Walking around in public and going to work wearing the same crusty pair of undies day after day is not my idea of sexy. But--and The Monk was absolutely right to predict this--doing so as a reminder of my submission to another man (one who by this point knew ten times more about me than I did about him) was an enormous turn-on, if I may borrow the favorite word of Playmates everywhere.
When I finally got the go-ahead to remove this cruel mockery of my old crimefighting attire, I felt a huge wave of relief. Freedom--of a sort. But now the "canvas" (as The Monk called it, referring to the "painting" I was doing on the inside of the briefs day after day) became a "flag" I was ordered to display prominently in my cage.
What all of this dipping back and forth into fantasy and reality taught me was that there has to be what I call a Level of Acceptable Risk in s/m-themed roleplay. In solo batplay, that has sometimes meant a small amount of some illegal, mind-altering substance. The risk is obvious (within the story, it means that Batman is committing a crime--and in my real life, it means the same thing about me), but it's an acceptable one for me. No risk means little or no incentive to transcend day-to-day experience; too much risk means you go off the deep end.
And if you did not know better, you would surely assume after finding all these messages on my voicemail and seeing the nonstop lump in my pants that The Monk was a stalker and/or I was an obsessive nutcase. Risky indeed, especially since I honestly did not know much about the guy at all (in real life, as well as within the story). But that was by my own design, a way for me to experience genuine vulnerability in a very visceral way. (I've since asked The Monk to feed me clues about his own "real" identity now and then, just as a little assurance that he's not going to go all Fatal Attraction on me at some point.)
The day the undies came off was also The Monk's last day online for a week and a half, and I didn't want this chapter of our collaborative story to end without some kind of breakthrough. And I got one, on a huge scale indeed: later that day, I realized he'd done exactly what he threatened he would do. He had broken me (ie, Batman) "mind, body, and soul." I was no longer Batman. I was Ratman.
I've read and heard about bottoms being broken, but never really knew what the sensation would feel like until it happened to me. (I'll vow to write more about all this in a future entry... mainly trying to get the plot out for now, before it progresses much further.) As of that afternoon, I've abandoned the Batman role--packed up the costume and equipment, moved it out of the Cave (which I've now rechristened "The Rat's Nest"), and tried to come to terms with the fact that the organizing metaphor of my life has been taken away from me (uh, metaphorically speaking, of course... jope you're still with me on this). Evidently I'll be "allowed" to play that role again someday, but only on The Monk's terms. For now, I'm embracing my new transitional role as Ratman, devising a new costume for myself (which is appropriately unpleasant to wear, by the way), and replacing the many bat-related images and figures in my cave/cage/nest with rat equivalents. I'm even reading Robert Sullivan's much hyped recent book, Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants," learning as much as I can about these wingless rodents.
Why? Because I want to see where all of this takes me. Back when he was still dismantling my Batman-self, The Monk threatened that he'd either destroy me or make me stronger. (Thanks, Nietzsche... and Conan.) He's accomplished the first of those ends; now, with his help, I want to strive for the latter. So the man who was my greatest enemy has become my mentor. I thought before it happened that "breaking" Batman would be like brainwashing him. But I'm fully aware of what I've gone through, who I used to be, and who did it to me--and that knowledge is even more devastating than amnesia would be.
His ten-day absence is almost up, and The Monk will soon be back. Progress reports will follow here. If I sound like I have jumped into deep water, that's because I have--or, I should say, I've allowed a fantasy to pass dangerously close into my daily existence. Fortunately, I have several reliable lifeguards on call, and I do know how to swim.
I don't know where my future encounters with The Monk will leave me yet, but I do know they've already and irreversibly changed me--both my Bat-self and the one under the mask--and I have faith that the final destination will be well worth the trip.
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