I don't tell anyone about The Mantis, not even Lulu and Marty. They are both still trying to set me up with Marty's friend Warren, another Sub Rosa Society member who's looking for a domme girlfriend. Lulu goes on and on about how perfect he is for me since he's so smart and intellectual. After several missed connections at Society events, I finally decide what the hell and allow them to set up a dinner date.
We meet at a mid-range Italian restaurant near his apartment in one of the more central upscale neighborhoods. Warren is not as drop-dead gorgeous as I had hoped. He has straight brown hair and brown eyes, a bit of a beard, a little roundish. In short, an average mid thirties white guy. I don't feel instantly drawn to him, but I'm not repulsed either, which is a big step up from my experience at the Sub Rosa munches. He's from Australia and came to the US for work about ten years ago, so he's still got the Aussie accent. I do love a good accent, but the Aussie one not that exciting to me--sometimes it sounds cool, sometimes it sounds irritating.
As we sit down at the table, I decide I don't need to go out of my way to impress this guy. I'll just let him know who I am, and he can take it or leave it. I'm also not doing an elaborate dominatrix roleplay with him until we get to know each other and agree to do a clearly defined scene together.
"You don't seem like a domme," he says after we place our orders.
I sigh and roll my eyes. "You don't seem like a sub," I shoot back.
"Feah enuff," he shrugs. He's totally unflappable. He never seems to waver from a neutral emotional state.
As we wait for the server to bring us our pasta, we exchange basic getting-to-know-you questions. Warren is a computer engineer working in a translational oncology lab, that is, he creates software to help doctors trying to find a cure for cancer. This explains why Lulu keeps telling me what a smarty-pants he is. But she's wrong to assume that we will immediately hit it off just because we both have graduate degrees. It's instantly clear to me that Warren, as an engineer, views all humans as robots--inefficient, poorly designed robots, but essentially machines nonetheless. He himself seems utterly without emotion about anything. Even though he is literally helping to find a cure for cancer, he thinks of his work as just a job.
"I didn't realize until I was working there eight years that most people think of it as a calling. We had a corporate retreat and everyone was talking about how they had a family membah with canssah, that's why they went into this line of work. I was the only one who was like, hmpf, I'm here because I was hired." He reports this in the same flat monotone as everything else.
As a friend of Marty, Warren has seen both performances that I have been in with the Raser City Lyric Opera, but he can't tell me a single thing about either opera, not even if he enjoyed it or not.
Despite his seemingly disinterested approach to everyone and everything, once our food arrives, he wastes no time goading me into an argument. I make an offhand comment about trying to eat healthy, which he jumps all over.
"'Eating healthy' a meaningless statement. Food is food. It's all fuel."
"Yeah, but some fuel is better than others. I try to avoid artificial chemicals, to eat more natural, less processed food."
Warren snorts. "Everything is a chemical. Humans are designed to roam through an environment and consume anything at will."
"Yeah, but some artificial food additives are not healthy."
"That's not true. Whatever you eat, your body will just process it out."
We go around and around in a tiresome circle. The more I get annoyed, the more calm and assured he seems, which is infuriating, and also leaves me sputtering and unable to make a rational point.
Finally we move on to other topics, and find some common ground in a shared loved of science fiction. We compare notes on our favorite movies, and I start to warm up to him a little. He's very mildly surprised when I reveal that even though I am like him a child of the 80s, I have never seen Terminator.
"We'll have to remedy thet," he says. "I have the DVDs at my house. Would you like to come watch it sometime?"
"Sure, sounds good." The first one anyway. I have no intention of watching all the sequels.
From there, the conversation takes another unfortunate turn, from science fiction to the coming singularity. At first I think he's joking about how Terminator is basically a documentary about the coming robot apocalypse, but no, he really means it. Apparently he's an acolyte of Ray Kurzweil.
Warren discusses the imminent extinction of the human race by super-intelligent robots with the same matter-of-fact tone that he uses to ask the server for the check. But to me, the idea of a future dominated by robots is profoundly upsetting, even more so that supposedly intelligent people really believe it will happen. I'm feeling vaguely depressed by the time we're saying our goodbyes outside the restaurant.
"Thenks, I had a nice time," he says, to my surprise. "So do you want to come watch Terminator at my place on Setihday?"
Before I quite realize what's happening, I've agreed to another date with Warren.
Lulu is very excited about Warren on my behalf, even though I make it clear that I'm at best lukewarm about him.
"I just have a good feeling about him," she says based on nothing more than some romantic fantasies about the types of people who should end up together.
For her part, Lulu has decided to stop seeing Marty. It seems to be an amicable breakup. We still all see each other at rehearsal three times a week and you would never know anything happened except that she doesn't go home with him anymore. Apparently it was after she gave in and played with another couple at Marty's urging that Lulu decided she was done with the BDSM scene.
"Don't get me wrong, I still love a good spanking," she confides in me over drinks after rehearsal. "I just really want a serious relationship. Marty is great but we're never going to get married and have kids together. I realized I'll never find someone to do that with as long as I'm with him."
I know exactly how she feels. After all, it's why Skip and I had to break up. And yet somehow now Skip the one with a serious girlfriend, and I'm seeing four guys at once. Who knows, maybe Warren will turn out to be The One like Lulu thinks, although I seriously doubt it. I don't believe in The One anyway. I thought K was The One but I was wrong. I'm really just looking for a one who is compatible with my weird kinks and who also wants to get married and have kids. Even that is starting to seem impossible.
Anyway I'm moving overseas in a few months, so anything I do right now is inevitably temporary. I'm in no position to start up a long term relationship at the moment. I'm so sick of trying to make things work. I'm just going to have sex like the guys do, go for what I want and not get too attached to anyone.
But Lulu is not going anywhere, and she's decided to get serious, so she creates a profile on J-date. Instantly her inbox starts filling up.
"What can I say, I'm a blonde Jew," she laughs.
While Lulu is going on dates with nice Jewish boys she can take home to her mother, I'm having kinky sex with two different guys on the same day.
Atom the Archaeologist shows up with just a few hours' notice at my apartment on a Saturday afternoon. Every time I see him, I'm sure it will be the last, but then he calls me again. Pegging him is always hot and I'm happy to indulge him. This time, I'm the one hustling him out the door because I have my date with Warren in the evening, although I don't mention that to Atom.
Warren lives in a nice neighborhood in a central part of Raser City. Even though it's not that far, I still have to leave myself two hours to get there, to fight through bridge traffic, downtown traffic, and then to find street parking once I get there. Once I finally find a space just barely big enough for my very modest car, it takes me like a hundred tiny forward and back moves to get reasonably close to the curb.
The nightmare of driving and parking in the city finally behind me, I follow the directions down the dark leafy streets to his place. It's a one storey semi-detached house probably built in the 1920s, and must have cost a mint.
Like Paul the Pornographer, Warren has the cash to purchase a beautiful, expensive house but not enough sense to put anything in it. He shows me the mostly empty formal dining room with gorgeous crown molding and a tiny plain Ikea table shoved in one corner, with a few sad chairs. The walls are bare except for a huge black and white print of two women in classic dominatrix gear, one whipping the other who poses with her hands on her ankles and her asshole spread wide open in the center of the frame. Since when has it become acceptable to decorate your house with straight up porn?
"Uhh...impressive," I say, because it's obviously an original print that probably also cost a lot of money. On the one hand I think it takes balls for him to display that thing in the middle of the dining room, but on the other it's pretty clear he never does any entertaining here. The only people coming over are me and other SM play partners.
"Thenks," he says emotionlessly. "I like it."
He shows me to the narrow living room, which at least looks like a person lives there, with stacks of DVDs, books, a computer and a sofa. We settle in on the sofa for a screening of Terminator on DVD.
What can I say, I'm not a fifteen year old boy, so it doesn't really grab me. Also I really hate Arnold Schwarzenegger. The idea that he could become governor of California in a few months is killing me.
"Oh, he's definitely going to win the election," Warren asserts with the same certainty he uses to talk about the coming singularity.
"There's no way! Surely the people are not that dumb." My convictions, based purely on emotion, are a lot shakier.
From there the conversation again drifts back to the coming robot apocalypse, a topic which fills me with existential dread. While I'm winding myself up with anxiety, I also mention that in a few weeks, I'm going to a conference in Hong Kong. I'm excited for the conference itself but hating the prospect of the long flight. Not only am I a nervous flier, but I get motion sick on any flight over an hour or so.
"It's a primitive response," opines Warren. "If you're feeling dizzy, it must be something you ate, better chuck the contents of your stomach."
Like everything else he says, while perhaps technically correct, it's far from reassuring.
By the time he gets around to awkwardly pulling me onto his lap and kissing me, it's kind of a relief just to stop talking.
Even though I'm not super taken with Warren, I go along with his advances because why the hell not. He's ok enough and I'm super horny all the time. Also he can afford expensive SM gear and wants me to use it on him.
We drift to the bedroom and kiss some more. He starts showing me some of his gear: a riding crop, a few vibrators, some leather restraints, a blindfold. He even has a real straitjacket hanging in his closet, heavy and scary looking.
"What's that?" I ask, pointing to a milk crate next to the bed filled with random items like a canteen, a flashlight and a construction helmet. I can't imagine how it fits in with the rest of his gear. The world's most boring roleplay maybe?
"Oh, that's an earthquake preparedness kit."
I snort. "Seriously?" I've lived here for eight years now and felt several tremors but at most keep some extra bottled water around.
"My mum was worried when I moved here."
"Wow, and I thought my mother worried too much."
Like with The Mantis, I'm not really feeling like getting into character as the Cruel Mistress right away. I discuss with Warren what he's into, and he uses the term "hard limit" a lot, which strikes me as irritatingly jargon-y. He's not really into verbal abuse, and physical pain is a big no. Mainly he just wants to be restrained in elaborate ways, and roleplay as a pet.
"What I really want to do is be locked in a cage for a whole weekend," he says.
My eyes light up. "I would totally do that."
"Hmm, thenks. I have a friend who owns a human sized cage. I'm going to ask him if I can borrow it."
"Cool, well let me know if you really want to do it. As long as it's a weekend when I don't have an opera performance, I'm up for it."
I flop down on the bed, and he lies down next to me. He takes his clothes off, and I see that he's liberally covered in dark wiry body hair, evenly distributed all over. He reminds me of a tick, with a round belly and thin arms and legs. As we start kissing and caressing in a vanilla sort of way, I stare at the week's growth of beard on his face and the tiny mole on his upper lip and my desire ebbs away. This is not what I want, and certainly not from this guy who isn't even disabled.
I flip him over with a growl, straddling him and holding his arms down. He smiles happily, anticipating what I might do. But it's late and I'm tired. Instead of a proper scene, I just tie him up a bit using my now well practiced skills, and tease him a bit. then we have oral sex. He's not too bad at it.
A few days later, The Mantis pays me a late night visit. I don't waste any time, but order him straight to the bedroom.
I watch as he transfers to the bed, sitting up with his legs splayed out and toes pointed in, supporting himself with his hands behind him. Without any warning, I push his hands away so he falls back flat onto the pillow. He grins up at me as I stand over him imperiously.
"Get naked," I order him, and watch as he squirms under me, wriggling out of his shirt and pants. Rather than pulling his pants down, he kind of pulls each leg out, holding it up at the knee, then tossing his leg back down. His heels almost hang off the end of the bed.
A thought occurs to me. "How tall are you?"
"I don't know, six three? I never really measured."
Suddenly I'm obsessed. How can you not know your own height? I want to know. This is important information! I run to the living room and come back with a metal tape measure. As he lies naked in my bed, I attempt to lay the tape measure alongside him, but it's harder than I thought. The bed is squishy so he's not lying perfectly flat, and I can't line up the end of the tape measure exactly with the bottom of his foot. The long metal ribbon keeps twisting and flopping around. Suddenly, I lose my grip and it snaps back into the cartridge, slicing deeply into the side of my index finger as it goes.
"Aaah!" I scream and jump up as the tape measure cuts me like a knife.
"Hey, are you ok?" The Mantis calls after me as I run to the bathroom, clutching my bleeding finger.
It's only a shallow cut--I wrap my finger in two band-aids and it's ok. But it stings like hell and I feel like a fucking moron. I was trying to be cute and look where it got me. It's hard to act the scary dominatrix when you've just sliced your finger on a tape measure trying to find out the height of a guy lying in your bed because he can't stand up to measure his height in the usual way.
I walk back to the bedroom, shamefaced. The Mantis is propping himself up on one elbow in the bed.
"Are you ok?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Sorry. I feel dumb."
"Don't worry about it." He gives me a crooked grin.
How do you bounce back from a fuckup like that? I don't try to get back in character, but just lie on the bed with him and start kissing and making out in a vanilla kind of way. Pretty soon I'm yanking his arms back and kissing him more aggressively.
I pull out several packs of stretch gauze and wrap up his wrists, securing them to the headboard. I also wrap them around his ankles, just for good measure. Even though he can't move his legs anyway, there's something perversely appealing about the unnecessary overkill of it all.
Now it's clothespin time again. I pull the bag out from under the bed and stick a few here and there, including on his nipples. Also in my drawer of low cost home made SM gear I have a bag of small bamboo skewers I bought at the supermarket. I've fastened some of them together with rubber bands into bundles of varying sizes. I take the biggest bundle and drag it slowly over the skin on his chest, creating a mild scratching, tickling sensation. I scratch him slowly, slowly, over and over on his chest, the insides of his raised and bound arms, on his neck and ears, with smaller and smaller bundles, gradually increasing the pressure until I'm down to just one skewer, pressing harder. When he's in a trance-like state from the endlessly repeating sensation, on the border of pleasure and pain, I take off the clothespins. As I open each clothespin, the skin underneath is white then quickly turns into a little red welt. I laugh as he groans and writhes under me. Then I sit on his face.
A few days later, The Mantis mentions over email that he was taking a bath and noticed a tiny flake of glitter on his balls. He freaked out, worried that his wife would immediately suspect that he was up to something. The glitter was surprisingly hard to remove. In the same email, he also complains that I had left a big scratch on his neck.
I write back to say that the glitter definitely did not come from me, and apologize for the scratches. Privately, I have to admit to myself that I never even thought twice about leaving marks. I guess I got used to playing rough with Patrick the Fireman. I still laugh when I think about the huge red welts I left on his ass, and how he told the other guys at the firehouse that he fell on a grate. I liked the idea of marking him temporarily.
The Mantis writes back:
Sorry I didn't mean to blame you for the glitter. It was from an event I went to at Lollygag last week, although I have no idea how it got down into my pants, since I wasn't naked. It just made me realize I need to be more careful. The scratch is gone now and she didn't notice but please don't leave scratches or marks next time. I don't want to have to explain to my wife.
Well crap, now I feel guilty for thinking only of myself while we were playing and not being more considerate of him. I promise to be more careful in the future.