My First Munch

[Image description: Photo is of a gray tee-shirt with a red raised fist design and white block lettering that says “Introverts Unite…Occasionally in small groups for very limited periods of time”]

I attended my first munch in August of 2018, right after divinity school orientation ended. #Priorities. A munch is a public get-together of kinky people, usually at a restaurant. No whips or chains there, just people chatting over food. Especially for new people, munches are a great way to connect with the local kink community, make friends, and find safe play partners. 

I was quite nervous before I went, changing clothes three times–it was a true Lizzie McGuire montage–before settling on a skinny jean-combat boot-jacket ensemble. I had read that I should “dress for success.” 

Fortunately, my Uber driver didn’t ask why I was taking a twenty-minute drive to this particular IHOP when another IHOP was much closer. Feeling like a detective, I told the restaurant manager that I was looking for “the group in the back.” I found them, a merry bunch with black clothes and colorful hair. 

They made room for me but didn’t engage much at first. Starting to feel like a statue, I mustered the courage to say “I’m an introvert; please talk to me!” Miraculously, they did. We chatted about kink and ate pancakes. I felt a thrill as I told them I was in divinity school and wanted to work on the issue of sexual shame in Christianity. Everyone was friendly. 

After the munch, we carpooled to the local sex-positive dungeon. On the way, I learned that for some people, the appeal of kink isn’t sexual at all–some just like the rush of impact or the opportunity to relax into a different role for a while. 

In the play space, I met three or four white guys with scruff and glasses over the course of the night. It’s a little embarrassing to say, but in the dark, they looked so similar that I didn’t realize they were all different people at first. To this day, I’m still not sure exactly how many dudes I talked with as I sat on that leather sofa, though one of them eventually became a friend and play partner. 

Of course, even in the low light, the house bootblack noticed how scuffed my boots were. A little sheepishly, I climbed into the bootblack chair. I chatted with her shyly while she cleaned and conditioned my boots–they were too dry at that point to be polished! I have since learned how to take better care of my boots. It is now one of my sub’s tasks. 

I watched the play with scientific interest, somewhat overwhelmed by the effort to watch multiple scenes unfold simultaneously. It was easier to focus on one at a time. In one memorable scene with two women, the top (the sensation-giver) kicked and hit the bottom (the player receiving the sensation) with wooden spoons and spatulas. They both smiled and giggled the whole time. At the end of the scene, the bottom slid down the wall, laughing uncontrollably as the experience washed over her.

Watching their joyful play reminded me that I didn’t have to play a certain way to be kinky (nor did I need to act like a movie dominatrix). I’ve been back to the play space and to munches several times since then. When I’m feeling awkward, I remember that I can always wave the introvert flag, and someone will welcome me.

Fireworks

[Image description: Photo is of distant exploding orange and gold fireworks.]

Picture me at age four. It’s the fourth of July. I’m at an Independence Day celebration at the local megachurch. I’ve been so excited to see the fireworks. But when I actually see them, loud and bright and technicolor, I’m terrified. When I look up, they’re so close that it feels as if they’re coming down on me like fiery rain. After a few minutes trying to tolerate it, I cut and run, bolting across the field to my dad’s car. And my dad? He’s running with me, not after me. He isn’t mad at me for being scared. After that, we admire the fireworks from a distance. 


Even now, over two decades later, I prefer to keep my distance from fireworks and sparklers. They’re beautiful, but when I’m too close, my fear of injury and sense of “overwhelm” make me unable to enjoy their beauty. I stand a little farther back from them than most people. And that’s okay. In my life, there are shows, events, relationship styles, people, and activities that I prefer to admire from afar. That’s the best way for me to enjoy them. It doesn’t make me a coward. It doesn’t mean that I don’t respect those who choose differently–quite the contrary. It doesn’t mean that I’ll never change my mind. It does mean that I know what I need right now (like when I needed to get away from those fireworks right then). And it feels good to know that the caring people in my life respect that.