Polyamorous people always talk about how crucial good communication is. Let me tell you a story about an occasion when I elected to ignore that rule, and how the universe decided to grant me mercy and forgiveness in spite of it.
Once upon a time, when I was still a relatively new girl in town, I went out one night cruising for hot women at the old Tugs Belmont, where I encountered a Melissa Etheridge look-alike named Ronnie. I'd been introduced to Ronnie before and I was pleased to have the chance to further our acquaintance. So was she, as it turned out. Very pleased.
Some heavy flirtation and a few drinks later, we're grinding in the back corner of the dance floor, stuck together at the lip and the hip. I pinned her up against the wall and bit her on the neck. "Why don't we go back to my place?"
She thought for a minute. "Okay," she said. "But let me call my girlfriend and leave her a message that I'll be late."
"Girlfriend?" I said. "I assume you're polyamorous, then?"
Her eyes flickered sideways momentarily. "Ye-es," she replied, drawing out the word with a rising inflection.
The part of my brain that wasn't soaked in lust and alcohol said, "Hold on, she doesn't seem 100 percent convinced of that."
But lust and alcohol retorted, "Hey, that's not our problem. We asked, she said yes, let's go." So we fucked like wildcats all over my apartment and when she left in the cool predawn hours, I fell asleep dreaming of our future erotic romps.
Thus, I was completely unprepared for the phone to ring a few hours later. When I answered, a woman's voice, unfamiliar and sharply edged, asked for me.
"This is she," I mumbled, half-awake.
"This is Liz, Ronnie's partner."
Oh, shit, this can't be good.
"Look, Ronnie did not have permission to do what she did last night. It is totally not okay with me that she slept with you. I know you asked and she said yes, so I'm not saying it's your fault. But you will not be seeing Ronnie again. She will not be calling you and I don't want you to call her."
I made some not-very-brilliant response—probably "um, okay"—and she said goodbye and hung up.
Damn, I knew that didn't sound right, and now it is my problem. I had some caffeine and then, with a clearer head, called a mutual friend for advice.
She wasn't reassuring. "Oh, man, you fucked Ronnie and now Liz is pissed at you? That's bad."
"Great, I just got here and I'm going to be branded a home-wrecker."
"She'll get over it—but stay out of her way for now, and definitely stay away from Ronnie."
Ronnie must have gotten similar instructions, because for the next six months, whenever she and I crossed paths, we positively fled from each other's presence. And when all three of us were in the same room, I could feel Liz watching us both, even though I carefully didn't look at her.
But gradually, the tension faded. I remember how startled I was the first time Liz smiled and greeted me politely at a party, with Ronnie standing beside her, nodding a cautious hello. Apparently all is forgiven, I thought. I was pleased, because despite our rocky beginning, my observations of Liz had made me think she was a cool person who I'd probably enjoy being friends with. And she was beautiful to boot, with red hair and bee-stung lips.
It was about a year after the fateful night when Liz approached me and said, "Hey, can I talk to you?"
What's this about? I wondered. "Sure, Liz, what's on your mind?"
"You know, the thing with you and Ronnie pissed me off, but the reason she thought she had permission was because we actually had been talking about opening up our relationship to a third person. I've been watching you and even though she didn't really have permission, you are exactly the kind of person I would have chosen for us to get involved with. I know we had a bad start, but would you be interested in talking about the three of us—well, doing something?"
That's what I call mercy and forgiveness.
EROTIC CITY: MACHINE NIGHT
Like fucking machines? Check out the latest in sexy engineering by the folks at ThrillHammer. Wet Spot membership or membership in a local swing or sex-positive organization required, 9 pm–2 am, $15, firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Spanking enthusiasts meet in a private banquet room to eat, socialize, and discuss the pleasures of the well-reddened behind in a discreet, no-pressure environment. Newcomers welcome. E-mail email@example.com for location, or see www.chastenwood.com, 7 pm.
A bimonthly social event, open to people of all genders and orientations involved in or interested in polyamorous relationships. Wet Spot, www.scn.org/~spg, 728-4533, 5 pm–8 pm, $3–$5 donation, membership not required.
BARE IMAGES 2005 FINE ART SHOW
Lake Associates Recreation Club (LARC) is a clothing-optional club and campground in Mount Vernon, and they're mounting an art show "celebrating the nude figure." www.larcnudists.com, 360-445-6833, 10 am to 5 pm, free.
TASTE OF TANTRA
Facilitators Mark Fleming and Jay Craver will introduce tantric principles, masculine/feminine play dynamics, and exercises. All genders and orientations welcome. Sponsored by Toys in Babeland (class will be held offsite), 707 E Pike St, 328-2914, 2 pm, $60 per couple/sliding-scale available.
VIKING DAY CELEBRATION
Got a thing for Odin-worshipping, Old Norse–speaking, helmeted longshipmen? Then get yourself to Ballard for day #2 of the Nordic Heritage Museum's annual celebration of all things Viking, featuring Viking demonstrations, a beer garden, and food booths representing each of the Nordic countries. Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 NW 67th Ave, free, with scrip for booths/events available for purchase.--