Not an Odalisque

Doesn’t Play Well With Others

with 4 comments

I’ve never been sure whether I like public play. Plenty of people tie their lovers up at home; BDSMers seem to feel the need to do it in front of a crowd. They create a spectacle with imposing lumps of furniture, uncomfortable clothing made of tree sap and huge floggers.* I was introduced to the concept of public play by a round woman in a purple faux-suede suit (the matt texture of which was like the bloom on a blueberry) and her small, straggly-bearded boyfriend. I rejected the image of them stripped and spread-eagled in a tacky dungeon setting. I’m shallow. I like watching beautiful people play. Not being one of the beautiful people myself, I’ve kept to dark corners. For me, play is a personal experience, not a performance, but a reaction. I didn’t think I was the sort for letting more than one person at a time into my kink.

HH proposed inviting people around not long after he suggested birching me. I had an irrational fear of birching (now I have a rational fear of birching, but that’s not relevant here). On a scale of things to worry about, meeting friends didn’t score high against being thrashed with bits of a tree, and so I agreed without a lot of thought. As the time approached, though (and the threatened birching still hadn’t materialised) it took on different proportions. They were coming around for dinner. Wouldn’t it be nice if we played? If they met Marianne, in character? In this skimpy summer dress?

I channelled my anxiety into the meal. We solved the conundrum of what dish satisfies a carnivore and a vegetarian. We obtained ingredients. If you’ve read my last post you’ll know how I feel about supermarkets. You’ll understand that being taken by a top to an Asda on a Saturday afternoon is close to my limits. I’d rather take the dreaded birching any day. Happily panic-attack free we made it home and HH was kind enough to distract me from worry with more immediate humiliations. When he showed me the dress I was to wear and went off to set the table, though, I had to admit that a proportion of my nervousness wasn’t about food.

I don’t know how long I waited. I know that I spent a lot of time trying to arrange my neckline so that it didn’t reveal my bra. I undid my work within seconds by tugging at the skirt hem in an attempt at a more modest length. I applied make-up and then worried that Mr. Hartley may not suspend disbelief about Marianne’s unlikely use of cosmetics. I went out onto the landing to see if I could hear any conversation from downstairs and thought about creeping down to listen at the door, but it wasn’t worth risking given the creakiness of the stairs. I attempted to convince myself of my own nonchalance by picking up a book. Now and again I turned a page, but I couldn’t tell you what I read.

Mr. Hartley called me. I went downstairs and opened the door onto silence.

Two new people were on the sofa. Everyone was formally dressed and stiffly seated. I felt chilly and awkward in my little dress. I stood self-consciously during introductions and finally asked if I could sit in the only remaining chair, in the farthest corner of the room.

Had I been behaving myself, the guests wanted to know. I tried not to shuffle in my seat as they talked about me, and, in the elastic silences, I asked questions about their journey and the weather. My attempts at conversation fell like stones and I was reduced to staring at my lap. Mr. Hartley regularly reprimanded me for not sitting up straight, and charged me with fidgeting, which was nearly impossible to avoid, under the circumstances. From the start I did my best to be good. I don’t think I stood a chance.

The conversation turned, and inexorably returned, to my behaviour and previous punishments. I tried to give the right answers: Yes, I’d been punished. No, I’d rather not show you the marks. I’m sure you’re not interested in them. Now that Mr. Hartley’s looking at me like that I will show you the marks. Are you done yet? Say you’re done.

They asked me to explain the reason for my latest punishment. I was embarrassed to think that two strangers were imagining me with my knickers around my ankles, wriggling over Mr. Hartley’s lap. I simply couldn’t tell them what the spanking was for. Disobedience, yes, but what if they asked what order I’d disobeyed? I’m not telling you, and I certainly wasn’t going to tell them.

“It’s complicated,” I began, but apparently they thought it should be very simple. Looking pleadingly at Mr. Hartley didn’t have the effect of getting him to do the talking for me. I floundered and then, thinking that admitting something—anything—would probably appease them, I chose my most excusable crime, and confessed, in fragments, to borrowing some library books on an unofficial, long-term loan, and accidentally spilling some ink. They reinterpreted it as thieving and criminal damage.

I was sent to stand facing the wall with my hands on my head. I was horribly conscious of how my hemline rose as I lifted my arms. As they discussed me I couldn’t help peering around every now and again. Mr. Hartley kept telling me to stand up straight. I’d never noticed I wasn’t. When the adults had satisfied themselves with declaring that I was wilful and insolent I was sent to get a strap. On my return I was asked why I was to be punished. Apparently, “because you feel I haven’t shown proper respect,” wasn’t the right answer.

Bending over the sofa while Mr. And Mrs. Madison watched was excruciating. Mr. Hartley handed the strap to his friend. I didn’t want him to see my face, so I hid it against the sofa. Of course, when you’re crying out and wriggling away from the burning wield on your bottom, you stop caring quite so much about whether anyone can see your expression.

I was instructed that I was to count the strokes and promise to show respect after each one. As the early ones came down, I gritted my teeth through the pain and, as it subsided, recited my little mantra. Mrs. Madison said that she didn’t think my tone reflected any great regret. What could I do about my voice? I wasn’t being deliberately insolent. After the next stroke, as soon as I could, with the pain still blooming, I gasped it out. Apparently I sounded much more contrite. I continued forcing the words out as early as I could, so that the pain in my voice would cover whatever it was they interpreted as insolence.

It did end. I was allowed to escape to my room and choose a skirt that went all the way down to my ankles. I went back to a room of lovely people who gave me hugs and smiles. Then, very happily, I took a glass of wine and went to hide in the kitchen. It seems safer to stay out of the way when there are guests.

*On Saturday I saw a man use a sword almost the length of his leg to inflict a couple of light scratches on a girl. A butterknife would have done the job.


Written by Not an Odalisque

October 19, 2010 at 4:49 pm

4 Responses

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  1. What happened to that birch?


    October 21, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    • The birch was used. I struggled so much against my ties that my wrists hurt for days.

      And I bet all of you were thinking that I couldn’t do concise!


      October 22, 2010 at 11:18 pm

  2. I liked my friend’s comment to you afterwards, when you had reappeared in your down-to-the-floor dress, and been duly hugged. Referring to the too-small-and-too-short dress I made you wear to meet hi, he said something like:

    “Yes, there are some clothing choices that really don’t give you a chance to feel dignified.”

    And I would like to know more about your now-rational fear of birches.

    As a matter of interest, how would you classify your fear of nettles?



    November 15, 2010 at 12:19 am

    • I am at a loss to know how someone who witnessed my reaction to the birching could need to know anything more about my fear of them. The thing about the strappings, say, or canings you’ve given me, is that there are pain-free gaps in which to convince myself I can take it. My memory of the birching is one long scream.

      My fear of nettles surpasses my fear of birches. Perhaps if Robert Frost had written poems about nettles, things would have been different.


      November 24, 2010 at 10:38 pm

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