Not an Odalisque

Posts Tagged ‘poetry

Is This For Real?: Play, Punishment, and Some Guilty Confessions

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When I first thought of exploring kink, role play put me off. That was before I discovered adult babies or fleshhook suspension, when the absurdity of grown women pretending to be schoolgirls had more force. The sense of silliness hasn’t gone away, but I’m familiar enough with it that I no longer flinch when I glimpse my pelerine socks. I’ve learned to appreciate role play; I like the freedom to be innocent, confused, violated and weak, without the responsibility of knowledge, strength, coping with the world or at least making a valiant attempt to look like I am. I also like punishments for real transgressions, which confusingly meld the weakness I’m allowed in play, with the responsibilities of life. Well, I like them sometimes.

I can’t remember by first punishment for a real transgression, but I’d wager it was for lateness. I don’t have a close relationship with time, my experience of it doesn’t seem to relate directly that of the people or clocks around me, and it is hard to take seriously the pronouncements of something so changeable. I rarely spot the minute we’re meant to leave as it potters by, while HH feels its passing with some keenness, I think. An invisible minute, here or there, at one stoke each, left me with pretty stripes on the fronts of my thighs. Administering them made us even later.

The first memorable crime for which I was punished was forgetting to have my car MOTed and taxed. It was a small oversight, and one I rectified as soon as I noticed it, albeit months later than technically required. I was overjoyed to realise I’d got away with it without stern talks, fines or prison sentences. HH wasn’t quite as joyous as I was. He thought my carelessness should be punished with twelve strokes, implement unspecified. There was talk of the paddle.

I hate the paddle. Nothing that inflicts pain gives me warm fuzzy feelings, but some inspire more fear than others. Straps and tawses are almost in the ‘like’ column. Canes have their special place, as they leave such lovely marks. Paddles don’t. Paddles don’t even get classified because I’m too busy squealing. My ability to manage twelve hard paddle strokes was uncertain, and before I even arrived, I accrued another thirteen for failing to make travel arrangements in advance. I knew this had caused inconvenience and felt suitably guilty, but also confused, as my bad relationship with time makes such arrangements difficult and dangerous. I trod a difficult line between remorse and defensiveness.

Twenty-five strokes? Twenty-five of anything, in one go, was beyond me; I’m a self-confessed wimp. With Emma Jane’s admonishments to take limits seriously ringing in my ears, I resolved to clarify his intentions, and make a dignified refusal if it sounded like too much. I attempted that conversation three times. Every time I felt my tone sliding into petulance and wheedling. I wanted to talk like a grown up, but the more frustrated I got, the more childish I sounded, and his tone remained eminently reasonable.

He’d start with the twelve MOT strokes and decide whether to administer the rest directly after that, or the next day. I was terrified. So terrified that when I was offered a warm-up spanking it was beyond my capacity to make a decision, which meant that I went without. I was bent over and told to count. It was difficult. The first three or four went by quickly, but then he swapped to another cane and the pain of each stroke made me shriek. I didn’t just cry, I sobbed and screamed. The only thing that kept me in place was the fact that the half-way mark (a red, livid welt) was behind me. Surely I could hold out until the end? It was a close thing. I mixed up ten and eleven, gasping out the right number after a frenzied scrabble through my mind. I didn’t manage an ounce of bravery. When the twelfth stroke fell I cried harder, in pain and relief. It was over. HH turned away and picked up a paddle. I jumped up. I just couldn’t take any more.

The next day, I found myself in the same position, already sore. Thirteen strokes were promised. He picked up the paddle and brought it down with one loud crack. I don’t remember a scream, I remember a howl. Time stretched as my bottom burned. I thought ‘twelve more’ and I knew I couldn’t do it. Not that much pain, with the end so far away. I willed myself to stay still; it was impossible. I stood up, I said no. One stroke and I said no. Then I cried, because it hurt, and because I’d let myself down. I sobbed and apologised and could hardly believe I’d been such a disappointment. Did I get away scott-free? It didn’t feel like it.

Then there was something else I didn’t quite get away with.

Emma Jane tweeted about “silence and tears” in a scene. I visualised her being chastised for stumbling over a line in Byron’s ‘When We Two Parted’. Well, fantasised, maybe. Yes, it’s strange, but look me in the eye and tell me you’ve never dreamt up anything naughtier than poetry and hand tawsings. I recited the poem quietly to myself, then found the book. I’d got a couple of words wrong in the second half, but close enough. Then I tweeted to the world that I’d have a glow of smugness if she’d been beaten for not knowing a poem I have off by heart. I wish I’d enjoyed my smugness more.
The next time I saw HH, we played a school scene. I did quite well, I thought, at handwriting, and passably in a spelling test, considering the obscure words and HH’s novel pronunciation of ‘quassia’. Then, unexpectedly, he asked me to recite the poem. My mind went blank. I couldn’t remember the first line; I couldn’t even remember the title. He was waiting for me to start. I remembered myself at school, in my tartan skirt and white blouse, reciting it on National Poetry Day,* and my teacher praising me afterwards, saying how nice it was to hear a poem from memory, rather than a book. I told myself I could manage the first two verses. I did. Then I stopped. I asked him if he knew the next line, restarted, halted, then guessed at the rhymes for the rest of the verse. I knew it was no good. I’d need to start again at the beginning to have a chance. And there he was, looking at me disapprovingly. I wished I hadn’t said I knew it.

I was bent over the table for punishment. I can’t even remember, now, what he used. I know it hurt. It hurt more than the strapping I’d screamed and wriggled through minutes before, yet I was still, I was muted. I deserved all of it and more. I watched a tear drop from the tip of my nose onto the wood of the table. I could hardly look at him when he let me stand up. I wanted to be out of his sight. If I was a real schoolgirl I’d have been out of the classroom at the moment of dismissal and through the school gates seconds later, vowing never to be back. But it was a scene, so instead I got hugs.

The fact that I cried for another half-hour because a few people, only one of whom I’ve met, caught me out claiming to know a poem I was unable to recite in moments of panic, may tell you more about my self-esteem than anything else. It worked in scene because I knew I was in wrong. It carried on working out of scene because I was still in the wrong. And in an unnerving turn of events I found myself doing the same thing the heroine of my novel did three chapters ago: saying a poem twice through, to prove that I know it when I’m alone in the dark, even if I can’t say it aloud mid-scene. If my life is going to imitate my art, I’d better think up a happy ending.
I like real life in scenes, but not too much. I’ve never felt the catharsis others speak of, only a sense that it’s right I should be punished, but not enough to suffer so little. That train of thought goes to a worrying destination, though. It seems to be that at some point submission becomes a way of opting out of your life. I’ll happily play at punishment, and even play at doing what I’m told, but to give someone else the right to punish in earnest implies an abdication of responsibility. I’m seduced by the idea that someone else could make the decisions and find the strength for both of us to carry them out, but suspect it would be less than living. I’d hate to think that I only did the right thing, or the thing that was right for me, because someone else made me. I think I’m better than that.**

I like to think there’s a middle ground between punishment and play. Goading HH, just before my departure, that I got away with multiple instances of lateness, until he pulls over and spanks me, is as close to play as it is to punishment. It also taught me that even leaving on time has its perils. I can be a fictional person punished for transgressions similar but not identical to mine. Dreaming up a scene recently I helped HH think of reasons a professor might cane his student by enumerating my crimes of the last term: missing classes, ignoring reading, hogging library books. Nothing was deemed naughty enough, so I went further back and told him about creative referencing in my undergraduate essays. He lit on this as a terrible transgression. I felt thoroughly chastened by the time he’d read to me from the course handbook and applied six strokes of the cane. I’ve been a bit less blasé since, so if anyone can find that paper on Millbank prison I read and can’t retrieve, let me know. Otherwise I’m thinking ‘Geometries of Desire: Lesbian Angles on the Panoptican’.

I’m learning where the line is for me, so I can light a scene with the spark real life lends to play without allowing it to get out of control. I’d love to know much reality others let into their play.

And the poem? I wouldn’t want to make any rash claims, but I think I’ll always remember these words:

“They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well:
Long, long shall I rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.”

*This recitation took place in the corridor known as ‘tramlines’. How it got that name, I cannot tell.

**I should add that I recognise there are a huge range of dynamics under the umbrella of D/s, and I don’t assume that others are like me, so I don’t want to criticise anyone in a D/s relationship. Apart from subs who want their doms to stop them smoking. I’m irrationally annoyed by them.

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Written by Not an Odalisque

May 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Into the Woods

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At the end of my last post I was setting out to Club Lash with a red cape and a basket of cakes for Grandmother. Conscious of my lack of social graces and with a feeling of alienation from the fetish community, I had precisely the attitude necessary to making new friends. I cycled to the venue, wondering why these events are always in the middle of the night. There is a symbolic value in pursuing your deviant desires in a dark dungeon during the Witching Hour, but some of us are ready for cocoa and stories by that time. It was a decidedly sleepy Not an Odalisque who sipped espresso as she applied her makeup, and an apprehensive one who descended the stairs into Lash.

I was immediately identified. “It’s Little Red Riding Hood! You’re in the right place.” I rewarded the speaker, a furry person with horns, with one of the cakes I’d brought for Grandmother, in the hope of prolonging friendliness. Inside, I stood between the bar and dance floor and looked around at people in huddles, here a gaggle of women in corsets, there a glowering of men in black. None of them appeared approachable. Suddenly, I found myself in a flock of people in wigs, rubber and platforms. I was obviously in the way, and I desperately wanted not to be. Spurred by the desire to be out of the way, I picked a dark corner and asked a man if I could share his sofa.

I made a fair stab at small talk until my sofa-mate was called to kneel at the feet of a Domme, then took Tennyson from my wicker basket and read Mariana. After each stanza I self-consciously glanced up at people engaged in their own conversations. Eventually someone asked what I was reading, and I traded cupcakes for conversation. I found myself joined on the sofa by a man in a zentai suit—well, most of a zentai suit; a hoodless zentai suit, allowing me to see his earnest expression—and after a few minutes he asked if I was looking for play. I said I wasn’t, offering clichés about meaningfulness and trust as justification. We made our mutual escapes from one another when I pretended I needed the bathroom. Or so I thought. Half an hour later, as I was watching one acquaintance beat another with a paddle, he appeared at my shoulder. I was saved from replying to his enquiry as to which is the hottest scene I’ve played by the approach of a woman with a tight white corset and a feather in her hair. “I’d like to see you tied to one of those,” she said, gesturing at the crosses and benches festooned with rope in the play area. There was a pause.

“Oh, thank you, I think,” I stammered. I looked pleadingly at her for a conversational pointer, but she just smiled and swayed away, leaving me with the zentai man. I distractedly answered his questions, thinking of the woman thinking of me, and I must have seemed particularly dense when unable to visualise his ‘dressage whip’, even after extensive description. It was to show me what he meant that he produced a holdall stuffed with rope, handcuffs, uniforms, a broken cane and a battered boater. The whip was…a whip, but his exhibition provided several minutes of conversation during which I didn’t have to wrack my brains for topics or answer difficult questions. The boater was exciting. It suited me well; I’m sure of that because I scampered off to look in the mirror as soon as I had it on my head. I carried, for no particular reason, the broken cane.

Beside me in the mirror was the sofa-man. “Oh, please,” he said, looking at the cane. I wondered what it would be like; I imagine inflicting pain would bring a delicious sensation of power. So I said I’d have a go. I can’t pretend I found the sight of him, bending over, particularly enticing,* but I pressed on. I brought the cane down to no effect. I tried again, feeling foolish,

“I’m no good. I don’t know what I’m doing.” He straightened, and caught the eye of a woman glossing her lips in the mirror. She, he said, was an expert, and he invited her to instruct me. She brought the cane down, ineffectually. She swung it though the air, and brought it down hard, but neither it, nor the man, made a sound. Then she removed a shard of wood from her hand and said, “it’s not you. This is useless.” I took its remains back to the man in the zentai suit.

He looked at the boater and said he’d brought a uniform, too. I’m not always up for kink, but it’s a rare day that I don’t want to dress up. He produced a navy blazer, a white blouse and a short navy skirt. I put the blouse and blazer on over my slip and went to see how I looked; quite fetching, I thought. Although blue isn’t my colour, it was balanced by the joy of arranging the boater at a jaunty angle. He pressed the skirt into my hands, and so I found myself fully kitted out as a schoolgirl. I looked slightly incongruous, surrounded by people in corsets and rubber.

I have a reputation, among my friends, for getting myself into sticky situations. It may surprise you, but not them, that I didn’t even think, adjusting the angle of my hat, of play. I was fully focussed on my narcissistic endeavour. It was with mild surprise, therefore, that I heard the man in the zentai suit address me as Head Girl, and ask why I’d been sent to his office. By that juncture it seemed it would be rather rude to refuse. It was hard to take him seriously, even when he wasn’t inventing details of my imagined transgressions mid-sentence. A submissive headspace clearly wasn’t coming, so I embraced defiance. In real life, I went to a school so soft they didn’t give detentions, and the level of impertinence I displayed would have got me in trouble even there. He didn’t seem to notice my disrespect. The scene stumbled towards a spanking, and I stretched over his lycraed knees. As he administered a few light taps, I rested my chin on my hand and brought to my face a look of supreme unconcernedness and insolence. It was wasted on the wall in front of me.

Not my best work. I was rolling my eyes through a talk about repentance when a woman interrupted to say, “your persistence paid off, then!” to the zentai man. I felt cheap. I took off the uniform and left him to chat. Rounding a pillar, I nearly trod on the fingers of the man I’d failed to cane, now stripped to his underpants and laying on the sticky floor, where two women rested the spikes of their heels on his chest. Looking down, I realised it was too late to prevent an unfortunate view up my slip. I apologised (whether for possibly flashing my knickers or nearly crushing his fingers I am uncertain).

“Never apologise!” he said. He gave me a pleading look and glanced at my feet. Twice. “You don’t know where they’ve been!” I said, shrilly, as he kissed my nearest shoe. I watched with some detachment as he licked them, then removed a piece of fluff from his tongue. “I told you I didn’t know where they’d been,” I said, apologetically, and walked away, trying not to think of the damp floor in the restroom.

It was a strange night: fragmented, odd, lacking in narrative drive. I can only hope that I learned some lessons. I confirmed that cake is an excellent inducement to conversation. I learned that I’m as bad at saying ‘no’ in the kinky world as the vanilla one. I didn’t go intending to play. I didn’t particularly want to play and I said so, but when it began I felt it would be impolite to stop. It wasn’t unpleasant, but given the things that go on in some corners of clubs, perhaps the ability to refuse would be a useful one. The most important discovery of the night, however, was this: I want a boater, and a blazer, and a slightly-too-short schoolgirl skirt. Or possibly a gymslip; all the girls in books have gymslips. But absolutely, definitely, a boater. And some one stern to tell me off while I’m wearing it. That would be even better than a big, bad wolf.

*That isn’t to say he’s an unenticing man, just that, predictably, I don’t find caning other people hot.

Written by Not an Odalisque

December 13, 2010 at 10:56 pm

‘Don’t let’s talk about being in love, OK?’

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Some time ago a friend said that he wasn’t falling in love with me. Oddly, even though I have no romantic inclinations towards him, it was even more awkward than if he had declared his undying affection. At least I’d know what to say to that; I’ve had some practice. I said goodbye. I got onto a train and I tried to read, but instead commenced re-examining my words and actions for the past several months, looking for those which could be misinterpreted as expressions of love. Even with my obsessive nature and considerable critical abilities, I was unable to sustain it for three hours straight, and was distracted by thoughts of love in general. I had obviously failed to communicate my position on love, or I wouldn’t be being warned off by anyone.

Love is like expensive ice cream. People tell me how great it is, how comforting. They say they crave it and describe taking a two litre tub of it to bed at the end of a terrible day. I’ve tried it and found that it’s, well, like eating frozen cream. I’m more of a sorbet girl myself, but ice and fruit aren’t ever going to elicit the response from me that Ben and Jerry’s does in others. That’s fine; I’ll not take ice cream. But if there is momentary incredulity about my not desiring ice cream, there is outright denial of my wish not to get romantically entangled.

My biggest problem is this: those who challenge me aren’t entirely wrong. Even if I don’t like ice cream, I would like to believe that a cure for unhappiness could be bought in pots. Of course I want someone who accepts me for who I am. I want someone to think it’s sweet that I can never remember the name of the main character and adorable that I can’t organise a cupboard in such a way that things don’t fall out. However, I live in the real world, have experienced the pain as the items have hit me on the way down, and have a realistic expectation about people’s reactions.

I’m tempted by the promise of love. And by the seductions of extended metaphors.

Being with people thinking of love is like being in a supermarket. Supermarkets make me panic. This time last year they left me breathless, stumbling through crowds searching for the door, hardly able to remember my own name. Nowadays, I avoid that by going in with a shopping list at 2am. Supermarkets scare me because they seem to be trying to turn me into a different person. I think I only need milk and bread flour, but before I’ve gone a few paces hundreds of products have been suggested. I stride past them with certainty that I don’t need shower gel or heel cream or hair mayonnaise (yes, that one’s real). By the time I’ve passed the books, DVDs and Christmas decorations I begin to think something’s not quite right. Other people want these things. They are there, picking up action movies and artificial trees. I must be a very picky. At the fruit and veg I feel ought to get something. I may think I want tomatoes, but from a range of eight types, with wildly differing price tags in no way reflective of variation in the tomato eating experience, I feel totally unable to make a choice. It seems there’s an interpretative system which everyone else is in on, allowing them to pick the right one, but no one’s told me the secret. By the time I get to the bread aisle and find that, among the hundreds of options, there isn’t a crusty brown loaf, I feel there’s something horribly broken inside, dividing me from the rest of humanity and confirming that I’m just not the person I ought to be.

That’s how I feel about love. I can recognise the utter duds, the men who email me on fetish sites with photos of their willies and the drooling guys in bars who tell me I’m the most beautiful girl they’ve ever seen as they ‘accidentally’ brush my leg. These are the blue cheeses and the value sausages of love—you’re amazed that anyone has even tried them. Most people aren’t like that. I find people interesting. Some of them announce their love, and I try, as with the tomatoes, to imagine what it would be like to pick this one, or that. I never seem to be the tomato buyer they wanted me to be.

Love demands attention. As an intense personal experience, it cannot be denied. Even as a person tells you that they want nothing from you, their love is given for free, it is whispering the question, “why don’t you pick me? Here I am. Better than any other bread on the aisle.”

Every time someone says they love me, I have to bite my tongue so as not to say “but you don’t know me.” There’s a constant tension between revealing enough for your liking to apply to me, and making myself the sort of person you would like. People have said they love me on the basis of my listening to expositions on Kandinsky when totally uninterested, defining words when I think they are perfectly capable of using a dictionary, agreeing with their philosophies I think are banal. I can’t believe that their experience was all that different; these are the compromises life is made of.

One man said he loved me on a Friday and dumped me on the Sunday. Apparently he couldn’t deal with me being flogged by other men. I’d like to think that a propensity to being flogged by other men is an integral part of my character, so we’d obviously misunderstood each other somewhere along the line. I think I’ve worked out why. In depictions, love is a spontaneous, explosive force that sweeps objections out of its way. That’s fine when you’re Mr. Darcy and by overcoming petty doubts you prove your love and give your girl a really big house. I, however, quite like myself, my life, my way of doing things. I don’t need any explosions.

So I’m not looking for love. I am looking for people to sleep with, play with, tie me up, hit me with things or read me stories in bed. I’d like to meet first-readers, coffee-drinkers and re-organisers of kitchen cupboards. I’d be very grateful to the person who can explain the end of Selima Hill’s poem Don’t Let’s Talk About Being in Love, as it has been troubling be for years. For a few minutes you could be my special someone. I think we could both be happy with that.

Written by Not an Odalisque

October 13, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Panicking over the Paucity of Poems

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Everyone who read the poems in my last post and responded was absolutely right. They lack a certain something. Poetry, perhaps? This is the one I’m going to hand in, not because of its quality, but because it proves I can write a tritina. You’ve got to love a girl who can write a tritina, right?

Call

I believe there are entire call centres searching for you.
Tirelessly redialling, not knowing that I should say
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Williams has been dead for seven years.”

If I were a salesman or market researcher with years
Of experience, would I be phased to hear that you,
Whom I wanted for just a minute, had nothing to say?

I tell them you’re not available, and they always say
They’ll call back. If they try enough numbers over the years,
And if, daily, they patiently redial, will they find you?

You aren’t here, I say. I’ve been saying it for seven years.

Written by Not an Odalisque

December 17, 2009 at 10:16 pm

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