I'm a twenty-seven year old single guy in NYC. Sometimes, when I can afford it, I see sex workers, especially dominatrixes. It's great! I do my best to be a respectful client, and a crucial part of that is ignoring each other when we happen to be in the same space outside of the dungeon. At most, and only with dommes I've had multiple sessions with, a quick "Hi." Recently though, a friend of mine showed up to a show with his new girlfriend, who just the week before had me licking her boots. We're good friends, so I can't just not hang out with him, and I know she'll be around for a lot of that time. I see no need to tell him about it; it's our business. I've emailed with her, and she seems fine keeping me as a client. There's very little physical touching in our sessions. I prefer humiliation and j/o, maybe some face slapping. I want to keep seeing her. Is that okay?
Thatz not okay.
It's odd that the needle on your common courtesy compass is spinning so wildly as you attempt to navigate this situation, because normally your manner when pursuing your fantastic sexual goals is sure-footed—even fastidious: You avoid plunging into debt by only seeing sex workers when your budget allows for it. Your interactions with these dominatrices—by design, polite in the sheets—are, if anything, even more polite in the streets. You employ the demure abbreviation "j/o" when explaining how you like to pay your friend's special gal to discipline you for j-ing/o in her presence. It sounds like you're leaving a Yelp review about treating yourself to an ice cream cone, right down to the enthusiastic positive feedback ("It's great!").
Maybe the problem is that you're a little too even-keeled about the whole scenario. You're acting like your buddy started dating your accountant .
You describe this man as a "good" friend, but you seem to have a stronger allegiance to his girlfriend; your first reaction when this situation arose was not to stop paying his girlfriend for sexual gratification, but to stop hanging out with him. You imply you're worried about how your masturbatory sessions with his girlfriend might impact your friendship, but you mostly just sound relieved that his friendship won't jeopardize your professional relationship. It sounds like he's a good friend, and you're a bad, bad, bad friend who needs to be punished in a tremendously erotic way.
If this were a one-dungeon town, you would have a stronger case for refusing to cease sexual contact with this woman (a stronger case is not winning case; it's just that at the moment your case is made of wet cardboard and cannot be relied upon to convey anything heavier than a paperclip). But this is New York City: you can't take two steps outside without tripping over someone seeking or offering payment for the indulgence of sexual urges. This woman is not even the only dominatrix you patronize; your romantic life is like a ribald word problem. (If you casually bump into no fewer than 3 but no more than 9 dommes a week, and, of the dommes you meet, only one-third are dommes with whom you have had multiple sessions, and if you only say a quick "Hi" to those women who have slapped your face on at least two separate occasions: What is the maximum number of pleasantries you will exchange with former paid sex partners in a given week?) If anything, you will be going out of way to continue visiting his girlfriend as a client if you continue to pursue your current course.
That there is "very little physical touching" in your sessions probably would not be a significant mitigating factor for your friend. (What exactly do you think he might have a problem with, if not the sex stuff? The fact she's making money?) If it were really no big deal, you two wouldn't be conducting secret email correspondence in an effort to conspire against him.
It's sweet that you have such faith in this blossoming love affair that you are certain you are going to be seeing a lot of your friend's girlfriend in the coming season—sex workers are not notorious for their long, stable relationships. But the reality is that if a relationship starts off with an omission as ominous as this one, it's probably not destined to succeed. You horndogs can probably wait it out.
(If you can't, at some point you will probably start to feel awkward making small talk about a recent barbecue while you count out the $100 you are going to give your friend's girlfriend for letting you j/o on her shoes.)
While I agree that you're not obligated to fill him in on your shared sexual past, etiquette dictates that you should not continue to purchase sexual favors from your friend's girlfriend while they are dating.
The last leg of my commute to work involves a cab—the same cab, daily, shared with the same people driven by the same taxi driver. He is a nice guy, very pleasant, and he appears to know all of the passengers in the cab on a first name basis. Everyone but me, that is. He refers to me by my place of business and I've never gotten around to correcting him. It's always, "See ya tomorrow, [my job]!" And I just stupidly go, "See ya tomorrow, [his actual name]." I'd like to let him know my actual name as well, but it's been a year and a half of this and I'm not sure it is doable without making things uncomfortable. It's a small cab and there are seven of us. If I want to correct him one of these days, is that okay?
Thatz not okay.
If the cab driver made any mistake here, it was in thinking that you were cool enough to deserve a nickname in the first place.
It is unlikely this man thinks your name is actually "Keown and Mahoney Small Business Printing Services." He knows "United Parcel Service, Edison Facility" would be an absurd name to give to a baby. There is no need to tap him on the shoulder one morning and wince ,"Hey, Gerald? You know I'm not the Burger King, right? I'm just one of his trusted employees. My name? Darren."
When you have passing but regular interactions with someone, it's nice for everyone involved if the two of you can establish a "thing." An occupation-based nickname is cordial without being overly familiar. So that's your thing.
Of all the quibbles one can have with a service industry person, "He gave me an inoffensive nickname" is one of the worst. Why does this continue to eat away at you 18 months on? Are you concerned he's not able to identify you by name in his nightly prayers?
If you want to correct someone's name (or nickname) for you, you have about a two week window from the point of first address. There is no graceful way to "correct" your appellation one-and-a-half years in. A baby that was born the first time this man referred to you as "Dog Euthanasia Center" can now clamber up the stairs and follow a short list of simple verbal commands. You can't suddenly turn around to the cat you've been letting into your home and feeding for one-and-a-half years and say, "You know you're not my cat, right?"
Nicknames can be added in perpetuity until death. But, like colorful food dye staining the frosting of our lives, they can never be removed.
If you want to get your name across indirectly, the list of methods for doing so is endless. You can make a phone call from the cab ("Steve? It's Darren from RadioShack. D-A-R-R-E-N.") You can leave your driver's license or a piece of mail in the backseat. You can wait until December, and give the driver a holiday card with your name signed in big block letters. You can relay a story about yourself getting yelled at at work to the entire car. You can trick one of the other commuters into addressing you by name. If you ever pick up another rider, you can loudly introduce yourself: "My name is DARREN, but my friends call me HOLLYWOOD for reasons I am confident will become apparent over the course of our casual friendship."
From now on, instead of fretting over the implications of your multiple identities, why not use this opportunity to explore the outer reaches of your personality? "Darren" is a weenie who often fails to successfully introduce himself in social situations. Maybe "Rita's Italian Ice, Across the Street from the Abandoned Mall" speaks conversational French.
Have fun with it. Flesh this character out every day and, in a year and a half, if you find you get along better as him, consider shedding your old identity entirely.
If he's been driving you to work every day for a year and a half and knows the first name of everyone else in his taxi cab, it's quite probable that this gentleman knows your name too, and chooses not to employ it. Why would he? You've got a fun nickname.
Thatz Not Okay is a regular column in which I school inquiring readers on what is and is not okay. Please send your questions (max: 200 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Thatz Not Okay." Image by Jim Cooke.