by Miss Ayme
After reading last month's column about my close encounters with aliens from the planet LASIK, my sister quite correctly pointed out that my so-called "biblical" quote from Oedipus was actually from romanticized Greek history, and not from anything found according to Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. So I must apologize profusely to you, dear reader, and to William Shakespeare, and most of all, to Oedipus himself. And to his Mom, too.
Living in the Bay Area in Northern California as we do, I've come to the conclusion that we're spoiled rotten out here on the West Coast. My Mistress and I are hosts to monthly classes that we help organize for East Bay pervs, and we've been most fortunate in welcoming and meeting, learning from, and later dining with some of the most notable luminaries within what we collectively call The Lifestyle. A veritable Who's Who of Kink Royalty has graciously crossed our lowly threshold: Jay Wiseman and Janet Hardy (aka Lady Green of Greenery Press), Carol Queen, Fetish Diva Midori, Cleo duBois, Master Adashi, Uncle Abdul, Mistress Sidara, Evil Mommy Tina, and many others.
It's an impressive roster. These are our Super Stars. Right here in my living room. They may get all the fame and glory, but the price they pay are the tireless, thankless hours of work they put in, and the endless days of travel they endure preaching the Gospel. They put their privacy and dignity on display in pursuit of the knowledge they're willing to share with us, and a dedicated SSC activism marks their lives as role models for the rest of us. It's pretty heady stuff for someone who grew up totally ignorant and only came to the Lifestyle late in life.
I reflect on all this, because I am blessed to live here and become the beneficiary of this vast wealth of resources and supportive (if not tolerant) atmosphere that draws kinksters from all over the globe. And living smack dab in the middle of it can easily lend itself to cynicism and nonchalance. Certainly it can lead to some mighty damn fine and memorable experiences, particularly if you're one of the class demos. Yet it's so easy to take it all for granted, and not care about the struggles our fellow pervs may be having in southern Louisiana, where they'd love to have Jay Wiseman come down (if they haven't already) and teach a Bondage class for them; not to mention our brothers and sisters up in Salt Lake City, Utah - which, surprisingly, has a pretty healthy BDSM community I was pleased to discover. And yet, not surprisingly, God still hasn't forgiven the Mormons for the Osmonds. There is no There there. Unless you're an outdoors-y type, then canyons like Bryce are beautiful and wonderful country. But for a short two-day trip, there's not a lot to do there unless you're a genealogy nut or a Karl Malone fanatic.
We were in Utah to attend the funeral and internment of a well-aged Old Country relative, who had worked hard and provided well for his family, and left behind many loving friends. This was the first time I had attended a Greek Orthodox ceremony in my life, and while I couldn't get into all that Icon kissing, I did appreciate the ceremony and ritual (having spent all the time I have raised as a good Episcopalian chorister). Of course there was the feast afterwards. Lotsa olives and feta and spanicopita and red wine. Those Greeks know how to separate Church and State, let me tell you!
What was unorthodox about the proceedings, however, took place at the end of the graveside ceremony. Apparently the deceased was good friends with a prominent maker of fireworks in Salt Lake, and consented to a modest display of rockets fired from a respectful, yet noisy, distance from the mournful (and increasingly hungry) gathering after the final Amen was said. The first few explosions took everyone by surprise - particularly in these heightened days of vigilant anti-terrorism - but having our eyes drawn skyward (which was the intent I guess), our hopes went with them, and amidst the crackling and sparking puffs of color and smoke, we all got a chance to catch a glimpse that our passing of this life is nothing more than the beginning of the next. And besides that, fireworks are cool. I've decided I want them at my own funeral. And I'd also like Fee Waybill and the Tubes to play at the feast afterwards. Rock out to "Mondo Bondage," and let the whips fall where they may.
But I digress. I wanted to point out that, despite our cornucopia of riches, the celebrities go through pretty much the same stages and struggles the rest of us small-timers plod through, particularly when many of the messages we (and our children) get from the media are over-indulgent, super-sized seditious happy meal market-saturated lies, that trigger mass consumption of huge and unhealthy quantities all wrapped up in our collective sense of (and weakness for) American patriotism and wars-on-something and bloated, corpulent disposable values.
Huh? Well…allow me to present it to you this way. One of the fundamental shifts in our society's concept of monogamy has been the advent of women's advice books that now recommend trial marriages. They actually advocate going into a first wedding expecting it to fail within 3-5 years - then get a divorce and look for your "real" life partner. Here we've been conditioned all these years to believe that men are more successful when they're in a stable relationship. And statistics are bearing out that for women to be successful, they're better off when independent. Where do we find balance and create something that will last?
24/7 D/s relationships are viewed in much the same light. "My sub didn't read the right book so we're just going to call it quits." "Subs are a dime a dozen." In a tightly knit community, everyone is into everyone else's business with the gossip flying fast and furious so that everyone ends up alone and miserable. Either that or they're so busy sleeping with everybody else that no one wants them because everyone's had them.
But is this really true? I read a great quote from a local email list that I'd like to relate (with thanks to Madame Blake): "People need to take a stand for their relationships. Relationships are hard work. Especially D/s relationships. You don't stop showing up. You don't stop talking. You don't stop working stuff through. You don't start ignoring the rules to get attention. You draw closer to each other to work things through. You keep respectfully requesting opportunities to talk."
Boy, ain't that the truth. And I am one of the lucky ones in that my Mistress and I have survived an episode that would shatter the foundations of even the strongest relationships. I'm going to recite a little poem first, and then explain what I mean at the end:
Her fury was so vast
She grabbed me
curses loud and upraised arm
and spent, She grabbed my hair.
My Mistress recently said those words to me. And they hurt like nothing else she ever physically did to me. Foolishly, I had betrayed her trust and disobeyed her order. As a result, a rift began to grow between us. The guilt I felt at having caused her anguish and unhappiness weighed far more heavily on me than any punishment she could devise or implement. The easy way out would have been to walk away and try to get on with our lives. But when you care about each other, and you've come to love and depend on each other, then you work out the rough stuff. You don't stop showing up. You don't stop talking.
Keeping the communication open and flowing has been the hardest part for me. But I want this to work and so I keep at it. We need to express our feelings to each other so that we can then make intelligent, informed decisions about our own feelings. When you're in it for the long haul and you're determined to go the distance, then you own up to your sins and errors and faults. In a sense, my Mistress also acts as my Confessor, not only meting out discipline, but also offering absolution. She decided that if we're going to work this through, and recognizing that I did need to be punished in some meaningful way, decreed that instead of a mere whipping (in which case I would've gotten off easy), I must give up something that was personally important to me: cigarettes. "Give 'em up if you want to stay and be here and be my slave, or take a hike." Tough call.
And while there have been hellish cravings, she's been nothing but loving and supportive as I fight my addiction. I can see the merit of this punishment, and it's a chance to not only redeem myself in my Mistress' eyes, but also do something beneficial for my well-being in the long run; taking better care of my Mistress' property would be another way to look at it. And as much as I've come to enjoy putting things in my mouth (*ahem!*), I yanked on the 'ol bootstraps and put on a positive attitude, bought the patch and puffed my last American Spirit Light one Friday morning, and as of this writing it's Day 24 tobacco free.
Hey, I look at it this way: I may have given up cigarettes, but that doesn't mean I've quit smoking!