No, wait, I'll think of something better.
Before I wrote this, I wrote and deleted two other rants that were pretty mean. I figured they weren't my style, and I was just pissed at the lack of money, and I was being bitter and jealous. Then I questioned, "Well, why not show the real me? Late at night, still bitter about some fight he had with a guy 13 years ago? What does 'not represent the real me' mean, anyway? People need to know I get jealous and bitter sometimes, right? I'm only human..."
I wrote this really long thing about that guy, and thought someone else might think I was talking about THEM, which, as ol' Sara A. taught me last year, can happen and lead to bad things. This led me to wonder if people knew the real me, and then this anecdote popped into my head.
When I worked retail, my fandom life was separated as far as possible from my work life. I had an "issue" back at Chesapeake Knife and Tool that got complicated because of fandom being both an innocent bystander and a scapegoat. When I started working for Cargo, I kept very squeaky clean and as normal as I could. Of course, that was an act worthy of the greatest Broadway performer, not myself, who quit acting after Prune Bran died. So a few managers knew I was "odd" in some ways, but then again, half our male managers were flaming queers (in a good way), so ostracism was never an issue. But my boss made assumptions about my naive nature I never confirmed nor denied.
When I worked at Springfield Mall, I worked next to a place that sold upscale leather goods, like purses, belts, jackets, and so on. I think it was called "The Leather Factory," but my memory has grown dim with time. Everyone there wore a suit, usually a nice suit. One guy who worked there was a really nice fellow I am going to call "Fiji Joe." I forgot his real name, but he was a big and handsome young Polynesian man with a great weightlifters body. He wasn't very tall, but what he lacked in height, he made up for in bulk and charm. Fiji was a nice guy, and the ladies loved him.
My boss was a very... animated woman. Her name was Phyllis. Some managers hated her guts, but I always got along with her. Phyllis was the type of person with NO qualms about starting personal conversations with strangers, often bringing out smiles in people you would have ignored. Before she became district manager, she was a crack salesperson, and it showed. She often thought of me, I assume from the way she spoke to me, as some kind of slightly slow but lovable oaf. It was a good position to be in because she explained things slowly, and didn't seem to get as upset about my mistakes as she did with other people. She also felt it safe to tell me all this personal stuff about herself and... other managers.
One night, Phyllis was finishing her monthly "store visit," and we had a conversation about another manager she needed to get off her chest. Fiji Joe passed by our store, and Phyllis stopped in mid conversation and said, "Oh my God, what a hunk!" I told her he worked next door. She gasped melodramatically, and asked if I could introduce her. I said, "Well, I am not sure I could go up t him and go, 'Hey, my DM wants to have a conversation with--'"
"Oh, it's not a conversation I want with him, honey," she said.
The topic changed quickly (as it did with her all the time), but shortly afterwards, Fiji Joe passed by the store again. At the time, my glasses were WAY out of perscription because I couldn't afford to get new ones. So Fiji was in a slight blur, but I noticed he wasn't wearing a suit, but some kind of leather jacket with flames on them. Phyllis gasped, and motioned for him to come in. Fiji came in, looking at me, then at Phyllis, who then announced Fiji was gorgeous. Fiji might have blushed, I don't know, but Phyllis started asking him a lot of personal questions. One of them revealed he had worked next door for quite some time, back when Phyllis was manager of this store. She she asked, "Home come I never hired you?" and he said, "I applied, you never hired me!" Phyllis was aghast with herself, and speculated aloud of how crazy she must have been.
During this weird conversation, I noticed that Fiji had something on his shoulder that looked like handcuffs on a very long chain, but they weren't handcuffs. I didn't know what they were. So I stared, and squinted with my blurry vision, and thought they looked like they were coated with rubber tips. What were they? I strained, guessed, and thought. Then suddenly, I remembered what they were!
Phyllis, at that exact moment, asked, "What are those on your jacket?"
"Nipple clamps!" I said, a bit too loudly.
Phyllis gasped in shock. "GRIG!" she said, with a sarcastic disapproval. "How would YOU know?"
"Oh, he's been to Traxx, he knows. He hangs out with Suzi and her flock of friends," said Fiji.
"And who would this SUZI be??" asked Phyllis, stunned.
I was stunned Fiji knew I knew Suzi. "She's ah... well, she illustrated my book."
"I didn't know that!" said Fiji. "What did you write, for Blue Blood?"
Phyllis looked at me. I was on the spot. Blue Blood was an erotic vampire magazine at the time. Oddly enough, I also knew several of the models, one of them being a daughter of a Republican senator. "No, I never wrote for Blue Blood. I published my own science fiction humor book, and Suzi was the house publisher for FanTek at the time, and we got to be really good friends."
"Does CHRISTINE know about Suzi?" asked Phyllis, with a sly look.
"Yes, she does. Suzi comes to my house a lot, often with Rogue."
"Heh heh! Rogue! Yeah, what a pistol." said Fiji. "I have to go, I came to pick up my paycheck. Nice meeting you, Ms. Phyllis."
Suddenly Phyllis and I were alone in an empty showroom.
"So," she said, "tell me how you would know someone with the name of Rogue?"
Heh. It was then she was exposed to a piece of my life I never wanted to share with my manager, but it was too late. For the rest of the time I worked under her, she assumed I knew all about BDSM stuff, which I'd have to ask Suzi, and thus... I got exposed to the BDSM community. And Daddy games. And the Kerchief code.
Some people still think I am this naive, innocent, non-sexual person. I kind of like it that way, but occasionally, it slips out. My close friends know (and some of them were the ones that taught me), but not everyone, and it's always funny to see the looks on their faces when I can explain what a "Violet wand" is, or why strapons have two sides, or how I knew half the staff at Black Leather Times (NSFW) once.
Oh, and reading the old issues of BLT brought back happy memories, so now I feel better and can go to sleep. Thanks, Sarah M. Oakes, wherever you may be...
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000569.html