Let's be honest. Isn't it the #1 question on your mind sometimes? Or is it just me?
The past two weekends have been pretty amazing for two different reasons. Last weekend was our 3rd AtlantaDominion party at the 1763 Dungeon. This weekend was the Black & Blue Weekend at the Eagle here in Atlanta. Both weekends were great, yet both have that capacity to niggle at the nether regions of my mind (a very scary place, hazmat suits recommended).
Here's the deal. I've been an observant person for as long as I can remember. And a damn good reader of people. And probably a little too empathetic (EMpathetic, not pathetic, although sometimes I drift). It's the co-dependent in me: I'm not happy until you're happy. You're not happy, I feel quite certain it's my fault. I've been the type of guy that if I think you're not having a good time I'll join right in on your misery. (Do you hear tiny violins playing sympathy songs in the background?)
Despite all this baggage I've managed to have a pretty damn good time the past two weekends! At the dungeon party we had 26 really hot, playful, kinky guys doing their damnedest to explore, explode, and dive-bomb into their kinks and fetishes and desires. What amazes me is that we had 46 guys signed up to come. 20 guys. TWENTY guys who at the last minute decided something was better. To say it was a drag on my energy would be an understatement. (In the heat of this "rats deserting the sinking ship" moment I believe I may have said some nasty things.....I'll deny everything.) Add to that, two of my best buddies in the world, and co-founders of the AtlantaDominion, were unable to attend because of work and travel....I was doing "hang-dog" expressions left and right. But! BUT! I learned long ago that the "here and now" is where you live. As hubby and I arrived at 1763 we made a vow to put every ounce of energy into the guys who DID show up, and not to worry about those that flaked, begged off, got sick, created excuses, had real excuses, spent too much time at the Eagle the prior night, or were in the midst of their life crises. "Here and now" means this place with these people. And that pays off. Handsomely.
As before there were amazing things going on all over the dungeon. I lost count how many guys got abused in straitjackets. Considering it is my favorite piece of equipment ever invented....well, that's one big vote for being in the "here and now." Having a hand in getting 3 different guys to pretty deep headspace--well that's the nectar of the gods for me. Way down deep, when I see a guy's eyes flutter, and his neck turn to spaghetti, and involuntary moans escape from him....well, that's the big payoff for me.
And sitting at the pizza joint afterwards with 12 other guys (Yes, there were 13 for dinner, but, knock wood, we're all still alive a week later) was the biggest payoff. Happy, happy, happy men and not a single ounce of negative energy. There are amazing people in this world and for that brief moment in time I felt very lucky to be sitting with all of them. I felt like, "I fit in."
For the last two nights I served as a judge for the Mr. Atlanta Rubber contest. I blame Pup Nitro, the sweetest-talking little rascal for roping me into this. I am not a pageant guy. I have been known to call them "The Little Miss Leather Sunshine Contests." I wonder why guys want a sash. I freak out a bit at the thought of parading down some runway showing off my attributes, or lack thereof. I wonder how the guy feels to end up 2nd in a two-man race. (Monopoly players know the old "$10 for 2nd place in a beauty pageant" card.)
Needless to say, I got a huge dose of "doesn't fit in" this weekend. There were about a dozen judges for the Rubber and Bootblack contests. And one contestant in each category, a statement laden with meaning in itself! And as the judges were introduced each was introduced along with the title or titles they hold or held. And as my name was read last....."And Master Dan, from here in Atlanta." Did I feel 3 inches tall. Nah. Maybe 2 1/2 inches tall. But only for a second. It's like the lottery: you can't win if you don't enter. And I choose not to enter.
Later in the evening every single title holder was invited to the stage for a big group shot. When the dust settled there were about 30-35 people on stage. There were about 8 of us left to observe. THAT speaks volumes to me. This is a very particular and specific group, many traveling hundreds of miles!, that gathers to support each other. They celebrate and support each other, maybe to validate their own journey down the runway, maybe to keep the spirit of titleholders alive. It really helped me to understand all of this by reading a recent article at leatherati.com. We all recognize that the internet and various phone gadgets have created a whole different way that we interact and find each other. And this is totally true of leathermen and women, and kinksters of all shapes and sizes. And the need, the true need for contests as gatherings to celebrate our similarities may no longer exist. Time will tell whether or not some contests even continue to survive. I'm not voting on the issue. After this weekend I can see both sides of the argument all too well.
Let me be clear on one thing. Not a single person of the pageant circuit made even the slightest effort to exclude me. (okay, there was one guy, from out of state, who was a dickhead, but I think that's just because he's a dickhead.) In fact, they were some of the most wonderful people I've met in a long time. This is a bunch that tries very hard to include you, not stiff arm you. And I appreciated that effort very much. Whatever element of "not fitting in" I felt was only what I imposed on myself. And I'm a pro at that. Fifty-four years of experience has never let me down!
And I can figure out a thousand morals to this story. Ways that I can learn from this experience and become a better person; self-reflection habits that I should nuke, burn, mutilate, and destroy; ways that I can give myself credit for opening myself up to a new experience; blah blah blah blah.
What I really want to remember is to hold a hand open to the young guy who looks at me and thinks I'M the one who "fits in". Me? Really? Me? You think I'm sane, rational, have my shit together, and "fit in!?!?" Oh.....we have so much to talk about.
A HUGE thanks to Loren and Alex who shared my table during the judging part of the evening. Together they put together Leatherati.com, the single best resource of what's going on in the kink world of today. They are amazing men and it was my pleasure to get to know them better.
And to boy Andy from SC.....I'm looking forward to the next time I get to tie you up!!!