I've taken a breather for a while from blogging, for reasons that the post below will make clear. But I'll have fun sexy posts to add soon. This one's a downer, but worth the read.
I had just returned from yet another trip to Africa and was keen to have fun this weekend. The day after getting home, Ellen took off for the first night alone at the club, heading up with Ron and Nora. Ellen and I didn't really have time to reconnect, which is always something I am in need of after coming home, but I figured we could do that on Saturday night. After all, she would get her time alone with Ron and whomever else she wanted to play with on Friday—this was the second half of her Mother's Day present, after all—and we could enjoy each other's company on Saturday.
So I was really looking forward to a fun evening when I left the kids with the babysitter on Saturday afternoon. I hadn't heard from Ellen but didn't expect to, since I knew she was attending some of the sexy workshops scheduled during the day and besides, cell phones weren't allowed in the club or on the premises.
I arrived with eager anticipation and found Ellen in the lobby looking sexy as hell in a lacy pair of hipster panties with a big bow in front and a glittery net-like throw tide up around her neck that draped alluringly across her naked chest and belly while leaving very little to the imagination. She looked hot! I was a little surprised that she'd decided against the body suit that I'd encouraged her to wear, and which she looks amazing in—I have a thing about body suits—but this outfit suited her perfectly and I could tell she felt good and daring wearing it.
Ellen walked with me upstairs to the sleeping room, where I unpacked my bag and started to change. There were a few people in the room and Ellen had said she wanted to talk to me about something, but obviously wasn't going to do it with company listening. I was stretching some after a long drive, trying to get the cramps out of my muscles that were still tight from long airplane rides, when finally we were alone. That's when Ellen told me what happened with Fabio.
Crap! I felt a flush and flash of emotions surge through my body.
The one thing I knew is that I had a lot of questions. What little Ellen told me was only the basic facts, but very little detail, and I knew that I was going to need lots of details to help me settle. I also knew that the night was pretty well fucked from that point on. Having sex with anyone was suddenly the last thing in the world on my agenda.
I took some deep breaths and sat down in front of Ellen, who looked exposed and defensive and very uncertain. The first thing I asked seemed to catch her by surprise, but it was fundamental to my primary worry about exposure to disease, which has been a paramount concern for me all along. After all, I work in public health, with people who are experts in sexual and reproductive health. I knew the risks and I knew what compounded risks. Maybe getting clinical and analytical was a mistake, but it was where my mind needed to go at the moment; to the rational, practical questions that would help me process my feelings and concerns.
“Did he ejaculate in you?” I asked her. I figured it was a pretty simple question with a pretty simple answer, knowing how aware Ellen can be about wet spots on the sheets, and how turned on she can be by the sounds and feeling of a man coming inside her.
“I don't know,” she replied, with a little irritation.
I don't know. Three simple words that should be pretty straightforward, but in Ellen's mouth they can be loaded with enormous meaning. Either she really didn't know, which I found surprising, or she was using the phrase in her second way, which really means “I don't want to talk about it.” I'd observed her dodge many questions with many people, including her father, her sister, work colleagues, friends, and even me, by saying “I don't know,” even though she knew perfectly well what the answer to their questions were. She just didn't want to get into it, and this was her standard avoidance technique.
So, she doesn't know if he ejaculated inside her, or she doesn't want to talk about it. Either way led to more questions in my mind. I asked one or two, but saw that she felt interrogated and knew that what I needed most—information—she wasn't going to be able to provide, at least not then. So with profound mixed feelings and a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach, I gave her a hug and and let the matter drop, because I saw that's what she needed most. I'd have been happy leaving the club immediately in order to process all of this, and I guess we should have, but instead I put on a happy face I didn't feel and we headed out to join the sexy throng for dinner. Perhaps we could at least have a little fun tonight.
After dinner (which wasn't memorable in the least) we enjoyed watching Tigra perform on the pole, and on a number of occasions Tigra's eyes met mine; she smiled and her eyes twinkled. Afterward I chatted with her and she introduced me to the friend she had come with, mentioning my performance months before. It was nice to know I'd made an impression on her.
Once the dancing started up and the floor filled, Ellen went off for a drink or a pee and I was sitting with Ron. I saw a long-haired muscular man stroll across the opposite side of the dance floor and I wondered if that was Fabio; he seemed to fit Ellen's description from when she met him at the beach. I asked Ron to point him out, since I was curios about him. Ron didn't seem to notice who I was looking at, and said he'd point him out if he saw him. I had no agenda at that point, and certainly wasn't planning on confronting him. I just wanted to put a face to a name and I knew he was probably still in the club.
When Ellen returned we danced a bit, then explored the BDSM props and Ellen showed me the toys area where she'd tried out a Sybian the night before. We'd talked about the Sybian in the past and I'd wanted to see her try it the first time, but once again missed out. Well, that was the least of my concerns at that point, and I well knew that she was more wiling to trying new things with Ron and Nora (who had goaded her into trying the Sybian) than she was with me. I did encourage her to try out the electric wand, which we saw Alan using on another woman who writhed in pleasure under its electric shocks. To my surprise, Ellen was game (although she didn't really like the sensation). Perhaps she was eager to turn around the energy of the night and knew that going with my suggestions was one way to help me get my mind off the 800 pound gorilla in the room. In fact, all evening long, Ellen was very close and attentive, being particularly touchy-feely with me in an easy sexy way that I have sometimes craved.
Well, Ellen was chilly in her very limited cover, and we headed to the hot tub for a while. We chatted with others but my mind was still a fog of thoughts and emotions and I knew I was more withdrawn than usual. I also knew that Ron and Nora were both vigilant and keeping some distance from us, which I appreciated—Ron can be a little smothering around Ellen, although she certainly likes the attention from him.
Even after the hot tub, Ellen couldn't get warm, and she was not looking very well. She decided to lie down and after checking if she needed anything, I went off to explore on my own. Here again, I had mixed feelings. Ellen was sick, but from what? She'd played hard the night before and didn't get much sleep as usual, and now she was sick on the night we were together. I felt sorry for her and worried, but also resentful. This wasn't the first time that her hard playing alone resulted in her being sick once we were together (usually at home), and it wouldn't be the last time. She would deny any link between playing and illness even though I'd begun seeing a pattern, so I shoved the thought aside and tried to focus on exploring the interesting BDSM activities on offer by myself.
After wandering around for a while and considering having a go at being flogged on the St. Andrews Cross—there was a line of expectant floggies and I didn't feel like waiting—I ended up chatting with Rhonda, a large sexy volunteer at the club with whom I'd struck up an easy flirting acquaintance over the previous visits. I told her about what had happened the night before; I needed to process my feelings, and Rhonda listened and offered perspective. She asked if we had an escape clause in our open marriage, something we could use to take a break and focus on nurturing our own relationship, and I realized that we didn't. I had been feeling trapped in an open marriage with very loose definitions and only a single hard rule—condoms always. But even that rule had been questioned by Ellen of late, as she had been talking about fluid bonding and expressed an interest in doing so with Ron. That was not something I was willing to go along with, because I simply did not agree with the common assumption I'd heard within the lifestyle that swingers are more careful. There was no evidence, and it sounded too much like wishful thinking. And Ron was hardly particular about who he played with—I wasn't willing to put my health in his hands, and I wasn't sure Ellen was looking at the matter with her usual critical eye.
And now, here was a perfect example of unsafe, unethical behavior that put not only Ellen at risk, but me, too, unless I insisted on wearing condoms. To do so would only remind us both of this unhappy situation every time we fucked, and would be a mutual turn-off, and we had enough challenges in our sex life without adding another.
But Rhonda's question about an escape clause got me thinking. We needed one, tonight more than ever. Because I knew that any request to take a break temporarily would risk a great deal of resentment and acrimony from Ellen; I would be asking for her to stop playing with a shiny new toy that she had admittedly become obsessed with. But I felt profoundly that having the ability to take such a break was essential to nurturing our relationship and maintaining our open marriage over the long term. It was like having a safe word for the whole lifestyle. We had one for immediate sexual activities, but not one for the relationship in its entirety.
I felt a little more grounded after talking with Rhonda, so I checked in on Ellen before wandering around again. Ellen was sleeping, huddled under a pile of sheet and blanket and sleeping bag for warmth. I didn't wake her.
I found Nora on the table under Alan's electric wand, and I enjoyed toying with her nipples and causing an electric spark to rise from one while Alan touched the wand to the other. Nora gasped in pleasure. But my heart wasn't really in it anymore, and eventually I decided to retire.
It was a sleepless night. My mind was filled with questions and worries. One question kept swirling around; had Ellen been careful enough? We hadn't really been seeing eye-to-eye on the safety and risk issue anyway. For the first time in our lives, she was less risk averse than I was. Was she so caught up in NRE and sexual pleasure that she was letting down her guard? Was the dopamine high undermining her judgment? I had never had any reason to question her judgment before, and I didn't like feeling this way—it felt disloyal. But at the same time, I knew the risks as well as she did. And I had old memories that came back unbidden, memories of memorial services of gay friends who'd died of AIDS in the late 80s. Hell, we both had worked on AIDS programs in Africa, we knew what the consequences of complacency could be.
As the night drew on, Ellen remained cocooned under covers, inches away physically but entirely unreachable. At one point, I went out to pee and found the man I'd seen across the dance floor primping in front of the bathroom mirror. I asked him if he was Fabio, and he looked at me aloofly and said yes. I introduced myself as Ellen's husband, and he looked blankly at me. I reminded him who Ellen was, and suddenly his demeanor changed entirely. Aloofness was replaced with uncertainty and attention. He drew me away from other people in the bathroom so we could talk privately, and after I told him briefly about my background in public health, I asked him point blank if he'd ejaculated in Ellen. I hadn't planned this, but the opportunity presented itself and I wanted at least to have an answer on the degree of risk we were exposed to. Fabio assured me he hadn't (not that I particularly trusted his answer) and then launched into a long explanation of how careful he normally was, that he was a body builder and a nurse and took his health seriously.
Fine, I said, but that didn't change the fact that he had disregarded Ellen's expressed instructions about wearing a condom, which she had assured me she had done when she first described the situation to me. Fabio shrank a bit, and looked like a little boy caught with his hand in the cooky jar. He told me that he was going through some “issues,” getting divorced from his wife of twenty-some years, and implied that he had made a mistake, but I saw it for what it was—bullshit excuses from an asshole eager to cover his tracks. His whole self image of the Native American muscle man mystical lover was nothing but a mask he wore to cover up what I saw in his eyes as he talked; insecurity and need for attention. No doubt he had allure for women, and it had certainly worked on Ellen, but I could see through his cocky aloofness at the game he played.
He apologized profusely but I just bid him good night and went back to bed. I'd heard all I needed to know. But it did little to settle my mind, and I didn't sleep.
By the time dawn was breaking, I couldn't stay in bed and got up to wander around the silent club. The left-over coffee was luke warm and vile, so that was out. I sipped warm water and lounged on a sofa downstairs. At one point Kelly came through and we chatted a bit. I didn't know what she knew and wasn't eager to talk about anything between Ellen and me with her, given their somewhat tumultuous history. But it was nice chatting with her and getting my mind off the oppressive thoughts in my head. I realized that I felt trapped in the club, and couldn't really breath, that I wanted out and had to leave soon. At a little before 8AM, Ellen was stirring and I asked her to get up so that we could leave. I didn't want to talk to Ron or Nora or anyone else over breakfast, I just wanted to get out and clear my head. I needed to talk to Ellen, and no one else.
Well, we left abruptly. As we said our goodbyes, Ron was typically attentive to Ellen, which only served to piss me off. He gets to experience only fun and pleasure with Ellen and so has a very limited view of her. He is always the gentleman and the loving sexy partner with the ready hard-on. No baggage, no responsibilities, no tension, only fun. At that moment, I resented him, and even blamed him for having introduced Ellen to Fabio as someone to play with. He'd essentially vouched for Fabio, so in my view, that made him complicit in Fabio's deceit.
We got in the car and drove in silence for a few moments. I sensed Ellen's annoyance and wariness at our abrupt departure. Normally she likes the morning socializing over breakfast and the chance for one more go with Ron. But that was the least of my concerns. I couldn't breath in there.
I was exhausted, and felt more disconnected from Ellen that I had when I got home two days earlier. I felt suffocated and trapped in a lifestyle that I had struggled to get comfortable in and which had suddenly turned sour for me. I wasn't even sure I could trust Ellen's judgment anymore.
I raged. I said things that were harsh and judgmental. I didn't ignore Fabio's role or ultimate responsibility for his behavior, but still I blamed Ellen, the victim, for not being careful enough, for being too trusting. I spoke from fear, from a sense of helplessness, from the profound hurt of a trust that had been broken, however unwittingly. All of the rational thoughts were overwhelmed by the flood of emotions that I'd tried so hard to keep dammed up.
I'm not proud of that day. I caused hurt, and was hurt in return. Ellen said things to me that I won't repeat and have tried to let go of, because I know they were said out of her own hurt and anger. It was certainly a low point in our 20 years together.
We worked through some of the issues over the next few days, but I knew there was lasting damage, and we never did resolve the question of our escape clause. But for reasons that will be apparent in future posts, I have grown more comfortable in the lifestyle, and we have reestablished the trust in each other's judgment that is so important. Communication took a hit for a while, but we've largely come back to where we need to be.
And we have both learned some hard lessons from this stormy weekend. That, at least, is a silver lining.