Monday, July 21, 2014

New Uses For Old Things

As you may or may not know about me, I am an avid researcher in the world of animated inanimate objects. By this I refer to the way that many people attach meaningful sentiment to the possessions that they hold dear (or perhaps detest). I enjoy coming across attached meanings of everyday objects, which raises their value in some way.

I came across a very interesting instance of this phenomenon through an unexpected channel. I happen also to be interested in Dan Savage’s love and sex column. Having followed his writings in local newspapers and online for about four years now, I can honestly say that he is the most levelheaded advice columnist I have ever experienced. I agree with almost everything he advises, and even if I didn’t, he is very modest and makes sure to state that his advice is only meant to act as a guide for readers. He insists again and again that they should do as they feel is best, especially for the reason that they are the ones living these experiences. But of course, this is not the subject of my post. If you want to read his column, click the link above.

My post is more about a couple of specific instances in which Dan solves various relationship problems through inanimate object association. For example, in this post, a woman explains that her feminist beliefs outside the home conflict with her kinks towards being a ‘perfect housewife’ role with her boyfriend at home. She wants to be able to live both of these lives at once, while also setting some kind of boundary so that everyone feels safe and un-marginalized. Obviously, the problem with submission-related kinks is that having to break role and tell your partner that things are escalating too quickly will kill the libido instantly.

That said, I was scratching my head trying to guess what Dan would recommend. The best thing I could think of was to discuss everything beforehand, or have pre-arranged times of day or week where these ‘housewife’ scenes would occur. But that’s not very romantic, is it? Dan brilliantly suggested the writer wear a specific necklace every time she wanted to put on this role. When she was bored, tired, or otherwise finished with it, she would simply take off the necklace. My interests here lie in the way that a simple item is transformed into the visualization of all the happiness this writer will now be able to experience with her boyfriend, and become an essential tool in their life together. What an elegant solution.

If you weren’t overly impressed by that one, I have another for you. A woman wrote in to discuss the fact that both she and her boyfriend had kinks that the other was not so keen to perform. It boiled down to the fact that he wanted her to be submissive and she wanted to be on top (obviously, both partners’ kinks are almost impossible to carry out at once). Dan proposed something slightly elaborate:

“Take the average number of times you have sex in a month and divide that number in half, then divide it in half again. You each get a stack of red poker chips equal to whatever the third number is plus one blue poker chip. So let’s say you guys have sex 12 times in a month on average. Half of 12 is six, half of six is three—you each get four chips: three red, one blue. (You still with me? Good. Man, I could use some chips right now, myself.) You keep your chips on your nightstand, and your boyfriend keeps his chips on his. On nights when you want to top your boyfriend, you hand him one of your red chips. On nights when he wants you to be submissive, he hands you one of his red chips. If he doesn’t want to bottom for you on a night when you hand him a chip, he can veto your red chip by surrendering one of his. Likewise, you can veto one of his red chips by surrendering one of yours. When a veto is played, you default to the sex you have most of the time, i.e., your “regular” sexual routine (which seems to entail you bottoming for him as his equal), and the chip used to veto is forfeit. You each have to use your three red chips in one calendar month—an unused chip doesn’t carry over to the next month.

…And what’s the blue chip for? It’s a “free veto,” a chip you can sacrifice without giving up one of your chances to f*** or dominate the other.”

There’s a little more to the story, which you can read by (again) clicking the link above. Again here, a sexual problem between what I can see as an otherwise very compatible couple, is elegantly solved by applying new use or (if you will allow) identity to an object whose original use had nothing to do with the current situation. I love these sorts of things. I assume my love of practicality and logic are hiding in here somewhere, as well.

A slightly less ‘cool’ example of this tactic is a little something known as the “talking stick.” In a group setting, whoever holds the talking stick is the only one with the right to speak at that moment. Of course, these sorts of things can get out of hand as their new identities are taken too seriously. I only refer to these examples as possible solutions to common problems in our everyday lives. They are not mean to control numerous aspects or, stepping back even further, cause unhappiness. I merely mean to draw attention to the fact that taking a step outside of the box can bring wonderful changes to the status quo.

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