On the day after my birthday, on our regular date night, I was at E.’s feet after he had fastened a collar around my neck. It’s a ritual we have: I wait for him, kneeling in front of the door. He comes in, says hello, has me serve him a beer and sits on the couch. I kneel again, this time between his feet, as he holds my collar and asks a question, always the same: “What do you offer me, little girl?” “Myself,” I answer. I bend my head forward, feel the cool leather wrap around my neck. He fumbles with the buckle until he pulls the strap through, securing it in place.
He brought my birthday gift, and I knew what it was. We’d been talking about this for months now, ever since last summer when we wandered downtown to a boutique for gentlemen during one of our walks. All we could do then was walk together; he was repairing his relationship with his wife, and refrained from engaging with me in more than friendly ways. He was not ready to re-enter poly life, and I had to wait for him.
The store’s window display featured ties and straight razors, cufflinks and hairbrushes. There was one brush in particular, about 4 inches long, with a satiny blond wooden handle and back and natural bristle hair.
Being the kinksters we are, we looked at the brush not for what it could do for our hair, but rather for other, more tender parts of my body.
“What a beautiful instrument,” he said, with a grin across his face. “Indeed,” I replied, trying to hide my excitement at the thought. We walked in, asked about the price. The clerk took it down from its display and handed the box to us. I slipped the brush out of its case, feeling the soft wood on my skin. I whacked it in my palm a few times, trying to get a sense of its heft and its bite. The small size and low weight of the brush meant a snappy, localized sting. Nice.
The brush was, of course, expensive. It was, of course, just a fantasy for the moment — something to dream about in quiet moments alone with my Hitachi, imagining myself in a plaid skirt and white button-down shirt and him in a stately tweed blazer, hands covered in chalk dust and smelling of books and wood-polishing oil.
It took over a year in total between when we had to stop seeing each other and when we could be together again. My birthday happened four months after that, at the end of a harrowing semester that left me exhausted, physically and emotionally. It had taken patience and love and compassion. It had taken time. And it was all worth it.
A classic psychological study with children called the marshmallow experiment demonstrated that those who can delay gratification are more successful, more socially adept and take greater pleasure from what does come their way. The year had been my marshmallow experiment, and the hairbrush my reward: a long spanking, lovingly administered, with a toy we chose together all those months ago.
When I pulled my gift from its bag, I could not suppress a smile. “I knew it,” I said.
“I can’t wait to try it,” he replied.
Our play had been fairly light and exploratory over the winter months. We had to connect with each other all over again, rediscover the shape of each other, figure out where our love and our kinks intersected. That night, the day after my birthday, it all snapped back into place with, well, the snapping of the brush against my ass. As predicted, it had a stingy feel, not quite as diffused as a paddle but not quite as localized as a crop; a happy middle. That night, we found each other again: we came together like a surfer and wave, in control but letting go, aware but blissful.
Pleasure that takes time to build is anathema to our quick-fix world, but I don’t regret a second of that lonely year. It made our reunion all the sweeter and our connection all the stronger. Patience is a lost virtue; these days, if you don’t get in the sack 24 hours after swiping right, you’re moving too slow. But I luxuriate in our slowness now. We may only live once, but we don’t need to go at everything with lightning speed. Sometimes, we have to stop and smell the roses… or in my case, feel the smack of a brush on my ass.