Guilty pleasures, we’ve all got them

Well you’d think that being a sober woman for the past year and a half, and not having had sex in about the same time (I know I’m no virgin, but part of living a more healthy, honest, life is that I want to hold out for someone I care about,someone who cares about me, rather than some anonymous guy in a bar) you would think I haven’t got any guilty pleasures left in life. But that’s just not true.

For one thing, I love to smoke cigarettes. My brand is Dunhill International, there’s only one tobacconist in my neighborhood that carries my brand and so I’m at his mercy (in other words if he raises the price, I’m forking it over, I am brand-loyal), and even though Brooklyn, New York is not the most smoker-friendly place on earth (can’t light up ANYWHERE indoors or in the presence of people without them giving you filthy looks)I manage to go through a pack a day, sometimes more.

This may seem silly, but hats are a guilty pleasure of mine. Can’t go in a department store and NOT try on the ladies’ hats. Even if I have no money to buy (you know, because it’s all gone to the tobacconist) I try on, and spend an hour in the hat department. I do own a few hats, but I never wear them anywhere, because I am constantly ridiculed for them. Apparently women in hats are seen as “fussy” or “too prim and proper” ‘round here. Come to think of it, I’m more ashamed about the hats than about smoking so many cigarettes.

And then there’s the fact that I fantasize about living in a 1950s household. You know, as a stay at home “kept” woman, where the man goes to work. And me all done up like a plump, Italian-American ‘50s housewife in a gorgeous vintage dress with my hair and makeup all perfect all the time.

Book club

So I joined a book club about six months ago.  Out of work & needing to get out of the house more often, I thought book club would be a nice way to keep my brains from turning to complete mush.  I mean, I have an M.A. in British Lit, I like sitting around and talking about literature, so yeah, it was one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time.  As you can probably guess, book club is comprised of all women members, and NO, I have no idea whether any of them are into kink like I am or not (I don’t know any of them outside of our monthly book club meetings, and one doesn’t ask a stranger, “So, are you into S & M?” while sitting on folding chairs in a book shop).

Anyway, the books are, well, I wouldn’t choose them myself.  So far we’ve read:

Where Did You Go, Bernadette?


The Valley of Amazement

You were Meant for Me

(We took December off)

Me Before You

And for next month’s meeting, we have to read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which I have not started yet and don’t know what it’s about.  But if it’s like the other books, it falls into the category of what I call chick lit, meaning it’s likely an easy read, won’t make me think too much, will have broadly drawn characters, and a predictable ending.  Left to choose my own reading material, I gravitate toward Stephen King (it’s dark, I know, but goddamn the man can write) or Hemingway (actually wrote a scholarly paper on Hemingway’s short stories, in grad school, that was published), or Dorothy Parker (the Harlem Renaissance, oh yeah), and I absolutely love Christopher Marlowe (he would’ve been the big deal Shakespeare is if he hadn’t been knifed to death in a bar fight).  And of course, being into kink, I’ve read The Story of O, and Lolita (every Little, Middle/Lolita, and/or Daddy Dom/caregiver should read Lolita) and yes, Lolita isn’t exactly a fairy tale, but it’s one of the top five novels of all time, so it’s worth reading.  I’ve also read Lady Chatterly’s Lover, but I wouldn’t call that a BDSM book, parts of it are erotic, yeah, and it was considered a “dirty book” to have been on a reading list for a class at the Catholic college where I did my undergrad.

The problem isn’t the books…I mean, I joined book club knowing I wouldn’t get to choose the books, knowing I couldn’t ram my taste in literature down everyone else’s throat.  So I read the books chosen.  Then I show up to book club actually ready to discuss what I’ve read, only to find that I’m one of two people, or worse yet, THE ONLY ONE, who actually read the book.  And so I say something like, “Well it’s interesting that the main character loves to point out her sister’s one life mistake, that of getting pregnant, because the rest of the family thinks the sister is so smart, but the sister never hammers the main character for having gotten drunk with the guys who hang out at the Red Lion and letting herself get raped (and the main character feels that in some way it IS her fault for getting drunk that she got raped)” and so the sister is in a way the better human being.”  And then one of the other woman, who didn’t read the book, will say, “Really, the main character got drunk and got raped, that happened in the book?” all astonished like I said little green men from Mars landed on Earth & all they wanted was to go shopping at Lord & Taylor.

Yup, I joined book club to keep my brains from turning to mush & instead it’s giving me agita.

All I really want

And all my life, all I really wanted, ALL I STILL WANT, is a strong male protector. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that my father sat in the BarcaLounger & stared at the goddamn TV while my mother beat me & my sisters, or maybe it has something to do with the fact that my grandfather (my mother’s father) raped me when I was ten & I felt like there was nobody there to protect me. I know, I know, the feminists will tell me I have to protect myself, have to be strong myself. They’ll point out that Gloria Steinem didn’t look for any male protector. Well I have no fucking idea who or what Gloria Steinem needed protection from, if anything. But I spent my childhood terrified of the very people I was supposed to trust most. So yeah, I want a strong male protector and NO, I am not ashamed to say so, and FUCK NO, I don’t give a flying rat’s ass if I’m setting “the women’s movement” back a hundred years. The women’s movement didn’t do shit for me.

Not the Doctor

“Look, Jack,” I said, “I need it. It’s like therapy for me, OK,” I attempted to hand him the belt.”

His blue eyes went wide, “Therapy,” he said, “have you not heard of a psychiatrist, woman?”

“Of course I have,” I snapped, still holding out the belt to him, “it’s just not all therapy takes place on the shrink’s couch. I’ve had a trying day, goddamn it. Why can’t you just accept that this is something I need, I NEED IT FOR ME!”

“I don’t hit women!”

“Christ, Jack, I’m not asking you to throw me a knock down drag out beating,” I rolled my eyes, “you’ll take the belt, I’ll get on all fours, you’ll stripe my bottom, and we’ll count ‘em out together. OK?”

“And how does that fix your trying day?”

“It breaks the fog,” I explained, “the fog of too fucking many thoughts in my head. Thoughts like nothing fit me in Macy’s because my body is wrong for the clothes, or my mother never really wanted me and that’s why she beat me when I was a child. It breaks the fog of those negative thoughts and quiets my mind. AND I NEED IT!!!!!!”

“I’ll not,” he said, tearing the belt from my hand and throwing it down on the floor between us, “I hate when you make me cause you pain.”

“It’s not pain if it quiets my mind.”

He kicked the belt out from between us, grabbed me and hugged me. “You’re a bright, sexy, articulate woman and I love you for all that you are.” When he hugged me, I felt my whole body tense up. I tried to pull away.

“Fuck’s sake, Cara,” he muttered, tears in his eyes, “you want I should stripe you with the belt and yet you wince if I hug you.”

In Black & White

My first year at college, a guy I sort of liked was a so-called party promoter. He’d hand out flyers for these parties at a place called Short Ribs, Little Miss Piggy’s. I kinda liked him, so the first time he handed me one, I made it my business to show up. Turns out he had a girlfriend, and I met her when I got to the party. But I kept showing up to those parties because they were insane. The liquor was flowing like water (I had tits, so it was real easy to get guys to buy me shots), the music was great, and, once drunk, I could dance and grind up against anyone and everyone. There was “professional entertainment” at these parties, in the form of a black guy who danced under the spotlight. The club billed this guy as Mandingo (I shit you not, I don’t know how or where they thought to promote a black guy who danced at parties full of white college kids as Mandingo, but that’s what the fuck they did) and while it was the 1990s and Brooklyn, New York was integrated, many of the females who went to those parties, myself included, had never been with a black guy.

And so I guess it was only natural that when we saw this guy called Mandingo dancing, sometimes without a shirt on, our curiosity was piqued. And after he performed his “set” under the spotlight, Mandingo would dance with the girls, one girl or another, grinding all over them. Sometimes I saw them shove money in his jeans pocket after he danced with them, as they walked away all flushed.

And me? I was short and plump, even then, and I didn’t get any attention from the white guys. I got lots of looks from random black guys when I walked to and from the subway in downtown Brooklyn going to and from class. So it started to occur to me, slowly at first, and then all at once at the end, that black guys were more appreciative of my physique than white guys. One night at one of those parties, I wondered if Mandingo was also appreciative of my physique. There was only one way to find out, I thought, as I sipped a mix of gin and juice that was mostly gin. I watched him finish up his set and then boldly elbowed my way to the front of the crowd. Fuck who I like, I thought, i’s time to find out who likes me.

“You got some sweet moves,” I shouted to him over the music, “you wanna show me your sweet moves?”

“Hell yeah,” he said, grabbing my hand and leading me to a less crowded part of the dance floor. He took his place behind me as the DJ spun Snoop Dogg’s (this was before he became Snoop Lion) Lawdy Dawdy We Likes to Party, and we fell into a groove. “Come outside and get some air with me,” he said as the song finished.

“OK,” I let him lead me out a back door into the alley behind the club.

“Thanks,” he said once we were in the alley, “I can’t be seen ‘fraternizing with the guests’ in there, y’know.”

“I get it,” I said, reaching into my bag to pull out a pack of cigarettes, “but you can fraternize the hell outta me right here.” I smiled, offering the pack to him. He shook his head no, so I lit up alone.

“You sound like an Italian.”

“I am an Italian,” I said between drags, “and you?”

“I’m black,” he laughed, “isn’t it obvious?”

“And I thought you were Scandinavian,” I said, “no, I mean, are you Creole, Jamacian, from down South, what?”

“Ohhhhhhhhhhh hell,” he said, “white girl knows her shit. I’m Creole. My real name’s Fabian.”

“I’m Cara.”

“Well Cara, you got a nice body. I mean that, I’m not just sayin’ it to push up on you.”

“Maybe I want you to push up on me,” I said, “maybe I think you pushin’ up on me would be just fine.”

“You know Mandingo’s just a stage name,” he laughed.

“And I ain’t lookin’ for any floor show,” I shot back, “I want Fabian, not the Mandingo.”

He pulled a bar napkin out of his back pocket and scribbled his name and phone number on it. “Are you sure?” He asked me. “Lotta white girls say they wanna, but then when shit get real, they get gone.”

“I’m not a lotta white girls,” I said, taking the bar napkin from him, “I’m nobody you met before.”

“Well I gotta get back in there and do another set before the manager come lookin’ for my ass.”

“Till the next episode, Fabian,” I said, shoving the napkin with his name & number in my bra.

And I had no formal training

I must admit that there was no one moment in my life where I said, “Well I want to be a submissive,” or “I guess I am a submissive,” and then set out to learn or train how to better do that. Oh, I know there are some in the BDSM lifestyle who have been formally mentored and speak very fondly of the one who personally mentored them. The Old Guard Masters, in particular, place high value on having been mentored, having a mentor, and that sort of thing. And please don’t misunderstand me…I don’t mean to knock having a mentor, having been mentored, or anything. If you have a mentor, or if you are a mentor, and consider the mentor/protege relationship a wonderful experience, that’s just great.

All I mean is to say that particular experience has never been a part of my personal life. I found myself gravitating towards BDSM (specifically the DD/lg dynamic) before I even knew what BDSM was. Had someone said to me when I was age seventeen, “Hey, you’re into S/M,” I would’ve vehemently denied it, saying, “Noooooooo, I don’t wear a leather catsuit and thigh high boots, I don’t hit anyone with a whip…I just like to call my male partner Daddy and act the role of a young child, with all the wide-eyed innocence that goes with it. I like when ‘Daddy’ spanks me, gives me corner time, etc.” Now, at thirty-seven, I realize that calling my male partner Daddy and enjoying being spanked and given corner time is a flavor of BDSM.

Now, the fact that I have no mentor doesn’t mean I learned nothing. I mean, I’ve lived, had experiences, and I also read, see films, use the internet as a resource. When I was sixteen, my parents forbade me to watch the movie Body of Evidence, which starred Madonna as a kinkster who murdered her lover and got away with it. Along with my then-seventeen year old cousin, I waited until my parents were in bed, then snuck down to the basement and watched the film. More because I wanted to know WHY they forbade me from seeing it than because I actually wanted to see it, but anyway. That film was the first time I saw wax play being done, and it interested me. After that I wanted to know WHY some people used wax play as part of the sexual experience. I was twenty-two before I personally experienced wax play, and when I did I found out that it’s not my thing, but I never would’ve thought to try it had I not seen it in the film. Let’s just say some things look great, look really sexy and sensual on film, but they feel and are awkward and nerve-wracking in real life…Or maybe real life just isn’t a film, whatever. Either way, I’m glad I had my mind opened to new ideas.