It got me thinking.

I am new to the scene, but not to BDSM. I’ve been toying with different permutations and degrees of the acronym since my very first boyfriend, at fifteen. I’ve tried to get almost every sexual partner I’ve had to indulge my kinks to some degree, mostly asking them to hurt me, sometimes hurting them, occasionally awkwardly hashing out some sort of d/s dynamic in the process. I’m bisexual and a switch. I have crazy stories. Hilarious stories. Hours, nights, whole weekends spent in a whirl of violent eroticism that begs to be described, even bragged about.

Women talk about sex. I’m sure men do, too, but even in groups where I’ve felt like one of the “guys,” men have never discussed sex in the kind of detail that women do. At least, not in front of me. And when I’ve been out with vanilla friends or co-workers, and conversation turns to sex, I get quiet. I couldn’t imagine adding my stories to theirs. They’d think I was a freak.

I did eventually “come out” to a vanilla friend, about six months ago. We were working in a bookstore when the hype about Fifty Shades of Grey hit its highest point, and suddenly BDSM was an acronym everyone knew, and everyone wanted to talk about.  She was mocking the book–we all mocked it, though none of us read more than a few random paragraphs–and said something like “no one actually gets off on that. I mean, it’s just something extreme and messed up to read about, like true crime. Anyone who actually did it would have to be a sociopath.”

I had to say something. “I do that. Do you think I’m a sociopath?”

She tried to laugh. I had a bruise, marks from teeth and cane, running from my inner elbow all the way to my sternum. I showed her part of it. She got quiet. She didn’t want to know. This was a close friend, someone I worked with, talked to every day. I helped plan her wedding, even. But she didn’t want to know. We’re still friends, but it’s very clear that that chapter of the book of Nic is not one she’s interested in reading.

I’ve joined a BDSM club. We were just looking for a gaming group, but we found people who share an interest and don’t think we’re freaks (well, at least not for that.) It’s more of a relief than I ever would have thought. And even more than the cicadas and humidity and green Southern trees, these people have made moving to Louisiana feel like coming home.