Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Candy Store

Everything I Needed to Learn About a Dungeon,
  • I Learned at the Candy Store.

    By Jerome “Treasure” Bambrick

    I remember, as a child, the first time I walked into a candy store. I had just come from the doctors office and had gotten some rather painful shots. As a reward for being so good my mother told me we would get to visit the candy store. While I can no longer remember the pain in my bottom from the shots, I definitely remember the first time I went to see the Candy Man.

    I ran from the car door all the way up to the store window and smooshed my face against it looking in. I started jumping up and down yelling for my mother to catch up, but for some reason, I realized I was also a little afraid. My heart was in my throat since I was so close to those delicious little treats I had dreamed of, yet all my life I had been told that those treats were bad for me.

    I had always been told that if you eat candy your teeth will rot or you'll get sick to your stomach. I was never to accept candy from strangers and I was punished if I was caught eating candy before a meal. At Halloween we used to have to check the candy for razors and see if any were tampered with. Even with the stigma that had been engrained in me that candy was bad I would still sneak some before dinner whenever I could. I always felt guilty about it later, but I couldn’t help myself. Mainly I always felt guilty because I couldn't share it with anyone, I had to keep it a secret or risk getting caught and in trouble.

    Finally, after what felt like an eternity, my mother caught up with me at the window and came and kneeled down to my level (she did this when she was serious) and took both of my hands in hers, looked me right in the eye and said “Remember that you can look, but don't touch unless I say so. Do you understand? You have to have permission before you touch anything. It is safe to eat the candy in here, but you still need to be careful young man.” I nodded my head half heartedly as I kept straining to go inside.

    When that door finally opened my senses were overloaded from all the sweet smells and what seemed to be piles and piles of incredible delights. Every warning my mother had just given me was completely forgotten as I ran from display case to display case. The man behind the counter was smiling at me and asked if there was something I wanted to try. I nodded my head up and down furiously.

    “Ok, what would you like?” He asked. That's when I realized that I had no clue exactly what I really wanted; I just wanted to try it all. But I couldn't decide, I didn't know what was good and what was bad, it all looked so good to me.

    Then I heard my mother's voice saying “Why don't you try the clusterbars, you always seem to be asking me to get you those?” I nodded and the man behind the counter gladly gave me a taste and my world seemed to explode. It was wonderful and all I wanted was to try more and more and keep the taste and sensations coming. I was in heaven and this was my cloud nine.

    The wonders just kept coming and the man behind the counter just kept smiling and gladly handed me more of those tasty concoctions. I found that I liked some more than others and some I just spit out, but each time I did my mother would just look at me and say “Well how would you have known you didn’t like it unless you tried it?” I will also never forget when I tried one and quickly spit it out and said “Iiiicckkkk, that’s just nasty. Anyone who likes that isiiccckkyyy?” My mother spun me by the shoulders to face her and then she kneeled down (so I knew I was in trouble) and said “Don’t you ever judge the likes and dislikes of others. Who are you to judge someone else?”

    While I didn't understand her completely back then, I knew I had done wrong and just said “I'm sorry Mommy, I didn't mean it.” She patted my head and said “OK, and then handed me another candy in a wrapper to try.

    The odd thing I found was that I couldn't always tell what was behind the wrapper. I had always assumed that if the wrapper was black it was liquorish, dark was chocolate, golden was caramel and white was…well that one always baffled me. But they weren't, they just kept changing and ever time I assumed I found I was usually wrong. I realized that I had to ask questions before I just put something in my mouth. Instead of just grabbing for the sweet I was asking “What is it? What's in it”? If it was something I had never tried I realized that I was being more cautious, but each time my mother would remind me “How do you know if you don’t try it?”

    I remember that when we were ready to leave, with a bag of my favorite joy and my belly full, I realized that I was feeling… guilty again. I couldn't understand it, I was in heaven and I was feeling that something wasn't right. I realized that I normally had to sneak my candy and not tell anyone. Now that I had such an incredible experience, the first thing I want to do was tell everyone about it. I wanted everyone to share in my joy and happiness. But I also knew that if I told everyone, they would want to share my candy and I wasn't sure I wanted to do that. But I knew I would tell my best friend Michael, he was someone I knew I could trust.

    As we were leaving I will never forget how the Candy Man waved Good-bye and said “Come back tomorrow and I will have something new for you to try.”

    For some reason I always remember this when I think about my first time coming into the community. I found so many things remain true today as they did when I was 8 years old. The Candy man has changed, but he still has something new for me to try every time. He also reminds me that:

  • Its OK to be nervous when you are new, its normal
  • Keep an open mind to trying new things
  • Don’t touch others or their things without permission
  • Learning and being cautious is a good thing
  • Don’t judge others for something you don't like.
  • Don't assume.
  • You will have feelings about what you do, sometimes elations, sometimes guilt. Just know that it's normal.
  • It's OK to say I'm sorry if you do something wrong.
  • Mentors can help you when you are not sure.

Jerome is a long time California scene member best known for the largest collection of floggers this side of heaven, and the skills to use them. Co-Founder of smOdyssey and The Dungeon Monitors Association, he is currently a leading advocate for the NCSF. He teaches and lectures nationwide on BDSM issues.

Copyright 2006 J.Bambrick.


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