I play pretend — a dress up Domme in too-tall shoes and borrowed attitude. I wear wedges and a black cotton sundress (not stilettos and a corset). It’s a compromise between ‘doing Domme’ (my way) and accommodating my uncoordination.
We both know what I am — I am not a Domme. I am his Domme, and for that, I’m glad. It’s a position I adore, and one I own, but also one that encompasses both my fine points and my flaws (some of which are outside standard deviation for the role).
I don’t enjoy making decisions about where to go for dinner… ever. I don’t dine out often, I’m unfamiliar with the restaurants in the area, and my palate is unrefined (for anything but delicious words). I have no strong preferences or occasional cravings, and in general, I don’t much care. What I hate is being responsible for bad decisions which result in bad food, uncomfortable surroundings, and strained conversation over poor acoustics and packed tables. J and I typically go back and forth on date nights — neither one of us is particularly strong-headed about where to go or what to do. In general, he prefers that I decide, and I prefer not to.
But for whatever reason, towering in my wedges, with dark red lips and second-hand self-assurance, I felt confident and self-possessed. In a move that’s slightly out of character, my choice was swift and decisive — I decreed we would go to a hot new place recommended by a colleague with excellent aesthetic sense and our progressive ‘city paper.’ Neither the particular choice nor the act of making it were particularly important, but method acting is convincing — it makes the insignificant seem consequential, and sometimes, I enjoy seeming just as much as being.
Within two minutes of sitting down at the bar as we waited for our table, I found myself fighting the urge to turn around and leave. The overwhelming menu of craft beers, microbrews, and imported lagers, ales, and stouts wasn’t entirely in English, and I wasn’t so much interested in hearing the bartender’s pretentious explanations as I was in ordering something so he would stop. Unfortunately, I learned the establishment doesn’t serve hard liquor (in order to focus on the fine qualities of barley, malts, and hops).
When J’s stout was served in a snifter and my IPA came in a champagne glass, I was pretty sure my restaurant selection was a bad decision. But despite the warning signs that we might be out of place, I remained committed to
my decision being decisive. It was only after we were seated that I took a moment to look around and noticed the staggering diversity of well-calculated facial hair configurations. But then it was too late to change my mind.
After the mustache (wearing skinny jeans and a bad attitude) took our order, J and I exchanged similar expressions.
I leaned across the table and whisper-yelled, “This is a hipster place… isn’t it?”
In response, he offered a weak smile that nearly matched my own.
We grin and bear it, and struggle to make conversation over incongruously loud and apathetic conversations and the odd selection of music that was more intrusive than ambiance.
I ask him about how it’s going with his preparations to move out west — he’s in the midst of finishing up work projects here and starting new ones elsewhere. My question is plainly asked and plainly answered. His response is innocuous, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling as if it’s too upbeat.
I look down, poke at my plate of tapas, and try not to take it personally. His positivity about moving forward with his life does not mean he’s indifferent to moving on. My rational brain knows this, but my emotions are not convinced and cannot be controlled.
With heat rising in my cheeks and stinging tears threatening to overcome their boundaries, I glare at J as best I can in an effort to make us both believe I’m angry instead of heartbroken.
“Back off.” I stop him mid-sentence with as much weight as I can muster, but as tears well in my eyes, I suspect he is unconvinced.
He processes my expression, and offers gently, “I’m sorry.”
He understands. He knows me well enough to recognize my sadness and know that I’m more comfortable if we both pretend that it is anger. He spares me the indignity of having to confirm something we both already know.
We resume poking at our plates and pretending to be interested in our dinner.
My mind goes a million miles a minute. He has every right to be excited about his future… but it’s a future without me in it. He is looking forward about the former, not the latter, but unfortunately, I can’t easily separate the two.
I can feel my face getting warmer, my eyes swelling slightly, and I’m unable to find distraction. The food isn’t great, conversation is nearly impossible over the increasing volume of other patrons, and there’s nothing to look at but ugly art and odd mustaches, patchy goatees, and dismissive haughty faces.
One rebellious tear breaks free, ignoring my will for its containment. I don’t allow it to survive for fear that it might multiply, and wipe the evidence from my face. Blinking gently and swallowing hard, I get myself in check enough to look up from my plate.
I look up, and look up further, glaring disdainfully at the ceiling as I recognize what’s playing from the speakers overhead — “No Woman, No Cry.” While I do not enjoy the coincidence, I can’t help but appreciate the humor.
My eyes roll independently of my will to move them, and soon after, I feel myself break into a wide grin as the heat in my cheeks subsides. “No Woman, No Cry.” Of course. J looks relieved and grins back. I signal a disinterested waiter to bring me our bill.
Later on, I will reflect on this evening and what I learned.
I learn that I really, truly do not enjoy selecting restaurants. I learn that hipsters do not understand medium rare and that “in house made” anything doesn’t mean it’s good. I learn not to trust hirsute men to make good kimchi; it’s better left to smooth-skinned Koreans. I learn that I do not enjoy music that bluntly coincides with my emotions, simultaneously intensifying and diminishing them with their obviousness.
I learn that J knows me better than I give him credit for. He knows me well enough to read me and treat me gently — even if it means playing along with poorly-executed charades — to spare me the embarrassment I’d feel at having lost control of my emotions.
“Everything’s gonna be alright…”