Monthly Archives: June 2012

Wicked

Isn’t that a fine word?  Wicked.

Let it roll over your tongue.  Your lips form the same pucker as in a kiss, then you have the sharp sound in the middle, with that definitive d sound at the end.

It has several definitions, but the one I like the best is “Playfully malicious or mischievous.”  Playfully malicious.

Doesn’t that just sound like a female dominant?  A good one, anyway.  Playfully malicious.

drew often refers to me as “wicked.”  I do quite like it.

I’ve been accused of having a wicked laugh, and a wicked mind, and a wicked touch.  I’ve never denied any of those.  I consider them compliments.  I like the idea of wickedness.

I think that comes as close to how I feel, too, when I’m doing something, well, something wicked.

I feel playfully malicious.  I like making boys squirm, honestly.  I like making them beg me for more, for less, for different.  I like when they think the dislike pain and discover they quite like it.

I like when they are being manhandled, pushed around, a first experience, often, for men, and they find that they quite like that, as well.

I like when they find a much deeper well of submission than they ever knew existed, and when we both know that it wouldn’t have appeared for anyone else, that it is something in me that awakens that submission in them.

I like when they are in a most vulnerable and compromising predicament – tied to my bed while wearing a woman’s nightie, for instance, or ass up and face down, or blindfolded and bound, not able to move, while their cock’s rigidity disproves any pleas that they are not enjoying themselves.

I think that makes me a wicked woman.

I can live with that.

Definitions

One of the things I truly enjoy is conversation.

I have always held that great conversation is nearly as stimulating as great sex, while good conversation is far better than bad sex.  Good conversation imparts information, allows us to communicate with others.  Communication requires a shared language.

Towards that end, I wanted to speculate on the definitions of some of the words we use.

One of the essential requirements of conversation is that we all agree to a specific set of building blocks that we will use for that purpose, namely language.  I believe that the better we use and understand language the more precise our communication will be.  I truly want to understand what you’re telling me, and if you’re using language imprecisely or incorrectly, you are defeating your own purposes.

I am certainly far from perfect, but I do make an effort to speak correctly and well.  I never require perfection from anyone, myself included.  I do require effort.

Having prefaced these comments, I want to discuss and define some words within my own terminology.  Each of them to me has different flavors and shadings.  I am not implying that everyone’s definition would be the same, though I believe that they are generally used in a similar way by most people I know, I am saying this is my definition of them, and the differences I see between them.

The first is Master or Mistress.  Being a Master or a Mistress implies, for me, a certain relationship to someone.

I would say I am Mistress to those who submit to me.  I fulfill that role, within that relationship.  I prefer to be called “Mistress” by those to whom I am indeed Mistress.  I wouldn’t correct anyone who called me that out of respect, but if asked, I choose “Ma’am.”  I originally used the title “Mistress Constance” primarily so I have two names to use in forms and programs that want a first and last name when I am unwilling to use my legal names.

Over the years, I’ve come to be known within the community by that title, and as Ms Constance.  I use the latter more than the former now, for whatever reason.

When those titles are used by others, I hope it’s only used out of respect, never out of any assumption that I require it.  In that sense, the word Mistress or Master is a title on the same level as Mister.  Referring to one as your Mistress is very different than referring to someone as Mistress Mary.  The same is true of the word Master.

In addition, I also consider a Master or Mistress to be someone who is not only dominant, but who is willing to accept responsibility for another, someone who is willing to be mentor and teacher and confidant and guide.

When someone reaches a level of accomplishment in a craft, we refer to him or her as a “master woodworker,” or a “master draftsman.”  It is an acknowledgement of their understanding of what they do, the experience they have within the field, the knowledge they bring to the table.

A Dom is a male dominant.  A female dominant is a Domme.  It’s often pronounced “dom-may,” though I pronounce them as synonyms.  I’ve never seen a pronunciation guide for this particular word in Webster’s dictionary, so I don’t know what the “correct” pronunciation is, or if there is one.  In any case, to me, that’s the essence of the definition.  It implies dominance, and the person so described may or may not also be a Master or a Mistress.

It’s rather like the difference between the terms “President” and “leader.”  A President may well be a leader, too, or he may not.  President describes the position he holds, while leader describes his ability to influence others and inspire loyalty.

I see a Top as someone who is willing to direct a scene, someone who can fulfill the role of a Dom/me, someone who may, in fact, be a Master or a Mistress, but basically someone who is in control during a specific time period.  I use it often in generic terms. I might, for instance, say that the Top in this situation should do this, if this should happen.  It is for me the most basic reference, so the safest one to use.   I

f I were to differentiate that one person was what I considered a Top versus a Dom/me, I would mean that it was someone who enjoyed that power dynamic on a limited basis, usually during a scene, but wasn’t interested in a true power exchange.  It might be merely someone who enjoyed kinky sex, but didn’t want the dynamics to spill over to other portions of their lives.

Before I go on, let me make it clear that none of these terms are used in a pejorative sense, at least by me.  There’s nothing at all wrong with liking some things included in your sex life without including them in the rest of your life.

Not everyone who enjoys spanking someone else’s bottom for sexual stimulation, or even as a means of behavior modification, would choose to identify themselves as a dominant elsewhere, and that is a definition that no one else has a right to make for them.  Being a Top is no less than being a Dom/me, it is simply different.

For me, Top is the broadest term, Dom/me is the next most broad, and Master/Mistress is the least broad definition.  It moves from the general to the more specific.

I consider the term sadist to be apart from these definitions as well.  A sadist is clinically defined as someone who derives pleasure from causing pain.  Sometimes the clarification is added that the pleasure derived is sexual.

I have known a number of dominants that were and are not sadists, as I have known a number of submissives that were not masochists, those who derive pleasure from having pain inflicted on them.

I define myself as a sadist when in the company of a masochist.  I enjoy the infliction of pain when I know that the person on whom I am inflicting it welcomes the sensation.  I would not be a sadist in other circumstances; I am not a true sadist at all.

One can also be a sadist without being a dominant at all.

I believe, as well, that the same sort of definitions applies to terminology for submissives.  The broadest term is “bottom,” meaning someone who chooses to be in the submissive role during defined times.

In a more specific sense, I might define someone as a bottom, in contrast with a submissive.  The bottom, in that definition, enjoys the role of being submissive at times, enjoys certain kinds of play that are probably primarily sexual, but isn’t interested in a true power exchange, in giving up their own autonomy outside that defined parameter.

A submissive is someone for whom that exchange comes more naturally, because they are, indeed, submissive.  They choose to submit their own will to another’s, choose that way of life in the way a Dom/me chooses to be dominant.

The term “slave” is defined by a relationship, or may be a title as well.  This person may be slave to that one, or they may be referred to as slave mary or slave john, a type of courtesy title rather than a judgement, in the same way it may be more appropriate for a child to call your best friend Aunt Mary or Uncle John.  It offers a title and a level of formality, while acknowledging that this isn’t someone who might like to be called Ms. Smith or Mr. Jones.

On a final note, let me take a moment to discuss capitals and their use.  My general personal preference in all situations is for correct English over manipulations, with a couple of exceptions.  I find it hard to read and impossible to type using conventions like: “W/we hope that Y/you are able to come and bring Y/your F/friends.”  I would say, regardless to whom I was writing, “We hope that you are able to come and bring your friends.”  The only reference to myself I capitalize is, in fact, the word “I.”

My feeling is that I am dominant, not God, therefore using conventions like “I will bring My toys in My car, if My schedule permits,” is rather presumptuous on my part.  That’s not to say that I object to anyone else using it or believe they shouldn’t.  For me, it feels wrong.

I spent enough time, though, on IRC that I got very used to the convention of not capitalizing a submissive’s name, and I do tend to do that one by habit.  Normally I try to do that only when I know the submissive and know that it is their preference.  I am probably inconsistent in that, but it is never meant as an indication of lack of respect, in the same way that capitalizing someone else’s name doesn’t necessarily indicate respect.

The first is done out of habit and because it was a convention on line, the latter is done out of habit in the use of standard capitalization.  Out of that online habit as well, I inconsistently capitalize Master, Mistress, Dom, Domme, Dominant and Top.  I also capitalize the word “Leather,” sometimes, when referring to the community group.

Let me reiterate that I am not implying that everyone who uses these terms will use them in the ways I do, though I believe the general differences I’ve mentioned are fairly universally accepted.  If anyone has differing opinions, they are more than welcome to present them, each of us has different perceptions.

If we didn’t, one crayon would suffice and we’d never have gotten those lovely boxes of 128 different Crayola colors, with the built in sharpener.

Color me a sort of chartreuse with hints of butter yellow.

Training

I do monthly classes here in Louisville, on “BDSM Basics.”  I had one a couple of weeks ago on safety.  We talked about both the kind of safety as in, how and where you can strike people safely, but we also talked about some other aspects of safety, which for me boil down to behaving rationally, knowing the people you play with.

The thing that struck me, though, was an email I had gotten from someone who had signed up for the class.  I send out a reminder because anyone who wants to attend needs to get pre-registered, so I know who’s coming and they know where to go.

So I sent an email to one guy who had signed up for the class.  He’s pretty new in terms of the community, six or eight months, I think, and considers himself a Top.

In other words, one might think he’s precisely the person who should attend a class.  Particularly, perhaps, a class on safety, since he’s taking a dominant role, so knowing where and how to strike someone, knowing the kinds of questions to ask someone to assess limits and limitations, might be really valuable knowledge.

His response was, he had signed up some time ago, but would no longer be able to take the class, because he had a new submissive he was “training,” and he needed to focus on her…

Hokay.

It’s not that he wasn’t interested in coming to MY class, while I am egotistical, I am not that egotistical.  I am not the be-all and end-all of kink education.  On the other hand, I am the only one in Louisville offering classes, so there is that.

I think the thing that bothered me the most, honestly, is that he is too busy “training” his brand new slave to spend any time on educating himself.

To be fair, I usually find the word “training” to be both annoying and inaccurately used.

Most of the time when a Dominant tells you that they are “training” a submissive or slave, what they mean is, they’re doing a lot of physical things to them.  “Training” them to take a flogger or a whip or whatever.

I think, personally, that’s both an inaccurate and misleading use of the word.  The actual definition of training is, “The action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior.”

I don’t think there’s a skill in taking a flogger, nor do I think it’s a type of behavior to be whipped.  You may disagree, you’re welcome to, this is my blog and the beauty of it is that I can say whatever I want.

So, I don’t think that’s training.

Training to me is someone learning what you like and want.  slave drew, for instance, knows that I want hot black tea in the morning, I dislike and won’t drink herbal tea, green tea is for evening.  I will never ever drink coffee, whether it’s hot or cold.  I drink unsweetened ice tea, but sometimes I’ll drink Diet Coke.  I dislike sweet tea, I don’t like Pepsi much at all, though I will drink Diet Pepsi if it’s fountain, if it’s not, then he’s probably better off bringing me water.

slave thomas knows that I have no sense of direction whatsoever, and if I head the wrong direction in a hotel, he needs to let me know, because I will end up somewhere usually opposite of where I meant to go.  He is also aware that I often confuse left and right, so he also knows that if he says “Right,” and I go left, he needs to say, “Other right.”

In my book, that is training, that is acquainting someone with my tastes and preferences, in order that they can serve me better, with less direction.

Training might be knowing exactly how your Master likes his coffee, or that he likes pepperoni on her pizza but never sausage, or that she prefers her towels folded longways first and no more than four ice cubes in any drink.

I doubt that was what he was doing in his training, though to be fair, I really don’t know, so maybe it is.  Maybe I am simply assuming because he is new and has not made the kind of education of which I am aware a priority, that he is not serious about it.

I imagine he would agree.  I imagine he believes he’s doing right by himself and this submissive, because that is the nature of being dominant, to some extent.  We believe we are correct.  And no one, I suppose, can tell us definitively that we are not.

What I do know, though, is that experience counts for a lot, as does hand’s on education when it comes to kink.  I know that your local community college probably doesn’t offer classes on BDSM Safety, or Kink Etiquette, or Canes and Crops.

It’s funny, too.  If I went to a munch and asked people what they wanted from the community, there would be two answers.  They want parties, of course, because we all love to play.

But they’d also all insist that they want education, that they want to learn to do what it is they do better, more safely,to understand better how to navigate the community.

The next obvious observation would be, of course, “Gee, all your classes must be filled to the brim, since people are so interested in education.”

Sadly, no, and it doesn’t seem to matter if classes or free or there’s a charge.  I have done free classes in the past, and I still do a lot of them, but I discovered over time that people seemed to value it more and take it more seriously if they actually paid, so I offer both.

Interestingly, it’s often the people who are the most vocal about wanting education who never seem to manage to make it.  It’s a work night.  They have a family function.  They forgot.  They have to work, they have kids, they’ve been sick, etc.

All of those are, of course, valid excuses, but in the end we make time for what matters to us.

What to Expect at a Munch

It occurred to me that I have never posted the single piece of writing that has been used more than anything else I’ve ever done.  I wrote it years ago, back in 2000, because I got so many people asking me about munches.  Since then it’s been used in introductory packets all over the world, literally – I got a request from South Africa, years back, and if you do a Google search on it as ” What to Expect at a Munch,” the first 150 or so, at least, references are to this article.

 

What to Expect at a Munch

If you’ve never been to a munch before, the prospect can be very intimidating. What should you expect, how should you behave, how should you dress, what might happen, what might not? When you add that to a lifestyle that can seem terribly intimidating on its own, the terror mounts. I thought it might be helpful, particularly for novices, to know what to expect on a rather detailed level.

A munch is a social gathering. They’ve been around for quite a while, after legendarily starting in Portland, Oregon, a city known for the scope of BDSM activities available. It’s a combination of the word lunch or brunch and meeting. There are also other meetings called sloshes, which are similar, only the focus is less likely to be on a meal. Bear in mind, too, that there are a number of people in this lifestyle who are recovering alcoholics and drinking to excess doesn’t usually fit well with the things we do. The word “slosh,” then, refers to the liquid refreshments, not to the state of the attendees. If you prefer not to drink, no one will think it odd in any gathering if you stick to soft drinks or coffee. You won’t be the only one.

Munches are designed to provide a safe and public location for people with a common interest to gather. Not every munch or every munch organizer has exactly the same agenda, so bear in mind these are general truths. It’s a good idea to let the host know you’re coming to a munch if you’ve never been before, just to make sure that your information is current or that you don’t need an invitation or a reference from someone. In addition, some locations make it necessary to know how many people to expect. Most munches are open to the public, but rules do vary, so it’s wise to check. The host will appreciate knowing to expect a new face, as well.

What you can expect to happen at a munch is not really much different than what might happen at a company party or a class reunion or a bowling banquet. If you accidentally wandered into the room, what you’d see is a group of people, numbering from 10 or 12 up to 50 or 60, depending on the location and popularity of that munch. Munches are almost always held in public locations, so fetishwear isn’t appropriate. You might note a few more pieces of leather clothing – vests, skirts, jeans – but not of a style to cause comment and nothing to tip off anyone. You might notice some collars in the room, but nothing that couldn’t be passed off as a fashion statement. On first glance, we look like any other group of people, which we are, after all.

The next thing you might notice is that the people in the room are doing a lot of laughing and talking. If you wandered around the room, you’d overhear conversations about the preferred material for floggers, or the new corset that’s just been ordered, but you’d also hear conversations about a child’s graduation, or the car that broke down, or the movie that was on television last night. We are a regular group of people. We have, by and large, regular lives. We pay taxes and obey traffic laws (well, ok, MOST of them), and have jobs and houses and families.

The usual age range in most groups is late 20’s to late 40’s. That’s not to say that you won’t see both younger and older people there, simply that the bulk of people would fall into those ranges. If you’re older or younger, don’t feel disqualified or unwelcome. You’re not. Please make sure that you’re of legal age, but beyond that, age is unimportant. There are some groups that are more geared to older members or younger ones, but I’ve never known anyone to be sent away because of their age, as long as they were over 21. That is the youngest most groups admit.

Munches are usually a good mix of males and females, of singles and couples and of Tops and bottoms. That is not to say that it’s evenly divided among those catagories, only that it’s a mix of them. It seems that there are more submissives than dominants, but the ratio is not usually wildly skewed, either.

What shouldn’t you assume a munch is, unless you’re told otherwise specifically? It’s not a dating service. It’s not a singles group. It’s not a swinger’s club. The purpose of a munch is not specifically to find you a date and/or a partner. If the only reason you come to a munch is for that reason, you are likely to be disappointed. Relationships take time and effort and relationships in this lifestyle are no different. If anything, they require more of both. It’s possible you’ll meet someone who is appealing to you, and that something will come from it, but if that is the only reason you go, you’re unlikely to find it. At best, the expectation is unrealistic. At worst, it’s predatory behavior and completely unwelcome in responsible circles.

The best reason to attend a munch is to find people who have similar interests as you, people with whom you can talk and learn from, whether you are a novice or an experienced player. The more people you know, the more likely it is that you WILL find someone who captures your fancy. Consider, too, the odds of dating in the vanilla world and just hoping that you’ll find someone who won’t run screaming into the night when you bring out the ropes. At least at a munch, you know that issue is already dealt with.

As to what to wear, dress as you would dress for dinner and a movie on the weekend, wear what you’d wear to go out on a date. If you like to dress up, this is a good place for it. If, on the other hand, you want to wear a sweatshirt and jeans, feel free. No one will throw you out and you won’t be the only one. Clothing at an average munch will range from relatively casual to party clothes, and all of them are welcome. Again, this isn’t the time to wear that fabulous new latex dress with the cut-out breasts, because they’re normally at public locations. If you’re still unsure, check with the host. A good bet for the first time is something in the dressy casual range, nice jeans and a sweater, khakis and a sport shirt.

What you should expect to happen at a munch is that you’ll talk to some pleasant people about a lot of things, nothing more. There won’t be an orgy in the back booth, there won’t be an intense scene at the table next to you, you won’t be expected to participate in anything other than conversation. Nothing will happen at 99% of munches that you might not see from a fairly rowdy and happy group in any restaurant. If you’re a submissive, you’re not expected to be anything but courteous to anyone, unless you’ve expressly agreed to do so. If you’re a dominant, the only submissive you have a right to expect anything other than courtesy from is the submissive(s) with whom you have that relationship. Don’t expect someone who is not employed by the establishment to fetch you a drink and don’t feel compelled to offer to fetch anyone else a drink, unless you truly want to do so.

If you feel uncomfortable with a situation, please tell the host. We would very much rather deal with something at the time it happens than find out later that there was a problem we never knew about. Bear in mind, too, that these ARE public events. While it’s probably a good start that the person you’ve met who seems so interesting is attending a munch, it does not vouch for his or her character. Don’t assume that everyone you meet there is safe and trustworthy simply due to their presence. Most are, in fact, but you still need to behave as responsibly as you would had you met them in other circumstances. If you do run into someone you’d like to get to know better, giving your email address is usually safer than giving your phone number.

Many people worry about the discretion of attending a public meeting. It IS possible that you will meet someone you know. If, on the other hand, you do, they’re at the same event you’re attending. It’s rather hard to point fingers at someone else for an interest that you share. When and if you run into someone you know from a munch in a vanilla setting, please remember to respect their privacy. Most people won’t mind a greeting, but keep in mind the situation, as well. If you didn’t know that nice man you’ve talked to at the munches was married, and you’re a beautiful blond female 20 years his junior, probably greeting him with a big hug and a kiss in front of the woman who is probably his wife is NOT a good idea. Be discreet and treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.

Munches vary in terms of how expensive they are. Most are as expensive as you’d like them to be, meaning you’re responsible only for what you order. If you want to have a single soft drink, then that’s the cost. If you want dinner and appetizers and dessert, that’s the cost. Some have arrangements with the location for a set menu, or must pay for a room and may ask you to contribute something – usually under $5 – to cover that expense. If your funds are limited, check with the host(s).

Bear in mind that as long as you keep servers happy and don’t antagonize other patrons, restaurants will usually welcome you. If you’re in a public room, the people around you did not consent to hear your overly-loud descriptions of the exquisite spanking you delivered last night. They have a right to their privacy and the enjoyment of their meal as much as you do. However, I think conversations held in normal tones of voice are the business of those having them, and if someone chooses to listen, they should be able to deal with what they hear. If you have a more private location, those concerns will be lessened. Take your cue from those around you who have been there before.

Keep your restaurant servers happy. While you may only have had a single soft drink, you still are expected to leave a tip. Munches often occupy tables for three and four hours. I don’t believe 15% is enough to tip in those situations. We, above others, should recognize and reward good service. Your one soft drink may have been refilled ten times. You’re not obliged to tip for poor service, but if the service was adequate, leave a decent tip. If it was good service, leave a good tip. If you’re on a tight budget, you need to take that tip into account in terms of what you order. It IS part of the cost to you and you should not consider it discretionary or optional.

Say please and thank you to the server and keep in mind that one person may be covering a room of up to 40 people, so be patient. Hosts often don’t know how many people to expect, so the restaurant may not be prepared for the number of people that attend. Many times restaurants will make soft drinks available on a serve-yourself basis. If they do, take advantage of that to allow the server to concentrate on food orders. If the service is slow, please don’t sit at your table and complain loudly to everyone around you about it. You’re not there for a fine dining experience, you’re there to enjoy the company of others who share your interests. If you walk through the door expecting to have a good time, you’re almost guaranteed to be right.

© Ms Constance, 2000

What to Expect at a Munch

It occurred to me that I have never posted the single piece of writing that has been used more than anything else I’ve ever done.  I wrote it years ago, back in 2000, because I got so many people asking me about munches.  Since then it’s been used in introductory packets all over the world, literally – I got a request from South Africa, years back, and if you do a Google search on it as ” What to Expect at a Munch,” the first 150 or so, at least, references are to this article.

 

What to Expect at a Munch

If you’ve never been to a munch before, the prospect can be very intimidating. What should you expect, how should you behave, how should you dress, what might happen, what might not? When you add that to a lifestyle that can seem terribly intimidating on its own, the terror mounts. I thought it might be helpful, particularly for novices, to know what to expect on a rather detailed level.

A munch is a social gathering. They’ve been around for quite a while, after legendarily starting in Portland, Oregon, a city known for the scope of BDSM activities available. It’s a combination of the word lunch or brunch and meeting. There are also other meetings called sloshes, which are similar, only the focus is less likely to be on a meal. Bear in mind, too, that there are a number of people in this lifestyle who are recovering alcoholics and drinking to excess doesn’t usually fit well with the things we do. The word “slosh,” then, refers to the liquid refreshments, not to the state of the attendees. If you prefer not to drink, no one will think it odd in any gathering if you stick to soft drinks or coffee. You won’t be the only one.

Munches are designed to provide a safe and public location for people with a common interest to gather. Not every munch or every munch organizer has exactly the same agenda, so bear in mind these are general truths. It’s a good idea to let the host know you’re coming to a munch if you’ve never been before, just to make sure that your information is current or that you don’t need an invitation or a reference from someone. In addition, some locations make it necessary to know how many people to expect. Most munches are open to the public, but rules do vary, so it’s wise to check. The host will appreciate knowing to expect a new face, as well.

What you can expect to happen at a munch is not really much different than what might happen at a company party or a class reunion or a bowling banquet. If you accidentally wandered into the room, what you’d see is a group of people, numbering from 10 or 12 up to 50 or 60, depending on the location and popularity of that munch. Munches are almost always held in public locations, so fetishwear isn’t appropriate. You might note a few more pieces of leather clothing – vests, skirts, jeans – but not of a style to cause comment and nothing to tip off anyone. You might notice some collars in the room, but nothing that couldn’t be passed off as a fashion statement. On first glance, we look like any other group of people, which we are, after all.

The next thing you might notice is that the people in the room are doing a lot of laughing and talking. If you wandered around the room, you’d overhear conversations about the preferred material for floggers, or the new corset that’s just been ordered, but you’d also hear conversations about a child’s graduation, or the car that broke down, or the movie that was on television last night. We are a regular group of people. We have, by and large, regular lives. We pay taxes and obey traffic laws (well, ok, MOST of them), and have jobs and houses and families.

The usual age range in most groups is late 20’s to late 40’s. That’s not to say that you won’t see both younger and older people there, simply that the bulk of people would fall into those ranges. If you’re older or younger, don’t feel disqualified or unwelcome. You’re not. Please make sure that you’re of legal age, but beyond that, age is unimportant. There are some groups that are more geared to older members or younger ones, but I’ve never known anyone to be sent away because of their age, as long as they were over 21. That is the youngest most groups admit.

Munches are usually a good mix of males and females, of singles and couples and of Tops and bottoms. That is not to say that it’s evenly divided among those catagories, only that it’s a mix of them. It seems that there are more submissives than dominants, but the ratio is not usually wildly skewed, either.

What shouldn’t you assume a munch is, unless you’re told otherwise specifically? It’s not a dating service. It’s not a singles group. It’s not a swinger’s club. The purpose of a munch is not specifically to find you a date and/or a partner. If the only reason you come to a munch is for that reason, you are likely to be disappointed. Relationships take time and effort and relationships in this lifestyle are no different. If anything, they require more of both. It’s possible you’ll meet someone who is appealing to you, and that something will come from it, but if that is the only reason you go, you’re unlikely to find it. At best, the expectation is unrealistic. At worst, it’s predatory behavior and completely unwelcome in responsible circles.

The best reason to attend a munch is to find people who have similar interests as you, people with whom you can talk and learn from, whether you are a novice or an experienced player. The more people you know, the more likely it is that you WILL find someone who captures your fancy. Consider, too, the odds of dating in the vanilla world and just hoping that you’ll find someone who won’t run screaming into the night when you bring out the ropes. At least at a munch, you know that issue is already dealt with.

As to what to wear, dress as you would dress for dinner and a movie on the weekend, wear what you’d wear to go out on a date. If you like to dress up, this is a good place for it. If, on the other hand, you want to wear a sweatshirt and jeans, feel free. No one will throw you out and you won’t be the only one. Clothing at an average munch will range from relatively casual to party clothes, and all of them are welcome. Again, this isn’t the time to wear that fabulous new latex dress with the cut-out breasts, because they’re normally at public locations. If you’re still unsure, check with the host. A good bet for the first time is something in the dressy casual range, nice jeans and a sweater, khakis and a sport shirt.

What you should expect to happen at a munch is that you’ll talk to some pleasant people about a lot of things, nothing more. There won’t be an orgy in the back booth, there won’t be an intense scene at the table next to you, you won’t be expected to participate in anything other than conversation. Nothing will happen at 99% of munches that you might not see from a fairly rowdy and happy group in any restaurant. If you’re a submissive, you’re not expected to be anything but courteous to anyone, unless you’ve expressly agreed to do so. If you’re a dominant, the only submissive you have a right to expect anything other than courtesy from is the submissive(s) with whom you have that relationship. Don’t expect someone who is not employed by the establishment to fetch you a drink and don’t feel compelled to offer to fetch anyone else a drink, unless you truly want to do so.

If you feel uncomfortable with a situation, please tell the host. We would very much rather deal with something at the time it happens than find out later that there was a problem we never knew about. Bear in mind, too, that these ARE public events. While it’s probably a good start that the person you’ve met who seems so interesting is attending a munch, it does not vouch for his or her character. Don’t assume that everyone you meet there is safe and trustworthy simply due to their presence. Most are, in fact, but you still need to behave as responsibly as you would had you met them in other circumstances. If you do run into someone you’d like to get to know better, giving your email address is usually safer than giving your phone number.

Many people worry about the discretion of attending a public meeting. It IS possible that you will meet someone you know. If, on the other hand, you do, they’re at the same event you’re attending. It’s rather hard to point fingers at someone else for an interest that you share. When and if you run into someone you know from a munch in a vanilla setting, please remember to respect their privacy. Most people won’t mind a greeting, but keep in mind the situation, as well. If you didn’t know that nice man you’ve talked to at the munches was married, and you’re a beautiful blond female 20 years his junior, probably greeting him with a big hug and a kiss in front of the woman who is probably his wife is NOT a good idea. Be discreet and treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.

Munches vary in terms of how expensive they are. Most are as expensive as you’d like them to be, meaning you’re responsible only for what you order. If you want to have a single soft drink, then that’s the cost. If you want dinner and appetizers and dessert, that’s the cost. Some have arrangements with the location for a set menu, or must pay for a room and may ask you to contribute something – usually under $5 – to cover that expense. If your funds are limited, check with the host(s).

Bear in mind that as long as you keep servers happy and don’t antagonize other patrons, restaurants will usually welcome you. If you’re in a public room, the people around you did not consent to hear your overly-loud descriptions of the exquisite spanking you delivered last night. They have a right to their privacy and the enjoyment of their meal as much as you do. However, I think conversations held in normal tones of voice are the business of those having them, and if someone chooses to listen, they should be able to deal with what they hear. If you have a more private location, those concerns will be lessened. Take your cue from those around you who have been there before.

Keep your restaurant servers happy. While you may only have had a single soft drink, you still are expected to leave a tip. Munches often occupy tables for three and four hours. I don’t believe 15% is enough to tip in those situations. We, above others, should recognize and reward good service. Your one soft drink may have been refilled ten times. You’re not obliged to tip for poor service, but if the service was adequate, leave a decent tip. If it was good service, leave a good tip. If you’re on a tight budget, you need to take that tip into account in terms of what you order. It IS part of the cost to you and you should not consider it discretionary or optional.

Say please and thank you to the server and keep in mind that one person may be covering a room of up to 40 people, so be patient. Hosts often don’t know how many people to expect, so the restaurant may not be prepared for the number of people that attend. Many times restaurants will make soft drinks available on a serve-yourself basis. If they do, take advantage of that to allow the server to concentrate on food orders. If the service is slow, please don’t sit at your table and complain loudly to everyone around you about it. You’re not there for a fine dining experience, you’re there to enjoy the company of others who share your interests. If you walk through the door expecting to have a good time, you’re almost guaranteed to be right.

© Ms Constance, 2000

Spinning Fire

slave drew and I rode over on the scooter tonight to see our friends, Mark and Christine.  Mark is a very talented photographer and he’d talked to drew about helping him set up a photo shoot, which is what we did tonight.

Mark’s idea was to use a very slow shutter speed, 30 seconds or so, and take photos of a spinning fire.  The fire was created by filling an egg whisk with steel wool, setting it alight, then spinning it on the end of a chain.

By using a very slow shutter speed, you get the image of the fire spinning in a circle, throwing off sparks.

Of course, sometimes the whisk also flies off the end of the chain, causing some of us to scatter.

We must have tried it about a half dozen times, with varying success, although we ended up with at least three or four photos that are quite impressive.  They will get some manipulation after the initial capture of the image.

I have always loved photography for one reason in particular.  It is an image of a moment in time.

Looking through my family pictures, I know that my Aunt Rosebud stood just so, one foot turned to the side, smiling at the camera, on Easter Sunday in 1926.

I know that my father, dressed just so, had my oldest brother sitting in front of him on the horse he rode, cowboy hats on both their heads, the spring of 1947.

I know that my other brother had a pair of homemade stilts that he wore around the neighborhood, the same summer he wore a single red die with a hole drilled through it, around his neck on a pull chain, back in 1960.

And I know that I’ll look back sometime on the photos taken tonight and remember the ride over, the scattering when the chain gave way, the fire flying through the air, spinning circles of light.

Sunday Munch

Today was the Sunday munch, which was fun, followed by running out of gas on the scooter on the way home, which was less fun, but not a big deal.

We got the side bed we wanted to put in done today, and drew made me a small desk I needed.

We saw friends at the munch, talked to a new person or two, immediately decided whether or not I liked them – one yes, one no – and prepared for another week, basically.

Except now, it’s time for bed, so I’m going to leave with a poem, because it’s my blog and I can.

Sara Teasdale is my all-time favorite poet, and I have memorized her poetry for 40 years now.  This has always been one of my favorites.

Desert Pools

I love too much; I am a river
Surging with spring that seeks the sea,
I am too generous a giver,
Love will not stoop to drink of me.

His feet will turn to desert places
Shadowless, reft of rain and dew,
Where stars stare down with sharpened faces
From heavens pitilessly blue.

And there at midnight sick with faring,
He will stoop down in his desire
To slake the thirst grown past all bearing
In stagnant water keen as fire.

Sara Teasdale

A Busy Saturday

He had a very pleasant day, in which we accomplished a lot, two of my very favorite things.

I did my usual yard sale thing this morning, and found some nifty stuff.  drew got clothes, some naturalist books and his favorite, three aluminum outlines of birds, clearly made by a person and not a mold or company, that I thought he would like hung on his workshop doors down at his house in Western Kentucky.

I found some shoes, a book or two, and several plants.  I recently cleaned out the small bed on the kitchen side of the house and it needed some plants.  The spot gets baking sun most of the day during the summer, so it isn’t a spot for sissy plants.

I bought four sedums, a succulent that will do well there, and four small pots of Siberian iris, on which I spent exactly $1.85.

I met drew for a salad lunch, then we ran to Home Depot to get some top soil and mulch for the new bed.  It’s the only real area of the whole property with poor soil because it’s never really been supplemented.  That total was $10.05.

drew then dropped me off at the nail salon, where I had my nails painted a bright metallic blue.  I usually do reds, but I decided to try the blue and am liking it enough to do it again.

Then drew picked me up on the scooter and we went out for about three hours, scooting all over the city.  We went downtown, then to the Harley Davidson store, because my birthday present is apparently a much nicer – and safer – helmet.  We laughed about not letting them know we were driving a scooter, for fear there really was some rule about beating us up.

We also looked around at all the motorcycles, which have never really interested me at all before, but I do admit that they’re looking a lot more interesting than they used to.  We’re not going to be doing anything about it any time soon, and maybe not ever, but I can see the appeal more.

We drove through Calvary Cemetary, and found a fallen 150 old tree that he’s going to see if he can use for tabletops.  This is the week for the quarterly debris pickup, too, and the city always – I imagine intentionally – is at least a week later in actually picking it up than they tell you is the date.

What this does is gives everyone time to drive around, notice things they need or want, and take them home themselves.  Rather things go to a good home/someone who needs or uses them than end up in a landfill somewhere.

Our finds in the past have included a lot of flower pots, some very large, some very expensive, all of them very nice.  We found a long old-fashioned wooden ladder once that later became the access to drew’s brother’s children’s tree house.  I have a small bench I use for plants that had the same origins.

We found, on our first foray, a small shelf unit that replaced something impractical in the garage.  drew found under it three small pieces of thin plywood that he needed for a small house project.

We stopped at an old ice cream stand on the ride, one that Beth and I used to go to, years ago, and were ordering when we heard a voice saying, “That looks like Constance and drew,” and turned to find, behind the counter, one of my old playmates, Damian.

Damian is genuinely strikingly handsome, Italian parents, dark eyes, dark skin, white teeth, and this great salt and pepper hair.  When he and I were seeing each other – never regularly, once every month or two – he was also teaching swimming and giving spin classes at a gym for extra money.  He was not only gorgeous, but had an ass one could bounce a Buick off of.

He has always acted as if he were totally unaware that he is the type to get second and third glances in restaurants and at parties.  I used to take him with me to public play parties and I have had women come up to me and apologize to me for having stared at him.

I was playing with him once a long time ago, the first time we had ever played and he was wearing a steel cock ring.  I had a knife and each time I tapped the steel tip on the steel ring, his fairly impressive dick would twitch in response.

One of the leaders of the group who was putting on the party, a black gentleman who was VERY straight – not narrow, but he was very heterosexual – came over to me and tapped my arm to get my attention.  I looked and he was turning his hand as if screwing in a light bulb and saying, “Turn him around…”

Anyway, Damian saw his kinkiness as not really that pervasive in his life.  He was relatively kinky, had a pretty serious tolerance for pain, begged fetchingly, and in restaurants, when I would wave away a menu for him, or take it from in front of him at the table, he would get an erection.

drew had always liked Damian, too, he was smart and funny and they had some similar interests.  I can remember one party where I had both of them with me, and at one point I needed something – a drink, likely – and looked around because suddenly neither of them was around.  I noticed them in a corner, the two of them, deep in conversation.

Regardless, some time after he and I had stopped seeing each other except for the occasional chance meeting somewhere, he started seeing a vanilla woman.  He sent me a note once, after they’d been seeing each other for a couple of years, and asked me if I’d be interested in maybe he and I playing again at a party coming up, and if I’d object to the girl friend watching.

I responded that I would always be open to the prospect of playing with him.  He was always a really appealing playmate on many levels.  He liked intensity, we had very complementary tastes in terms of things we really both liked, and his being extraordinarily good-looking was hardly a bad thing, either.

I warned him, though, that I was unlikely to change my style of play because she was there, and reminded him that I had always played with him in pretty sexual ways – he was fond of tease and denial, and I am fond of begging, which is often a result of tease and denial – and that while it would not make me uncomfortable, it might make her uncomfortable, and he should take that into account.

I believe I ended with something like, “You were mine before you were hers, in a manor of speaking, and I’m really unlikely not to claim those privileges.”  I don’t remember if he responded or not, but the date never went further.

We actually had dinner once, the four of us, and it wasn’t swimmingly successful.  I thought she was mousy and had little personality, drew pointed out that I might possibly be a touch intimidating to her.  *shrug*

Anyway, he and she married a while back, which I think we knew, and just recently bought the ice cream place.  He had apparently heard our voices from the back and came out.  It was a pleasant conversation, no tension on any side, and I suspect it might become an occasional destination on the scooter because they also have vegan chili dogs, which drew pronounced quite good.

We came home after a long ride, and without discussing it, started doing a lot of yard work.  Plants needed watering, and our hoses needed swapping out, which ended up involving trying to get a frozen brass coupling off, drew finally having to cut it off and replace it, etc.  But we now have all our hoses attached and soaker hoses laid out.  I spent time pulling weeds – the story of my life – and putting some trellis supports around the blooming crocosmia and the soon-to-bloom tall white daisies.

I watered my basil bed, which I will cut back severely soon and make the first batch of pesto of the summer.  Every year I plant a dozen or so basil plants of various kinds – sweet Italian, spicy, thai, lime, etc. – and make vats of pesto, which I freeze and we eat all year.  We watered the flowers and plants around the house, the pots with flowers, all of that.

drew mowed the front lawn.

The puppies played in the water, jumping and biting at the hose spray.

We worked until nearly dark, then decided on another scooter ride because it’s so pleasant at night.  Dogs were fed, and off we went, and on this outing we really scored, finding a dozen or so bundles of fencing that drew needed for his house and was hoping to avoid buying.  We scooted home, he scooted back in his bag van and scooted them into the trailer, then scooted on back home.

I took a shower, then futzed around with the helmet I use now, which I had never before actually taken the time to fix so it sat properly.  Then drew showered while I made some potatoes, with veggie burgers for him and a couple eggs for me.

Then a bit of TV and time with dogs, and now I’m heading to bed.  Tomorrow’s agenda includes digging in the top soil and putting in the plants.  I dug up a few more plants around the yard to go back there, too, some succulent ground covers and some lambsear, so our cost is pretty slight for the bed.

drew wants to replace a cabinet that had to be pulled out in the kitchen when the stove had to be repaired.  I need to do some more weeding, and some correspondence, do a few things for some projects and plans.

And then the Sunday munch.  If you’re local, perhaps I’ll see you there. If not, you’ll probably still hear about it tomorrow.  Have a good night.

Friday Night

It’s been a long and action-packed week, with some appliance swapping  that necessitated furniture moving and hustling around.

I have had a six months of appliance issues.  Most of the appliances are the same ones that were in the house when I moved in 1990, and they all still work, but the stove needed some work this winter, and while the fridge was fine, it was an obviously old side-by-side, which is one of the least rational designs ever created.  It is impossible to put a frozen pizza in a side-by-side freezer, at least in this one, unless you take every single thing out of one shelf.  Not practical.

So, now I have that done, and that’s good, and I cleaned up most of the kitchen as well, so that’s a good thing.

On the other hand, I’ve slept poorly the last two nights and I am a little crunchy from fatigue.

I have had issues with insomnia for years, since my early 20’s at least.  My ex-girlfriend snored badly and was an incredibly deep sleeper.  I sleep lightly and not well.  That probably, over the years, didn’t help with the insomnia.

I am lucky in my slaves, because neither drew nor thomas snore enough to mention, and they’re both light enough sleepers so they’re easy to wake.  Their turning over in the night, if required, is not difficult enough for me that it wakes me up profoundly.

Somebody a couple of years ago suggested I try counting backwards from 100.  It works sometimes.

I suspect meditation would, too, but I can never seem to keep my mind still.

I try various things.  Imagining I’m walking through a garden.

Floating in a warm, tropical pool.

I imagine a flame and concentrate on it.

And then nearly invariably, realize that I am actually making a grocery list and speculating on the last movie I saw, instead.

But now the Melatonin is kicking in, and maybe I won’t need to do any of those things.

Sweet dreams.

Judging

I was just asked to judge the International Master and slave contest in March in Dallas.  That lead me to remember something I wrote a while back, which I am again going to retread, about judging a Leather contest:

I spent last weekend in the rather strange position of judging other members of our community.

Let me clarify, since to some extent, we judge others all the time in all kinds of ways.  I was officially judging them.  It wasn’t just the usual passing of a yay or a nay about someone and the choices they made in partner or wardrobe.

I was one of eight judges on a panel to pick a Leather Sir, a Leather boy and a Bootblack, all of whom would go on to the International Leather Sir/Leather boy and Community Bootblack Contest.

It’s an interesting thing to come into a room as a sort of designated “expert” on the Leather community.  By my informal estimate, I would guess that the eight people on the panel have a combined length of experience in the public Leather community of about 150 years.

I know, from having been on the other side of the judging table, that we might well have seemed very intimidating.  I went into it knowing three or four of the other judges, though none of them particularly well.  Interestingly, judging together does tend to create a bond between you.

The next time I see any of them, we’ll meet as at least acquaintances; some I’ll meet as friends.

The goal of a judging panel is to choose those who will represent our community, those who will carry a title that says, I am verified, I’ve been tried and tested by a worthy panel of judges and they have set their seal of approval on me.  They agree that I am what I say I am, and that what I am is what they agree a Leather Sir, or a Leather boy, or a Bootblack should be.

And what did we, as judges, think they should be?  The first thing we believed they should be is qualified to hold the title.

Like most Leather contests, this one has a couple of requirements for contestants.  There are two primary and inviolate rules to hold the Sir or boy title.  One is that the contestants must identify as male legally.  Until recently, only those who were genetically male were allowed to compete, but that was changed to allow transsexuals as well.

The other inflexible requirement is that you must self identify as being gay.

The Leather Sir and Leather boy titles describe themselves as the bad boys of Leather titles, because the titles are considered “player” titles, created with a focus on S&M as opposed to relationships.  It’s expected that those who compete will be interested and experienced in different activities, which might include flogging, singletails, needles, mummification, bondage, electrical play, etc.

The title is the successor to the Drummer title, which was retired early in this decade, but it still maintains the Drummer credo.  It’s a quote from Henry David Thoreau: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

The Bootblack title, like many Bootblack titles, does not have gender or sexuality requirements.  The Bootblack title focuses on your skills at caring for leather, as well as your interaction with those who own the leather for which they care.

It is expected that they will be technically skilled, and that their personality will be engaging and appealing.  We were very lucky to have two excellent contestants for that title, both of whom could have won and represented us well.

It was interesting to see what was important to each of us in judging another person to determine if they should represent those titles, and by that, ourselves.  It seemed as though each of us had different interests, different kinds of questions we wanted answered.

One of the panel asked about the connection, for them, between sex and S&M.

One of us asked about their community service, another expectation for the title, that they will be visible in the community and working for charitable causes, both lifestyle and non-lifestyle related.

One of us asked about the kinds of S&M activities each one of them liked, while another asked about the current and former holders of the titles for which they were competing, and for which they would compete if they won that contest.

One of us asked the Sir and boy contestants what had happened in June of 1969, and in June of 1981.  The answers, for those of you who are interested, are that in June of 1969 the Stonewall riots occurred in New York City, which is marked as the beginning of the gay liberation movement, and the AIDS epidemic is considered to have officially begun in June of 1981.

Most of the contestants could answer the first; none of them could answer the second.

My questions were primarily about the leather they wore, how they’d acquired it, and what it meant to them.

The judge’s interviews are probably the hardest part of a contest for those who are running for a title, but it’s not the only area on which they are judged.  We judge them on a speech, on their “Leather Image,” and on a fantasy they present on stage.

The Bootblacks are judged on a speech, their image and grooming, and how well they are able to care for leather.  One of the ways that’s judged is by giving contestants a boot that has seen far better days and a set amount of time in which to “rescue” it, condition it, repair it, and polish it.

Each time, as you watch them, observe how they speak, what they say, how comfortable they are in their own skins, you then translate that into a number.

If the total points they could earn is 60, how well did they do?  Was it a 90% effort?  Or was it an 85% effort?  Should I award them a 50, or a 55?

What if you think they did very poorly?  What’s the worst you can legitimately score them?  Is it ever fair to say a zero is appropriate, for someone who was willing to put themselves on the line, so to speak, to compete?

It’s a challenge to decide how well someone did, from one’s own personal perspective.  Suppose I think their community involvement is really great, but they don’t know anything about their own Leather history?

Suppose they seem very comfortable in their own skins, but very uncomfortable in the leather clothing they wear?  Should that matter?

It’s somewhat of a comfort to know it’s an Olympic scoring system which throws out the highest and lowest score for each category, so if you mark them much higher or lower than others, that anomaly in scoring won’t cost a worthwhile competitor the title or award it to an undeserving one.

In the end, we crowned a Leather Sir, a Leather boy, and a Bootblack, and I’m comfortable with all the winners we chose.  Some have more work to do to prepare for the next stage than others, but I don’t think any of them will represent us poorly, will make me wonder if I made the right decision, if I should have been more conservative in the scores I gave, more demanding in what I expect from someone who will represent me.

I am confident, too, that each of them will grow personally in their representation of our community, and that the people I see in six months competing for the next level will be more prepared and even more comfortable in their skins and their roles than they are at this moment.

On the other hand, I’m back to wondering what it is that makes me qualified to judge someone else.

Some of it, certainly, is my time served, so to speak.  I have been around in one way or another closing in on a decade and a half.  I’ve proved that I can walk the walk as well as talk the talk, both in terms of play and in terms of work in the community.

I’ve made it clear by the way I live that I’m not just a tourist, here to look around, then heading off for the next edgy community, for the next thrill.  This is where I live, the community with which I identify.

I’ve run for titles myself, won a title, lost another, produced contests and titleholders myself.  I’ve seen any number of contests, and this isn’t the first time I’ve judged.

On one hand, we tell each other that we shouldn’t judge others, that we can’t effectively judge anyone until we have walked in their shoes, seen their lives from their perspective and felt what they feel.

I think perhaps we should look at Leather contests and those who compete in the same way dogs are judged in dog shows.

In a dog show, the judge walks down the row of beagles, or dachshunds, or Scottish terriers, and looks at each of them, one by one.  If you don’t know better, you assume he’s comparing each of them against all the others, asking if this is the BEST beagle of that group, or the prettiest dachshund, the most perfect Scottie of all the Scotties he sees in front of him, but he’s not.

What a judge is charged with doing is comparing each dog he sees to the perfect representation of the breed, what is called the breed standard.  That standard describes very clearly what the judge is to look for, what is acceptable and what is not.

It says, for instance, that the beagle’s eyes will be “large, set well apart with a soft and houndlike-expression, gentle and pleading; of a brown or hazel color.”

It says that the dachshund must appear “neither crippled, awkward, nor cramped in his capacity for movement,” and adds that “inasmuch as the Dachshund is a hunting dog, scars from honorable wounds shall not be considered a fault.”  Notice that even they consider that the wound should be honorably gained.

There are qualities for which the standard tells a judge that he must disqualify the dog, too.

In a Scottie, it insists, in capital letters that the American Kennel Club itself has chosen, “NO JUDGE SHOULD PUT TO WINNERS OR BEST OF BREED ANY SCOTTISH TERRIER NOT SHOWING REAL TERRIER CHARACTER IN THE RING.”

If the dog doesn’t behave as a Scottie should behave, if it appears timid or frightened, even if he finds it perfect in body, he cannot name the dog as a winner, even if that means no winner is chosen.  Better to have no winner than to have one who is not what he should be, who does not behave as he should behave.

The judge is expected to carry a mental image of the perfect representation of that breed and superimpose it on the animal he is judging.

So, perhaps we should be doing the same thing as a judge.

We should be envisioning our perfect Leather Sir, or boy, or Bootblack, and measuring this contestant against that standard.  Where does he fall short, where does he meet or even exceed what we might expect?

Is his capacity for movement awkward or crippled?

Are his scars those that have been gained honorably, and should therefore add to his value, not detract from it?

Does he show, perhaps most importantly, the true temperament of a Leather man or woman, of a Bootblack?

Perhaps in the end, that’s the single most important quality a judge should be looking for – a true titleholder temperament, one which will serve us well and represent us in a way in which we can be proud of the choices we made.

Perhaps the next time, that’s what I’ll focus on myself.