MAL... C'est Bon!
Back. Mid-Atlantic Leather was fantastic. Although not in the way that I expected.
Work, unfortunately, is another story. My Board of Directors, alas, are idiots, causing me no end of anxiety and sleepless nights. Before I headed south on I-95 to DC, I met up with my predecessor for coffee at Starbucks to lament and gnash my teeth. Having been through it all, and worse (they were awful to her), she could certainly offer her sympathy. But, alas, since they're the Board and I'm the Executive Director, it's a no-win situation for me. I report to them, not the other way around. And, according to our bylaws (despite my predecessors frequent attempts to amend them), there are no term limits, so this band of malicious, back-stabbing, obstructive mediocrities will be there forever.
But finally I got on the road, and did my best on the drive down to put all of that aside, fearing that obsessing and insomnia would cramp my style. The traffic on 95 wasn't too bad, even in Delaware, and I made good time. I would have made it in under three hours if not for a stop at in Delaware for gas, a roast beef sandwich from Arby's, and a refill on my latté.
Upon arrival at the Residence Inn, I checked in, unpacked, and took a nice long, hot bath. I was aware that across Thomas Circle, in the lobby of the Washington Plaza, MAL awaited, in all its glory. I was brimming with anticipation, but I almost wanted to sustain that. Imagine a blazing hot day, and there you are, perched on the diving board over a swimming pool that spells refreshing cool. Your toes curled over the edge of the board, but instead of jumping off, you stay crouched, letting your appreciation of the eternal moment Before It All Happens build and build.
But finally, after my bath, I got dressed and made my way through the balmy DC Friday night to the Wash Plaza.
And there they all were. The leathermen who sustain me.
Per usual, I was Paris Hilton, not able to walk ten paces without someone greeting me warmly. People I know well, and people I know only through the magic of the World Wide Internet. I made my way to the cigar tent, which I guess at this point is the smoking tent, since an indoor smoking ban went into effect in DC on January 2nd.
At this point, recounting becomes difficult. A listing would doubtless leave people out, and I don't want to slight anyone.
I stayed till my eyelids started to grow heavy, and I was in bed that night at the Residence Inn by 2 a.m.
A wonderful development: Starbucks, in their campaign to conquer the known universe, has opened up a store right across the street from the Residence Inn. So the next morning, I put on some clothes and hustled over there to get a nice three-pump-pumpkin-spice-latté to start my day.
I had lunch scheduled that day with Bear Man (the One, the Only), meeting up with him in the Vendor Mart, so I headed there. At this point, there's nothing I need, at least nothing I can afford.
Or so I thought. Check this out. A couple of guys from Provincetown who blend clean, sharp design with flawless garment-by-garment fabrication. They're stuff is amazing. If Laura Bennet of Project Runway fame was designing clothes for leathermen, this is what she would come up with. I dug deep into my bank account and sprung for a pair of Inseam pants, making a huge fuss with the guys who made them and who were selling them to me. (They were there courtesy of Max from the Leatherman, and I'm eternally grateful.
Lunch with Bear Man (the One, the Only) was great. I told him how happy I was to be at MAL, how events like this sustain me and keep me from picking out a really high bridge over the Delaware River. Bear Man (the One, the Only), made a good listener, and offered words of encouragement I took to heart.
And then, of course, it was back to the cigar tent.
That's when I first noticed it. This odd feeling. I sort of felt... out of it. In much the same way I did back in September at Inferno.
There I was, surrounded by the most desireable men I can imagine, and yet, I didn't feel even a vague inclination to pursue. There was no hunt in me.
I tried to shake the feeling, but couldn't. This strange disengagement persisted.
Mulling it over (with, I admit, a little panic, along the lines of "did I just drive all the way down here and spend all this money on a hotel for nothing), I tried to name the feeling. When the words "self contained" passed through my mind, I had the realiation: this was Zen! It was detachment. I was open to possibilities, but not neeeeeding anything to happen. The moment, the experience, the men of MAL were enough for me.
And the warmth with which I was greeted. Guys threw there arms around me, so happy to see me. I felt loved. Loved and welcomed by my brothers in leather.
I know! Sounds way sappy, right?
But I swear! It was just so good! When men I love and admire and respect demonstrate love and admiration and respect for me... Well, I just feel as if I'm borne aloft, supported, and (there's that word again!) sustained.
Of course, there was The Disappointment. The man I whipped down at Black Rose had to postpone our date for Saturday night at the DC Men of Discipline dungeon party at the Crucible because of some health issues. So, we met for coffee.
And coffee was wonderful. Our time together at Black Rose, and was mostly occupied by me whipping him. I suspected that he was a really good guy. But over coffee, I learned just what a good guy he is.
Man of Discipline has these beautiful blue eyes, and a clear-sightedness and calm common in men from the Midwest. (He's from Wisconsin.) He's smart, self-deprecating, and judging by how he was bearing up under his current adversity, seems to be a happy, decent guy.
We both agreed that our not being able to get together this weekend was not the end of the story, just a postponement.
And walking back to the hotel from coffee with Man of Discipline, another word came floating through my open mind: "Smitten."
Uh oh! Not even two weeks into 2007 and already I'm forgoing my New Year's resolution?
I'm open, but not pursuing.
Back at the hotel, another long, hot bath, then another cigar or four in the cigar tent, more meeting, hugging, and catching up. And, I met the only other guy on worldleathermen who has a pic of himself with a black eye up in his gallery! And Man! The internet does not do him justice! Smokin' hot! And, of course, a resident of Palm Springs. (Blast!) But from what he said the feeling was mutual.
That night, when they got back from leather cocktails, I met up with a guy named Spike and his posse for dinner. Interestingly enough, one member of Spike's crew did the same work I'm doing, only in Michigan. Michigan guy couldn't join us for dinner as he was coming down with a bug, but them what could had great food at Thai Tanic, a restaurant a few blocks away from the Wash Plaza.
Oh. At an adjoining table was a sleek of rubbermen. (Add that to my list of proposed collective nouns for the kinky set.) They were all wearing rubber body suits, and, I was amused to note that they all had their napkins in their shiny rubber laps. I mean, how come?
Great dinner, and great company. Spike gets to Philadelphia for work on occasion, and I hope we can meet up sometime. A great guy, and a friendship I'd like to develop.
After dinner, I was already feeling a little tired, and decided not to make my way down to the Crucible. A few years ago, I went to a Saturday night Crucible party stag and spent the whole night being a spectator. I didn't want to make that mistake again, and also, since I was feeling sleepy (only 11 p.m.!!! I'm old!!!), I wouldn't trust my aim even if I did find a willing bottom.
So, more hanging in the cigar tent, reclining on the cloud of fellowship, and then off to bed.
Sunday. Last day.
I headed to Starbucks, and started the day the best way I know how to spend Sunday morning: with the New York Times. Afterwards, I put on my new Inseam pants and headed across the street. I decided to toss some more money to the Inseam guys and bought one of their tshirts. (Also, I had underpacked and didn't have a clean shirt to wear the next day. Imagine! Someone underpacked for MAL!!)
For dinner on Sunday night, I met up with my Friend and (Former) Landlord. And talk about smitten. He's positively giddy about a guy he's been seeing from SF. I told him he was nothing less than ebulient, and this man, who is one of the most depraved I know--and I know a lot of depraved men, blushed.
We ate at Afterwards Café, my fav restaurant in DC. Dinner, of course, was excellent. And, it's always great talking to Friend and (Former) Landlord.
I stopped in at the Recon party at the Ramrod. It was packed. Oddly, I didn't recognize anybody from Recon, with one exception. This guy I've lusted after for years from Chicago was there, and meeting up with him--consumating an internet relationship as it were--was enjoyable.
Back at the cigar tent, things were jumpin'. I mingled, I enjoyed a cigar or six. NYSadist, who I went home with several years ago from the LURE, and who was the first person to put a flogger in my hand, sauntered up to me wearing dark sunglasses. Which I thought was an odd choice for midnight.
Then came the Reveal: he removed the sunglasses, and his the pupils of his eyes were a demonic red. He opened his lips to reveal needle sharp canine teeth.
Unbelievably effective! When Hawgs saw it, he totally freaked out. And I don't imgaine Hawgs was a man who freaks out easily. But NYSadist was the closest I came to an encounter with the Undead. 'Sadist and I spent some time talking, vowing to meet up sometime in NYC, so we can both terrorize some boy so bad he shits his pants. Although I think I'm fairly twisted, I've got nothing on 'Sadist.
The evening grew late, and I decided to draw my MAL experience to a close. Feeling warm, loved, and still very self-contained. As I headed by the door, a guy I've chatted to online approached, introduced himself and his boy, and invited me up to his room.
"I'm pretty tired," I countered.
"Aw c'mon!" he responded.
And so the capstone of the weekend was me with my fist in his boy's ass.
I went to sleep dreaming wonderful dreams.
Back here in Pennsylvania, it was the worst possible homecoming: the montly meeting of my Board of Directors. (I know! On Martin Luther King Jr Day! What? Are they an outpost of Utah?) It wasn't as bad as I feared. it was worst.
On the long drive home afterwards, I thought about the weekend I had just had.
I took a deep breath, turned it all over to God, asking him to heal the situation, and I was able to recapture that Zen calm and contentment.
Thanks to the Grace of MAL, I'll be fine.