There is no perfection in us. We may be Tops, but we aren’t faultless. We try hard, but sometimes we fail. Sometimes we’re right and sometimes we’re wrong. Unfortunately, sometimes we’re wrong even when we’re right; and occasionally we’re right even when it feels wrong.
I’m in the ‘right but feels wrong’ place currently. How does that work? Well, it feels wrong because I’ve been lax. I missed the signs. I assumed a grouchy mood came from a stressful day. The quietness, I took for granted came from tiredness. The lack of intercourse—which should have been a major red flag for me—I attributed to our schedules diverging a bit more than usual and simply not having the time or energy.
I should have made the time; first to talk, then to tumble. But instead I was lazy and took the easy way out and brushed off the internal nudging that something was off for us.
I take full responsibility for that, because if I had been on my game, things probably wouldn’t have gotten quite so out of hand. But, as they say, hindsight is 20/20.
On the other hand though, I am most definitely in the right to be about to toast the hind end of my partner. He needs to take responsibility too, and while he might have done it to get my attention, he could have accomplished that without nearly emptying our bank account. “Nearly” means that there is literally five dollars left in our savings. I swear I very nearly collapsed when I got to the bank and found out that the three thousand we’d managed to put aside for emergencies was gone.
Well…let me start more toward the end and say that I was only about an hour behind my love when I got to the bank. A desperate call to his cell informed me that he was nearby and still—thankfully!—had the money in hand.
“Don’t buy anything!” I’d ordered before running out of the bank.
Where was he? At a bike shop about to plunk down cash for a shiny motorcycle. Actually, he had plunked down the money—after I’d told him not to! But no papers had yet been signed and not even a handshake had commenced. I retrieved our money, with a smooth voice that even surprised me thanked the proprietor of the shop, and then literally drug my man out of the place with a hand gripping the nape of his neck.
I was Mad! Yes, capital M mad, but I managed to restrain myself all the way home and even got the door closed behind us before I smacked the seat of his jeans hard and ordered him to “the chair”.
The chair? Well…yeah. We very rarely have done corner time. It’s happened perhaps four times in the ten years we’ve been together. When one of us (definitely ME at this point) needs some cooling off time or distance in the midst of a discipline situation, Connor ends up in “the chair”. It’s actually a padded, white whicker thing that goes with nothing else we own, but is surprisingly comfortable and was given with well-meaning love by my parents. Connor went to “the chair” nervously and sat with a “please forgive me?” look on his face. I know the look…it’s a very sincere expression for him, but I wasn’t in a good place to accept it in that moment.
“Sit there. Do not move. I’m putting the money back in our account and then you and I have some major issues to discuss.”
He nodded, but his expression grew appealing. “Mark? I have to go to the bathroom.”
Yes, yes…I agree totally that my words were uncalled for, but I was seething (I’ll explain a bit more why shortly) and keeping him in that seat was partly for his protection. If he left his butt an open target right then, I was likely to whack it all the way to the bathroom and back. He didn’t know that, but I’m sure he’d have appreciated that fact if he did.
The trip to the bank helped. Well, it helped me…a little. I spent the seven minute drive there venting loudly and occasionally hitting my steering wheel. I don’t often get that mad, but Connor and I had actually had several conversations over the past ten years about motorcycles. They were one of the few things I had actually forbid.
You see, a decade earlier, just weeks after Connor and I had started seeing each other, I’d lost a dear friend in a motorcycle accident. Even worse, he had suffered. There was no ‘death upon impact’ for him. He’d slid off the rode in wet conditions and crashed into a tree. He’d lain there for hours before a driver finally spotted him and got 911 on the phone. He died on the way to the hospital.
I had a perhaps irrational fear of motorcycles after that, but my heart would palpitate irregularly at even the thought of them.
Connor, unfortunately, had a long-held desire to own one; thus the cause of some infrequent but passionate arguments between us.
That issue, on top of emptying our bank account, choosing to defy me, and being willing to spend that much money without discussing it with me, had me boiling over and definitely in need of the brief trip to the bank to cool down.
Once the money was back into our account, I felt a little more rational. The drive home had me recalling the last few weeks and connecting the dots to warning signs I had missed. I was in a much better state of mind to talk with my husband when I walked back through the door.
Unfortunately, Connor had gone from apprehension at his predicament, to desperation and some anger at me for banning him from the bathroom. He was squirming even as I entered our home. At least this time I had my Top intuition finally kicking in and I nodded him toward the bathroom. “Go, hon.”
He was up and in the bathroom in seconds.
And that is where I am now—waiting for Connor to come back and rehearsing exactly what I want to say to him when he comes out.
A few minutes later he does come out, but he’s got an award winning pout in place and his eyes are glaring at me. “Have fun flouting your dominance?” he asks disrespectfully.
Not a good way to start things, but experience keeps me from replying in kind. “Connor, I’m relatively calm enough to converse rationally right now, but it wouldn’t take much for me to forego talking entirely and assume that the only attention you really need from me is to leave a very lasting burn on your behind. So…your move.”
I sat down and after just a moment’s hesitation, he approached and sat next to me.
“All right then,” I started. “Do you want to go first, or you want to hear my take on things?”
He flinched and looked at his hands. “You can go.”
“Ok. My take is that without saying a word to me, you took our money to make a purchase you knew I’d be entirely against, ignored the fears I’ve conveyed to you about motorcycles—not to mention my final say about you having or being on one—and on top of that have spoken very disrespectfully to me. Sound accurate?”
He rubbed his palms nervously on his jeans. “I plead the fifth?”
“Yeah…I’m not surprised, but I don’t plead the fifth, so I’ll hang myself with my own guilt. In the last month we’ve been on nearly polar opposite schedules. When we are together we’re sleeping or barely with each other for a few minutes before once again going our separate ways. We’ve lost some of our connection and I especially have been lazy about maintaining it.”
That brought Connor’s eyes to mine. “We haven’t had much time together,” he agreed quietly. His hands clasped between his knees. “I came to your school’s soccer game on Monday, but you didn’t see me.”
He was right. I hadn’t. I’m the coach of the boys’ soccer team at the high school where I teach. Monday’s game had been the first official one of the season, and I had been focused enough on my players and what was happening on the field that I never even looked to see if Connor was there. That was definitely a slap in the face because Connor made a point to try to be at every game to support me, and we usually shared a wave and smile from across the field. More of my anger melted away as I heard the hint of hurt in his statement.
“I’m sorry, Connor-baby. I’ve allowed life to get a bit overwhelming for both of us. Can I assume that the three thousand dollar motorcycle was a scream for attention?”
Connor frowned a little. “No. I mean, I don’t think so.” He started cracking his knuckles, something he did when he was uncertain, until I settled my hand on both of his. He sighed. “I’ve always wanted a bike, Mark,” he whined slightly. “It was a great price for that model and it would save on gas money and I’ve got my new job now so we could put more into savings and…”
His voice finally drifted into silence when he noticed the scowl growing on my face.
“And we’ve had this discussion before,” I said firmly. “I’ve said ‘No’ in the past. You know why and you also know that I am not changing my mind on this. So this was either outright defiance on your part, or a bid for attention…or maybe some of both,” I added as I studied Connor’s face.
Connor sighed. “Maybe…kinda…both,” he admitted very quietly.
“Well, you definitely have my attention now.”
It was clear he wasn’t entirely happy about that, but he nodded.
“But before we address your need for ‘attention’, I think I need to fix some things.”
I was encouraged when he leaned a little against me. “Fix what?”
“Our schedules for a start,” I said and then raised my hand to stop the argument that was already forming on his lips. “I know you just started a new job and need to put in your time there for now. I won’t interfere in that…at least not yet,” I said, smiling at him. He barely grinned back. “I will offer to make some changes to my schedule.”
“Uh-huh. I can’t do anything to change things with school or the soccer team, but there are other things I can cut out, like not going to the gym when I know you’ll be home, and skipping the optional faculty meetings on Wednesdays.”
“But you never skip those!”
‘I can for a time. They are optional, and you are more important.”
He looked chagrined. “I could make some changes too.”
“Like what, hon?”
He sighed. “I don’t have to be working quite as late as I have been. I just wanted to make a good start. And I don’t really need to go in on Saturday mornings. I was just being…”
He barely chuckled. “Yeah. And I guess…” He gave me a look of some shame. “I was sort of hoping you’d notice how much I was working and say I didn’t need to.”
That was a revelation to me. “You wanted me to tell you how much you could work?”
He shook his head. “Not exactly. I was bothered that I was working more than spending time with you and I thought we’d talk about it. But you didn’t seem to mind, so I thought maybe you felt that I needed to make sure I made a good impression these first few weeks and…I don’t know.”
Well, I felt about as big as an ant. My Top instincts were seriously lacking in recent weeks. “I’m sorry, hon. I’ve no doubt that you’ve made a good initial impression and I know better than anyone how much quality is in your work. And,” I continued. “I’ve missed you too, but I haven’t been very good about letting you know.”
“I haven’t either. It takes both of us.”
“It does,” I agreed. “But I am sorry for my part.”
His eyes met mine briefly. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, but now I think we need to discuss your attention-getting activities today.”
He sighed and gave me a very imploring look. “I’m sorry?”
I shook my head. “I expect to hear that uttered much more sincerely in a few minutes.”
“Marrr-arrrk!” he whined. “That’s mean to say.”
“No, it’s true to say. You and I could have had this discussion without you purchasing something I’ve forbidden and consider lethal.”
“I didn’t buy it!”
“Only because I stopped you. I realize now that we were both at loose ends in recent days, but you know how we live and you know what this morning’s type of defiance will get you.”
The tone I said that statement in was deliberate and Connor picked up on the sternness and its meaning immediately. “Mark…please…”
“You aren’t going to change my mind on this any more than you are on the motorcycle. Drop your pants. I’ll get the Ruler.”
He whimpered quite audibly and I didn’t blame him. He tends to hate the Ruler more than our paddle. It’s firm, unyielding, and leaves a potent sting that turns to burn, but I felt it was fully earned this time. By the time I got back with the dreaded implement, he was standing uncomfortably in his shorts and looking about ten years younger. He didn’t fight when I sat down and reached for his hand, but his back was tight with tension once he was over my knees.
Sometimes I had him name the reasoning for being across my lap, but since I had some fault in this situation, I assumed the task so he wouldn’t have to.
“So we’re clear, this is for the deception of taking the money, the defiance of ignoring my authority in our relationship, and the disobedience of attempting to purchase that motorcycle when you know I would have nixed it. Do you agree?”
He squirmed and his head nodded. “Yes, Sir.”
‘Sir’ wasn’t used much between us, but I appreciated it this time because it verified that he agreed with the earning of his punishment.
That’s not to say that he didn’t jerk and yelp at the first swat. I laid it on hard, and the following swats weren’t any lighter. It was in very short order that he was twisting and offering the sincere “I’m sorrys” that I had predicted. Thick red stripes were appearing on his backside, and I admit that I felt bad for him, but I wasn’t about to let him off either. I was going for tears this time, which is something I don’t always do, but I fully intended this to be memorable and not need repeating.
I gripped his hip with a bit more strength and let my arm rest across his back to limit the movement. His whole bottom was red now and I didn’t want to drag things out more than necessary. I knew how to garner the tears and an end to the punishment.
Up to this point, the swats had been slow, but hard and steady. Now I raised the Ruler and brought it down just as hard, but picked up the tempo. A dozen swats were applied one right after the other and I got the desired response. Connor bucked, let out a long howl, and crumbled into tears.
I set the ruler aside, loosened my grip, and began rubbing the small of his back. He stayed where he was, but both hands appeared and began tentatively squeezing his cheeks in an effort to alleviate the burn. He continued to cry, but the one howl and following sobs were quickly tapering off to quieter tears.
Eventually it was my encouragement that helped him stand and wipe at his face. When he started to say “I’m sorry” again, I shook my head and hugged him.
“No need to say it again, Connor-baby. I know you are, and I hope you’ll forgive me for not putting the time into us like I should have these last few weeks.”
He hiccupped once and surprised me with a small smile amidst his wet face. “Maybe I should spank you.”
I kissed his cheek, my lips encountering tear streaks. “That’s not how we work and I doubt you could sit long enough to make a thorough job of it.”
His hands squeezed his bottom again and his feet shifted. “I couldn’t do that to you anyway.”
“But you definitely deserve something more from me than just an ‘I’m sorry’,” I agreed. “Listen. It’s Saturday and we both have off tomorrow. Let’s stay in today. You put on something comfortable and I’ll order a pizza with onions,” I emphasized. I knew that would grab his interest because I hate onions and he graciously never asks for them on pizza. “Tomorrow we’ll sleep in, and I’ll treat you to any place you want for supper.”
After one last squeeze, he stepped out of his jeans and caught me unexpectedly in a full mouth kiss before answering. “If you do a half and half pizza so I don’t have to watch you pick the onions off, and treat me to that new hibachi in town, I’ll say you’ve paid your dues.”
We’d be looking at thirty bucks a piece for the Japanese place, but I figured the penance was appropriate. “Agreed.” I hugged him once more and very lightly rubbed his bottom—the heat was impressive. “Go change and pick a movie for us. Want a drink?”
He nodded. “Root beer, but put the milk in the freezer.”
I rolled my eyes. I knew what that order was about. Connor loved milk with pizza, and the colder the better. “Will do,” I promised, very much looking forward to the rest of the day and thinking everything felt very right now.