…with acknowledgment to Ch.35 of The Passionate Programmer by Chad Fowler…
Recently I was chatting with a fellow rigger and he related to me a story about a suspension he’d done while visiting another town. Pardon me while I take some writerly liberties and pretend to speak in his voice:
I wasn’t really there to do suspension that night – I wasn’t feeling it, you know, I was happy doing the floor work. But she’d never been suspended, and asked nicely, and so I said ok, sure, we can do that.
She wanted to feel the way she’d seen the girls in my pics feel – like you wrote about in your post. And I guess she did, because she went away happy-floaty-like.
But I got no energy back from her. I just felt drained.
At this point, there are a lot of riggers out there reading this* who are nodding their heads sagely, saying some variety of “I feel ya, man.” At some point in a rope top’s life they have probably had the experience of pouring their soul into a tie, combining the engineering/physiology/performance/seductive skills into tying, suspending, and then bringing safely to ground a lovely bottom…only to have the bottom giggle endorphically and traipse off to the chorus of “I can’t believe you did that! How did it feel?” from friends and onlookers.
The rope top, meanwhile, is standing by the frame, sweaty, tired, possibly sexually frustrated, and proud in that grim “I did it!” kind of way, left to coil the ropes and get out of the way for the next rope top tapping his foot impatiently.
And you know what? That’s ok.
Really. This is not a post about aftercare**, or about how bottoms should be grateful, or how there should be offers of Lagavulin and Godiva truffles and blow jobs at the end of every rope scene.*** No, actually if what the bottom feels is the need to traipse off happily, then that’s what should happen. That’s what they needed at the end of the scene.
Rather, this is a post about being prepared. About having something in your rope arsenal even more important than a locking carabiner or even (gasp) safety shears.****
To shift things to a personal level, I had a bad breakup a while back. Real bad. And the first time I drove past The Town Where She Lived, it hurt. Damn it hurt, I was surprised. Worse, I was going to have to drive past The Exit a lot over the next few months. I didn’t want it to hurt that much.
So the next time I approached The Town, I did a little imagery. I imagined armor around my heart. Yeah, go ahead, snicker, I did it. I imagined 12-gauge steel plate with rivets and welds encasing the thing.
And you know what? It didn’t hurt so much. It became a little ritual, until The Town just became the town and The Exit was just another off-ramp.
There is a lot of talk about after-care for Tops these days, and thanks be to the Knotty Powers for that. But what about “pre-care”? How about having the mental (and, yeah, I’ll say it, spiritual) tokens and rituals that can get you and the bottom through a rope scene even when they are draining your energy faster than a cracked dilithium crystal?
Vampires Aren’t All Bad. Just the Glittery Ones
If you come up with the “Me Rites” that you need to conserve your energy – whether that’s imagery, crystals, or just reciting passages from The Marketplace over and over in your head – you gain a skill. That’s the ability to work with bottoms who haven’t learned yet how to “give back”. The term “energy vampire” is bandied about a lot, and it’s accurate: some people just take it out of you, feeding off of the energy you give them.
It takes a while for them to learn how to give back, though there is the occasional naturally gifted one such as Evinxiamor. Having your Me-Rites in place protect both of you, and enable you both to have a good scene.
Maybe picturing your heart in armor is too much, and you want to instead have a little CPU Monitor widget fixed in your mind, checking how many cycles-per-second you’re running and how the temperature is holding out. Maybe it’s just the traditional Monster Ceremony (or, in the original Japanese, kageki-genki-yu) as developed by Midori.
Whatever it is, I personally think it’s as important, if not more so, than just plain “aftercare”. Sometimes aftercare is too late. Put your Me Rites in place, and see if that might just help “Top Drop” before it happens.
And what about bottoms, you ask? Good question. Bottoms, I’m sure Tops can be as draining; I can’t really speak from your perspective. So let’s share both sides: what kinds of Me Rites do it for you?