Misfitting In

There’s a leather-and-Levis organization in town called the Misfits, and I’ve always harbored a semi-secret crush on the group as a whole. If the Houston-area gay community were a high school (and sometimes I could swear…), the Misfits would be the varsity football team — they even have stylish leather vests with their logo on the backs in lieu of letterman jackets, and frankly, I think I would look adorable in one.

The Misfits themselves apparently agree: Some of the members have been talking me up to the quarterback president, who in turn has been reaching out and encouraging me to pledge. Officially, I am flattered by their interest, and I’ve promised to give the matter serious thought. Behind the scenes, however, I’m acting like a teenage girl who just received a care package from Taylor Swift.

Alas, not everyone in my immediate circle is as thrilled by the Misfits’ inclusivity as I am. Cross, who’s normally very supportive of whatever weird shit I get into, was like, “Huh. Well, they do have an event coming up, so they’re definitely going to need some warm bodies to help run the show.” Awesome. But I will deal with him later, since the foil currently demanding my attention is that guy from the sober leather club who went all After-school Special on my panic disorder, and who is the opposite of amused with my Misfit potential.

 “This is NOT putting your recovery first,” he yelled, when I inexplicably told him the Misfits were trying to recruit me. “You’re going to hang around in bars with them and get triggered, and then what?”

I tried pointing out that several of the Misfits don’t drink (including my buddy Doc, who, back in the day, took it upon himself to babysit me during benders, and who also kept a running list of everyone I inadvertently insulted and/or offended, so that I could offer formal apologies the morning after). Additionally, I reminded him that I still hadn’t decided if I even wanted to join, but he wasn’t having it.

“You’re really putting yourself in a dangerous situation,” he continued. “And have you even considered how this will affect your anxiety?”

Ah, yes, I thought. My anxiety. Mustn’t forget how deeply concerned he is about that.

And I called the Misfits president to announce my intent to pledge.

I’m going to look so fucking cute in my vest, you guys.

PS: I shared this story with Simon, which led to the following conversation.

Me: “There are people in my life who are never going to be who I want them to be. But if I’m not comfortable with who they really are, I’ve got to wonder why I feel the need to have them in my life at all.”

Simon: “I have seriously been waiting the entire six months we’ve been working together for you to realize this.”

Me: “Dude… we’ve been working together for over a year. We had an anniversary in April.”

Simon: “Oh, I don’t keep track of dates. What’s important is the present, the here and now.”

Me: “Wow. Way to get out of buying me jewelry.”

Simon: “Honey, it’s going to be at least 20 years before you’ll get jewelry out of me.”

Me: “Then on my 20th recovery birthday, I expect a doorknob on my finger.”

Simon: “I’ll be happy to glue an actual doorknob onto a ring for you.”

Me: “You know I would totally wear it if you did that, right?”

Simon: “Just tell everyone I went to Jared.”

I Am My Own Worst Mogwai

[A text conversation between myself and Cross.]

Me: “I had a dream last night that you and I were sitting around bored and trying to think of something to do, which I’m taking as a sign that we should go do something.”

Cross: “Dance naked around a fire?”

Me: “Again?”

Kidding aside, I left out the part of the dream in which two dragons — the stronger one being part polar bear and able to shoot ice from the sarlacc at the end of its tail — broke into Cross’ house and started beating the shit out of each other. It wasn’t particularly relevant to the discussion, and it kind of lends itself to more pointed interpretation than is necessary.

Also, while dancing naked is underappreciated as a national pastime, I really just wanted to rent a movie and order Chinese food, and I feel like telling Cross about the dragon thing might discourage him from letting me eat after midnight.

Is this my most inane post to date? I vote probably.

Hot Stoves and Cock Cages


Back in early 2014, during a period when I was feeling a bit adrift and disconnected, I joined a sober leather club. I was picturing burly, bearded dudes wearing biker jackets with recovery symbol patches, but it turned out the club was more of a support group for guys who were into leather and kink and whatnot before they got sober, and who were now trying to navigate those interests in recovery.

My own experiences in these areas are limited, but without fail off the deep end. Here’s how they generally played out:

Him: “So there’s this… thing I’m into.”

Me: “Okay.”

Him: “But it’s pretty kinky.”

Me: “What is it?”

Him: “Well, it’s [insert unanticipated and/or bizarre thing here].”

Me: “… Oh.”

Him: “Does that freak you out?”

Me: “No, no, of course not. It’s just that I’m not… actually, you know what? Let me freshen my drink real quick.”

[Twenty minutes and five cocktails later]

Him: “So you’re really not freaked out?”

Me: “Nyet. Bring it.”

And then I would do the thing. I never got myself into a situation I couldn’t ultimately get out of, but some stuff went down of which I’m not overly proud, nor comfortable discussing. As such, when I started getting to know these guys (well before I was diagnosed with a panic disorder), a wall immediately went up, since conversations with them often broached subjects that got under my skin and poked me in the fight-or-flight reflex.

One meeting in particular set me off badly enough to where I couldn’t go back for a couple of months. A group of us were sitting around chit-chatting, when one of the guys brought up an accessory he found at Ye Olde Neighbourhood Sex Shoppe.

“It was called a cock cage,” he explained. “It’s a chastity device, but for men. Apparently, some tops, like, own their bottoms.”

“Well that’s weird,” said another guy. “The whole point of being a top is to give the bottom the scene he wants, since the bottom’s really the one in control.”

Everyone else agreed that this was indeed odd and Not The Way Things Are Done, and then suddenly I realized my mouth was moving and words were coming out of it.

“As someone who was once in training to be owned, and who was going to end up wearing a cock cage, I can say that in a true master/slave relationship, the bottom derives pleasure from meeting the needs of the top. There is no ‘scene,’ and the bottom does not have any control.”

“Huh,” said everyone else. And then they went on to talk about a different topic, and I had a panic attack and ran out of the room.

Subsequent meetings resulted in more panic attacks, but eventually I started taking medication, and tentatively stuck my toes back in the sober leather club waters, and I found that I could actually sit through the meetings and participate in the discussions without losing my shit. I accepted that the guys weren’t going to judge me for my past, and I even gave a talk on sex and panic, which went over very well, if I do say so myself. The trick, I learned, was transparency: I could be an active part of the group, so long as I was honest with both myself and the other members about my triggers, and what I could and could not handle when it came to the meetings themselves.

Unfortunately, this month’s meeting fell into the “could not” category. It was billed as a sort of demo night, with everyone giving a hands-on presentation on their own kinks. I got twitchy as soon as I heard what was planned, and although some of the guys encouraged me to do something on rope bondage, I begged off, explaining that I really needed to sit this one out.

And I thought they understood.

This past Thursday, one of the guys texted me a meme that read, Studies show that if you’re afraid of spiders, you are more likely to find one in your bedroom. I am really afraid of Gerard Butler! Which, ha, I found amusing, and I texted back cheekily that yes, I too was really afraid of Gerard Butler.

To which the guy replied, I’m glad you’re only afraid of that, and not afraid of going to the meeting and talking about your fetishes.

And with that, I was done. The group is getting together tomorrow, but I will not be there. And I will not be returning.

Mark Twain once wrote, “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it and stop there lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again and that is well but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.” I get that the guy was trying to be funny and goad me into attending the meeting via reverse psychology, but instead he created a stove lid. I let my guard down and got vulnerable, and one of them used that against me; ergo, I will not let any of them past my defenses again.

There is a distinct possibility that I’m overreacting — after all, we’re right in the middle of a Mercury retrograde, and miscommunications are bound to crop up. But right now, my Inner Survivalist is telling me to shut out anyone who isn’t conducive to my self-esteem or peace of mind, to focus instead on the handful of people who I know like me exactly the way I am.

I will miss being part of the group.

But I won’t miss feeling like my broken brain makes me less than everyone else.

Of Human Bondage Buddies (or, Acceptance is the Kink)

You know how sometimes you’ll make reservations for a Japanese rope bondage seminar, but then your date cancels, so you call a semi-stranger and are all, “Want to go to a BDSM workshop with a bunch of pervy straight people?” and he’s all, “I’m in,” and that becomes the defining moment of your acquaintance, and from that point forward you’re each other’s official Plus One for weird events that none of your other friends would ever want to attend?

All tied up and nowhere to go.
All tied up and nowhere to go.

I mean, we’ve all been there, am I right?

Anywhoozle, that’s how I know Cross.

It started with Douglas inviting me to breakfast to meet a friend of his (Cross, natch), who was looking to spend time around other Pagans. We got along well and exchanged numbers, and I figured I’d run into him again along the way somewhere, but I didn’t give the matter further thought. That is, until whoever was supposed to go with me to the bondage thing bailed, and with desperation being the mother of last-minute invitations, I took Cross with me.

We made it through the seminar without getting excommunicated from the Houston-area rope community [Ed. Note: There’s totally a Houston-area rope community], and now we’re each other’s go-to when one of us doesn’t want to wander somewhere off the map by himself (i.e. “Please don’t make me hit this clothing-optional art opening alone”). Last month, I accompanied him to a formal leather awards dinner, for which we had to help each other get dressed, cowhide not being the most pliant of textiles. It was when I had his calf in a strangle hold and was shoving his foot into a biker boot that I realized our friendship was based entirely on tying each other up and squeezing each other into fetish wear. And I was okay with that. And so was he.

”Just cinch it.”
Just cinch it.

So, back to bondage. We’ve started going to weekly rope classes, where we’re learning all sorts of handy ways to restrict the movements of kidnapping victims willing and consensual intimate partners. (Instructor: “So now, let’s talk about strappado techniques.” Cross: “Strappado? Isn’t that the name of–” Me: “No.”) Last night’s class focused on hip harnesses, which is a favorite subject of mine, because a) they are practical, and b) they make awesome fashion statements (see left). So we were shown the pattern we were supposed to create, and Cross was dutifully binding me to the gills, when the instructor said, “The line along the hip bone is usually diagonal, but if you want it to look more masculine, you can move it horizontally.”

“It kind of does that on its own,” said Cross, pointing to the rope around my waist.

“Yes, it does,” said the instructor’s partner, draped in hemp cords herself. Then, to me: “You’re curvalicious, but you are definitely male.”

Alrighty then. We interrupt your regularly-scheduled blog post to discuss body issues, and what got me into ropes (so to speak) in the first place.

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Comedic Restraint

Rope Bondage Instructor: “So now that we have a better understanding of kinbaku, let’s move on to the basic form of shibari, which is called takate-kote.”

Cross: “Takate-kote?”

Rope Bondage Instructor: “Yes. Takate-kote.”

Cross: “Wasn’t that the name of the main character in Roots?”

[somewhere between 5 seconds and 7 hours of awkward silence]

Rope Bondage Instructor: “Sorry, what? I didn’t catch that.”

Me: [face buried in hands] “NOTHING. He said nothing.”

Thing is, Cross had made the same joke to me earlier in the day, and I’d laughed my ass off, leading him to the conclusion that the entertainment value would be universal. Regardless, it was an excellent seminar, and on another bright note, Cross is now fully aware of the gaping distance between what I think is funny and what actual humans think is funny.