He sat down next to me on the bench, and took me into his arms.
"You're an asshole," I said, quietly and precisely, fighting his embrace half-heartedly, but allowing him to gather me in and put my head on his chest, my cheek against the wool of his pea-coat (it must have been December?).
"I know," he replied. "I called my Dad and said he should be ashamed of himself for giving us oil stock."
"Ohmygodfuckyou," I said, and burst into tears again. "I love you so much."
See, the problem with being alive is that before you're married, he'll make that gesture, but life wears you down, and in the same situation today he'd without doubt tell me to get over it. The nice thing, such as it is, is that I would, probably after not speaking to him for two days. This kind of thing actually makes me wonder again about the couples who are really living a domestic-discipline lifestyle--especially the ones who apparently aren't doing it for religious reasons, where you can imagine saying to yourself "My husband is being an asshole, but if I tell him so I'll go to Hell, so I'll just let him keep being an asshole."
When religion isn't involved, though, if I understand how it's supposed to work, and how the psychological benefits are supposed to accrue to me if I embrace my womanliness by letting my man make all my important decisions (sorry, but, for me, personally, frankly, no-go, in any non-erotic context), then in this situation with the oil stock, if I had protested against my man's accepting the stock, let alone told him that he and his parents could go fuck themselves, I would have received one of those "punishment spankings" that are so delicious to contemplate erotically and, to me, so repugnant ethically.
Charles would have grabbed me, and dragged me to my room, and taken off his belt, and ripped down my jeans--maybe thrown me over the edge of the bed. (See Emily's First Caning for one of my elaborations of this theme.) He would have held me down and beaten me as hard as he could--even if I'd used our safeword--while I kicked and screamed and tried to get away, until he saw the resistance go out of me, and I was (magically, I guess) saying "I'm sorry, Sir; I was wrong; I see now, because you've hit my ass over and over with your belt, demonstrating your strength and my weakness, your masculinity and my femininity, your headship of me, that oil companies are good." (Or, rather, I guess I'm supposed to be saying something like "Even though I think oil companies are bad, you are a man and I am a woman and you make decisions and I abide by them, and because I swore at you I deserve to be beaten, and I am ever so grateful to you that you have deigned to beat me with your sacred belt and that now, like the guys in the DD stories, you are going to use me roughly--but lovingly--to console me for being a weak woman who needs beating to stay in line." Actually, the using part I could enjoy.)
But how could that be a way to live ethically for me, given that I believe my mind is as good as Charles' mind, and my values are as important as his values, and have to be so?
Anyway, there on the bench I looked into his eyes. "You are going to spank me so hard tonight," I said, just as precisely as I had spoken when I said that he and his parents could go fuck themselves, back in the apartment, "that I'm not going to be able to get out of bed tomorrow." Notice the crucial difference, reader: I was asking for the spanking after the fight was over, as a way of reframing it erotically. That made it possible for Charles to respond the way he did, reinforcing both our erotic complementarity and our ethical equality.
He had to reframe it because this moment was in some sense the real crucible of our union. It was the worst instance of trying to top from the bottom of which I've ever been guilty, I think, though there are many to choose from. It was in its own way like that stupid moment at the end of the terrible film version of Histoire d'O when O brands Sir Stephen. Yuck.
He looked calmly back into my eyes. "No," he said, "I'm not. Tonight you and I are going to make love."
"You can't be serious," I said.
"What? Missionary position?" (we had very, very rarely fucked in missionary position to that point; there are definitely ways to make it a D/s sort of position, of course--we just hadn't yet started exploring them, and I associated missionary position with my sex life before Charles, when I was waiting for my top.)
He nodded. "But. . ." he said gravely, "more importantly, you're going to ride St. George."
I gave a bark of laughter. I hadn't known his Victorian reading was as extensive as mine. Suddenly I realized I was extremely warm between my thighs. "That's the kinkiest thing I think you've ever suggested," I said, as evenly as I could.My punishment was not to get a punishment, but instead, literally, to start learning to bottom from the top.