Monday, April 17, 2006

Fetish Factor

You probably lost sleep last night pondering this issue: How does a heathen blasphemer like Ruediger spend Easter weekend?

By going to a fetish show, of course! I must admit that it’s not “my scene”. I’ve always found leather and whips and whatnot to be on the sillier side of sexuality. Which is not to imply that people can’t or shouldn’t enjoy it - whatever snaps your nipple clamp, that’s what I always say. (Actually, I’ve never said that before.)

But it’s a wacky little slice of counter-culture to observe for a couple hours. What's most fascinating is how freely people will exhibit their not so perfect bodies. Oh sure, there was plenty of exposed perfect skin, but there was also a surplus of wrinkled and overweight flesh on display that I could have gone my whole life without seeing. More power to ‘em though. Comparatively speaking, I was Studs McMuffin, and I certainly don’t have the courage to dress up in such garb and parade my goodies about for all to ogle. That kind of outrageousness is admirable, if for no other reason than I wish I possessed it.

What was perhaps even more noteworthy was the sheer number of people I ran into that I knew, but had no idea that they were into that sort of thing.

“Hey Blankety-Blank! Long time, no see. I didn’t know you owned a ball-gag!”

Silence...due to their inability to respond.

Yes, I’ve got new perspectives on a few folks from my past and present, but that, in the grand scale of the ongoing human comedy, can only be a big plus. If you are one of them and you are reading this, you needn't worry. Your secrets are safe with me...bitch!

Speaking of running into old friends, I ran into someone whom I hadn’t seen in ages. He was not wearing a ball gag, nor was he into the fetish scene – he was there for reasons similar to my own, such as imbibing in the spectacle.

This guy quite literally used to be my very closest friend. We roomed with each other for seven or eight years, spent incalculable amounts of time together and had countless, crazy adventures throughout those years (some call them “the ‘90s”). Great, memorable stuff I’ll carry with me to the grave. In many ways this person is largely responsible – for better and worse – for a big part of who I am today.

But friendships sometimes sour, people sometimes change and while the phrase “nothing lasts forever” doesn’t apply to Styrofoam or cockroaches, it can easily apply to friendship. He and I became different people and that’s a good thing. I’m not so sure the people who we were back then were particularly responsible or likable individuals. We liked one another, though, and that was some of the basis for the friendship.

Friendships are often tricky beasts. They are usually based on two people meeting on common ground and finding a certain way of dealing with each other. Attempting, at some point in the friendship, to change that way of dealing can be borderline impossible. It’s at this point that the friendship begins going bad and if you're very close to the person, keeping it together is an insurmountable task. The film Withnail and I is an excellent exploration of these ideas, and it's possible that my experiences with this person are a big reason why the movie resonates with me.

I’m at a point in my life where I don’t think we’d be any good for each other and our presences in one another’s lives would be to the detriment of us both. Do I know this for certain? Nope. But I’ve come too far and worked too hard on myself to take that chance.

He is a dog person, and I've become a cat lover. Maybe that's all there is to it? I am content to think of him fondly, through a haze of bittersweet nostalgia. I don’t want to put myself in a position where I’m forced to realize that I still, after all this time, cannot fucking stand being around him in even the most ideal of circumstances.

That would hurt more than us not being friends at all.

Yet seeing him Saturday night was really nice, and in a rather benign sort of way, somewhat cathartic. We were friendly and amiable to one another. To his credit, he hugged me not once but twice, which I think made him the bigger man that night.

So, my friend - if you are out there reading - we may never have had Paris, but we’ll always have Little China.

And maybe someday we will once again share some of the finest wines available to humanity.