It was when the straight girls started wrestling over a paddle that I realized I’d lost control of the situation.
The evening itself had been hectic as hell. Maybe it was just everyone trying to adjust to Daylight Saving, but my customers were surlier and more demanding than usual, and I endured the following interaction about once every thirty minutes:
Customer: “Do you carry [insert random product here]?”
Me: “I’m sorry, we don’t.”
Customer: “Why not?!”
In some cases, I was able to give them a satisfactory answer. We don’t stock up on rubber apparel, because there isn’t a demand for it; we don’t offer a particular lube, because we can’t find a supplier with reasonable wholesale costs; we don’t carry that thing you want, because it doesn’t actually exist. And for the most part, the customers simmered down when given this information. That is, until a couple of spirited straight girls trounced into the shop and proceeded to lose their minds.
Straight Girl 1: “Oh my God, I love this store! This is a store for doms.”
Me: [nodding and smiling]
Straight Girl 1: “I’m a dom.”
Straight Girl 1: “I love being a dom. Do you carry deGiotto rope?”
Me: “I’m afraid we don’t.”
Straight Girl 1: “Why not?!”
Me: [focusing on my breathing] “It’s… something we’re looking into.”
Straight Girl 1: “Oh, good. I love this place. I’m a dom, so I get really excited in a store like this.”
Straight Girl 1: “Yeah, I’m such a dom. I hope I get to spank someone tonight.”
And this is where I should’ve just let her ramble on about how much of a dom she was. But my last nerve had been thoroughly worked, I was feeling territorial, and, goddamnit, I wanted to one-up her.
Me: “I’ve already spanked someone tonight.”
Straight Girl 1: *gasp* “Oh my God, really?!”
I really had, although it wasn’t a scene or anything. I’d shown a friend of mine an aluminum paddle I’d recently purchased, and he was all, “Cool, let’s try it out.” So we did. But the girl in front of me didn’t need to know how academic the whole thing had been. I reached into the bag I keep under the counter and pulled out the paddle, and she cooed over it enthusiastically, then asked if she could use it on me.
I honestly should’ve said no, but I second-guessed myself. I can get so wrapped up in rampant heterophobia, that I automatically assume any straight person in the store is there specifically to appropriate my culture, and that makes me punchy. But maybe she really was a dom; maybe it really wasn’t that honking big of a deal that she was running around a gay leather bar; maybe I was the one who needed to simmer down for a change.
I’m normally not much of a spanking bottom (no pun intended), but I have a background in performance and a surprisingly high pain threshold, so I can play the part, no problem. I handed her the paddle and bent over the counter, figuring she would give me several light swats as a warm-up, then gradually increase the intensity.
Instead, she beat the crap out of me. And not in a good way.
As I’ve said before, spanking has a lot in common with tennis: You’ve got to hold the paddle like you’re shaking hands with it, aim intentionally, strike firmly, and follow through with your swing. This chick, on the other hand, gripped it like a hammer and swung wildly, nailing me in the tailbone with the paddle’s edge before trying again and smacking me in the hip.
And then she was all, “Oops, sorry, I’m kinda drunk,” and this is when I should have dommed it up myself and taken the paddle away from her, because it is not okay to engage in BDSM when you’re intoxicated, much less participate in an activity that could result in bodily harm if you’re impaired and/or don’t know what the fuck you’re doing. But before I could do so, Straight Girl 2 yelled, “My turn!” and lunged at her.
Straight Girl 2 was dressed thoughtfully but ineffectively against the night’s chilly weather. In her summery, floral-print slip dress and wedges, and surrounded by racks of bondage gear, she looked… okay, I don’t know how else to describe it… she looked like a character in an Eli Roth movie. Like, I could totally picture her happily vacationing in a quaint European village, and an hour later stumbling blindly through an underground warehouse, screaming and missing an arm. In any event, she made a grab for the paddle and tried to yank it from Straight Girl 1, who wasn’t ready to abnegate and fought back. And this is when I decided I was no longer having it, cleared my throat, and spoke in the voice I haven’t had to use since I was a middle manager giving verbal warnings to insubordinate, Millennial employees.
Me: “WHO DOES THE PADDLE BELONG TO?”
Straight Girl 2: [freezing in place] “Um… you?”
Me: “SO WHO IS THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS ANY SAY IN WHO GETS TO USE IT?”
Straight Girl 2: “Um… you.”
And I put the paddle away.
They poked around the store for a little while after that, with Straight Girl 2 much subdued, but Straight Girl 1 still needing to really make clear her dom identity. So when a third straight girl wandered in with her boyfriend, Straight Girl 1 leapt at the chance to share her affectation.
Straight Girl 1: “This is a such great place for doms!”
Straight Girl 3: “… Yes. I know. I’m a professional dominatrix.”
Leaving Straight Girl 1 stammering behind them, Straight Girl 3 and her partner browsed for a bit, then left without making a purchase. But you know what? If they’d so much as glanced at a paddle, I would’ve zeroed it out of the inventory and given it to them free of charge, as a heartfelt way to say thank you for the Deus Ex Machina.