Friday, February 24, 2006

Baby, You're the Top!

I attended a “Top Class” the other week, yes, I’m serious. No, we were not making spinning toys. Well, not necessarily, but I digress already.

Until moving here, I’d never really thought of topping as a specific thing. I assumed a roughly equal exchange of sexual give and receive was what most people did. That may be true, but the sensual landscape is rich and nuanced, here. (Good lord, Microsoft Word’s spellchecker objects to “nuanced”. I’m going to take a sledgehammer to this sorry excuse for a dictionary someday…)

From my perspective, anyone who wants to can and should top and be topped, so a class like this has a universal appeal. There certainly were men in the class -- straight men (or so I assume since at least two had female partners with them.)

I hadn’t been certain initially how hands-on this was going to get. It turned out to be a five-hour lecture. I could have sat there for another five, too. The guest speaker was an incredibly hot woman with frighteningly taut biceps. She was funny, compassionate, and completely open to anything we could ask or volunteer.

My editor asked me if tops are born or made. I would suppose all people are born with the capacity, but not everyone finds and/or nurtures it. I would also assume that social role playing in the heterosexual community might decrease the number of people exploring an affinity for, say, women topping men and both of them liking it. Even if it works for you, to whom can you admit it?

I sat in a room full of people, admitting by their very presence not only how queer they were already, but that we had all paid money to become even queerer. Yes, this place is most definitely home.

What’s truly odd is that in order for this effect to be evident, you don’t even have necessarily to attend play parties or top classes or what have you. Simply just knowing they exist is good enough. “Yes, I could go to a play party with my favorite flogger (object or person, it matters not) but I’d rather lie here on the couch and eat ice cream and think about it” is a perfectly legitimate choice.

But again, I am digressing. Ahem, top class.

I gratefully absorbed the discussion about not having to learn new techniques while under performance pressure; i.e. practice tying volunteers up while they watch TV. They don’t have to try and find it sexy, and you aren’t trying to pull off Eagle Scout level knot tying and a suave persona all at once. Call it a trial run. If you’re adventurous, supply beer, pizza, condoms, and a few webcams, you too could be the next John Waters.

The concept I really found mind-blowing was aftercare. What do you need once the peak experience or scene is over? Do you need cuddling and chocolate, or three years of tax returns and a calculator? Bactine, a footbath full of Tiger Balm and an MRI, perhaps? Apparently if you talk to your partner about these needs, you are more likely to get them met. Astonishing idea that actually makes sense because where DOES one get a calculator at 3am on a Sunday morning?

All of that said, there are as many kinds of tops as there are people wanting to top. We can take on a role for a minute or a day or until death, and we choose it every moment. When I think about topping, I have been trained by someone much more perceptive than me to think of it as service. I choose to add the smile.

A lot of the concrete wisdom in the class boiled down to: be present. Be alive to the possibility of the moment, experience it and let it go. Nobody’s perfect, so let that go, too. Play. Enjoy.

I will be open to that voice. Won’t you?


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