There for the plucking

Posted in relationships, service by Ivy O'Malley on February 1, 2010

One of the things that happily astonishes me about my partners is how receptively open they can be with me. It’s a state of mind that I’ve never hit myself, one that I find enticing and arousing and astonishingly flattering. I can recognize it when I see it, and it’s a separate state from the endorphin-flying phases of subspace or the initial tremblings of wanting to be pushed over that brink. Instead, it’s a state of anticipatory receptivity. They are comfortable, but waiting on whatever I might see fit to do to them. They are actively available to me, not being obtrusive, but sure that I know I can have them. They are not pressuring me into action, but are rather engaged in waiting until such a time as I might feel inclined to act upon them. In short, they want to give of themselves to me.

This is such beautiful generosity that I cannot help but be delighted and floored by it every time. Of course they get something out of it too, but the point is not to obtain some particular desire of theirs. In subduing their own insistent wantings, they can attain a state of peace — they give up knowing what I’ll do or even trying to predict it, and they become open and waiting and ready. It is as thoroughly seductive to me as nectar to bees. Sometimes it stops me in my tracks, other times it sends me about my day with a small smile and a percolating plan for later. But even when I’m thinking about work or the laundry or what terrible thing my travel agent has managed to do THIS time, one of my partners in this state will draw my attention and lift my mood regardless of if or when I act upon it.

Such an invitation leads to delicious play. Perhaps that’s somewhat self-fulfilling, as it takes established trust in order to attain this state; knowing your partners’ psyches and desires well does intensify and sweeten the sorts of play that I prefer. Still, knowing that I could do almost anything and have it appreciated inspires me to outdo myself for them. Having this sort of open invitation from someone important to me, I am inspired to give them my best work. Inspiration is important to me — I am often an intuitive top, and there are moments where my partner’s headspace almost lays itself out before me. Having a good chart of the terrain allows me to map (and, if they please, push) their boundaries better. Much of my sense of their desires and reactions comes from small things: turns of phrase, body language, little indicators such as noticing when they unconsciously stop and hold their breath for a moment. Feeling them preemptively embracing my wishes gives me a brilliant place to begin with them — I can take that extended desire and comfort and turn it into passion, transgression, or yearning.

Sometimes this is a deliberate, conscious process of planning on my part. Other times it’s more of a gestalt. Last week, I went to sleep and woke up with a fully detailed weekend plan for one of my partners. I executed it the next day to our mutual delight. (If only it were always that easy! But I probably wouldn’t savor it so much if it were.) Still, one of the drivers for that creation on my part was considering her attitude and approach towards me and knowing that I could have nearly anything I wanted from her. In bringing me that gift of herself, she made us both stronger. Knowing that she would do it, I could set her to work with abandon and joy.

There are times where I catch glimpses of the potential for this sort of giving in others, a particular hope to make this offering. It’s strongest when they want to open up so to me in particular, though I can sometimes spot the tendency even when I’m not the intended recipient. I’ve talked with friends of mine from time to time about kink radar — this is one of the major ways that I find new potential kink partners. It’s not in matching items on a checklist or ascertaining compatible orientations or comparing calendars and schedules or negotiating relationship parameters, although all those things happen as well. It’s in hearing that echo of desire to please, the beginning resonances of that offering of self that match the force I can exert upon them. They respond to me in a way that makes me want to find out what else they can do and where I can take them… and I’m well known for my healthy curiosity.

Service on the Brain

Posted in service by Cal Stockton on December 22, 2009

I have service on the brain lately, ever since Murre loaned Orlando to me to help work on an extracurricular project of mine.

I never used to think I was into service. I mean, I’ve always appreciated help and care, but doesn’t everyone? Why does it need a special kink name?

(Of course, I also never used to think I needed glasses. I mean, I’ve always had trouble seeing things that seemed far away, but doesn’t everyone? Why would I need mechanical assistance?)

I like being helpful myself, in most contexts. It feels good to be effective and get things done. I enjoy the sense of competence and productivity. But I can’t imagine myself as a service sub – and I don’t tend to get off on acting as a service top, either. I don’t like service for the sake of pleasing anyone; I just like being active and involved and useful in the world.

This seems somehow different from my boy’s desire to make me happy and take care of me. (I’m going to call him Cassidy. Anyone else I am or have been involved with will get to choose their own nickname for the blog before I write about them, but Cassidy didn’t care what I call him here, so Cassidy he is.)

Cassidy’s favorite passage from Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami is this:

“… So I made up my mind I was going to find someone who would love me unconditionally three hundred and sixty-five days a year. I was still in elementary school at that time — fifth or sixth grade — but I made up my mind once and for all.”

“Wow,” I said. “And did your search pay off?”

“That’s the hard part,” said Midori. She watched the rising smoke for a while, thinking. “I guess I’ve been waiting so long I’m looking for perfection. That makes it tough.“

“Waiting for the perfect love?”

“No, even I know better than that. I’m looking for selfishness. Perfect selfishness. Like, say I tell you I want to eat strawberry shortcake. And you stop everything you’re doing and run out and buy it for me. And you come back out of breath and get down on your knees and hold this strawberry shortcake out to me. And I say I don’t want it anymore and throw it out the window. That’s what I’m looking for.”

“I’m not sure that has anything to do with love,” I said with some amazement.

“It does,” she said. “You just don’t know it. There are times in a girl’s life when things like that are incredibly important.”

“Things like throwing strawberry shortcake out the window?”

“Exactly. And when I do it, I want the man to apologize to me. ‘Now I see, Midori. What a fool I’ve been! I should have known that you would lose your desire for strawberry shortcake. I have all the intelligence and sensitivity of a piece of donkey shit. To make it up to you, I’ll go out and buy you something else. What would you like? Chocolate mousse? Cheesecake?’”

“So then what?”

“So then I’d give him all the love he deserves for what he’s done.”

“Sounds crazy to me.”

“Well, to me, that’s what love is. Not that anyone can understand me, though.” Midori gave her head a little shake against my shoulder. “For a certain kind of person, love begins from something tiny or silly. From something like that or it doesn’t begin at all.“

It’s not that he wants me to be capricious or arbitrary, he says. He just wants me to give him all the love he deserves for what he’s done.

Andrea wrote about the many faces of thanks – some people are turned on by rendering service so perfectly that they are treated as invisible. “In short, sometimes effectively taking a submissive for granted, or being taken for granted as a submissive, is the turn-on. It is the reward. It is, paradoxically, the thank-you and the recognition.” Which is not my kink. Personally, I’m not sure I could bring myself to accept service without appreciation and recognition.

I’m only just learning to accept service in my own life. It’s remarkably difficult to bring myself to see it as something I’m into. But oh, of course I love that he packs lunches for me to bring to work. Of course I love that he makes tea and hot chocolate for me. Of course I love that he gives me massages endlessly. Of course I love that he pushes ibuprofen and chicken soup on me whenever I have a headache, and scowls and scolds me until I suck it up and let him take care of me until I feel better.

Of course I love that he delights in learning all the details of my labyrinthine preferences, and pandering to them with great care and attention to detail.

I’m fussy. I can admit that about myself. I tend to have a very particular way that I want things done, and I generally find it easier to just do things myself rather than have to explain to anyone else how to do it my way. Or, heaven forbid, do it their way instead.

I’ve found that I have to paradoxically give up control in order to gain the care, assistance, and power that service brings. It’s not easy. Allowing someone else to help and care for me means leaving them the space to both learn my tastes, and to add their own touch to whatever they do. Even if their touch isn’t precisely how I’d do it myself. Even if their learning means that everything isn’t quite what I’d expect or want, at first. That’s hard for a distressingly competent, fussy, control freak sort of person who likes getting things done right!

It’s just. Well. It makes me feel so very loved. As a switch, I find it so easy to feel wanted when bottoming. If you can shove me around and tear control away and then focus on doing terrible things to me, it pretty viscerally reassures me that you actually do find me attractive and desire me and what we’re doing together. If you initiate, forcefully, I believe that you truly want me. But when I top, I provide so much of the energy and desire that it can be difficult to feel wanted myself.

Begging helps, whether it’s begging for more or begging me to stop, and it turns me on immensely. But aggressive reaching out to care for me helps so much, too. When a partner’s response to my hurting them is to curl around me in soft wonder and reach to find ways to make me happy, it’s worth the effort and attention involved in speaking this other language of love and sexuality.

That, and it eroticizes so much more of everyday life. We’re only 24/7 some of the time, and I don’t have this sort of dynamic with anyone else with whom I am involved. But it makes all the difference in the world to know that I’ve had to take care to understand and explain, say, exactly how much sugar I like in my tea depending on the size of the mug, or whatever it is, and that he’s paid attention to learning and remembering all the details of my desires and gone to the effort of putting them into action. It means that I have the extra benefit of feeling loved and loving, strong and taken care of, and if not turned on, a bit more conscious of my sexuality, just from sipping a delicious hot beverage.

All of which helps me feel more relaxed, wanted, and inspired to find ways to use and hurt him that will be pleasurable for us both. Not to mention, it eases him into this loving, submissive headspace that I found so incredibly attractive.

It’s worth learning to let go a little bit, to earn that.

And he deserves all the love that I can give, for everything he does. I’m not at all shy about insisting on doing it my way, but I don’t ignore his efforts or throw a fit or insist that my way is the one true way. I do make judicious use of bad pain, but only because we both enjoy his willingness to suffer it for my pleasure, nothing more. With service, the true threat is almost unconscious, and very simple – if he couldn’t learn to do it my way, I’d simply do it myself. We’re both willing to put in extra work in order to avoid that.

I’m not sure how all this fits in with borrowing Orlando from Murre to help with my latest research project. He’s been loaned out to me, so it’s not the sign of love and desire that service can be when offered to me by someone directly. But it is more than just some extra practical help with a project.

It adds an extra thrill of eroticism to working on what would otherwise be just another fun project, of course. I’m rather delighted by the thought of Murre helping me take a part in making him feel small and used, deliciously. It means something different to him than it does to Cassidy, I suspect, and I’m interested in exploring that, even if only from afar.

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