Early Monday morning before dawn, back at home from Black Rose and in Eileen‘s arms, I was crying because I felt lonely and invisible. Moments before, out of bitterness and jealousy, I had just said that the people I like were not my friends in scene (kink) spaces. A little while later, I told Eileen parts of the following story. When I was done, she sighed at me and said, “You say these people aren’t your friends, yet you defend them viciously.” This is that story.

I think I met Rona, a relatively young, beautiful, and obviously intelligent woman, the first night in the Black Rose dungeon. It could have been the second night, and it could have been in one of the relaxation areas known as the Oasis Room. I can’t remember exactly because just about the first thing I did on that Friday evening was stand against an X-frame and present my back as the target for singletails and fists.

In any event, sooner or later one evening during the weekend Rona, another new friend, and I were sitting in the Oasis Room talking about some inconsequential thing. Eileen’s new fire-engine red double-locking handcuffs were locked around one of my wrists. With my hand, I fiddled with the open cuff making loud ratcheting noises in the room.

Out of nowhere, a man who shall remain nameless approached our little circle, smiling, and said, “If you’re going to make some noise, do it with some real cuffs!” He handed me a set of heavy metal handcuffs that dwarfed the standard police-issue pair of handcuffs I was playing with.

Immediately, instinctually, I knew I would not like this man. His announcement was clearly not intended for me but for Rona, whom he turned to with a lascivious smile after depositing the enormous set of cuffs in my palms. Pissing contest, I thought to myself. It is thought typical of older men who aren’t kinky to buy sports cars to show off the size of their penis. Perhaps older men who are kinky buy large handcuffs for the same reason.

In an attempt not to be overtly rude I said, “Wow, these are huge.” They also don’t sound any different than mine, I also observed, though I did not say that part out loud.

“Yeah, and they come in different sizes, too,” he said, taking the first pair out of my hands and replacing them with a slightly smaller version.

“Where did you get them, and how much were they?” Why waste my time asking questions one by one when asking related questions in groups might make him more likely to say only those things I cared about hearing? I had to admit, the cuffs were pretty. If I disliked this man’s presence, perhaps I could find some solace in his cool toys at least for a few moments.

Germany, not too expensive, they’ll make ’em custom for you, they’re special because they don’t pull, and he’s got so many because he’s been collecting them for some forty-odd years, I learned. A brief conversation about his toybag developed, during which he called over his slave to bring this or that or the other thing.

By this time, the man was lounging on his side next to us and grabbed every opportunity he could to talk about himself, belaboring points like his experience (some forty-odd years), name-dropping every connection he had, and doing this all while looking at Rona and decidedly not at me or our other (male) friend. The two of us might as well have been invisible, since he seemed to turn towards us with a little start whenever we would say anything in response to him.

“I make her sleep in those cuffs,” he gestured towards his slave while he rambled on and on. “Yeah, they’re comfortable enough, but why should I care? I’m not wearing them.” Oh yeah, I thought to myself, you’re so bad-ass, you definitely have a bigger penis than me. I’m kind of amazed you haven’t creamed your pants fantasizing about yourself already.

This is exactly the kind of thing that would happen to me every Friday and Saturday night in Paddles, New York City’s only public BDSM club, almost all night, for two years straight. (Why I poured money into Paddles’s coffers twice a week for two years straight is another story entirely.) By now I’ve become quite accustomed to that sort of interaction from these kinds of “mandoms” (to steal a term from Bitchy).

These days I take a little more glee in steering the conversations towards topics that I know these men would find uncomfortable, or that might prove amusing at least in some small way. One such highlight I can remember is the following:

Me: I used to live in Manhattan in a 250-square-foot apartment that I shared.
Him: Shared? With someone of the opposite sex, I hope, so it’d be nice to get close!
Me: Well, I’m bisexual, so I’m not particularly concerned with a roommate’s sex.
Him: Oh! Well…I always said bisexual people are the luckiest. My friend, she’s a bisexual switch. She’s got the whole world to play with because bisexuals are all basically sluts!

(I’ll admit to paraphrasing that, but I guarantee you that it sounded even better in person.)

Rona seemed decidedly uninterested in this fellow and had become much less talkative since this man encroached upon our space. His slave, for her part, chimed in frequently with verifications of her master’s claims (“I often cook dinner in those cuffs!”) at what seemed like expertly rehearsed opportune moments.

Back to the cuffs, however, he reiterated their comfort and then asked Rona if he could borrow her wrist. I tensed at this, but a moment later she agreed and allowed her wrist to be cuffed. Up until now this man was a nuisance, obviously hitting on Rona but in no position to be a threat. Of course, we were surrounded by other friends having their own conversations and we were in an environment where safety was on everyone’s mind, even going so far as to have designated volunteers serving as Dungeon Monitors perusing the nearby areas. Nevertheless, there was a line that I felt he had crossed.

Now, I started watching this man’s shoulders and face closely. I watched his shoulders because their movement would be the first sign that he would move his arm, and I watched his face because his eyes would tell me where his attention would focus next and his mouth would tell me a lot about how he was feeling about the thing he was focusing his attention on. If he was going to have my new friend’s wrists cuffed, then I wanted to make sure, as the person physically closest to my new friend, that I could serve as a first line of defense. If this was combat, then this man was an enemy.

Of course, Rona clearly needed no defense in this particular situation, and yet, I was already bracing myself to go all commando on this guy’s ass—that is, assert Rona’s requests, whatever it be, vocally or physically if necessary—the moment a signal from Rona indicated I should do so. Eventually Rona cited exhaustion as an excuse to get him to remove the cuffs. When he started tickling her instead, she quickly became rightfully insistent and he did finally leave us, taking his German cuffs with him. Rona was—and is—fine.

The experience, however, put me in a sour mood. I had been reminded of dozens upon dozens of similar, negative experiences. None that ended any worse than what I just described but negative nonetheless. I was reminded of a few stories my ex-girlfriend had told me, some stories long-distance online friends had told me, and dozens of stories I’d heard elsewhere as well, some of which had ended in worse ways than this one. Most of all, I felt angry.

I was angry about everything that had just happened. The invisibility; the assumption that we—or she—was too stupid to see what this simpleton’s desires were; the roundabout way he felt he had to go about chatting Rona up; the pissing contest he wanted to start—consciously or otherwise—with me. It was all so unnecessary, I think, and so damaging. Maybe not if it were just once, or twice, but after two times a week for two years straight it starts to add up. I’m living, livid proof.

Epilogue: Interested persons might find this post by Rona an interesting followup.