Yes, I was on a plane for the first time since 2012. The flight was less than an hour, but still. Oh, and I took an Uber for the first time. And BART. For a woman who almost never goes anywhere, this was monumental. Even more monumental — the trip was to Northern CA to play with B. A 24-hour whirlwind, and a comedy of errors regarding the travel portions. But all so very worth it.
Oh, and while the trip was short, this post is long. Buckle up and get a beverage.
It started with him getting a new strap. He had asked for my opinion when ordering a new one, and had sent me some pictures of his possible choices. (They all looked pretty damn terrifying.) A couple of days later, I received this picture from him:
Oh. My. I commented that it was scary looking, and he replied it was especially scary for me, knowing I was going to receive corporal punishment on my bare bottom with it soon. :-O Say what, now?
At first B suggested coming to me again, but I told him the Saturday plans weren’t really fair to John. However — how about if I went to him, on a weekday, and played at his place? (This was John’s idea.) He liked that, and said he had a full spare bedroom/bathroom suite I could stay in. He even offered me some of his unused miles. 🙂
B was great; he took care of everything, booking the flight for me, even getting me an aisle seat with extra legroom, which I really appreciated, since the tight confines of planes make me feel claustrophobic. He told me how to set up Uber (I’d never used it before) and told me it would be about an hour ride from the airport to his place. Once there, I was to go to a food court area downtown right near his building and wait for him to get off work, maybe another hour or so. Simple, right? Then I’d fly home the next morning, after he dropped me off at the train station and I took the train to BART and then BART to SFO. All seemed quite doable, even for this nervous person who isn’t travel savvy.
I’d looked up Burbank Airport and saw they had economy lots with cheaper parking (the regular lots were $23 per day; the cheap lots $12). My first glitch? Pulled into the airport, drove round and round and got caught up in the swirl of cars, and the economy lots were nowhere in sight. I stopped to ask, and was told, “Oh, you have to exit the airport and then go to blah blah.” Okay, so I tried to leave, and as I drove around, I came to a split in the road with signage, but neither direction said “Exit.” I had a 50/50 chance, so I took one and of course it was wrong and I ended up in the rental car return lot. I had to ask again, and the guy gave me another set of convoluted directions. By now I was freaking out, and did I mention we were having a heat wave and the temperature was triple digits? So as I drove out of that lot, the first thing I saw was a full-price parking lot and I said screw it, saving a few bucks isn’t worth my sanity. So I parked… and then I had to ask yet another person how to find the United terminal (go up that escalator, take the walkway, go across the street, blah blah). But I made it in plenty of time and was at my gate by 12:40 for a 2:00 flight.
When I got to SFO, I looked for the area B told me about where there are Uber pickups, but couldn’t find it, and when I asked, they said, “Oh, we changed that up completely just last week. You have to go to blah blah blah…” Finally found that place, ordered my Uber, and he showed up within 10 minutes. Really nice guy, good driver — we did hit traffic so it took longer than expected, but he turned up the A/C when I asked him to. (I gave him a 20% cash tip; he was quite effusive with his thanks.) Got to the place where B had told me to go, walked in… and discovered it was fully open, no A/C whatsoever, and apparently Northern CA was no cooler than Southern CA. It was like a blast furnace in there. I didn’t like the idea of B picking me up here after I’d sat in this heat for an hour and was sweaty and grubby, but I figured oh well, just go with it.
B came within an hour and we walked to his building, a ginormous high-rise. His apartment was charming — two levels, roomy, big bedrooms and bathrooms. He showed me my room, and the first thing I wanted was a glass of ice water, which he provided. It was about 6:30, and he mentioned dinner. I noticed he’d bought two bags of groceries. “Do you have any dietary restrictions?” he asked. (Uh… yeah, kids, you know what kind of an eater I am.) I said, “Well, I don’t eat red meat”… and the first thing he pulled out of the bag was a huge steak. Oops. Next to come out? A salami and some cheese. Guess what? I don’t eat those either. At this point I was ready to go crawl into a closet, but then things turned around and everything he took out after that — eggs, a fresh sourdough loaf, tomatoes, raspberries — all appealed. “Fried eggs it is,” he announced, “but after you’ve been thoroughly punished. Not good doing that on a full stomach, is it?” I couldn’t agree more. (A side note: the dude on FetLife who always pushes for his stupid buffet munches when we’re all at the Shadow Lane party at the Suncoast irks the hell out of me. Who on earth wants to play after consuming a Las Vegas buffet?? I forecast a lot of ruined shoes with that gluttonous nonsense.)
B is quite the audiophile, with a great deal of high-end stereo equipment and a large selection of record albums. He knew my favorite band, so he put on “Sgt. Pepper” and we sat on the couch for a snack — salami and cheese for him, while I nibbled on some of the raspberries. The acoustics of his music system were marvelous; I could hear every individual instrument.
As you guys might remember, in my last blog about playing with B, I said something like “What is it with UK men and canes?” After the album concluded, B said, “Speaking of Beatles, where is Abbey Road?”
“What city?” I shrugged. I am geographically challenged. (Where is he going with this?)
“London. Which is in England, correct. And is England part of a larger area?”
“The United Kingdom.”
“Yes. And where am I from?”
“And is Ireland part of the UK?”
“Uh… some of it is?”
“Am I from that part?” Uh…
Apparently, he isn’t from the UK. And, as he announced when he firmly took hold of my hand, sat down and pulled me across his lap, saying that the Republic of Ireland is part of the UK is like saying Texas is part of Mexico.
“Well, that’s not so far-fetched!” I protested. “Haven’t you heard of Tex-Mex cuisine?”
I thought that was pretty clever, given it was quick thinking under duress. He wasn’t impressed.
Right off the bat with the small strap. He wasn’t using it very hard, but of course, it stung like a bitch as he hadn’t used his hand first. He gave me sets of ten (I forget how many), and then paused while I caught my breath.
“I’ll bet you’re really, really, really surprised how painful this little strap is,” he mused.
“Yeah,” I gasped, “especially without a warm-up!”
He laughed. “That was the warm-up.”
Oh, fuck me.
After a few minutes of that, after which he pronounced me “a redder shade of crimson,” we went upstairs to where I’d be sleeping (which also happened to be his discipline room) and he had me kneel in a chair at the foot of the bed and then lay my torso on the bed. He had three canes, which he informed me had been soaking in linseed oil. Oh, yippee. I guess I wasn’t about to break any of these suckers.
The scene is a blur. At one point he moved me off the chair and fully onto the bed, with pillows under my hips. I seem to recall the final count was seven sets of twelve, which is eighty-four. Every last one of them spot on. Some harder. Some a bit lighter, but faster. All intense. I had to count every one. And call him “sir.”
(Weird how I’ve mellowed about that word. I used to hate it and refuse to say it. I thought it was too subby. Now, with the right person, it slips out a lot more easily.)
We took a break for some pictures. This one is B’s favorite.
This one is mine. Yes, I’m biting my lip. You would have too.
Afterward, I came down from my high while B gave me some deep tissue massage. I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I had surprisingly little soreness in the next couple of days.
Vaguely, I wondered what happened to the strap he’d bought. I think I even asked him about it. But it didn’t make an appearance, and I forgot about it.
He made me a perfect over-easy fried egg on sourdough bread, with sliced tomatoes. After dinner, we moved to the couch, where he put out the raspberries and some nougat with roasted almonds and whole berries that was to die for. “Right,” he said, “how about some champagne to go with the raspberries?”
I couldn’t help myself — you guys know how much I love champagne — I clapped my hands like a little kid. “Yes, please!” After opening a bottle, pouring us some and putting several raspberries into our glasses, he suggested we go outside to his building’s courtyard, since it was much cooler by now. I had two glasses and was rather tipsy by the time we went out there. It was a beautiful night, quiet, and there was an outdoor enclosed fireplace (not needed in this heat, but it was pretty). We relaxed, finished our champagne, talked. He showed me around — there was a gym, a huge pool, barbecues, all sorts of neat stuff.
Earlier he had asked what I liked in classical music. I like a great deal of it, so I shrugged, not knowing what to choose. “Beethoven, for example?” “What, specifically?” I thought about it and said, “Everyone’s favorite Beethoven symphony is the ninth. I’m a contrarian; mine is the seventh.” So when we went back inside, he put on Beethoven’s seventh symphony for me.
I was blissed out. Comfortably full, mildly buzzed, pleasantly sore, and listening to beautiful music that sounded like I was in a concert hall. What more could I want? So while he was doing whatever he was doing in the kitchen (cleaning up, I figured), I curled up on the couch, rested my head on a pillow, and just let the music wash over me. It was getting late, so I figured bedtime was soon.
At the end of the third movement, B came back in, went to the turntable and lifted the needle. “The last movement will have to wait until morning,” he said, then he crossed to the couch and held out his hand to me. I smiled and got up. “Time for bed?” I asked.
“No,” he replied. “It’s time for you to be punished… again.”
Um… whaaaat? It didn’t register with my foggy brain at first, but I quickly had to switch gears as he pulled me up the stairs at a brisk clip. He hustled me back into the bedroom. “Back over the bed. Now.” I scurried into position, only to have him tell me I’d neglected to take my pants down. Oh dear.
Yeah, it was strap time.
Standing behind me, he said, “Your cane lines have already disappeared. We can’t have that. Give me a number.” Had this been the beginning of the night, I probably would have answered something like, “Are negative numbers acceptable?” Or perhaps, “One.” But at this late hour, already semi-spacey from the earlier scene, faced with this suddenly stern top, I knew better. “Twenty-four,” I said.
I could feel the pause; I think he was a bit nonplussed by my giving him a legitimate number. “That’s a good number,” he said. “Okay, twenty-four. These are going to hurt.”
Again… had it been earlier, or at a party, I may have come back with, “Really? Funny, I was expecting them to tickle.” But I’m really not that foolish. Besides, I kinda wanted them to hurt. 😉
Holy crap, did they. Somehow, I counted out twenty-four hard strokes. None of them wrapped. None went too high or too low. And when the count was done…
“Would you like twelve more?”
I was in the zone, feeling it down into my bones. Bring it. More. Please, more. No more. Yes more. I don’t know anymore. Please.
After thirty-six, he pulled me up into his arms and held me. I buried my face in his shirt; I was shaking and sniveling, in that sort of pre-cry mode I get into, and he asked if I was crying. I shook my head. “No.”
“You can cry if you want to,” he said, then added, “It’s your party.” Which made me giggle. (Only people past A Certain Age will get that reference.) But I just wasn’t quite there. I joked about not wanting to get makeup on his shirt.
A couple of minutes later, after my breathing had leveled off, he pulled back. “I’m giving you twelve more,” he said. I was surprised, and yet I wasn’t. When I got back into position, he added, “And I want you to let it all go this time. If you don’t, I will keep going.”
Which sounds harsh. But it was exactly the push I needed. There are always tears hovering beneath the surface inside me… I guess he sensed that. I made it through the twelve, broke down and wept. He took me back into his arms, and that was really the end this time. I was done.
After I’d calmed down, he had me go look in the mirror. Damn. I wish we’d taken a picture then — solid red. “Feel it,” he said. I did. Ah, hello, leather butt. I’ve missed you.
“Streaky mascara and a welted bottom — you’re ready for bed,” he smiled. Well, not quite. After he said good night and went to his room, I took a shower. No way was I going to put my sweaty body and my semi-melted face on his clean linens.
Can I just say the bathroom was like a four-star hotel? Separate walk-in shower. Oversize bathtub — oh, would I love to take a bubble bath in that. I mean, what’s it like to soak in a tub where your legs fit without bending them, or your feet sticking out? I either have cold feet or cold knees.
Everything was clean and sparkling and new looking. Plus, there was soap, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion — everything a guest could want. That shower felt heavenly and I got into bed around midnight feeling refreshed.
I woke up at 7:00 the next morning, got up and dressed, and wandered downstairs where B was in the kitchen, making espresso. He’d put out more sliced tomatoes, was toasting bread, brought out jam and poured some orange juice and espresso for me. We sat and ate while Mozart played. (I never did get my last movement of Beethoven’s seventh. Oh well.)
“If you don’t eat all your tomatoes, I’m going to spank you,” he announced. Now really, was that necessary? Of course I was going to finish them; I love tomatoes. Apparently wasting food is a punishable sin in Ireland. No argument from me, as I’m a plate cleaner and always have been. But I couldn’t help notice that when he left the table to get ready to go, what did he leave on his plate? Tomatoes! I commented on this, to which he said he could always eat them later, as he lives here, but I have to finish mine because I’m leaving.
(Tops have an answer for everything, don’t they?)
B drove me to the CalTrain station, after giving me detailed instructions on getting the train to BART, and then taking that to SFO. We said goodbye… damn, it went by too quickly! (sigh)
And thus began Part Two of my travel hysteria. I did manage to buy the train ticket and get on the right train, and after about an hour, I got off at Millbrae at BART, which I had never been to before. I asked a guy in a booth where to go for the subway to SFO, and he pointed behind me and said, “It’s this one right here, just scan your ticket and the gate will open.” I did, and then stood by the subway train I thought I was supposed to get on. When it came time to board, I don’t know what possessed me, but I’m sure as hell glad it did — I turned back to the guy and said, “So this will take me to the airport?”
He looked shocked. “Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t hear you say airport! No, you have to go to Platform 2, which is blah blah blah…” Not nearby. I ran to where he told me to go and saw nothing; no train. Just a schedule that read the SFO train runs every half hour. The one I was supposed to catch was at 10:31… and it was 10:33. Oh, crap.
Now what? B had told me that if I missed the train, I should take an Uber to the airport. But when I tried to leave and went the wrong way and tried to exit through an entry, I got so flustered, a guy who worked there came over to ask if I needed help. I said I needed to get to SFO for a noon flight. He said, “The next train is at 11:01, and it will take you three minutes to get to SFO. You’ll be fine.” So, willing myself to stay calm, I waited until the 11:01 train and boarded; I was the only one on it! The guy was right; it took three minutes and I was at SFO. But of course, I had no idea where I was going; where the hell was the United terminal? I ended up asking three different people because I couldn’t find the damn area. I was quite literally running… finally made it to TSA at 11:25. The line was long, and then we all had to move to another line because the conveyor belt jammed. ARRGGHHHH! Got through that, checking my boarding pass for the millionth time… Gate 71A. I quickly bought a very expensive bottle of water and went to 71A.
My pass said boarding was going to start at 11:40, but that time came and there was no boarding announcement. I felt uneasy. I checked the pass yet again; 71A. But still, no boarding. I went to the United website, found my info, and then saw a link: “Check here for flight updates.” So I clicked it. Sure enough… “Flight blah blah to Burbank is on time, boarding at Gate 79.”
Gate 79????????????????? What happened to 71A?
How far could 79 be from 71A, I thought. As it turns out, pretty damn far. More running. More panic. Aaaaaaand I got to Gate 79 at 11:52. Did I mention my flight was at 12:05? I just made it.
Got on the plane, found my seat. Collapsed in it and took a deep breath. I made it. All was well. All disasters averted. And then as the plane started taxiing, a toddler two rows ahead let out a scream that could break glass. Not just on the plane, but in all 50 states.
I heard Mom chatter nervously, “Oh no no no, we’re not doing that!” Kid had other ideas and screamed again. That warm sensation I felt running down the sides of my neck was my eardrums melting. I thought, if I have to listen to an hour of this, I will lose what’s left of my mind. Fortunately, he quieted down and didn’t scream again. Holy Christ, how can such a tiny person have such a set of lungs??
Home at last! Headed out and on my way back to the parking lot, I found an Express Pay machine, so I figured this is where I pay for my parking ticket. Tried to scan it — it wouldn’t scan. Tried again. Still nothing. What now? I went inside a building marked “Cashier” where a very nice woman greeted me with “Hello, sunshine, how are ya?” (Sunshine? ME??) I told her my parking ticket wouldn’t scan, and she looked at it and said, “Well, honey, that’s because you’re in the wrong place.”
Of course I was.
“Go out that door, go down that walkway, walk all the way down to the signal, cross the street, and you’ll be at your lot. You pay on your way out.” She even walked outside with me and pointed me in the right direction. By then, all I could do was laugh. God, I’m such a dork. But you’ll be happy to know I got out of the parking lot (for $36, thank you very much) and made it home in one piece. I texted both B and John to let them know I’d arrived safely. And then I crashed for a nap.
So… are you wondering if, after eighty-four cane strokes and forty-eight strap strokes, I had any marks? Barely. I took this picture on Friday.
Microscopic. Plenty sore, though, which I always enjoy. However, not quite as sore as the first time B and I played. I have no idea why. Maybe because it had only been a couple of weeks, versus six months before his first visit.
Life felt very mundane on Friday after twenty-four hours of planes, trains and automobiles; canes and straps; and champagne and raspberries. But all good things and fun times must come to an end.
B (’cause I know you’re reading this) — thank you. For being such a wonderful host, and a caring, conscientious top with whom I felt very safe. For welcoming me into your home and making me feel special. For the intensely delicious play experience. You are one of the good ones. ♥
It was really nice to be able to forget about everything for a couple of days. Somehow, I need to make that happen more often.