7 min read

a pain that means something

blurry pic of a street at night I think I took an accident

It’s a cold, dark, lonely Saturday in mid-January and I’m being spanked very, very hard. There’s a man in my living room. Beefy, long salt and pepper hair – hot.

We started talking months when I first came back to Chicago after that months long trip in California in which I had very little (no) sex and the lusty erotic energy I prefer to fill my life with was notably scant. It dried me out, made me feel like a suburban tumbleweed emptily rolling through the world. I was hungry to feel alive, to feel seen. Salt and pepper beefcake – let’s call him Phil – started chatting on Grindr because he lives near my pals Emma and Tyler where I was couch crashing. The chemistry over text was undeniable and mostly I was glad to be sexting someone and to have someone out there, masturbating to my image and to my words. We had trouble coordinating our schedules at the time. He’d be working, I wasn’t. I’m working, he’s not. I was taking up space in Emma and Tyler’s living room, so it’s not like I could host and my life was full trying to get my life in the city back on track.

Four months later, it’s January and the whirlpool of holidays had died down so now instead of managing the holidays and multiple world catastrophes, we’re just dealing with the multiple world catastrophes and there’s space in my life for some casual sex. And anyway, I now had my very own apartment with my very own couch to invite him over and make out with me on. After some manuevering, we’re not making out side-saddle anymore and instead I am straddling him on the couch – which, as I was saying earlier, is when he started to spank me very hard. We’re both fully clothed, but he pulled my long shirt which was functioning as a dress up to get a good angle on my bare cheek. I like that I tell him and he spanks harder and harder. It eventually crosses the threshold of thrilling pain to plainly painful pain but now I’m kind of in this groove and I want to see how far I can go. Where’s my limit? How many times will he hit me before I crumple up and make him stop? He spanks until it stings until I’m yelping with every strike and trembling with anticipation at every pause.

I hadn’t been dominated like this in years – since I was a twink offering my body up to be consensually abused by suburban dilfs back in Vegas. It was fun to prove I could still do it. Although, the hematoma I could feel itching t the back of my throat and the giant purple bruise on my ass the next morning told me that I could no longer handle getting beat up as often and as hard as I used to. Like, it hurts a little too much to sit.


Sunny day, blue sky, concrete platform by the lake. Skyline of Chicag

A week and a half later, it’s the first sunny day in weeks. The sky is honest to god clear blue and its 40 degrees even though it was snowing and 8 degrees, like a week ago. Climate change promises more months like this, months that don’t make sense. I want to get to the other side of all these mind addling catastrophes, to help in my own little ways to heal all the damage on this forsaken Earth. I think, to get there, I have to enjoy the sunny days when they come, even if its horribly inclimate and it might mean all the plants are going to struggle and die. I want this sunny day to be where it belongs – in March or April – but I’ll take it now.

The lake shore is bustling. Other people are desperate for something nice in the bleak American winter. Women are taking selfies and discussing optimal angles in Spanish. Old men in trapper hats talking in some Slavic language sit against the concrete steps. Big burly Russian men – the kind of Russian men that look more Asian than European – are taking turns stripping and jumping into the lake. The Russians emerge, yelling Chicagooooo!!!!

A femme with long red hair and insanely bodacious body is lowering herself into the lake nearby. Her strappy swimsuit, the blue sky, all the people having fun, almost makes it feel like summer even though I’m still wearing a thermal layer and shielding my ears from a bitingly cold breeze. The femme stays in the water for two and a half minutes – I counted – then rises back up laughing uncontrollably.

I bundle my coat around me and lay back on the concrete I’m sitting on to take a nap in the sun.


Picture of ladder descending into cold lake. Cloudy day.
If the ladder is below freezing, but not iced over, your skin can stick to the metal.

Martin’s been proselytizing about the benefits of cold plunging since before Christmas, gently trying to convince the rest of us to join him when he jumps into the lake in the middle of winter. I don’t know if this is something I should disclose about myself, but I will basically say yes to everything at least once. You can convince me to do anything, no matter how unpleasant, if you ask enough. So I know, from the first time Martin asks me to join him, that I will eventually do it.

The cold plungers on that clear day and the purple bruise on my ass made me wonder why getting hurt could be so fun. Being smacked around by Phil, my esophagus stretched beyond its limit – it’s not that it didn’t hurt. But it hurt and it was fun. Like I was saying, I'm not a stranger to letting my body be roughed up - I might have a masochistic streak that borders on self-destructive, but I never really questioned it before. Is that bad? It's just like, yeah, masochism is a thing.

I was over at Felix’s apartment wondering about all of this when he served a quiche for dinner and revealed that he had made the pastry by hand! That, to me, seemed like true masochism. Why??? I ask and he says he liked using his body. It was like the gym, but at the end he got to eat pastry. Plus, the hurting is part of it. It’s how I know I’m doing something right.

So, anyway, I finally take Martin up on his offer. I’ve got Emma’s car for a week while she’s out of town so the early commute down to Hyde Park at 7am wouldn’t be super painful or anything. Maybe jumping into this freezing cold lake is a way to make my suffering mean something. I mean, I’m suffering anyway right? In this big, horrible world. Maybe if I choose my own suffering, if I set an intention and believe in an outcome, it will mean something.  I’m going to get in the icy water and it’s going to make me feel more alive, or its going to be good for my cardiovascular health, or its going to have a therapeutic effect on my nervous system. One moment of temporary pain, and then happiness.

I watch Martin lower himself in and dolphin kick away from the rocks. My turn now. My feet dip in, rung by rung on the ladder, but it's not until I'm waist deep in Lake Michigan that the chill catches up to me. Fuck. It’s like a cold electric shock on my skin. I get all the way down the ladder, now shoulders deep and I’m just screaming – it’s hard to describe the feeling except for my body being on fire but instead of flames it’s like a thousand little needles burrowing into my skin, the razored away baby hairs all over my body turning into spears of ice. Martin looks at me grinning and laughs Dunk! Dunk! I plant my face into the water. It’s actually quite refreshing. He gets out, then me. I’m laughing and laughing but the wind is making the cold so much less fun. I follow Martin in for a second dive. When we emerge, I struggle to take my freezing swimsuit off and put my normal clothes back on while maintaining my decency so the thrill of the cold plunge wears off. Now I’m just naked and cold by the lake. I realize that the cold plunge does not hurt so good – it’s unpleasant. It sucks. So is getting spanked, I think. It kind of just hurts. But I had so much fun! The anticipation, staring down the threat of Lake Michigan’s gigantic cold hand slapping me in the face. The endorphin rush, the laughter.

picture of Vera from behind, red swim top black shorts. Martin and his dog Koji on the left. Everyone looking down at the lake. Sky is overcast and cloudy.

Martin makes us second breakfast: soft scrambled eggs, natto, avocado, samba oelek on rice. I drive him to his meeting and take myself home to work. Very soon after that, I lay in bed feeling tired, cozy. I’m not sure the cold plunge ultimately had any beneficial effects. Maybe it prevented a heart attack from happening in 20 years. It was certainly more exciting than ambling around my apartment staring at squirrels from my window. Mostly, I just want to take a nap.

Thanks for reading. Forward this to a friend who needs a little pain.