Discussions abound regarding safe words, the need for them, people who don’t want them, what happens if they’re not used (or heeded), and so forth. I’m not going to enter into that debate here. Suffice it to say that it’s fairly universal in any kink: If you need the action to stop, right now, you use a safe word.
Some people use colors instead of words; red means stop, and yellow means slow down, lighten up a little — don’t stop, but modify, please. Personally, I think this method is contrived, as I’d feel kind of silly hollering out colors in the middle of a scene. But that’s just me. It works for others.
But what if you don’t want to stop the scene, or even slow it down? What if you just need to pause it for a moment? If you say “stop” or “wait,” the top may not heed it, thinking that it’s just part of your scene talk (since it’s not the established safe word or phrase).
I have a bit of tendinitis in my left shoulder; common symptom of overuse/repetitive stress. I overdid it with the weights, and I’ve since backed off a bit. I am never going to have magnificently cut arms; my genetic makeup won’t allow it, no matter how many lateral raises and military presses I do. I am destined to have old-lady arms, just like my mother. Blech.
I digress… Anyway, the shoulder thing is more of a nuisance than anything else, but if my arm is moved or pulled a certain way, it hurts. Cut to a few weeks ago, when New Guy and I engaged in our bondage play. When he first tied my hands behind my back, I found the positioning of my left arm was pulling on that bad shoulder a bit. I thought I’d settle into it, but as things progressed, the discomfort didn’t pass, it escalated.
What to do? I didn’t want to stop the scene. I didn’t want to break the mood. But I had to, somehow. So I whispered, “Time out.” Immediately, he paused, and I added, “Please adjust the rope a little — it’s pulling on my left shoulder.” Quickly and quietly, he made the adjustment, and then we slipped seamlessly back into the action.
I think the phrase “Time out” would be a very useful universal phrase within TTWD. It’s perfect for those times when a safe word isn’t quite right. “Time out — sorry, but this position hurts my back,” “Time out — leg cramp!” “Time out — may I have a tissue?” (Runny noses during a scene are SO not sexy.)
I wish I’d thought of this earlier. There have been times in the past when I just needed a pause, but I didn’t ask for one because I didn’t want to disrupt the scene. One example comes to mind, from years ago. I was OTK in my living room, and my partner was sitting in my recliner. After a while, my head dangling over the side got uncomfortable, and I noticed that my computer chair was just within reach. So I stretched out one arm, grasped the chair and gave it a yank. It came wheeling over very quickly — and the edge of the seat rammed right into my eye.
AGGGHH. I kept my head down and turned away from him, grit my teeth, blinked and teared, and sucked it up. Never let him know what was happening, because I didn’t want him to stop. If I’d simply said, “Time out — I just damn near put my eye out,” he could have paused the action long enough for me to stop seeing stars, and then we could continue.
What do you think? I have visions of “time out” becoming as well-known as “mercy.” 🙂 Of course, as with the safe word, “time out” should not be overused/abused. You can’t just say, “Time out — ow, that hurts.” Sorry, fellow spankees… the top would then reserve the right to reply, “Time in — it’s supposed to.” (sigh)