Archive for Todd

Upcoming Travel Plans for March and April

This weekend slave elizabeth and I volunteered for the B.O.H.I.C.A! II.  We had a good time volunteering and enjoyed getting to spend some time around our local community.  We are also getting ready for a busy March as we travel to represent the Southwest Master/slave 2013 title.

We will be at the following events in March and April:

Sin in the City, Las Vegas, NV – March 1-3
South Plains Leather Fest, Dallas, TX – March 8-10
Alamo City Leather and Fetish Ball, San Antonio, TX – March 22-24
International Ms Leather, San Francisco, CA – April 18-21

May and June are already filling up with events and opportunities and we may add some other things to our March and April.

Are You Ready Boots? Start Walking!

When I was a little kid I owned four pairs of shoes.  The first pair was the sneakers that I wore all day every day.  I would wear them to school where I would play in the playground (assuming of course that I wasn’t in trouble for failing to follow some arbitrary rule that I didn’t create). My sneakers were not just for walking.  They were also excellent brakes when I rode my bicycle, rain boots when I splashed in puddles, hiking boots when I went to the woods that I was most definitely not supposed to play in, and so on.  Their many uses were endless. My second pair of childhood shoes was the worn out version of the first pair, kept in case I needed to “get dirty.”

My third pair of shoes was invariably some random child dress shoe whose wearing involved an event that required me to sit still and be quiet. As sitting still and being quiet were the two most impossible tasks for my childhood self to tackle, I knew that if I was wearing dress shoes I would be miserable and uncomfortable.  My fourth pair of shoes was the cleats that I wore when I played soccer. Given that I enjoyed playing soccer only marginally more than I enjoyed sitting still and being quiet, I hardly enjoyed wearing cleats.

Recently, I have started going to the gym to exercise.  While I suppose that I should be gleaning some great insight about the importance of fitness and health to one’s mood, the biggest thing I have learned whilst at the gym is that Fox News is just as annoying without any sound as it is with sound.  As I generally avoid watching Fox News with or without sound, I had never considered the over/under of how annoying Fox News is while muted versus with the sound on. It turns out that reading the crazy is just as frightening as listening to it.  The only bonus of muted Fox News is that occasionally the closed captioning doesn’t exactly match what is spoken.  For instance yesterday there was a big hue and cry about whether President Obama committed “tree son” because of his declaration that he supported gay marriage. I’m not sure what “tree son” is exactly, but I suspect the folks that oppose gay marriage are against it (which makes me for it, though again I don’t know what it is and indeed it may be a wholly bad idea).  I suspect that they were debating the merits of whether the President committed treason, while just as asinine as “tree son,” it is a smidge more congruent with their perverse view of the world.  Again, there was no sound for me to compare to the closed captioning, so I’m speculating here.

But I digress.  As I have started going to the gym, I discovered that I did not own a pair of shoes appropriate for working out in.  This surprised me because as I have grown older my collection of shoes has expanded geometrically.  Off the top of my head, my shoe count includes the following: two pairs of fetish boots, cowboy boots, work boots, rubber boots, leather casual/going out shoes, two pairs of casual work shoes, five pairs of Converse in various colors, two pairs of dress shoes, a wingtips, swimming shoes, shower shoes, pool shoes, and probably two or three other pairs of shoes designated for some activity that I’ve never actively engaged in.

How on earth did I go from really only needing one pair of shoes to having so many?  While I am sure that some of that change can be attributed to growing up.  In some ways I still feel the dread I felt as a child while wearing dress shoes because wearing dress shoes often involves activities I would rather avoid like court appearances, job interviews, or funerals.  Still I have grown and recognize their importance and the fact that these events require a slightly different pair of shoes than the shoes I might wear while puttering around the house or attending a leather conference.

Some of the shoes I own simply puzzle me. Like my swimming shoes.  I don’t go snorkeling or scuba diving, so I don’t own any fins.  As nearly as I can tell, swimming doesn’t actually require wearing any shoes. Yet somehow I have come into possession of shoes that I would only wear while trying to avoid the rocks and beer can detritus that one finds at the lake.   I also own shower shoes that I wear to the pool.  Again, you don’t need shoes to swim yet I own two pairs dedicated to that activity – an activity that I rarely engage in.

I also own a pair of rubber boots that I can wear if I have to walk in the mud. I walk in the mud even less often than I go swimming, so their utility is minimal and my ownership of them slightly more mystifying.

Thinking about all of my various shoes, I realized that taken together they tell a story of about me. Or at least they tell a big part of it. Together my shoes represent all of the things that I do and all of the things that I am.  My life, like my shoe collection, is composed of various parts that serve different functions. My shoes tell my story and I realized that if you wanted to know who I am you wouldn’t need to walk a mile in my shoes, you’d need to walk several miles in all of them.

The Lucy Saga

Today while I was at work I received a text message from my slave stating that our dog Lucy had turned up missing.

Lucy is a hard dog to describe.  She appears to be a Blue Heeler-Basset mix as assembled by Dr. Frankenstein.  Her coat is a mottled mix of blue-gray, black, and brown, and she looks a lot like someone painted a German sausage and attached legs which were both too small and ill-fitting.   Before we got Lucy she had given birth to a litter of puppies (well I presume they were puppies, I never saw them so in theory she could have given birth to a litter of jackals or kangaroos).  Any any rate, not long after she had her pups, she had been fixed so her teats her noticeably saggy even by the saggy skin standards of Basset hounds.

One day my slave and I went to the pet store for something and as we walked in, there was an animal rescue that had set up shop to find pets to adopt.  They were packing up as we arrived, but Lucy and a Boxer were still in a pen together.  The Boxer saw us approach and started preening.  I was reminded of the descriptions of old orphanages where the orphans would be lined up before perspective adoptive parents and examined in the same manner one might examine cattle at a livestock sale.   Lucy’s reaction to us approaching was decidedly different; she flopped down (not sat down mind you, she flopped as if to say, “fuck it, I don’t care.”), rolled over onto her back, and let out a strange plaintive wail.  My slave saw the Boxer and was immediately taken with him.  I was immediately drawn to Lucy.  After her performance, Lucy decided to get up if only to walk to the far side of the pen.  It was then that I noticed the missing fur by her tail.  She was this fantastical combination of spare parts, mangy coat, and lazy, and the perfect pooch for me.  (My slave later asked if my taste in dogs was reflective of my taste in women; they are decidedly different.)

We asked the animal rescue folks about Lucy. The few minutes of conversation were enlightening.  They informed that Lucy’s missing fur was likely the result of an allergy (this later turned out to be true as her hair grew back in and she was a smidge less unique than at our first meeting).  I also determined that the “rescue” was likely one that had been, or likely would be, featured on one of the many animal hoarder shows that are all the rage on cable.

Soon enough we were invited to take Lucy for a “walk.”  Lucy was having none of it.   Rather than attempt to follow the leash, all 60 pounds of sausage body and stubby legs would walk a few steps and promptly flop to the ground with great fanfare but not so great effort.  While most prospective dog owners might find that off-putting, I found it endearing.  It was hot as blazes that day and had I been Lucy there’s no way in Hell I would have been eager to go for a walk on a leash either.

In short order we had passed the rigorous adoption standards of the rescue, paid our adoption fee, and found ourselves the proud new owners of Lucy.  We coaxed her along as we bought new items for the dog we weren’t expecting and loaded the new dog items and new dog into the car.  Once we were all in the car, we were overwhelmed with a smell that words alone cannot do justice to.  It was a decidedly foul odor I had never experienced before and hope to never experience again.

Bringing Lucy home we had a few concerns.  First and foremost was her stench.  We tried valiantly to find a dog groomer to take her to but could find no appointments that day so we had to tackle that job ourselves.  Just as we started to give her a much needed bath we discovered Lucy’s motivated, go getter side.  Unfortunately, she directed all of her energy and heft into avoiding a bath as if her life depended upon it.  Three baths later, our persistence paid off and Lucy’s smell had been reduced from nauseating to a far more tolerable dog smell.

Our other concern was how Lucy would react to our other dog Satan.  Satan is most everything that Lucy is not.  He is a tiny Chihuahua who weighs all of four pounds soaking wet.  He is also a perpetual motion machine.  Even though Satan was neutered as a puppy, he steadfastly refuses to acknowledge this fact and his favorite pastimes involve humping anything that he can.  Given their size difference, I was concerned that at their first meeting Satan would become lodged in Lucy’s throat and I would be spending my evening at the emergency vet clinic plaintively asking, “this happens all the time right?” This fear was unfounded as Lucy is far too lazy and gentle to bother with Satan.  At their first meeting, there was the standard doggy introduction of butt sniffing followed promptly by another one of Lucy’s trademark flops.  In short order, Satan was vigorously humping Lucy’s stubby leg as though he were trying to be the canine John Holmes. He was blissfully unaware (or unconcerned) that he was off the off mark.  Lucy for her part lacked the interest, motivation, or both to stop Satan’s amorous advances and they were soon partners in crime.

Today, when I received the text that Lucy had gone missing, I was anxious.  I have often heard stories of dogs traveling hundreds of miles to find their owners home after a move the dog was otherwise unaware of, and I am sure that all these dogs are far smarter than is Lucy.  If Lucy were a person, I’m fairly convinced that her parents would be double cousins and she would ride to school in a bus that was shorter than the bus the other children traveled in.  Given that Lucy acts confused about where she belongs when we move her crate, I was pretty sure that as her panic stricken self fled the rainstorm there was little chance she would make it home without some sort of human intervention.

By this point, you might have come to the conclusion that Lucy is a tad quirky and you’d be right.  Even though we had registered Lucy, she never wore her collar.  This is mostly because she detested it and always managed to contort her long body in such a way that her short paw would be stuck in it.  Unfortunately, she lacked the sense and skill to extricate herself from her collar and in short order you could hear her plaintive yelps begging for assistance from this self-inflicted self-bondage.

Naturally, we drove around our neighborhood calling and looking for her.  I gained a new appreciation for how many confusing curved streets and cul-de-sacs there are in our little piece of suburbia.  We would also stop and ask anyone who happened to be outside if they had seen our dog.  This was a somewhat interesting experience.  Most of the adults were friendly but none had seen our dog.  The children we stopped to ask were far less helpful.  They all froze and asked, “a dog?” as if a dog was a concept they had never encountered in their short lives.  It soon occurred to me, that to the children our station wagon was a Good Times van with dark tinted windows and my inquiry about a dog was new slang for “would you like some candy little girl?”  I suspect that our missing dog launched at least one dinner conversation about “stranger danger.”

Just as we were about to give up the search for the dog and go back home to make flyers we saw a couple of guys standing outside talking about whatever it is that vanilla suburbanites discuss amongst themselves with at cocktail hour (I’ve suffered through several of these conversations, and my only takeaway is “I don’t understand vanillas.”)

Asking them about our dog seemed a fruitless pursuit, and immediately after we asked, I saw the headshaking that says both no and sorry at the same time.  But that headshaking was immediately followed with, “did you say a gray dog?”  “Yes, yes I did.” And then our search was over.  Not only had he seen our dog, he had stayed with it.  It turned out that we had managed to ask the off duty police officer who found our dog while on patrol.  Soon enough he was showing us pictures of Lucy on his cell phone and calling the police station to get us the number to call to claim her. He told us the long tale of how Lucy had followed a couple out walking their dogs, before he happened to stop them and learned that Lucy wasn’t theirs.  He went on at some length about what a great dog she is and how he stayed while animal control gently corralled her.

Unfortunately, it was afterhours, so we couldn’t claim Lucy tonight, but she will be back among our flock tomorrow.

Throughout this process, I have learned several things.  First and foremost I learned that there’s a hole in the fence that Lucy can use to escape.  I learned that I actually value my dog far more than I would have otherwise realized or copped to.   It also turns out that the local police do other stuff than write speeding tickets (I still maintain that if the little bastards haven’t figure out how to cross the street by high school, my mowing them down isn’t a tragedy just a thinning of the gene pool) and they are friendly and even helpful.  Finally, I learned that I really should have spent the extra cash to have the dog microchipped.  The more you know…

There’s a Light That Never Goes Out

My slave does most of the driving when we are together.  I realize that having the slave drive is atypical but as we travel I prefer to be able to freely observe whatever may catch my eye without all of the unavoidable distractions of driving.

This is especially true whenever we pass an accident.  While most decry the tendency to rubberneck at an accident scene, I think that rubbernecking is as a natural human reaction.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  First, we want to assess any such situation and determine if we are in any immediate danger.  If we can determine that we are not in jeopardy, people have a natural fascination with carnage that is unlikely to change.

For a long time I have also believed that American television media has only encouraged our tendency to rubberneck at accident scenes.  While it is true that television media devotes an exception amount of airtime to stories that involve death, injury, and mayhem (a tendency captured in the oft-repeated mantra of “If it bleeds, it leads”), the reality is that American television sterilizes any sense of carnage.  While American television media may show up at accident scenes, the images they show are invariably sanitized versions of what actually happened.  For example at a fatal accident scene, the images used in the reporting are typically interviews with law enforcement officials, pictures of traffic delays caused by the accident, images of police and fire vehicles with their lights flashing, and interviews with witnesses who were not seriously injured by the accident.  Conspicuous by their absence are images of the seriously injured or the emotionally overwrought.

While I am sure that American news media would claim that they remove these images to avoid disturbing or frightening viewers, there is little doubt in my mind that viewers crave to see these images. Their absence creates a barrier by which we minimize the severity of all manner of negative things.

Determining whether or not the tendency to censor such images is uniquely an American approach to reporting would require more research than I care to devote to the topic.  However, I have had the opportunity to watch television from Mexico and Latin America that shows this approach is not universal.  When Mexican television news covers such accidents, they broadcast much more direct images of accident victims and show the human toll accidents cause in far greater detail. In fact it is not unusual for Mexican television news to follow ambulances to hospitals and broadcast pictures of victim’s families in various states of grief.  While most Americans might find such reports exploitative, they serve as stark reminders that accidents and grief throw the lives of victims and their families into chaos.  By sterilizing these events, American media tends to remove their impact such that they have little more emotional involvement for the viewer than a sports score.

But I digress.  My mother passed away last month, three days before my fortieth birthday.  That makes me of the age that when I was a baby most people didn’t use seatbelts and no one used car seats.  A baby in a car was either in a baby carrier in the back seat or more likely in his mother’s unbelted arms as dad drove the family sedan down the road with a paper bag wrapped Schlitz tallboy in the hand he used to wave to any passing policemen.

As I grew older, I would sit in the front seat as mom drove to and fro.  I sat there unbuckled and free to roll down the window to feel the air on my face and frighten my mother who pictured me leaping from the Gremlin as we travelled down the road at 70 mph.  Mostly I sat in the front seat reading road signs or babbling about whatever it is that an elementary school-aged me would babble on about.

Despite her claims to the contrary, mom was not the greatest driver in the world – a fact that doubtlessly contributed to the car accident that left her paralyzed 10 years before she passed.  As we were out driving mom would occasionally have to stop the car suddenly for any number of reasons (none of which were ever her fault).  Whenever mom would brake suddenly, she would instinctively reach out her arm to brace me from both the sudden deceleration of braking and the imminent threat that I would become some sort of prepubescent projectile being launched through the windshield.

Even though this act was a virtually pointless endeavor whose end result was a tiny me being whacked in the ribs, I knew then, as I know now, that she did this out of love and concern for my safety.  She dreaded the thought of her little boy being injured in an accident (which one would think would make her buckle me in the seatbelt, but that is another story for another time) so she would use her mom belt to keep me out of harm’s way.

As I grew older and would ride with mom, I could always count on her to use her mom belt anytime the car would brake suddenly.  This was slightly embarrassing to me as a teenager as I was sure that I could take care of myself.  She persisted in this habit as I turned into an adult using a seat belt even though the only likely outcome in an actual crash would be that she would break her arm.

Once after her accident, we were driving in her modified van when she braked suddenly.  Then as always, out came the arm to brace me for the impact.  Even though I was old enough that I should have seen this as a loving act from a mother who still wanted to protect her little boy, I couldn’t help but realize that her modified van required two arms to drive, one to brake/accelerate and the other to steer.  When I saw her arm headed towards my chest, I was terrified as I knew that “Jesus is my co-pilot” went from cheesy metaphor to an excited utterance of, “Jesus get the wheel!”  Thinking back about it, I do find it sweet that no matter what had happened she still wanted to take care of me before herself.

The other day my slave and I were driving home when she had to break quickly.  This wasn’t the sort of stop where one slams on the brakes, but rather the sort where there is less than might be comfortable.  Just as she pressed on the brake to slow the car, my slave instinctively reached out with a mom belt of her own to brace me from whatever might happen.

Afterwards, we both laughed as we discussed how the only likely outcome of her mom belt in a crash would be a broken arm.  I couldn’t help but be reminded of my mother’s love and caring for me.  I was also reminded that I have a slave who loves me that much too and I am grateful that I can count on her to give me a mom belt as we go down the road that is life together.

The Dog, The Duck, and The Handler: Insights on Mastery

When I was about 13 my Boy Scout Troop volunteered to help with a field trial for dogs. For those not familiar with a field trial, it is a competition for hunting dogs. A couple of my troop mates wound up with what seemed a rather fun job. They sat behind a large dirt pile, grabbed quail from their cages, tucked their heads under their wing, and threw them out over the water. As the discombobulated birds began to fly, they were suddenly felled by a shotgun blast and plummeted into a pond below so that the dogs could retrieve them. I’m fairly certain that there was nothing safe about being the bird thrower in such circumstances, but to a younger me it certainly seemed like a fine way to spend an afternoon.

The job I was assigned was far less glamorous. Rather than spend my day idling by the pond in the line of fire, I wound up working on the field side of the competition. Basically I was a gofer for the dead birds which the dogs were unleashed to retrieve. I spent the whole day riding shotgun in a beater pickup truck with a somewhat humorless man. We drove back and forth all afternoon. On one end of the circuit, he would stop the truck and I would get out to retrieve a dead duck from the pickup’s bed and place it in the field. At the other end of the end of the journey, I would get out to pick up the dead ducks that the dogs had retrieved. Carrying dead birds is a rather disgusting task. That the dead birds were mangled and covered in dog slobber only added to the day’s misery.

One thing that stands out in my mind about that day is that we were promised lunch. By the time it was lunchtime I was good and hungry. What I did not count on was lack of hand washing facilities. I don’t know what I expected to get for lunch, but I was disappointed my rations consisted of a dry bologna sandwich and potato chips. It is hard to imagine anything sounding less appetizing than eating finger foods with my dead bird and dog slobber covered hands.

The whole day wasn’t entirely wasted as I managed to learn a few useful things that I have carried with me for the rest of my life like the meaning of the term “trucker’s tan.” Since I was riding in the passenger seat, my wicked trucker’s tan was backwards, but for a week or so afterward it served as a reminder that I never again would be suckered into a field trial.

I cannot say that I learned much about field trials other than that they seem like a miserable way to spend one’s day. I do remember that there was one particular dog handler who trained probably a quarter of the dogs in the competition. I mostly remember him because none of his dogs seemed particularly adept at retrieving. After releasing the dog from its lead, he would blow his whistle and point in the direction of the target. Frequently the dogs would run a few yards forward at the sound of the whistle before turning around and looking at the hapless trainer with a confused lost expression.

Another thing that I noticed was that sometimes the various trainers would point one way even though the target was located in a completely different area of the field. Not knowing anything about how one would score a field trial, I don’t know whether the dog that follows the misguided instructions of his handler is better or worse than the dog that ignores the handler and retrieves the dead duck in short order. I think that the obedient dog is certainly the better one.

There are a lot of reasons that one might send the dog on a path that isn’t direct. Perhaps the straight line is hard for a dog to navigate or has other obstacles, or perhaps the straight path puts the dog out of the handler’s line of sight. Sometimes the handler simply does not know where the fallen bird is. In any case it is not for the dog to decide which direction he should go; the dog should simply follow.

Telling this story to my slave, she remarked that she was not surprised that I would think the obedient dog the superior one because it is also how I expect my slave to behave. I hadn’t really made that connection, but her simple observation was correct. I expect my slave to follow my direction and not decide which way to go. Much like the dog sent on a circuitous route, sometimes the directions I give her may seem to have no reason to them. Sometimes, I am leading her down a path towards a destination that is not apparent. On other occasions, it is the journey itself that pleases me. Sometimes, I simply want to take enjoyment in watching her follow my directions obediently. In my frailties, sometimes I may not know the right way to the destination. But in any case, it is not for her to decide that. Her path is to follow.

Moving Past the M/s Superiority Complex

The belief that M/s relationships are superior to all other forms of relationships seems quite common in the M/s community.  This “M/s Superiority Complex” puzzles to me.  While I wholeheartedly believe that an M/s relationship is the best relationship style for me, it seems both arrogant and asinine to suggest that it is inherently better than every other relationship form.

There are a few reasons that folks in M/s dynamics proclaim their relationships better than others.  Many people in M/s relationships presume they have clearly defined their roles and expectations as Master and slave at the onset of their relationship. I say presume because there are undeniably a lot of self-identified M/s people who enter into M/s relationships simply because they think being Master and slave sounds sexy.  While there is much discussion in the M/s community about the proper way to begin an M/s relationship, how to find an appropriate partner for such a relationship, the importance of authenticity, etc., the fact remains that many people start M/s relationships without the faintest notions of these concepts. While it is not for me (or anyone) to judge the validity of someone else’s M/s relationship, it is doubtless that many enter into such relationships with various unrealistic expectations for themselves and their partner(s).

Even if we assume that everyone entering an M/s relationship does so in the “proper” manner, to assume that this makes M/s relationships superior to others requires us to tacitly imply that people entering into other dynamics do so without any forethought about their roles and expectations.  While it is doubtlessly true that many people fall into all manner of relationships without much forethought about their expectations, to suggest that all other relationships begin without clear expectations is folly.

Another common claim about the superiority of M/s relationships is that the participants in M/s relationships are more deeply committed to each other than are people in other relationships. If true, we can reasonably assume that M/s relationships would be more enduring than other relationship types. While evidence to support or reject this idea is not readily available, the available anecdotal evidence seems to contradict this notion.  Having known dozens of people in various permutations of M/s relationships, I can count on one hand the number of them that have been together for five years.  Reaching a ten year anniversary as an M/s couple (threesome, family, etc) is as monumental an accomplishment as a golden anniversary in the vanilla world.

More interesting to me than how people in M/s relationships perceive them to be superior to other relationships is the question of why they would proclaim it so. I think that folks in M/s relationships often feel that they have to justify their relationship to both the larger vanilla world and the fetish and BDSM communities which often view M/s relationships with skepticism or hostility. All people everywhere defend that which is most precious and personal to them, and little seems more personal or valuable than one’s intimate relationships. Keeping that in mind, it is hardly surprising that those in any relationship would view it as the highest form of relationship.

Does the M/s Superiority Complex benefit anyone? In my view, it does not. Our relationships are virtuous and meaningful on their own merit.  Denigrating the value of other people’s relationships does nothing to increase the value of our relationships and serves to marginalize us from both the BDSM and vanilla worlds we exist in. Cut it out already.

Todd