The weeks leading up to the big party in Atlantic City were stressful ones for me. By the time the party weekend came around, I needed to get out of town badly. Sherri and I decided that she would do the driving and I would pay for the gas and the hotel rooms. Money is a bigger issue with Sherri than it is for me (at least for right now) so this is what we agreed on since I don't drive. I was afraid of going because I'd had a dream a few nights previously that my brother-in-law had thrown all of my things outside and changed the locks while I was gone and I wasn't completely positive he wouldn't do that. I had also been stressing about what to take as far as clothes went. Last year, I didn't pack enough clothes in order to make room for my laptop which I didn't even use since the hotel doesn't offer free wifi. So this year, I was determined not to make the same mistake. I left the laptop at home and packed extra clothes. I firmly believe that it's better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it. I decided to go all-out this year just to prove a point to myself. I said in one of my party reports from BBW last year that I felt I didn't get played with as much because I wore jeans each night. So this year, I wore skirts the first two nights and a dress the third. I wore jeans on the fourth only because it wasn't an "official" party night, people were just staying over. Anyway, I think it did make a difference. I was treated much more deferentially by gentlemen, many of whom opened doors for me and held the elevator for me. But more about that later. This first report is about actually getting there.
Sherri prefers to drive at night so she left her home in Kansas City, MO at about 10:30 Monday night. She hates heavy traffic, which is why she choose to drive at night. I always worry about her but she's a fantastic driver so I know I shouldn't. Actually, it's not her I worry about. It's the other idiots on the road. The last time Sherri traveled to me was in February when we attended the Valentine's Day weekend party at Joe and Ten's House of Hedonism in Hammond, IN. The weather was awful, snowing and really cold. There were accidents up and down the highways and I worried about Sherri getting into one. At that time, I was relying on the house phone since I didn't have my cellphone yet. My brother-in-law at this time was using the phones to mess with me. He was either turning it off or disabling it in some way so I had no way to communicate with Sherri while she was travelling. I knew she could get Fetlife on her phone so I would message her from there. Well, I didn't want to go through that again, so I bought a cellphone two weeks later. Wouldn't you know it? The house phone worked immediately after I brought my phone home. He always denied he was doing anything to the phone, but I knew he was. How else do you explain the phone working perfectly as soon as I didn't need it anymore? Anyway, I called her about 3:30 Tuesday morning to see how close she was. When she told me she was south of Springfield (about two hours away), I decided to go back to bed. I had already made the bed, so I just laid down on top and dozed for awhile. I had my bags already sitting outside. Since people were still sleeping in the house, I didn't want to wake anyone up. When Sherri called to let me know she was outside, I was elated. I was actually going to BBW. I would deal with the other crap when I got back, but for right now, I needed some serious time with my best friend in the scene. We planned to do what we did last year--stop at a diner in Carlock for breakfast, but when we got there, they weren't open yet. So we stopped at a Bob Evans in Bloomington.
Sherri had a new car for the trip this year. We didn't have to endure the Kia Sportage that she had driven last year. The car had cruise control and so I saved a ton on gas. We didn't have to stop to gas up until we hit Indiana.
Her car is a gorgeous Dodge Challenger, black with white racing stripes. It's super comfortable, too for someone like me who needs a lot of leg room. The city where we first gassed up is called Spiceland, IN. It was a nice enough place, but the gas was expensive! As soon as we crossed into Ohio, it went down ten cents a gallon. We determined never to purchase gas in Indiana again.
As you can probably tell from the photo, we had glorious weather for travelling. It was a little chilly, but sunny. The scenery in Indiana and Ohio was really nothing to write home about. They both look pretty much just like Illinois.
This was taken when we were heading into Ohio. I didn't take a photo of the "Welcome To Ohio" sign because I got that last year. I just wanted you to see how beautiful the weather was. We kept hearing reports of bad weather hitting the South, but for us it was smooth sailing all the way. We were starting to get into some hilly country here. But the drive was extremely pleasant. Instead of trying to keep finding radio stations, Sherri had the foresight to bring her MP3 player, downloaded with a great selection of tunes. The only bad thing was that it had a short in it and every time we hit a bump it would short out. We drove on like this until it was time to make a stop for lunch. We couldn't really make up our minds, but we finally settled on Burger King. Sherri picked up the tab for lunch so that gave my wallet a rest. The food was hot and filling. It's kind of funny, but since I don't travel that much, I get a little nervous when I don't recognize anything. The further east we traveled, the less I recognized. The topography changed, the gas stations changed, everything was foreign to me. Burger King, as mundane as it is, is at least familiar and comfortable to me.
We drove on, further and further from our homes, but closer and closer to where we wanted to go. We did decide to take a different route than we took last year. We tried to avoid as much of Pennsylvania as we could. It's not that we don't like Pennsylvania, but last year, the tolls nearly killed us. They were enormously expensive. So we detoured to Maryland and Delaware to avoid it. We did drive through a short distance through West Virginia.
It was a very short drive, but we decided to stop at a Dunkin' Donuts and pick up something tasty for later, when we were tucked into our hotel room for the night. I got a kick out of the door handles, even though I don't do DD.
I think enough people who read this blog will get this. I was getting kind of tired and probably was acting a little bit silly at this point. I know Sherri was getting tired and I really appreciate how tolerant she was of me always wanting to stop and take pictures. This particular Dunkin' Donuts is in Morgantown, WV. You could tell we were getting into some mountains because both of us had trouble with our ears popping. And, wouldn't you know it, I forgot to pack gum. But no matter. We were soon out of West Virginia and into Delaware. I couldn't get a photo of the sign because it's so small and it comes up on you really fast. However, I did get the sign when we headed into Maryland.
One thing that really surprised me about Maryland is how mountainous it is. I really suck at geography and I had no idea that it had mountains. I thought it was flat like Illinois, only with more water. Shows you what I know. Anyway, by this time, we were already looking for somewhere to spend the night. We knew we would be staying in Maryland, but where? A stop at one of the rest stops answered that one. But I did take a moment to admire the view.
This scene is breathtaking. It reminds me of a place I used to visit as a teenager called Lost Bridge. It's in Missouri, where my grandparents retired in the early 70s. This really did trigger some memories for me. A view like this was very unexpected. But it was starting to get dark and we knew we had better get back on the road. We had decided to stay in Hancock for the night because we found a coupon for a room at the Super 8 there. Yeah, we spared no expense.
Tomorrow, we arrive in Atlantic City and I get a number of firsts.
Author's Note: Tonight's entry is a rant. This is MY blog and I can say anything I want. If you don't like someone calling a spade a spade, then find something else to read. Maybe something with unicorns.
OK, so I've been on Fetlife for five and a half years and in that time, I've made a few observations. There's a big spanking party in two weeks in Atlantic City (which your humble corespondent will be attending) and, as you might expect, the bratting is reaching a fever pitch. There's nothing wrong with bratting. However, bottoms like me who don't engage in it, often feel left completely out of the mix. Our comments are often completely ignored in favor of giving constant attention to the bottoms who do engage in this little pre-party ritual. I'm not whining here. I'm simply stating something that I have noticed in my years on Fetlife. I've noticed that even tops who claim they don't like bratting will get involved with threads or photos where bratting is going on. It makes it difficult to get noticed to say the least. If I can't get a top's attention on a social networking site, how am I going to get his attention in the flesh? It seems to me that bratting is sometimes used as a means of excluding certain people. Bratting gives me a headache, to be honest and I don't happen to find it cute or endearing. So when it starts to happen (whether in person or on a thread), that's my cue to get lost. In a party setting especially, when the brats converge on a room, Cheryl makes herself scares. It's a shame that tops miss out on a mature, enthusiastic and fun-loving bottom because they're kept so busy "dealing with" brats, but that's the reality.
Again, I'm not whining or complaining here. I'm just telling it like it is. When I first started in the scene (lo these many years ago), I tried to be all things to all people. I was quiet and sweet with tops who liked that type of bottom. I was a bit more mouthy to tops who liked a challenge. And on it went until I came to the conclusion that acting wasn't my strong suit. From then on, what you saw was what you got. I can't be something I'm not just to get someone to notice me. It takes too much energy and requires too many brain cells. Last year, I listed myself as "Going" on the BBW event page about two months in advance of the party. I did lengthy messaging with several people. This was my first time out of my Chicago comfort zone and so I thought it was important to let people know I was coming. In spite of that, you wouldn't believe how many people were surprised to see me. "I didn't know you were coming!" was something I heard at least a half a dozen times that weekend. I wanted to say "Of course you didn't. You were too busy chasing after the "Flavor of the Month". I'm not dissing anyone here. I'm just trying to relay and deal with the reality of my situation. For 53, I think I look pretty good. But in no way can I pass for 25. I can't even pass for 35. So what's a girl like me to do? In all these years, I have yet to figure that one out.
I love parties. I love the atmosphere, the commeradery, the action, everything. I even love that time when the party is winding down and everyone is getting last minute play in between packing their bags. And in all the time I've been attending parties, one thing has never changed. I have come away from every party disappointed that there was someone I wanted to play with, but didn't get to. Mostly, it happens because someone that I want to play with doesn't want to play with me. For whatever reason, I seem to be on several tops' "Do Not Play With" list. Yes, I know that I have a big mouth and I say what's on my mind. This is the by-product of living 53 years and spending approximately 50 of them going along with what other people want to the detriment of my own happiness. Yes, I know that not everyone is interested in playing with an older woman with arthritis, who can't assume some of the more imaginative positions favored by some tops. Yes, I'm an amazon and well aware that my size is somewhat daunting. Yes, I know that not being submissive hurts my chances with some of the tops I'd love to play with. I also know that there are d-types out there who are seriously into being obeyed and if that's your thing, that's fine. But not everyone will be willing to play along. Yes, I know that not being into schoolgirl/bad niece/distracted driving/overspending girlfriend roleplay also hurts my chances with some tops. To a lot of tops, these are small things that can be got around. But for many, some things are essential for their enjoyment of a scene and I don't fault them for that. I just think it limits them tremendously. Of course, I've had guys tell me the same thing because I'm not into bondage or floggers. So I guess that particular door swings both ways. But we all have our "things"...things that are so important for a scene that we can't imagine doing one without these elements in place.
So what is a girl to do in this situation? Social networking is great for those people who stand out enough to get noticed. Now don't misunderstand. I know that I'm fairly well known. I've had people refer to me as the "famous CherylKay". Puh-lease. I'm not famous in any generally accepted use of the word. I'm talking about to make my face stand out in the crowd of women who will be competing for attention at this year's BBW. I suppose I could just let all the tops know with a bright, cheerful message to their in boxes, but that might smack of desperation. At least this year I won't have broken ribs hampering my play.
In some regards at least, social networking sites can be downright anti-social. If you're not one of the "cool kids" you can almost expect to be eating lunch alone. Or at least banished with the rest of the un-cool ones to a far corner of the cafeteria. One of my Fetlife friends calls this the "Mean Girls Club" that seems to exist in some groups. It's comprised mostly of young, attractive girls who then lord the power of life and death over the rest of us. OK, that was a tad melodramatic. But at least they wield the power to make our time at the party not exactly the best time we ever had. I know people post myriad stuff over on Fetlife saying that no one but you should be responsible for your good time. All well and good if one is with the "in crowd". But what if you're not? How do you assure yourself of a good time when most of your time and energy is spent trying to stand out from the crowd? Many people on Fetlife chant the "we're all awesome" mantra and if that's what they need to cope, then call it what it is--a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, every ones' reality is different. Maybe it's because I'm a Capricorn and I tend to look at things with a practical eye, but there are just some negatives that can't be spun into a positive. No matter how many times I pep talk myself, I just can't convince myself that I'm just as attractive and desirable as a 22-year-old college girl. Since I can't compete in the looks/hot body department, I have to depend on my personality. And as stated above, I know my many shortcomings in that area. I happened to mention that I don't understand why the Vendor's Fair at BBW has to be a contest (the Uniformed Top event is already a contest) and I was roundly taken to task by more than one person for daring to go against the current. Aside from the competitive aspect of the fair, I'm concerned because there will be whistles blowing...loud ones I assume. I have only one ear without a perforated eardrum and I want to protect what hearing I still have. I failed to mention that in my first post, I realized later, and I know it might have gone better with me if I had mentioned it. But I'm a bit shy about mentioning my hearing loss publicly. But more to the point, I believe that it's just another excuse for the group "favorites" to get showcased. Apparently, the girl whose team loses will get spanked onstage. Like those girls aren't going to get spanked enough? And also it has been said that the contest will help drum up business for the vendors. Please. About 300 people (give or take) are going to be attending the party. Most of the vendors are well known to those of us who attend parties on a regular basis. Those people are going to absolutely clean up. What will a contest involving only young, cute girls accomplish that a contest that involves everyone and gives them a chance to win something won't? You can disguise it any way you want, but to me, it's still favoritism. I know how cynical I sound, but I gotta call 'em like I see 'em. Yes, I could have just kept my mouth shut and not said anything. But I feel, as someone who's paying my very hard earned money to attend, that my opinion ought to count as much as the next person's, popular or not. I think the reason I was so meanly addressed was that I dared to make it look like not everyone is on board with this. As a potential purchaser of items at the fair,no one came to me and said "Do you think this would be a good idea?" In Crimson Moon, something like this would be put to the group to gauge its popularity before being implemented. With this particular group, they do what they want behind closed doors and then, when they've made up their minds, they post it to the group and everyone is expected to be on board with it or risk being silenced like I was.
They're also going to have "Welcome Bunnies" again this year. As I said last year in my blog, it's just another chance for the "cuties" to get more attention. If it's not about looks, how come no one came to me and asked me to be one? I've worked with the public for years. I know how to shake some one's hand and say "Welcome to the party. I hope you have a good time." Realistically, I'm sure the costumes don't come in my size. It's just another way in which this group subtly lets people know that they aren't size friendly. They might be accepting of having larger women at the party, but you won't see any (or many if they do allow one or two to participate) up front being the "face" of the group. Now don't get me wrong. No one excluded me or made me feel bad at the party (no one in a leadership role anyway). The leaders did welcome me and Sherri (who was another first time attendee) and did tell us to let them know if we needed anything. But we didn't feel especially "included" either. The fact that so many CMers were also attending saved my life. If I had gone to that party last year not knowing anyone, I would have been lost. Many of the tops I asked to play turned me down. And many of them offered excuses so lame that no one except a complete newbie would believe them. What is a reasonable person to make of this? "Look on the positive side, Cheryl" you might say. But I ask what IS the positive side of being shot down in front of a roomful of people? And just what is the positive side of being shot down five consecutive times? To my own credit, I did try to put a face on it and make it look like my feelings weren't supremely hurt, but that much rejection is very hard to take and I defy anyone to not feel fat, ugly and unwanted in the face of such monumental rejection. Yes, I know that no one is obligated to play with me. I've had that one drummed into me, thank you very much. Yes, I know I'm supposed to accept "no" graciously. But I can only take so many blows to my ego. This never happened to me before. For my first few years attending CM parties, I was one of the busiest bottoms there. There was rarely a time when I wasn't either playing or recuperating. Now, even in CM, I find myself doing a lot more things I never had to do before; things like roaming the halls looking for someone to play with and finding most of the doors shut.
So here's the deal. I'm going to go to BBW with no expectations of any kind for getting played with. There's a lot to do in Atlantic City so I know I at least won't be bored. I'm going to put on my party clothes and put on my party face and hope for the best. I'm going to attend that party determined to have my own version of a good time. If others don't want to march to my drummer, then that's fine. I'll just wish everyone safe travels and good times and hope it all works out.
I've seen quite a few people on Fetlife lately voicing their concerns about whether or not they "belong". It's usually along the lines of someone telling them that they don't belong, whether directly or indirectly. This is nonsense. Who died and made a chosen few the ones who decide whether or not someone belongs? I didn't realize that these chosen few were the only ones doing it right and the rest of us are wrong. I've heard several variations on the "you're doing it wrong" judgment.
1) "You're not a true sub because you're too mouthy/aggressive/you made eye contact", etc.
Now, I'm not a sub so I have no idea what a "true" one is. But I have decided that this is something D-types and masters do to make subs feel bad about voicing an opinion or a limit.
News Flash: You have no right to tell someone they aren't real just because they don't do their particular kink the way you do it. You are not the be-all-and-end-all of kink.
2) "You're not a true dom because you switch/bottom privately/allow your sub to have her own ideas", etc.
I'm also not a dom so I can't really say what a true one is. But I do know that doms get the same mirror pointed at them, only in revers. If subs are supposed to always be subservient and docile, then doms are always supposed to be in command and know every answer to every question.
News Flash: Doms are human. They have the same weaknesses and imperfections as the rest of us. Again, if someone wants to call himself a dom but occasionally wants to bottom to someone, that shouldn't rock the kink boat that much.
3) "You should be a Domme because your mouth is as fat as your ass."
I was actually told this. So apparently, if I as a bottom, voice my opinion, I should be a Domme. Meaning that bottoms shouldn't have opinions. Or we can have them, we just can't voice them.
News Flash: This is a free country. I have just as much right to an opinion as anyone else. And I have the right to voice it, too, despite the fact that you don't like it.
4) "You shouldn't be on Fetlife because spanking is your only kink and that makes you practically vanilla."
I was actually told this, too. The person who said it took it upon himself to tell me this after I took exception to a photo of his. If you don't want people to comment negatively on your pics, either make them friends only or don't post them publicly.
News Flash: I am not vanilla in any way, shape or form. Would a vanilla lady smile like this with her bottom this red?
I seriously doubt it. I also doubt a vanilla woman would be able to handle all of the serious toys in this photo.
5) "You don't belong on Fetlife because you're a prude/won't meet strangers for sex/won't Skype with a total stranger/won't show your pussy", etc.
I wasn't aware that certain things were a requirement for being on Fetlife. I thought your profile was yours to do with as you please. I thought I could post whatever pics I want, whether they are nudes or not.
News Flash: The fact that I do or do not show certain parts of my anatomy is no concern of anyone else's. Fetlife is not a sex site, no matter how much people try to say it is.
6) "You don't belong on Fetlife because you're a Christian/conservative/Republican", etc.
I'm all three of those things and I'm not ashamed of any of them.
News Flash: There's no rule that I'm aware of that says a member of Fetlife has to be an atheist/liberal/Democrat. I know many people on Fet and in the scene whose ideals line up with mine. There are groups on Fet for Christians, atheists, Wiccans, agnostics, and everything else you can come up with. There's room for all of us.
7) "You don't belong on Fetlife because you don't believe that spanking is sex/can be punishment/has to cause tears", etc.
For me, spanking simply isn't sex. If spanking was sex, the top would have to wear a condom when he spanks me. There certainly is a sexual component and there are times when I can become highly aroused by spanking. But that still ain't sex, sorry.
News Flash: People are free to do their spanking any way they want to. If you use it for foreplay, great for you. If you want to keep your panties up for modesty's sake, then you go, girl. If you need spanking for emotional release, then knock yourself out.
8) "You don't belong on Fetlife because you don't watch Dexter/Firefly/Twilight/Walking Dead", etc.
I don't watch much television, unless it's baseball, History Channel or true crime documentaries.
News Flash: Since when do the shows you watch define whether or not you're kinky? The kinkiest man I know hasn't watched a television program since 2007.
9) "You don't belong on Fetlife because you don't get flogged/whipped/tied up", etc.
Not everyone in the spanking scene is into the heavier stuff.
News Flash: I've had whips used on me. It was enjoyable, but not really my thing. A person doesn't have to be into what you're into in order to qualify to belong on Fetlife.
OK, I could go on, but you get the idea. There seems to be a "mean girls club" that goes around telling women what they need to do to belong or be in the "in crowd". This is very sad. When I started in the spanking scene, things were different. People helped each other. There was a lot less competing going on. But now? Oh yes, things are different. For one thing, there's a plethora of young or inexperienced women flooding the scene, thanks in part to the "50 Shades" books and sites like Fetlife. I'm not knocking these ladies at all. There's room for everyone. But many of these people seem less than welcoming. They treat every party they go to like it's high school; where they're the cheer leaders and the rest of us are lesser beings because we're not as thin, cute, rich, perky, whatever. Most of the people in the scene are welcoming and very nice. But there are a few with attitude and I avoid them like the plague. I have no desire to sit and talk to someone who looks her nose down at me because my earrings aren't real diamonds.
I'm amazed at how unfeeling some people can be. I've seen enough posts by people telling others that they somehow aren't doing it right. This, to me, is a sign of insecurity. People often make themselves feel better by making someone else feel bad. This is too bad. We're all adults. Surely, someone can post an opposing opinion without people jumping on that person. I guess, all I can say is that I'm going to stay on Fetlife until the caretakers throw me off.