we are not the algonquin wits,but every Thursday evening the girls and I sit at the table with a couple of bottles of wine to shoot the shit.Mrs. Parker would probably not be amused by our chatter, but I quote her at the top of every session just to get us rolling, so to speak. This particular springtime eve it's: "Ducking for apples -- change one letter and it's the story of my life."
No doubt it's the loose association with water sports that prompts Constance to tell us about a boyfriend she had some years ago who was into S/M.
"He was nine years older than me," she says, pouring wine for everyone but herself. Constance hasn't been drinking since she found out she's pregnant, but it hasn't stopped her from wearing dangerously high Fluevogs.
"It was one of those brief but intense affairs," she explains, taking a swig of passion fruit juice.
Wanda, the graphic artist who lives upstairs from me, smooths the folds in her cherry-red djellaba and asks, "And what about you? Were you into the S/M thing with him?"
"Me, I liked the clothes," Con says matter-of-factly. "Shiny rubber things made my ass look like something not quite real. But humiliation and pain weren't really big turn-ons for me, so I played dress-up and didn't take it too seriously.
"Then one day I found "mummification' as a search heading on his computer. He wasn't into ancient Egypt, so I confronted him. I sensed dark secrets."You haven't been telling me everything,' I said. "What are you talking about?' he asked casually.
""Even a bottom has to speak up and say what he wants,' I demanded, wagging his butt plug in his face. "I was hoping you'd find your inner dominatrix,' he replied, passing the buck. And that infuriated me, like everything was my responsibility. "Clearly, the anus was on you,' I yelled, meaning onus, of course.
"We both looked at the plug and burst out laughing. But I realized then that my playing at it wasn't enough for him. He'd come to understand that, too, and so he broke it off with me. I was heartbroken."
"What did you do?" I ask, scooping some red-hot salsa onto a nacho chip.
"I wrote him a letter and lied that I had begun my training as a dominant in earnest. "Lucky Earnest,' I wrote. And that I'd be happy to practise on him sometime. "No strings attached -- just rope.' That was a lie, too, as I was casting all kinds of webs and umbilical cords and fishnets out for him. I drew little stylized whips and handcuffs in the corners of the letter and signed it "Mistress Wrapture.' And never sent it."
"Why not?" asks Rose, the actor and playwright who lives across the lane.
"Suddenly, in my dark torment, a light went on and I thought I understood the whole meaning of the breakup: it was all part of the S/M thing. There was a reason for the pain he was causing me: he still loved me.
"I phoned him up: "Quick, what's the safe word? This is hurting too much,' I cried. "Honey,' he said, "the safe word is only for the sex. For the emotions there is no safety.'
"I never saw him again."
"What did you do with the clothes?" Wanda asks.
"I still have them," Con replies, tossing her multicoloured dreads over her shoulder. "I eventually did get my degree in the Dark Sexual Arts. Tyler (the father of her embryo) and I take ours light, though: Dark Sexual Arts Lite."
"They have that?" Wanda asks.
"We have that," Con says. "Order what you like, Wanda. Dark Sexual Arts with extra cream. Dark Sexual Arts with cinnamon on top. Dark Sexual Arts with a twist."
"What's your "lite' all about?" asks Rose, downing the last of her red wine.
Con extrapolates: "Whipping without welts, insults without injury, fur-lined handcuffs, no diapers." We are silent, so she continues. "No asphyxiation, no blood, no..."
"No edge play," Rose interrupts, and we all look at her.
"That's right," nods Constance.
"What's that?" Wanda asks nervously.
"Treading the line between life and death," Rose says knowingly.
"So... is it still S/M?" Wanda asks.
"Small "s,' small "m,' accent on sensuality," Con concludes.
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