Toy Party Revisited

Hi everyone, it’s Zen!

Well, it’s been three months and no one has walked up and asked about the toy party or the blog or anything. Luckily, Father doesn’t use the Internet. I’ve still got my job. And I haven’t turned into a human lightning rod.

So I called Pete a few weeks after my meltdown and apologized for being so weird. He said he knew someone that I should meet and offered to pick me up. I made him promise that it wasn’t going to be some kind of girl-on-girl S&M or other scenario he had dreamed up. The time was set for 6:00 PM Friday.

“We’re going to see Fred.” Pete drove us to the far side of Lake Travis. I had never seen any of this and didn’t know it existed. High hills, dramatic valleys, the blue lake, boating and swimming and skiing. We soon arrived on a high ridge overlooking the whole of it, like a scene from a Western. Big Valley, maybe. Father loves Westerns.

Fred Reynolds introduced himself as a sexologist and didn’t blink when he said it. This unnerved me for a moment then I responded that I’m a teacher, to which Pete asked rhetorically, “Who teaches the teachers?” Fred asked him to go back to town to get Corona Extra and a can of whipped cream. Pete giggled as he left. I wasn’t sure whether to be concerned.

We sat on the front porch, gazing across the valley below. Fred didn’t say a word. I didn’t know what to say. I had never met a sexologist before. What was I supposed to do, tell him that I don’t know anything about sex? I tried not to stare at him. He seemed so relaxed and in the moment that soon I started to feel more at ease.

“I kissed a girl. Well, actually, she kept kissing me. But I didn’t mind.” Fred said nothing. “Her name was Jane. I didn’t even know her.” Fred seemed to be focused on something in the distance.”We were at a party and she used a dildo on me.” He looked down for a moment, then back toward the lake.

“I’ve never had sex before.” This got Fred’s attention, shifting in his chair slightly to turn toward me. “Really? How do you define sex?”

I was stumped. I had never thought about this question before. What is sex? Father always talked about how bad sex is for pretty much everyone except babies ‘cuz that’s what gets ’em born. Besides the regular stuff, there’s also fornication, prostitution, masturbation, bestiality, homosexuality… What kind of sex is the “right” kind? What do I say?

As if reading my mind, Fred spoke up. “‘Sex’ is a blanket term, the way it’s commonly used. We refer to anything that even hints of eroticism as sexual in nature. At the core, ‘sex’ just means gender, and humans participate in ‘sexual reproduction’ which just means that a member of each gender is required for procreation. However, the meaning of the word has been expanded to also include how we think about it.

“In most species, sex is sort of automatic. You know, you’ve seen dogs and maybe horses or sheep or something, right?” How did he know I am from farm country? “They know what to do when the time is right but they don’t think about it the way we do. Dolphins and bonobos are like us in that they recognize themselves as sexual beings. Humans and dolphins and bonobos can pursue sexual experiences independently of pure instinct. We can actually enjoy it.”

Fred stood and announced that the beer had arrived. Though I hadn’t seen or heard his truck pull up, Pete was handing me a cold Corona. “Townsend was just telling me how sex means something different to each individual, and I was telling her about sexual self-awareness in higher mammals.”

Pete lit one of his funny cigarettes and said between puffs, “I used to think there was something wrong with me for liking all the things I do. Somewhere, somehow, somebody always has a problem with one thing or another and that makes it hard to talk about anything at all.” Fred asked if it was easy for me to talk about my sexuality. Deer in headlights.

“Zen writes a column for Sandra.” “Ah,” Fred nodded knowingly. Dammit, Peter, shut up. “Yeah, she’s a real pro. S&M parties, swinger orgies, sex toys, Zen does it all.” Shut up, asshole! “Why, just the other day she had a romp with a hot Scandanavian airline stewardess!” My beer was getting low quickly.

Fred resumed his gaze over the valley as Pete distributed more cerveza. “There is no right or wrong in sex. Right and wrong are moral or ethical judgments on behavior. It’s your intent that determines that. But how you feel and think about sex is entirely up to you and no one else, and there is never a right or wrong way to feel or think about anything.”

Pete leaned in and asked, “Do you feel OK about Jane?” I nodded and said that Jane probably feels OK too. “And did either of you do anything wrong?” I said no right away though my mind was still looking for a plausible reason to condemn what happened that day. I’m sure Father could have found something negative to say about it but strangely I could not. The sun was winking out on the horizon in the most spectacular display I have ever witnessed.

Fred began talking about the history of Lago Vista and its airport and the lake and about a lover who was a great-great-great-something to a man named Hornsby that performed the original survey of Austin and the Capitol, and how his name is associated with a leg of the Colorado River further south where he was granted “a league and a labor” of land, a measurement that apparently only Texans understand.

The evening passed quickly into night. Stars were everywhere. Fred asked Pete if he had remembered the Cool Whip, to which Pete responded with his signature cackle. I wasn’t sure what would happen next so I excused myself and found a bathroom, only to return to find these two supposedly mature gentlemen spraying handfuls of the white foam and clapping them together, laughing hysterically as the goo splattered. Boys.

I thought of my kids at school. Then I thought about them having to figure all of this stuff out too someday, just like me and pretty much everyone that ever lived.

“Who teaches the teachers?” Pete’s words stuck in my mind. It finally hit me: We’re all teachers.

I’ve got a lot to learn.

(Zen here, almost a year later. I saw this fantastic article on Alternet today and just had to link it here. It says what Fred was telling me that evening from the persepctive a young man about my age. Listen up, everyone – you’re not alone.)


Toy Party Redux

Hey y’all, it’s Zen.

Well, I really stepped in it now. Father is going to kill me and so is God. I’m done. Toast. History. And I didn’t even make it to 25!

I keep thinking about the toy party last weekend at Zora’s house. My mind has been there ever since, floating like a butterfly around the rooms and halls and yard, flitting from shiny eggs to blooming flowers then into the mystical massage suite, bathed in an odd golden light that seems to emanate from the walls.

Pete seems to know when to find me. He called this morning. I couldn’t bear to tell him what happened over the phone because I couldn’t frog his arm if he started laughing so I asked if we could get together. He agreed and we met at the place downtown on 6th with all the guitars on the wall.

“So, how was it?” Pete had moved us outside where it was quieter and he could smoke. He had just lit one of his pot cigarettes and sucked the dense smoke up his nose. Sexy, in a bad-boy sort of way.

“Work’s been fine, the kids are all happy, Father and the family are doing well.” Then I remembered that I had posted the whole thing here right after it happened. Duh – this is Pete’s Website! Of course he saw it already.

“Oh, that.” “Yes, that. How was your first full-on lesbian experience?” I couldn’t breathe for a minute as I realized what I had done by posting about the party. I just told everyone in the world that I got laid by a girl. OMG. And it was my first time. OMG. And now I’m officially “out” and I can’t take it back. OMG. I started to hyperventilate.

A small crowd began to form around us as Pete walked me around and had me flap my arms. “She just had her first lesbian fling,” Pete announced to everyone. The resulting smiles and pats on the shoulder and murmurs of understanding from the throng was like something out of a Mel Brooks movie. A girl in a Star Trek t-shirt kissed me on the cheek.

We sat down once I could breathe again. “That good, eh?” I wanted to hit him but didn’t. “Oh, Pete, what have I done? I didn’t know that was going to happen.” “Did she rape you?” I began to hyperventilate again. I hadn’t even thought of that. Star Trek girl had lingered nearby and was inching toward our barstools.

“I’ve got to get out of here! Everyone is looking at me.” Pete walked me down the stairs to my car. As I fumbled for my keys my phone buzzed that a new e-mail had arrived. It was Sandra from the underground sex magazine and she wanted me to do a review of the Njoy toy that Jane liked so much. I began realize just how far out of my depth I am in all of this.

“Call me tomorrow,” Pete said with a reassuring hug. I don’t remember driving home but I’m here.

So I had to post this right away because, well, now everyone knows anyway. I’ve got a lot to think about. Has anyone else ever been through anything like this?


Toy Party

NJoy Pure Wand

Hey, it’s Zen.

Some of the women were talking the other day in the teacher’s lounge at school. One was telling about this party she went to with her sister. I came in late and couldn’t hear much of what she said but the others seemed really interested. I finally got to ask Louisa, a native Mainer, about it later and she said it was a “tow-ee party” for progressive women and gave me the card of the lady who organized it. I was intrigued because I’ve always been forward-thinking and interested in politics.

I called the number on the card and spoke to Zora, a really sweet lady who seemed to understand my desire for change and enjoying better times. She said that the best way to get involved was to host the party myself, that seeing my friend’s reactions and hearing their comments would help me understand both them and myself more, and that being in the company of other women on the path of discovery would be enlightening. I was all ready to go except for one problem: my little apartment on the east side of Austin won’t hold more than three people without requiring awkward physical contact, so Zora said she would have it at her house if I’d arrange to get several friends to come with me. I readily agreed and couldn’t wait to get involved in local activism.

Father always said that to serve the community is to do God’s work, and now it was my time to share some of what I learned in Moralton. He would be so proud of me! And so I set to work devising a list of people to invite. I mentioned it to a few of the other teachers but none of them seemed interested, as if they had never voted before. One even asked if I really knew what kind of party it would be and I said yes, it was a ladies social. Silly goose.

Seeing that the teachers didn’t want to get involved, I thought of my neighbors next. There’s Cindy but I would be so embarassed if I invited her and she turned out to really be a he, so strike that one. There’s Jeanine but she never comes out of her apartment. April, the single mother of six, is always busy. Carmen, Sandy, Bev – all elderly. Pete is a guy. My mom and her sis live too far away, in Statesota. This is hard. Then I remembered the girls from the bar and our girl’s night out – they would be perfect!

I called Brenda and told her what was going on, and she said she would get the others together plus a few more she knew. This was great! I gave her the time and place and told her to bring some alcohol to help everyone speak their mind. We were going to change some things, by golly!

Zora’s house off Mopac is stunning. Set back from the street and shrouded by huge trees, it feels like an estate in the middle of town. Squirrels scampered around the yard as the participants assembled on the patio, waiting for everyone to arrive. We eventually made our way into the great room of the stately home, a hall lined with antiques and a massive dining table in the middle. On the table were place settings, finger foods, and a little box for each lady. A smaller table held several larger boxes and an Easter basket with some kind of shiny eggs.

Everyone introduced themselves after getting their drink of choice. Zora stood and thanked everyone for being there, then told the filthiest joke I’ve ever heard. The girls all howled. I turned red as a beet. I didn’t even get it, something about losing car keys in a woman’s cooch. Zora looked right at me, “I’m sorry, Miss Appleby. Have another drink.” I gulped my wine and poured another as she continued about how women have come a long way since the suffragists and how we are more in control of our lives and bodies than ever before. Already feeling the chardonnay, I shouted, “Hear, hear!” The others babbled their agreement.

“That was a pretty ex-pan-sive joke, so we’re going to start things out in a b-i-g way,” Zora intoned with an exaggerated Texas drawl. She reached into the biggest box and pulled out a huge red rubber thing the size of a man’s arm. “Ooo, let me see that!” chimed quiet Carol. The other women roared as she carressed and kissed it. “We know something about you now, don’t we Carol!” Brenda can be so funny, though I wasn’t sure what she meant.

Then Zora produced “something for the rest of us,” a fake rubber penis! I mean, it was the right size and shape and even the right color! At least I think it was, from what I’ve seen. She talked about the material, how soft it is, and how to clean it. Then she passed it around and brought out another one, and another, and then a funny, long curved thing made of stainless steel with a bulge on either end. I really couldn’t tell what any of this had to do with politics but everyone was having fun handling the items and I was enjoying the wine and their energy.

After a few more minutes, Jane, the tall blonde airline stewardess seated next to me, said to come with her to the bathroom. We found one at the end of a hall, a large room with a Jacuzzi tub and a massage table with an array of oils nearby. “I’ll go first. Find me a wash cloth while I’m in there,” she said as she ducked into the stained glass stall. I laid it out along with a hand towel, then took my turn. When I came out she was naked on the massage table and was holding the stainless steel boomerang thing.

“I can’t wait to try this. Here, you hold it.” Jane took a bottle of oil and squirted some on her vulva, rubbing it around to wet the entire area. I was glad I had gotten another glass of wine before we left the table and downed it in one motion. I wasn’t sure if Jane was drunk or just being wild. “What do you want me to do with it?” “Give me the big end,” she moaned as she tugged my hand toward her and slipped the thing inside her. Her hand guided mine in a slow, rhythmic motion. I somehow knew to continue after she let go. Jane began to squirm and sigh. At that moment I got it: This was a “toy” party, not the TEA party!

I froze in mid-stroke. Jane looked up and pulled me toward her, kissing me like a man. I had never had a girl’s tongue in my mouth before but it was nice, and she was delicious. Father’s face popped into my mind’s eye and I pulled back, his voice booming. Still with the silver toy inside her, Jane got off the table, undressed me, and helped me lie down. She got the oil and rubbed some on me like she had done to herself, then got on the table over me and leaned down for some more kissing. I wanted to run out screaming but couldn’t move a muscle. And her mouth was so warm and sweet.

I felt something between my legs, then some pressure, then something sliding into me. Oh my goodness! She had put the little end of the toy inside me! And she still had the big end inside her! Jane began to move up and back, slowly at first then faster, all the while kissing me and fondling my breasts. Before long, her movements were becoming more frenzied and it was beginning to hurt a little. She stopped, sat up, and manuevered herself so that the toy went as far inside both of us as it could go. Then she began rubbing both our vulvas at the same time, slowly moving the silver toy up and back with her body.

I was still frozen in place and looking up into her eyes as the first wave came crashing in. Jane began screaming just as I felt my teeth and fists and eyes clench from the growing discomfort inside me. As the sensation increased I got the urge to both push and contract at the same time and that’s exactly what happened, but I couldn’t control it. I realized that the same thing was happening to Jane. We were having simultaneous orgasms!

Just like last time (my first time), I couldn’t move for several minutes. Jane collapsed on top of me, purring and licking my neck. The toy had popped out of me at some point but I could tell it was still in her. My insides felt like they were on fire. I had forgotten all about the party and the other women there, and really wasn’t even sure where I was. Jane finally got up and helped me to my feet, kissed me deeply, then she leaned me over the table and entered me with the toy from behind. She began slowly again, moving faster and deeper as the tension built up anew. I could feel the pulsing in my vagina strengthen dramatically when she slid her finger into my ass. My mind screamed that I should run away but for some unknown reason I pushed back towards her to get the finger deeper, which quickly led to an even bigger orgasm. Still bent over, I was breathless and shaky and more than a little dizzy as she licked me clean. Jane suggested we get back before anyone noticed us missing. We cleaned up, got dressed, and kissed again. I stared at her behind as we walked, thinking about how she tasted and wondered if she tasted the same everywhere.

I don’t know how long we were gone but no one seemed to notice our return. And I don’t know how much longer I stayed before slipping the wine bottle into my purse and making a polite exit. Everyone called out their goodbyes except Jane, who peered up at me and teased her lip with her teeth. I felt like I should have kissed her or left my number or something. And I still don’t know what the rest of the party was like since we missed most of it.

With just me and the purloined wine in my apartment, listening to School of Seven Bells, I reflected on what had happened this night. I’m pretty sure I had sex this time, though I’m not sure exactly how to categorize it. But I’m still a virgin because it wasn’t really sex because it wasn’t an actual penis, right? I mean, it felt like a penis (I think) and Jane fucked me (I think) but she’s a girl and we didn’t do anything lesbian, I don’t think.

Did we?


S&M Party !!!!


Hey, it’s Zen!

I’m finally getting around to posting about the S&M party. I turned the story in to Sandra at the underground mag and she loved it. But I’m not going to post it here; instead, I’ll tell you how it went.

So Pete showed up at my place about 6:00 that evening; he had already picked up Paige on the way. His truck is huge and luxurious and Paige and I sat in the back so we could girl-talk. He had set up a mini-bar to help us get relaxed on the way. Pete doesn’t drink and drive, mind you – it was just for Paige and me. He kept repeating that I would likely be the only virgin there and thought that was really funny.

After riding for what seemed like a long time I finally asked where we were going. Pete said, “Houston.” After several drinks and many more miles we arrived at a nice house somewhere in the burbs. It seemed a little small for the number of people expected to attend. It turned out to be the home of the local S&M club president, Bob, and his wife, Margaret. We introduced ourselves around; many there were using obviously fake names, like Bilbo Baggins and Maid Marion. But everyone was nice and we had a good time talking. Pete seemed to know them all.

About 9:00 it was time to get things rolling. We all piled back into our vehicles and followed Bob and Margaret to a nearby property with this huge barn. There were hay bales and a tractor and other farm things around. Pete joked that Bob had been “getting the livestock ready for this all afternoon” and I nearly had a panic attack remembering Gene and the sheep. Asshole. Pete, I mean. Gene too. Anyway, inside the barn was a large open area with rows of tables and chairs to the left and some tables with fewer chairs on the right. About 40 couples were there, some seated and others milling around to visit. Once my eyes focused better I saw the main attraction: Several large contraptions in the middle floor that looked like things from a medieval dungeon, along with benches and tables and A-frames, all with straps on the ends and sides. I saw some things like this on a Website one time at Statesota U but it was just for some models in underwear. This was different.

Pete sat us with Bob and Margaret. She was particularly interested in Paige for some reason, and at one point leaned in and kissed her. Paige was frozen and didn’t know what to do but recovered quickly and smiled sweetly. “Want to walk around?” Margaret towered over us in the dim light as she stood up. She had removed her outer clothing to reveal a leather bustier and leather thong and enormous heels. We made our way around the room, stopping to greet everyone.

Before long, several people had assembled in the middle of the space and were engaging in various activities. You have to read the underground mag to find out what – the details are in there. I was asked several times to participate. Mostly I was flattered and just said no, but I admit there was one activity I couldn’t stop thinking about. There was a couple using this odd, padded table and she was bent over it, legs apart, with her hands and ankles secured by buckle-type leather straps attached to the sides. This girl was completely vulnerable to whatever her partner had in mind. I couldn’t imagine what might happen.

Paige allowed herself to be tied up in an “exhibition.” She was completely naked, with ropes all over her. She is so beautiful. And brave. The whole process took a couple of hours but she seemed to enjoy every minute. I stayed close by so she could still see me and feel safe. I tried to not appear over-interested in the table couple. But then table guy did something that made me feel oddly ticklish inside. He had some sort of medical device that looked like the pump-up part of a blood pressure cuff on one end and a balloon on the other. The balloon end went in her rear and he proceeded to pump it up, slowly, until her cornhole was stretched as big as a beer can! I learned before we got there that everyone has a “safe word” which is supposed to stop any unwanted or uncomfortable action immediately but this girl never said anything at all. She loved it.

Pete seemed right at home, floating around the room and interacting but not participating in any of the activities, something that somehow surprised me. I thought he would be running around nude, trying every whip and chain in the place.  When it was time to go home, Margaret escorted us to Pete’s truck. “I noticed you watching the anal couple,” she said, stroking Paige’s and my breasts simultaneously. “I’d love to introduce you to it.” I just stared at her, trying to imagine that huge balloon in my tiny butt, then Paige moved in and kissed Margaret like a man kisses his wife. “Thank you,” Paige said softly. We climbed in the truck and left.

No one said a word until we were nearly back in Austin. Paige said she wanted a taco and Pete cracked up laughing. (Apparently “taco” means a girl’s vulva to him.) Taco Bell is always open here and luckily there was no other customers to hear the next two hours of frenetic sex talk. Pete couldn’t keep up, his head bobbing back and forth like that of a tennis aficionado. Paige kept saying she had a pent-up orgasm the size of Houston that she needed to release, and I tried to recap virtually everything I saw there – except the table couple. Pete picked up on this and said, “You girls know I never lost sight of either of you all night. You could have gotten your pooper stretched if you really wanted, Zen.” “I know, Pete. You’re a gem.” I wanted him to know that I could have never even gone there without someone to protect me. Paige agreed.

So, everything worked out great! As a rickety Part II to my story about How I Met Pete, this post marks a happy realization for me. Now I know that Pete will look out for me as I learn about new things. We talked about that night a few days later. He said he wished I had gotten naked and joined the fun. He pointed out that he wouldn’t have let me get raped or anything, and that there was really only one “scene” that even could have been construed as overtly sexual in nature, the table couple that I had been so unable to ignore. And he was right – it was the only activity I saw that featured penetration of any sort.

And I can’t stop thinking about it.



Many people these days self-identify as “poly” – shorthand for their personal views on sexual exclusivity in relationships, i.e. they do not choose to practice monogamy, ostensibly without moral or ethical dilemma. While this may seem like flimsy justification of one’s desire to be promiscuous without consequences (and sometimes is), there are those for which polyamory is simply their natural state of being.



Not to be confused with polygamy, or marriage to multiple individuals, most polyamorous relationships are intended to be long-term. The label of polyamorist does not necessarily denote sexual involvement with all participants though sex is often a feature of these relationships. A collection of individuals involved in a polyamorous scenario can be thought of as forming a “grid” or “constellation.”

Labels like monogamy and polygamy are not helpful in describing polyamory. Both of these terms imply both marriage and sexual activity as preconditions, though monogamy is often used in lieu of “sexual exclusivity within a single relationship regardless of marital status.” Polygamy has subdivisions derived from the sex of the individual and the gamy status of their spouse(s), further compounding the implications of the words. Polygamists are necessarily polyamorists, though polyamorists need not be married. And a “monoamorist” might also be unmarried despite being in an exclusive relationship with another individual, who in fact could also be a polyamorist and/or polygamist.

There are at least three roles in any polyamorous grid. First is the polyamorist, the person with more than one lover. “Primary” refers to this person’s main relationship, whether it be a spouse or lover. Then there is the role of each of the Primary’s other lovers, “Peers” being a suitably egalitarian term. Primaries typically occupy the top spot of a grid, though Peers can also be Primaries in their own grids.

Monoamsrists typically regard polyamorists as cheaters despite the consent of each person in the poly grid. These diametrically opposed views enshrine or eschew several social constructs associated with “romantic” relationships. Two oft-cited aspects of polyamory are its moral and ethical considerations.



A moral person is considered one who closely follows the social precepts of his community, including the person’s ability to distinguish between right and wrong. Right and wrong are in themselves moral judgments that precipitate moral behavior.

Morals are values overlaid onto us by others in our circle, offering a pathway to minimizing conflict. Our first encounter with morals is usually in the context of family, where our first socialization happens. Then there are impositions made on us by political or social policies that may or may not reflect our true sentiment on a given issue, yet these sometimes emerge as expectations regarding our individual behavior.

Along the way we may also learn of religious morals, lessons to help the pious through some of life’s pitfalls. Religious morals can be among the most extreme and potentially dangerous. One example is the Ten Commandments of Judaism and Christianity, laudable basic rules for getting along with others. A different example of morality can be seen in some interpretations of the Quran that purport to enforce imposition of Islam on everyone through any means necessary, including methods considered repugnant and immoral by other religions. Countless battles have been fought over these moral convictions and such conflicts still exist today, senseless wars for no other reason than to assert dominance over the thoughts of individuals that do not agree with their own.

The dangerous thing about morals is following them without regard for one’s own nature. Morals themselves are somewhat immoral, considering that their underlying purpose to is to exert control of others through self-policing. “Follow these rules or something bad will happen.” We’ve all heard, whether in a joke or from a parent feigning shocked outrage, how masturbation is immoral and causes blindness or some other nonsense. Yet it is in the nature of all simians to masturbate and we still somehow to have good eyesight. How could such an arbitrary moral imperative work to our advantage? Someone else judging you for acting normally and naturally, or worse, feeling guilt over “immoral” thoughts or deeds,  is psychologically unhealthy. For a poly person, conflict with morality can lead to repression, and subsequently depression and its concomitant dysfunctions.



Can morals ever be useful to a polyamorist? Of course, when those morals are informed and guided by strong ethical character. Much of what is presented as morals is actually ethics swaddled in the guise of religious or spiritual memes. The Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” forms the basis of all ethical decisions. Recalling that morals partly reflect one’s interpretations of right and wrong, polyamorists are often considered immoral because their lifestyle does not agree with the values of some other person. But can a polyamorist be ethical?

Is a masturbating teen unethical? Of course not. Is it wrong to love someone in a way that isn’t in the role of parent or child or other family? Of course not – there would be far fewer people if it were wrong to love others. Is it wrong to love someone you aren’t married to, or to love someone who is married to another, or to love someone in addition to your spouse? Again, of course not. In the first instance, love presumably precedes marriage; in the second and third, how can people help how they feel? How does feeling love for another person make them wrong or guilty or even immoral?

Simply having feelings for another is not a bad thing, but how one reacts to those feelings can be subject to ethical considerations. Deciding how to proceed ethically balances the individual’s thought or desire against the impact of fulfillment – on themselves, on their loved ones, on others in general. The ethical decision usually favors the lowest negative impact while satisfying at least some element, even if only by entertaining a notion privately instead of doing something about it more publicly. Masturbation is therefore ethical, especially when compared to some other ways of relieving sexual tension.

An ethic is not sound if it relies on deceit as a prerequisite to fulfillment. A polyamorist who denies her feelings does herself a huge disservice by repressing her true nature. Likewise, one who keeps to herself the existence of multiple lovers does so at the expense of consent to the arrangement by the others, setting up potentially greater problems. To withhold such a large component of one’s personality is in itself a deceitful act, and the secret-keeper will never be fully content in any relationship. There is no ethical justification as all parties suffer in some way.

Successful, gratifying polyamory requires sharing some extra level of information about one’s feelings. Not everyone can abide the notion of not being “the only one” and feel rejected or slighted in some way when presented with a partner’s poly leanings. Not sharing enough information could result in having a partner that might otherwise be agreeable feeling left out. Too much information may cause feelings of inadequacy or incompetence. Balancing the truth of one’s existence with the feelings of others can create its own ethical dilemmas.


The Polyamorist

Many think of polyamorists as sex-crazed or insecure or addicted to love. This may be true in some instances, but the majority of poly folks focus on their partners holistically. Their relationships are in most respects normal and healthy, save the limitations imposed by time and locality. Some choose to live together as poly units to address these obstacles, and may even have children of partners living with them. In all cases, each participant is usually open about their love for others.

Troubled are those with poly leanings that cannot determine how to proceed ethically. “If I tell her she’ll dump me, and if I don’t she’ll catch me.” Keeping it to yourself would be deceitful, as would engaging in a clandestine relationship. The only ethical thing to do is decide how important it is to one’s well-being, and assuming it is critical, share that with the partners. The ones who cannot accept the distribution of feelings are are not likely to continue in the relationship, and even if they do there may be resentment.

But the polyamorist is not to blame for her feelings. It’s not a choice like dressing western or listening to rap or driving only blue cars. It’s a state of being, thinking lovingly of your special ones throughout the day, acting lovingly toward them when in their presence, caring for them lovingly in all things. If it were some sort of psychological condition or aberration, would not the polyamorous person fall in love with most everyone? There are mental disorders like that, but those don’t involve polyamory.

She is torn sometimes by the strength and depth of her feelings for her lovers. There are decisions about how to allocate time and resources. Time with one lover may need to be sacrificed for the benefit of another, like in the case of illness or injury or other major life event, or travel or holidays. Not all in the grid may be amenable to what they perceive as favoritism in such cases. She may also struggle with how much to share of her life with each lover, truly desiring to be completely open but unsure of their reactions.

She is not a slut and does not see herself this way. She may have many lovers and only have sex with one or a few of them or all of them, but these are her lovers exclusively. New individuals typically do not enter and exit; in fact, new lovers are seldom introduced into the grid if they’re not likely to be longer-term.

Chances are she’s neither insecure or love-starved, instead confident enough to be herself, with love in abundance. Having more than one lover does not mean she is not fulfilled by any one of them, or that they’re not good enough to be the “only one.” She feels attached to each one, perhaps more to some than others, but loves each one in whichever unique ways that develop with that individual. She is not obligated to take on multiple lovers, but desires and accepts each for who they are.


The Lovers

Inasmuch as polyamorists constitute a group with unusual characteristics, so do their lovers. These special people may be poly themselves, or might prefer to concentrate on one lover at a time, but in any case accept that they share someone with others that love her too, just as deeply, just as sincerely. These individuals can have and hold without barring the other half from their own fulfillment. To quote musicians .38 Special, “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go.”

There is something unique about each of the polyamorist’s lovers. Each offers something compelling, overlapping with others at times, widely differing in other ways: Personal tastes, areas of specialty, outlook on life, sexual proclivities, modes of expression. No one person can embody all things; accepting this truth is the first step toward understanding polyamory. One could argue that the polyamorist seeks to have more than they are entitled to, but what limits can there be on love? How much is too much? If it is an honest, healthy sentiment that forms of its own volition, should it reasonably be subject to arbitrary conditions?

A lover in a poly grid must accept the truths about the polyamorist and their other relationships, much as the polyamorist must accept this about themselves. However, the lover’s location in the poly grid and any relationship between other grid members may affect other aspects of the pairing. For a common example, a peer may not like one of others, either through some prior history or a perception of unsuitability for the lover they share. Another example involves one’s disapproval of activities their poly lover engages in when with another peer, such as drinking or drugs or skydiving or S&M. Or perhaps the lover questions the cleanliness or health or truthfulness or legal status of another grid member, all very valid concerns.

Overcoming the fear of losing the poly lover to someone else can be difficult to quell. But the polyamorist feels the same fear of loss with any of their lovers. The larger view is that a lover really shouldn’t fear this at all, considering that their poly lover chose them too and would not be in the relationship were it not for their desire to be there. Shucking the fear of loss removes one of the greatest obstacles to fully engaging and enjoying another person.

Competition with other lovers is seldom productive. So is criticizing them. Commiseration and being objectively supportive of the other lovers are productive efforts that can lead to deeper feelings of closeness and commitment. By projecting positivity toward the polyamorist’s lovers, one is also being good to the poly person, benefiting the entire grid. As memorialized by movie adventurers Bill & Ted, “Be excellent to each other.”


Polyamory in Practice

There is no standardized way of conducting polyamorous relationships, just as each conventional relationship may take any number of forms. A person may enter a relationship without their lifestyle changing significantly, or the new lover may bring a host of new activities and acquaintances.

One’s relationship status before acquiring the new lover has some bearing on how the new relationship might unfold. Being single with no other involvements may lead an individual to put more emotional energy into the new poly relationship. Already being in a relationship may create an atmosphere of increased relaxation, having an additional partner and their support. Either party may experience an increased desire to spend time with the new partner and sex may carry a higher level of priority, both normal aspects of new relationships.

Living situation also plays a role in integrating the new lover into one’s life. Someone who lives alone typically has little trouble hosting their lovers, while someone who co-habitates may have few opportunities to host. The length of time to be spent together can also affect the arrangements, like in the case of lovers that live in different cities. Planned activities may also dictate the arrangements, such as marathon sex or snow skiing or travel. Everyone in the poly grid can be affected when the polyamorist is absent or rearranges the schedule to fit circumstances.

Communication is the key to any relationship, and is even more important in polyamorous settings. All topics must always be on the table; uncomfortable topics likely carry more gravity than average and should be fully explored. Without adequate communication many potential pitfalls open up, such as bent relationship rules, boundary infringements, missed dates, broken promises.


An Open Letter to My Lovers – Past, Present, and Future

I worked for two days on a post about polyamory and realized that it really wasn’t reflecting what I wanted to say. (For the unfamiliar, being “poly” refers to a lifestyle in which a person may be in distinctively separate loving relationships with more than one person.) Instead, this open letter to you contains what I really need to communicate. It isn’t a set of expectations or rules. It is the best explanation I can manage, lovingly written especially for you.

Whether past, present, or future, know that I am polyamorous. It doesn’t mean you mean any less to me than another, or that you occupy a smaller part of my mind or heart. It does mean that I am at my most content and peaceful when expressing this aspect of myself. This state is the one in which I thrive. I want you to thrive also.

Realizing that I am a polyamorist did not arise from a desire to make a statement or adopt a new practice. It has taken many years of introspection to reach this level of understanding and acceptance of myself. It’s not something I set out to acquire or develop, nor is it an outgrowth of some prior heartbreak or disappointment. It is simply my default state to feel and give love, and this manifests in different ways.


To Lover Past

It is informative to hear how someone speaks of former lovers (if it all). Most paint unnecessarily negative images of their exes, presumably as justification for parting from them, but I try not to do this. Of course, if a description is unvarnished, tell it that way. You want me to speak fairly about you, right? I always try to. I hope you respect me enough to do this too.

I may still think about you and sometimes miss our time together, though I always come back to the same conclusion: Whatever separated us did in fact occur, and this is how things are now. We might even encounter each other again someday, and I sure wouldn’t want to be hesitant about seeing you. But if we were supposed to be together we probably still would be, so neither of us should dwell in the past.

Yes, there’s been others since you. You know I’m not the “can’t live without you” type, and no one since then was intended to replace you or be a better version of who I thought you should be. What we had was special but “special” can also be found with other people. I truly hope you have “special” again.

Do I miss sex with you? Maybe, sometimes – do you? Do I think about you when I have sex? Maybe, though sex is so much more than simple mental imagery or physical contact or technique. For me, how I feel about a lover is just as important as any other characteristic of the experience. I always want to feel aroused and stimulated when I think of you, no matter our past.

We are and ever will be part of each other. I would no sooner wish harm on you than on myself. We were lovers, after all. I sincerely apologize if my lack of understanding about myself was responsible for any discomfort or unpleasantness.


To Lover Present

First, let me clear up some things. I am “straight” in sexual terms, but I appreciate all orientations, not seeing gender as much of a condition as it is an identity. Same-sex play does not bother me though I have never sought it. I have no particular kinks or perversions but I appreciate them all on some level and may even dabble from time to time. Likewise, I am not in any way uptight about your orientation or proclivities. We can’t help who we are. I accept you.

I make no claim over you. I will never try to run your life, say who you can see, spy on or judge you. This doesn’t mean that I won’t be helpful or caring or concerned or involved; quite the contrary. I will tend to fill any role that I reasonably can, as best I can, unless it’s improper or unwanted. Your health and success and happiness in life are important to me. I am your lover.

I’m not a pushover, though. I’m pretty stubborn but I will always listen to you and give honest opinions – and maybe advice and aid, if warranted. But it may not always agree with what you want or think. Please don’t be mad at me when I put your best interests first. Understand, I only want the best for you.

Also, I do not make promises that I cannot or do not intend to keep. I hope for the same from you. Over time, our commitments to each other are what will keep us together and happy. Successfully executed commitments build trust and strengthen our bonds.

No matter where we are in the universe, understand that we have the relationship we do because it is our will, individually and together. We are only bound as strongly as we choose to be. Know that you would not be in my constellation were you not a bright star. I want you.


Lover Future

We haven’t met but please allow me to extend my warmest greetings. I don’t know where we’ll meet, though we’ll both be surprised that we encountered each other in that setting. We’ll probably flirt and tease a bit, drawn into each others eyes. Soon we will share ourselves fully.

I believe that love finds us; to go looking for it is usually fruitless. We won’t be looking for each other, and chances are you weren’t considering a poly relationship. But find each other we will, and I hope you will be open-minded when that time comes.

I won’t fill your head with false images or try to convince you that anything will be other than the best we can make it. All I can offer you is me, myself, my love. That I share my attentions with others is not a shortcoming on your part, or on mine. It is who I am. You will always get my best.




How I Met Pete

I got my first assignment for my new gig as a cub reporter for the underground magazine!

Pete bought me drinks the other night and introduced me to Paige. She’s curious about S&M and apparently wants to be tied up with rope. Anyway, they invited me to come with them to a special adult party next weekend. Paige has never been to one either so we though it would be safer for us two girls to go together, if we can keep a leash on Pete. Sandra says it’s the perfect topic for me to write a story about. The article should be ready by the end of the month!

So at school today I started thinking about the party and how things might go. All this set me thinking about Pete and whether he would be a good chaperone or disappear about the time Paige and me are being asked whether we would like to try pegging. (I don’t know what pegging is yet but I intend to learn about it at the party.) I really do want to believe that he wouldn’t let us get into any trouble but I just can’t be sure, so I thought I’d tell you about how I met Pete and get your feedback.

When I moved here from Moralton I met Dan (I told you about him earlier). A few weeks after that the weather had turned nice so I went to the neighborhood pool to get some sun. It was about 4:00 in the afternoon on a Saturday so there were a few other people there. I commandeered a spot away from everyone else so I wouldn’t be in their way. An attractive man with dark sunglasses and a golf cap got up from his seat near a group of exuberant adolescents and moved to a chair near mine. He was probably twice my age but seemed OK.

“Hi, I’m Pete. I notice you picked a place far away from all those noisy kids. Getting away from your own kids while you’ve got the chance?” “Yes! You don’t know how good it can be when they’re not around.” Pete cocked his head a little as I continued, “But it’s OK. I mean, I have to watch the little devils during the day until they go home to their daddies but they know I love them and they always want to see me again the next day.” His expression changed again.

“You seem awful young to have so many kids with so many dads. Are you from Arkansas, by any chance?” He must of noticed my mid-west accent. “No, I’m from Statesota, one state up and one to the left on the map. But I have lots of cousins in Harrison!” Pete leaned back in his chair, lit a foul-smelling cigarette, took a deep draw and whispered, “I see. All your kids are in Austin, right?” I shot back, “Of course, silly! It would be hard to have them spread all over the place and see them every day.”

I tried to flip onto my belly and nearly fell off the folding beach chair; somehow Pete was able to move 10 feet and catch me before I landed face-first. His were the strongest yet gentlest hands I’ve ever felt, smooth palms with short, manicured nails and another quality I’m not familiar with that left me feeling, well, aware of my body. I was surprised when the instinct to wriggle free from his arms did not materialize. I felt like a lamb in the shepherd’s protective embrace. Pete allowed his hands to follow the curves of my back and hips as he set me on the ground, feet coming to rest on the warm concrete with no sensation of my own weight.

“I’m OK,” lingering in the spot he had placed me. Pete picked up his still-burning pot cigarette and gestured my direction, “After that, you probably need this more than I. Your kid situation must be tough.” I agreed and told him that I had to try really hard to get a roomful before I was too old or else I might never get to have any kids of my own. “Gotta go.” Pete politely bowed and disappeared. I wondered if he lived in the building or just knew someone there and whether I would see him again, though I wasn’t sure why it mattered.

Three weeks later I was so bored that I decided to get out and go drive around. I ended up in a Mexican restaurant that had a guy playing guitar and singing. Next to me was a group of lively women chattering about this Meet-Up group they had learned about and how exciting it was. They appeared to be young professionals, like me. I scooted over in my booth to hear what they were saying. One of the ladies noticed and asked me to join them, to which I readily agreed. Introductions were made all around. I just made some new friends!

“It’s all about the women. Any men that might be there aren’t in it for themselves, they’re only there to support the women in OM-ing.” Aha, something I knew about – yoga! “So it’s like yoga, and the guys are just there to help get you in the right position?” One girl spewed her draft beer across the table, then quiet Carol spoke up from her corner. “The guys probably have to pay to be there. Or at least they should,” evoking a round of giggles from the others. “Come with us,” implored fire-haired Brenda to the enthusiastic agreement of the rest. It was only 6:30 and I was ready for something different.

The six of us piled into a mini-van bearing obvious signs of young passengers. “You have kids?” Brenda wanted to know. “Yes, more than I need.” The other girls laughed and started talking about all the stress in their lives, perpetrated by the usual suspects: the kids, the husband/boyfriend, work or school, traffic, and how they never get time for themselves. I commented that this event, made for busy women like us, seemed just the ticket to getting a good workout and some quiet reflection time and did I ever need a good stretching. Each nodded in a knowing way.

Soon we arrived at a nondescript gray building in a quiet neighborhood. Inside, makeshift partitions with yoga mats and pillows had been set up. Several women were talking to our hosts, a nice-looking fellow and a woman that I guessed to be his wife. The meeting was called to order and the couple explained how things would work. We would do a few group exercises then be paired up with an OM practitioner that would be our guide for this night. So far so good.

The exercises were relaxing. The hostess invited everyone to enter one of the few partitions but to be patient as there were more attendees than usual. The first group of women went in and after a few minutes one emitted several high-pitched yelps that I recognized immediately – pain. The others made sounds too, and Brenda’s shrill shrieks were especially unsettling. After about 15 minutes each one emerged looking somewhat drained. Why would they want to be hurt? Is this S&M? A memory of Mom pinching my ear in church surfaced.

I decided to go next and entered one of the partitions. There were the mats and pillows that we saw earlier and one other thing: Pete, the guy from the pool! He seemed surprised to see me but was warm and welcoming. “What do we do? Is it a massage?” “Yes, a massage. Just take off your pants and lie down.” I knew Pete was just kidding but it was a strange request, so I said no thanks and went into the next station where a woman of about 35 was waiting. We locked eyes. “Hi,” she said, standing to greet me. She removed my jeans and panties before I was really aware of what was happening. “Can I take off my top too?” I still don’t know why I asked that. She expertly liberated me from the confines of my remaining garments and motioned for me to recline on the mat. It made me nervous to be completely naked with no more than thin white sheets hanging on poles to protect my modesty.

She caressed my body and legs for a few moments then placed her palm directly on my vulva. No one had ever touched me there, not even the doctor. I even try not to touch myself there because I can never forget all the lessons Father taught me about such things. Nearby, the women in the other stations were beginning to make sounds like the first group did. After rubbing the outside for awhile she slid a finger inside me. Did she simply slip, was it an accident? Before I could decide whether to react or just pretend it didn’t happen she did it again. I opened my mouth to tell her to stop but nothing came out.

Before long, every muscle in my body had tightened up, teeth clenched, fists balled, and I was trying not to scream at the top of my lungs. It must have gone on for 10 minutes. It was like being tickle-tortured the way my brother Ronnie liked to do when we were little. I was sweating and breathing in short gasps when she found mercy and the tickling finally ended. It took five minutes to be able to move again. I thought about how I didn’t even know her name. I hastily put my clothes on and headed for the door. My legs were very wobbly and weak. Once outside, I leaned against the building to steady myself before reconnecting with my new friends.

Pete appeared next to me; I’m not sure how long he was standing there. He held out his arm, which I took without thought, and led me to his vehicle. He held my hand as we drove, both silent, pulling into a neighborhood bar off Lamar. I was still visibly unsettled when Pete set a glass of wine on the table.

“I take it that’s the first time for you. It’s OK, lots of women never make it there their whole lives. Even with as many kids as you.” My mouth wouldn’t quite move yet so I tilted my head back and poured the wine down. Pete’s eyes grew bigger as the glass emptied. “Another?” I just stared as he rose to visit the bartender again. I think this was repeated three times. Pete offered me a Winston. “I don’t smoke,” pushing back the pack. “Really? Seems you’re smoking to me…” I began to realize that Pete had done to Brenda what that woman did to me, and that Pete was originally going to do it to me, and that he knew what was going with me while he was doing it to Brenda, and that he must do this often and be damn good at it if women come to him to get it.

Pete explained how an orgasm can reach a plateau and be held there, keeping the woman in a holding pattern like a plane circling the airport. Orgasm? That’s what that was? Did I just have sex? With another girl? He went on, saying that the vast majority of women never experience what he and his friends do and how their lives are surely not as complete without it. A memory popped in my head of listening to a phone call when I was about 8, eavesdropping on a conversation between Mom and her younger sister. Mom was complaining that Father had never given her an orgasm despite all the things she did to make sure he got one, unmentionable things the other church ladies would be highly embarrassed and offended by. Now I understand why men and women staying in the same bed at night is such a big deal – nobody can see what you’re doing and you can do anything you want, like tickle-torturing one another.

There is little memory of much else that happened that night; the orgasm and the wine left me completely disconnected from critical thought or concern for what was happening. Pete eventually led me back to his truck and drove me home. Somehow he already knew which apartment is mine because he asked my neighbor Cindy if she could get us in but I managed to produce my own key. She was acting funny, sort of chuckling and grinning at him. Once inside, Pete straightened my bed, fluffed the pillow, and turned back the sheets. After undressing me he made sure I was tucked in, softly kissing my forehead as he whispered, “I will be your guide, Zen.” He then left, locking the door behind him.

I didn’t wake up until 2:30 Sunday afternoon and had missed morning church services for the first time in my life. Looking back, the whole evening was all sort of surreal, like I was watching a movie, except for the soreness in my abs that reminded me of the reality of the previous night’s experience. I knew somehow my life is different now, that I’m different now. I feel more confident and less concerned about what people are thinking. I have knowledge of something magical that I didn’t know humans could do. I now have knowledge of sex, the forbidden fruit. Father always told me that only my husband can know me in that way, but somehow a woman I’d never met knew this and other things about me that even I didn’t know. And Pete knows about me too. It didn’t even occur to me until this moment that I had been completely nude in front of him the night before.

I had made my first real friend in Austin, a friend I feel safe with and who knows all about this incredible new world I discovered that night: Peter Goerth. He gave me the first nickname I’ve ever liked, Zen. He said he would take care of me, though he has no obligation to do so. A mature man with vast experience making women feel that way, but it’s OK that he knows this about me. I am so in awe of him.

So, now I’ve told you how I met Pete and lots of other stuff about him since then. What do you think – can I trust him to look out for me and Paige at the S&M party?


I’m Gonna Be A Writer!

Hey, it’s Zen.

Can you believe it’s already February? It was so busy over the holidays! I flew home to Moralton to see Father, Mom, and Ronnie. It snowed something fierce and we all got trapped in the house for three days with nothing to do but talk about the Bible and play the worn-out board games in the basement. I thought leaving home would mean never eating baloney and Velveeta on Ritz crackers ever again.

Ronnie has a girlfriend now, the daughter of one of Father’s parish members. Brenda is really sweet but really naive. And she’s a little homely, if I might say – not ugly or anything, but she has a sort of bovine look about her. Quiet. Big breasts. Docile. Brenda is nice and everything but I hope Ronnie doesn’t have to marry her someday ‘cuz her brother grabbed my behind one day at school when we were 12 and he still gives me the iggy-giggys.

So, now I’m back in Texas and back in teacher mode. Pete asked me to meet him at a bar on 6th Street the other night and I hastily agreed, itching to confront him about his recent deceit about the swinger’s party. It was a great club, the upstairs branch of a well-known place downstairs. It has a fantastic open patio with a view, classic Gibson guitars on the walls, and a stage for performers. It was a Tuesday night, early enough that the room was sparsely occupied. We seemed to have the place to ourselves.

We sat at a small table in a very inviting and elegant setting that seemed out of place in a bar. I settled into my velvet-lined high-back Queen Anne wing chair with my wine and began to take in the ambiance. Pete excused himself before I could bring up my frustration with him. Before long, he returned with a svelte, middle-aged woman on his arm, laughing and grinning like the Cheshire Cat. I should have known he was up to something.

He introduced me to Sandra, the editor of a local “underground” magazine. I had never heard of underground publications and didn’t really understand the term, visualizing some sort of squinting mole-people in dark caves with printing presses. She chatted excitedly with Pete about the success of her little local mag, its recent recognition on a major Internet blog, and a connection she had forged with the local burlesque community. Burlesque community? Sandra was one of the most sophisticated women I’ve met since moving here. I couldn’t wait to learn more about her.

I hadn’t noticed that the room had filled up by the time Pete left to get us another round of drinks. The crowd was noisy but tame, all in very high spirits. Several of the women were in ballroom-type dresses and spike heels with heavy makeup, and some of the men seemed over-dressed as well. I figured they had been in a church play or something and wanted to share a drink in the privacy of this wonderful room, somewhere their parish peers would never see them.

Our smalltalk was going well, learning basic things about each other. I was about to ask Sandra what her magazine was about when the lights dimmed and a beautiful brunette in a slinky dress took the stage. She announced herself and welcomed everyone to the night’s burlesque performance. Burlesque? Here? The audience became much more animated, and the seeming lack of setup for the show made it seem as if this was an event that just kind of happened, like a flash mob or something.

Pete returned and set a fresh glass of wine in front of me. I frogged him on the leg and said, “What did you get me into now, Peter?” He just cackled in that way he does, all the while pinching Sandra on the arm, side, and breasts. After a few minutes of banter the hostess introduced the first performer, who proceeded to dance and remove her clothes much to the delight and roar of the audience. Several more performers followed, including one that I absolutely fell in love with. I’ll tell you about her later.

So this is burlesque. I had heard of it before and thought it died out with Vaudeville. But apparently it’s alive and well in Austin. In all, about a dozen ladies of all shapes and sizes took the stage, the music played, and each stepped through her routine. Their costumes were wonderful, with a couple that were like something from a Fellini movie. A few women didn’t really take off much clothing but even the shy ones seemed quite receptive to the catcalls and whistles directed at them from the attentive audience. It was all very provocative and quite fun!

Once the show was over it was time to resume our conversation. I looked at Pete and said, “Thank you! I didn’t know about this.” Sandra chimed in that these are the sexiest ladies she’s ever known, unafraid to show themselves as they really are, pushing their personal boundaries beyond anywhere they’ve gone before. I nodded in agreement, though I knew I could never do it. The chardonnay was beginning to make itself felt.

“So, Pete. You really should have told me about that party before I committed to go. I was really embarrassed – I mean, those people were doing stuff in front of me that’s never supposed to be seen. You know I’m not a swinger, or at least I wasn’t until you let me become one.” “Oh really? You went to a swinger’s party? Did you have fun?” Sandra seemed intensely interested in my experience, but not at all interested in my beef with Pete.

I explained how it all happened and Pete’s duplicity and how he said I could have some space here to write about it and other relationship stuff. It’s a way to relieve some of the tension from teaching first-graders and talk about the frustration about not being able to find a suitable man. Sandra was intrigued and had Pete write on a napkin for her.

She explained that her underground magazine was targeted at people my age and made specifically for sexy adults in the Austin area. She had been thinking about devoting a page to articles about relationships and sexuality from the perspective of the young Austin professional, and now she was sure she wanted to do it. To Pete’s delight, Sandra excitedly ran through a list of topics that might be entertaining to the readership. He kept looking at me for some reaction but I didn’t understand most of what they were talking about. What’s a “furry?”

It was getting late and it was a Tuesday night and I had class in the morning so I said I needed to go home. Standing to make my bows, Sandra jumped up and said, “So you’ll do it?” “Do what?” I replied, clueless as to what she meant. “Be my new writer! It doesn’t really pay anything but it’s a great chance to be seen and meet new people like you.” I had never thought about writing in a publication, though I did write most of Father’s prayer guides and hymn lists and so forth. “OK?” I offered back, still unclear what she wants me to do. Pete cackled and writhed in his chair. I really don’t understand him sometimes.

I think I already know of some things I can write about. I can’t wait to start!


Butterfly Mandala


Hey, it’s Zen. I’m still figuring out how this blog stuff works and didn’t realize I hadn’t posted all the stuff Ive been writing. Sorry for these being out of sequence.


You may have noticed the beautiful butterfly mandala at the top of Pete’s blog, The Shaggist. I fell in love with this piece – a mirror image pair of wings with the most interesting coloration. Of course, it’s not a real butterfly, but a collage of pinkish lilies in an overlapping arrangement. I even made it the wallpaper on my computer so I wouldn’t have to keep going back to the Website where I found it.

I liked the mandala so much I printed out an extra large copy and hung it in my room at school. The kids all thought it was wonderful. We had Open House the other night and the little ones got to bring their parents to see the classroom and ask questions. Everything was going great until one mom lost her balance and fell backward onto a desk. Her husband helped her up but she was still kinda wheezing, like she was having an asthma attack. They left in a hurry and the rest of the night was uneventful.

Yesterday the principal called me to her office. I’ve never once been called to the the principal’s office, not even in Moralton. My teaching assistant said she would watch the class, so I hurried down the hallway stuffing the report cards I had been working on into my organizer. I arrived in the office just as a man I recognized as being on the school board was leaving. “Hello, Mr. Nicholson,” I beamed. Mr. Nicholson was one of the interviewers when I applied for my job here. He gazed at me with a look of puzzled bemusement. “Hello, Townsend.”

I had only had two encounters with Shirley Bell, the school principal, both times in passing. She scares the hell out of me. Seems the parent who had collapsed in my classroom at Open House saw something that greatly affected her, the butterfly mandala. “Yes, isn’t it great? I would have made a copy for her if I had known it was so powerful for her.” The tirade that followed would have made Hitler seem docile. I wanted to shrink into the chalkboard the rest of the day.

Pete suggested that we grab a drink so I could tell him all about it. I explained everything and how none of it made sense, just a picture of some butterflies. He couldn’t understand why the big reaction either until I showed him my tablet, which also has the mandala for its wallpaper too. I really thought the bartender would throw us out because he was in the fetal position, literally rolling on the floor in laughter. When he regained his composure, Pete asked if he could use the image on his Website and now its at the top of every page here!

So, what do you think? My first-graders really identified with it. Several of them have drawn me butterfly pictures with their crayons and markers, and every one of them is taped to the display board in my classroom. Nobody has said anything about their pictures, so I still don’t get it.

What’s wrong with some harmless butterflies?


Getting Waylaid in Austin

Hi, I’m Zen. I moved to Austin 3 years ago from Moralton, Statesota (same place Moral Orel is from). My father was the town preacher and my mom was the perfect preacher’s wife. Along with my little brother, we were the stereotypical midwestern Protestant church family in every way, right down to our many unacknowledged dysfunctions. I’m telling you all this stuff here so I won’t have to repeat everything ad nauseum when we meet.

My first exposure to sex was at 13 when I caught my little brother masturbating in my bed. He was naked from the waist down, free hand clutching the flowered panties I had worn to church that morning, moaning something under his breath. Though the scene was surreal, I truly believed that he had must have gotten chiggers and was vigorously scratching at their burrows, seeking relief before donning my underwear for their gentler material. The uncapped bottle of calamine lotion on the nightstand served to confirm my assessment of the situation. I left the room without him hearing and forgot about the incident.

Forgot, until my high school prom, that is. Gene, son of a church elder, was the only boy my age that my father aprroved of. He was an athlete but not a star, accomplished but not a scholar, always volunteering at church functions but not a leader, hard-working on the family farm but not overly ambitious. Father always encouraged us to do things together like leading the youth prayer group and making holiday-themed posters and signs. A perfect husband for daddy’s dowdy wallflower.

Gene asked my father if he could take me to the senior prom and gained his blessing. (Literally, my dad said a prayer over him, something about being prosperous and fruitful with me. It was weird.) We were supposed to go straight home after the dance, but Gene said it would be alright to stop and look at the stars for a minute, given that it was our special night as seniors and the prom was star-themed and the Three Wise Men and yada yada. “A minute” stretched into five and I began to get nervous. Though Gene had been a perfect gentleman all evening, I had never been on a date with anyone before and heard stories from the girls at church about virginity-robbing setups just like this. I began to insist that he drive me home at once, fearing Father’s skinniest belt, the one with the tassel-thingys on it (someone recently told me it was a leather flog, whatever that is).

Gene said only one thing could make the night more memorable for us both – something called a “handy.” I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about and held up my right hand as if to receive a high-five. Gene had managed to slip his stretch-waist pants down and had been hiding his penis under his shirt tails. Slowly guiding my hand, I still didn’t know what was going on. “Here, like this,” his hand covering mine as he directed his thing through our cupped palms. He began a slow, rhythmic motion and the image of Ronnie jerking off on my bed flooded my mind. The date was over. Gene nervously drove us home while explaining how he and his buddies liked to do something I don’t understand called a “reach-around” and how it was just like being alone but better and how he had never done that with a girl before and thought I would be OK with it since we had known each other so long and then there’s the thing with the sheep and… Huh? That was the first, last, and only date I had in Moralton.

After college, it was time to follow my bliss and grab the world by the tail. I had gained a degree, some life experience, and a clearer understanding of sex thanks to the more relaxed environment at Statesota University. At 22, Father was disappointed that I wasn’t wed and bred yet but “at least I still had my virtue intact,” seemingly the one thing I possessed of any value. Now I had to decide where I wanted to work: Portland, Oregon or Austin, Texas. Though I could teach anywhere, I had settled on these two cities because of the way they are portrayed in pop culture – trendy, hip, live music-loving towns with lots of attractive, successful single people. Loathing cold weather since nearly having frostbite of the labia while sledding one winter in Moralton, Austin was the clear choice. My summer dresses would be comfortable there almost year-round and they would fit right in with the back-to-basics style of Austin’s backyard chicken farmers I had read about online. Visions of a burly, bearded man with deep brown eyes and cowboy boots began to dominate my thoughts as moving day approached.

Dan was exactly as I had imagined: Husky, hairy, and hunky. I met him the very first day in my new apartment on the east side. Dan’s easy manner and deep familiarity with my religious upbringing made us fast friends, barbecuing on Saturday afternoons and attending church together on Sunday. After several months of strictly-daytime activities, I convinced Dan to come to my apartment for dinner. We had a great meal and I had my first experience with real Fredericksburg wine, definitely not the dopey Welch’s grape “communion wine” at Father’s church.

The night ended abruptly when I turned to Dan, staring longingly into his eyes, leaning in for an anticipated kiss, as I muttered the only thing I could think of in my wine-dulled state, “Want a handy?” I didn’t know exactly how to do it, nor did I know that Dan was gay. Hell, I never understood gay-dom anyway and I sure didn’t think I would ever meet one. And I really don’t understand why Dan’s gayness would prevent him from enjoying a handy – Gene was all for it, though now I wonder if he is gay too.

My neighbor Cindy heard me pleading with Dan as he clumsily stuffed his wine-dribbled white shirt into his pants while making a hasty exit, cowboy boots tapping out the steps of my shame as he left the building. “Come on in,” she rasped. “What happened, Zen darlin’?” By this time my eyes had started to tear up and my mascara was beginning to run. “I just wanted to show Dan how much I like him. I don’t know why it was so wrong to be nice to him. I just wanted to make him feel good.” Cindy was older, with some erstwhile black hairs on her chin, and resembled one of the virtuous chicken-raising Austin women I had seen on the Web. “It’s OK, darlin’. Here, have a glass of wine,” she purred in her gravelly voice, eyes half-closed, slender body draped over the couch like a pinup girl from the 1950s. She held my hand and played with my hair and soon I was feeling better.

When I woke up the next day Cindy was in the kitchen. As consciousness returned, I realized that I was completely nude and under the sheets of the only bed in her tiny efficiency flat. My clothes were nowhere to be seen. “Mornin’ darlin’,” Cindy cooed as she crouched over me on all fours. “I’m fixin’ breakfast and wanted to make sumthin’ fittin’ just for you, darlin’. I got some Kerbey Lane pancake mix that’ll taste just like you – cinnamon, peaches, and maple syrup!” I must have been screaming for five minutes as the neighbors crowded the hallway to gawk at me struggling, naked, to get into my locked apartment. Cindy eventually brought out my clothes and keys, hanging a robe around me and unlocking the door. “I washed your clothes for you, darlin’. I like taking care of you.” I was still screaming when the door slammed in her face. She still tries to talk to me in the hallway, and I swear her voice is even deeper. Now I think Cindy might really be a man but I’m not sure.

Then I met Pete. He told me about lesbians, and about somnophilia, and he even wrote a blog post about it on this Website. I really connected with him because he knew so much about what I had been through. I knew there were gay girls in college but never had any contact with them that I know of. But I had never heard of somnophilia, and I never knew that someone could be perverted in more than one way. Apparently Cindy had both and I wondered what else might be hiding there.

Pete suggested that I start getting out more and meeting new people. There are Meet-Up groups, all sorts of singles clubs, and general cultural/social events like Austin City Limits and all the music venues on Sixth Street. Great, I thought – the adult world I’ve been looking for! I already knew about Craigslist from using it to acquire furniture for my little apartment and remembered that it had a singles section. I got online and started browsing the various categories. Before long it was clear that I was out of my depth. I had only been on one date and that ended in disaster. I couldn’t possibly strike up a friendship with a complete stranger and meet them for a date – it would be sleazy.

But one ad caught my eye. It spoke of an alternative lifestyle where everyone accepts the others for who they are, one in which “no means no” and there’s no pressure to do anything you don’t want to. It sounded like a commune for awkward single folks, gathered peacefully together to tease out the halting starts and stops of polite conversation, hopefully leading to a rewarding relationship with a suitable candidate you might meet after several months of attending events. Like a church singles mixer back home, without all the church. I sent a reply and soon received a note with the address of a local eatery where the group liked to meet. “This is just perfect!” I beamed at Pete. Asshole didn’t tell me what I was getting into.

The food was good, and the place was cool, and so were the attendees. It was about 20 people that night, ranging from a few my age to others in their 50s. Everyone was very polite, talk was non-specific, and soon small groups began to form with lively conversations emanating from the tables. It was apparent that many knew each other quite well, bantering about work and school and kids. After a couple of hours the group leader announced that it was time to move to another place, someone’s home nearby. A line of cars made their way to a large, stately home near South Congress.

A girl at Statesota U had shown me porn once, telling me that this is what she wanted her husband to do to her after they got married. It was the only “real” sex I had ever witnessed. Within 10 minutes everyone except me was naked and engaging in the stuff I had seen on the college girl’s phone. I knew from the restaurant that not everyone there was married, and though I had heard that some people have sex without being married I had always imagined that it was somehow different, like maybe with pentagrams on the floor and a bonfire and some skulls hanging on pikes. But it wasn’t like that at all, except that I wasn’t always sure who was supposed to be with who. Several asked me if I wanted to join them but I just said no and drank vitamin water until I felt like I had been there long enough to make a polite exit. I went home and read the Bible to confirm that I wouldn’t be cast down for merely witnessing the sodomy that occurred in front of me that night. I was safe.

If Pete had been there I would have castrated him on the spot, just like I saw Gene do with sheep on their family farm. Pete knew I wanted to learn about sex and love and do it the right way; apparently he thought it would be funny for me to get a demonstration. Asshole couldn’t stop laughing when I told him about the swinger’s party and how unprepared I was. “Well, you wanted to meet laid back, open-minded, hippy-type people from Austin…” I cut him off in mid-thought, “Don’t you dare, me bucko. You knew I had never seen anything like that before.” “Exactly,” his face contorted in a near-demonic grin.

I haven’t really met anyone new lately and I still haven’t had a date since moving to Austin. Seems like everybody I do meet is either married, gay, or perverted. But I know a whole lot more than when I left Moralton. This one girl I met downtown showed me how to have an orgasm. It was incredible! I don’t understand why Father never mentioned this in church because it’s so good and natural and powerful, like God is right there inside me, ready to burst forth in gushing sacred spurts. It’s got to be a holy thing because the other night I was doing it and involuntarily yelled out “Oh God, Oh Jesus!” I know I’m right about this because Cindy peeked out her door and said, “Glad you finally got religion, darlin’.” Why didn’t Father tell us about this great way to be closer to the Divine One above?

Anyway, that’s my sexual history. Everyone seems so obsessed about sexual history and I got tired of telling the same things over and over, so I put it here so you’ll already know it all when we meet. To be completely honest, I don’t know if I’m actually a virgin or not since I touched Gene’s weiner and I don’t know what the hell happened with Cindy that night. But I learned from President William Jefferson Clinton, a man I dearly admire, that it wasn’t sex if there was no penetration. So I guess I’m really still a virgin since Cindy couldn’t have penetrated me, right? I mean, I don’t think she could have. But she does have a lot of facial hair. And that voice.

Maybe Pete knows.