Monday, January 19, 2009

Munches

The munch: According to Wikipedia, it is defined as “a low-pressure social gathering for people involved in or interested in BDSM, usually at a restaurant. The primary purpose is socializing, though some munches also have announcements from local organizations. Munches often help those who are curious about the lifestyle meet others who may be able to help them become more comfortable and better informed. Munches can also be a place to get advice about or pass on anecdotes about BDSM experiences.”

Oregon has a lot of munches. (Oregon has bunches of munches?) I know that there’s a slew of them up in the Portland area, and I frequently see announcements on FetLife.com that new munches are starting up here and there across the state.

The one that I’m closest too (yet, as a non-driver, still so very far away from) is the Salem Munch. I discovered the existence of the Salem Munch about a year ago. It meets twice a month (first Monday and third Saturday) at a place called Schroeder's Guest House Restaurant (located at 4850 Portland Road NE in Salem Oregon). [If I were more organized I’d also be giving you more information on where to go for, well, more information. The Salem Munch has it’s own Yahoo Group as well as a FetLife group, both of which are run by Lady Balara (as is the actual munch itself). Hopefully, having at least that much information will help you if you decide to start blindly groping the internet in a search for some kind of contact information.]

When I discovered that the Salem munch existed, the January 2008 Monday gathering has already happened, with the Saturday version still to come. I decided that I was going to go to this thing, no matter what. I would find a ride into Salem, and I would go to January’s Saturday munch. And – unless it completely sucked and had nothing to offer me – I would continue to hit the munch, both times a month, from there on out.

Yeah, that worked out real well for me. Instead of my first munch happening the third Saturday in January, it actually took place the first Monday in August. (And I showed up late, so I was actually only there for less than half of it.) All of the munches between January and August were munches I had intended to attend. I’d planned to go to each and every one. Sometimes I actually found rides that had to cancel on me at the last moment. Usually, however, I simply couldn’t find a ride at all.

Once I finally managed to attend my first munch in August, I swore to redouble my efforts to make it out to all of the following munches. Heh. Prior to that, I’d been getting zero rides. You know what effect redoubling my efforts had? Let’s do that math, shall we: What is zero multiplied by two?

The Double Munch

In December, there was an additional local munch announced: The Salem Littles Munch. Instead of being the usual BDSM-themed gathering, this one was an age play munch, and would run the same day as the Saturday BDSM munch, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. (So anyone with an interest in both age play and BDSM could show up at 11:00 and have six whole hours of munch to look forward to.)

I’ve been interested in the concept of age play for quite a while now. All of the non-sexual aspects of it give me stuff to think about when idly pondering “various things humans do” and “how our brains work”. But let’s be honest here – I’m a dirty, sex-starved pervert. It’s obvious where my primary interest in age play is going to lay, and it’s not with the non-sexual aspects.

[Currently, my posting schedule says that I’ll be doing a series of posts on the topic of age play in early February. Which is why I’m not going into more detail about my thoughts, hopes, desires, and masturbation fantasies regarding age play in this post. Stay tuned, people!]

Here’s a block of text from the announcement of the first Salem Littles Munch: “The day before the munch is National American Teddy Bear Day. Lets celebrate by bringing our stuffed friends with us to the munch. Also, it's time to start planning another play party. Come and help us out with your ideas. We will be discussing play parties, field trips or any other activities we’d like to do together.”

The term ‘play party’ stuck in my head at an odd angle and refused to move. Children play. Adults play. Those are two COMPLETELY different things. (Especially in BDSM-land.) So when you have adults taking on the roles of kids . . . which type of play occurs at a play party?

Add in the fact that the intent to plan this party was referenced as ‘another’ play party, which to my mind meant that there had been others beforehand, and I was making room in my mind for the possibility that Salem (or the general Salem area) was host to a thriving age play community.

Then there was the line about bringing our stuffed friends with us. Hmm. Wallace (not his real name – and is it a little weird that I’m applying the whole “name changed to protect the innocent” doctrine to one of my stuffed animals?) really wanted to go.

[Wallace has no desire to be a prop for any age play activities. He wants even less to do with anything of a sexual nature. (He’ll watch porn if that’s what I’ve got on, but he gets creeped out when I start masturbating to it.) I can usually get him to hide under the bed just by saying the word “plushophilia”. (No, I’M not a plushophile, but I’ve read about it – and told him horror stories about what some people do with their stuffed animals.)]

No, Wallace didn’t necessarily want to go for the Salem Littles munch itself, he just wanted to go to the restaurant. It’s rare that he gets to go to out to restaurants, and even when he does, he usually gets left out in the car. Wallace was determined to tag along with me just to get to go in and sit at a table (and try to steal food off of people’s plates, I’m sure).

I just had to go to this. A munch for age players, followed by the usual BDSM munch that I keep trying to get to, anyway? No, this time I had to go.

So I made my impassioned plea to various people, and Zorch took pity on me and said that if I couldn’t find anyone else to take me, he’d come down from Portland and play chauffeur.

The munch was on December 20th. Right in the middle of that ridiculous snowstorm that turned the entire state into a snow-covered iceberg. (I kept waiting for Oregon to resink the Titanic.) I was snowed in here, Zorch was snowed in up in Portland, and the munches went on without me. (I’d imagine that they went on without a great many people, actually.)

So, I exhaled a huge sigh of disappointment, and told myself that I’d try to go next month. (Wallace spent the whole day pouting. Crazy animal.)

Plans for January’s Saturday Munch(es)

In January, the announcement for the second Salem Littles Munch went up. Along with the announcement that there would be a slumber party the night before at the home of the age play munch organizer, Inky.

An age play slumber party? Hmm . . . this had potential.

Travel Arrangements

It’s usually easier (by no means easy, but at least somewhat easier) to convince someone to supply me with half a ride than the full round trip. People are more willing to bring me from either here to there or from there to here than they are to do both.

What this meant was that I had a much better chance of finding rides for the slumber party/munch combination because the arrival and departure were separate days. My sister agreed to give me a ride home on Saturday. Dad agreed to drop me off on Friday. All I needed was for someone from the slumber party to transport me to the munch (which didn’t seem like a problem), and I was golden.

A Slumber Party at Inky’s

I had no idea what to expect from an age play slumber party. Oddly, this didn’t keep me from having expectations, anyway. I had this image in my head of a woman wearing footie pajamas and pigtails. (A weirdly arousing image.)

As it turned out, there was no woman with pigtails and footie pajamas. In fact, there was no woman at all.

I arrived at Inky’s late afternoon. [You’ll notice that I didn’t follow “Inky” with “(not his real name)”. Even though it isn’t. But it is his real scene name. The reason that I’m using it here instead of renaming him like I do everyone else is because he puts his name out there in his position as the organizer of the Salem Littles age play munch. It’s the same reason why I don’t anonymize Darklady. Or the Salem BDSM munch organizer Lady Balara.] I finally got to meet Inky after exchanging several short emails regarding two months worth of munches.

I also met Baby E (not his real name), who was staying with Inky for a few days, and was another member of the slumber party. Both Inky and Baby E were ABs (Adult Babies). AB wasn’t anything I was going to get involved in myself, but as someone interested in age play in general, I was very curious about the whole thing.

So, after watching some TV and a couple of movies on Hulu.com (and discovering that some of the others who had intended on attending the slumber party were going to bail on us), we ate dinner. Pepperoni pizza. (Mine on a dinner plate with a glass of orange juice, theirs on small plastic kiddie plates with beverages in bottles.)

During dinner (and long into the night afterwards) I asked questions about age play, ABs, and how they discovered their AB sides. After getting answers to my questions, it turned into story time. Baby E – one of the most fascinating people I’ve met in ages – told a variety of stories from his life. Everything from more AB stories to Vietnam War stories (A to V? No W, X, Y, or Z, I guess).

The Salem Littles Munch

Moving right along . . .

The next morning, we left for Schroeder’s come munch-time. Baby E regressed on the ride over, and when we arrived, his mindset was that of a twenty-month old. (Which was something he’d talked about the night before, but which was remarkable to actually witness.) He spent a good hour and a half as an infant before slowly coming out of it, at which point he started looking around to get his bearings – which reminded me a lot of my reactions when I first come out of a seizure.

The Salem Littles munch was attended by one more person than the slumber party had been. The munch group seems to still be in it’s infancy – horrible, horrible pun intended – but I’ve got no doubt that it will grow, especially given the number of people whose Fetlife profiles which include ‘ageplay’ on their fetish list.

I’d had a slew of ageplay questions answered before even arriving at the munch. The fourth person was someone that Inky and Baby E hadn’t seen in ages, so most of the time was spent with them just catching up.

The breakfast menu at Schroeder’s includes a build-your-own omelet. I was all prepared to order my default ham-and-cheese when I noticed turkey on the ingredient list. So I ended up with a cheddar, ham, and turkey omelet with hash browns and sourdough toast (tasty!).

The Salem Munch

The entirety of the first munch (yes, all four of us) stayed for the second one. Lady Balara arrived early, and talked with the rest of us for a little bit while waiting for the non-munch restaurant customers to finish eating and clear out of ‘our’ space so that they could set up the room.

She told me that there’d been some format changes since the last time I’d been at a munch. Which really didn’t mean a lot to me, given that the sole previous munch I’d attended I’d been late for. There was a roomful of conversations going on when I arrived (and I managed to talk to a few people myself). This lasted for about fifteen minutes after I showed up, at which point most everyone moved to another room for a presentation on ‘The Leather Resume’. So if the old format was an hour and forty-five minutes of stuff-I-missed, 15 minutes of talk-amongst-yourselves, and an hour of presentation, then a format change really wasn’t going to mean all that much to me.

The munch’s crowd was somewhere between twenty and thirty. (Knowing I’d want this info for the blog, I did a headcount at one point which gave me 23 attendees, but a handful of people still showed up after that.)

I wanted to grab a seat where I’d get the minimum of through-traffic making me scoot in or stand up to let people through. (I’m a big fat guy, remember?) The other age play munchers ended up clustered around me at the big U-shaped arrangement of tables. As the rest of the people started to filter in, they all started to take seats at the other end of the ‘U’ from us.

“So much for meeting and socializing with new people,” I thought to myself. The fourth member of the age play group had similar thoughts out loud. “Huh. Do we smell? Or are we just too ugly to sit next to?”

Eventually the far-away seats filled up, and newcomers had to sit at our end of the room. (That’s what you get for showing up late, SUCKERS! You have to sit with the unpopular crowd! Take that!)

I hadn’t planned on having a second meal, but while the other half of the room was engaged in lively conversation, I made the mistake of idly perusing the menu. And found upon it a listing for . . . the Monte Cristo Sandwich. Or as the description read . . . ‘our version of the Monte Cristo’. No jam, no powdered sugar. Just the egg fried bread, the meat – ham and turkey (oh my God I’m having an omelet flashback!) – and cheese. So I placed another food order. (It was good, but ended up being messier than a sandwich should be, falling apart toward the end as I tried to eat it quickly before it’s structural integrity went.)

At one point the fourth Salem Littles muncher (yeah, it’s late at night – again – as I write this, and I’m just too tired to give him a cool ‘not his real name’ name) leaned over and asked me, “So, is there any kind of structure to this at all, or is this it?” I told him what Lady Balara had told me about there having been a format change . . . which indicated that there was indeed some kind of format to be had.

The munch’s starting time was 2:00, and it was 3:30 before Lady Balara banged on her water glass with a spoon to get everybody’s attention. People stopped conversing and eating and gave her their attention, as she started the thing up. I leaned over to the fourth guy and said, “I think we’re about to see some format.”

Introductions, Announcements, and the Hat

The first order of business was introductions. Everyone was to introduce themselves. Name, D/s position, name on FetLife (or scene name, I suppose). It started with the person sitting next to Lady Balara and went around the room.

When it was my turn, I told everyone my first name, and that I was a Dom, but a newbie. I told them that I was Zeitgeist_Clown on FetLife. I also plugged ‘Time Delay’, saying that there was a link to it on my FetLife profile page, and “please, for the love of God, read my blog!”

After the introductions came announcements, in (more-or-less) chronological order. Various play parties and other events were announced (all too far away for me to attend, given my chronic ridelessness), most of which were accompanied by small fliers. (I’ve now got fliers advertising KinkFest, the Asylum Dungeon, and a Portland Leather Alliance members only play party being held at the Conservatory in Portland on February 13th.)

When the announcements were finished, Lady Balara brought out ‘the hat’. The hat contained little scraps of paper, upon each one of which was written a discussion topic. These had been submitted by munch participants at the end of previous munches.

Lady Balara drew out the first topic of the day from the hat, and read the question, “What is the difference between D/s and abuse?” Talk of abusive relationships ensued – and the dangers in newbies accepting ‘masters’ that they find online without researching them first, only to find themselves being abused – not knowing that what they are experiencing isn’t what BDSM is supposed to be.

At one point, another latecomer arrived in the middle of the discussion, and asked what the topic was. The question was repeated for him, and without even pausing to contemplate he answered, “The difference is that if you abuse them, they won’t come back to play anymore. Then they’ll tell all their friends, and nobody will play with you ever again.” Clever man.

The second discussion topic pulled from the hat was “Can you be an effective Master if you haven’t subbed?” The discussion that ensued included not just D/s, but also S&M, which prompted me to raise my hand.

My contribution to the discussion was about the fact that I’ve always agreed that in order to fully understand what you – as a Top – are putting the Bottom through, you have to have experienced it yourself at least once. But my problem is that if I were to take a hit with a flogger, I’d start seizing. (Lousy seizure disorder.)

The solution that the group came up with was to go as close as I could without hitting a point that would trigger medical issues. Bottom for a session not to a leather flogger, but to one of the cloth or fur ones. Taking a ‘beating’ not as pain play, but as sensation play. Which would give me an understanding of being under the whip strokes without the angry, angry pain that usually accompanies them.

The rest of the discussion covered theories about whether a person with the dominant state of mind really can truly submit, and why nobody ever asks the question ‘Can you be an effective sub without having Dommed?’.

The final discussion of the night was “How do you manage your D/s relationship with your vanilla relatives?”, which led to discussion about coming out to one’s family, keeping one’s family in the dark, and dealing with family members who aren’t quite as tolerant as you’d like.

[I honestly think that if I were to sit my incredibly intolerant father down and read him off a list of my sexual preferences, the fetishes I have, and the activities I want to get into, he’d have a heart attack right there on the spot. And if he survived, he’d probably disown me.]

At the conclusion of the munch, Lady Balara requested more discussion topics, as the hat was just about empty. People scribbled future topics down on scraps of placemat and handed them forward. I declined participating. Yes, I’ve got a bunch of topics I’d like to see discussed, but I’d like to actually be there for those discussions, and right now that’s a hit-or-miss proposition.

I’m still looking for rides to future munches. Primarily to the BDSM munch that runs the first Monday of the month. As for the third Saturday double age play/BDSM munches . . . Inky told me that if I needed a ride, to let him know, and he’d see what we could work out. So it’s possible that I may actually be able to attend this thing once a month from now on.

Could I actually end up becoming part of the local BDSM community? Time will tell.

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