Note: Sorry about the updates. I have been busy lately (See: Doing bad things to nice consenting people).
The following conversation is transcribed out of raw memory and footnotes. It pains me, that given the time between the event and the current writing, I could barely recall the full context of the conversation. However, as of note, it should be regarded that while following the rule of anonymity – hence removing much credibility of authenticity – that the encounter, along with the person I spoke with, still manages to retain inside my thick skull; suffice to say, it pains me worse that I could not recall his name.
“I’ve been in the scene for about the past four decades.” I look up momentarily from my attempt to light my cigarette. The response from the gentleman, much older than I am, clad in faded yet well maintained leather, smiles at my reaction. It was not an answer I was expecting from anyone and though it was expected, certainly it had caught me unaware.
Are you an Old Guard, Sir?
The man chuckles, shaking his head, lighting his cigar briefly. “I never liked that term. It makes people sound ancient, pretentious; but under the modern definition, yes, I am.” I blow out the smoke and shake his hand, and note that it is a firm grip – a subtle yet authoritative gesture, customary with ex-servicemen. “Are you enjoying the party so far, young man?”
I am, Sir, I reply. Though not entirely familiar with each and every aspect of leather protocol, the few bits and pieces kicked into effect – I did not break his gaze nor did I interrupt him when he spoke. Like most cultures, respect was shown to elders and the gentleman had the posture and air of someone with experience. There was modesty to his personality and tone, and it struck me as if though he would be dismissed as any senior individual if not for the patches that adorned his leather, the beret on his head.
What about you, Sir? I asked in return. The usage of titles such as “Sir” or “Ma’am”, “Master” or “Mistress”, are often reserved solely for play. Other times there are people in the scene with such titles and likewise it is considered extremely pretentious to force them on others. By my own personal conduct, it is a rule for myself to regard other Dom/mes by title only if I feel they have earned it by the caliber of their person. The leatherman, small in stature, standing in the corner had with him signs of age; however, a sternness was in his voice, followed by a gentle tone of voice.
He sighs, shaking his head, staring off at a crowd of young men and women, laughing and smoking in their circle not far away. “My evening is going well, the party though – too loud for my tastes.” We’re talking music and ambiance I presume? “No,” He says with a smile. “A bit of ego from the dominants, but that is a given at these events. Too many young folk who are unaware of what it means to be in the lifestyle, for them its all just a thrill and nothing more.”
Isn’t that the case with every generation though? He nods, “Of course. You’ve got to get used to it over the years especially now when there’s so many young people entering the scene.” But what about the leather culture? “What about it?” He asks, looking up at me. “Its changed and not what it used to be.”
There was a sadness in his voice when he said this, the kind of someone caught in reminiscing of some old memory. “Are you familiar with leather?” He asked. I nodded, adding, that in all honesty only bits and pieces of the culture. “Do you know what these patches mean?” No, Sir, I do not. You earned them didn’t you?
“These patches were given to me by people from long ago, people who aren’t here. People who were my friends, my brothers, my Masters, my mentors and my family.” He paused momentarily, blinking his small eyes, appearing to fight back his emotions. “They were ceremoniously given to me. These were patches that were given to me for supporting them, for being part of them, but the truth is they’re just patches and have little value.”
“The culture has changed and now there’s a new generation of leather. Most if not all of the roots have been forgotten, lost in time, but I don’t want to enforce them on anyone. Its not my right to have a say on what anybody does. Sometimes I look back and see these young men, who enter the scene with the title of ‘Master’ when back in the day, you had to enter mentorship and earn them.”
I’m sure there’s a few people who still follow those traditions. “Of course,” He says, glancing at a few people in leather as they step out. They bow their heads momentarily, one of them tipping the front edge of his cap. “In the eyes of everyone else, we’re just a bunch of queers who dress up and follow protocols, but their is a significance behind that that few people understand. It was all there for a reason and necessary.”
“That’s really all there is.” He says, smoking his cigar, returning that brave smile at me momentarily. “I don’t look back and think about how good things were back then, about the people who were there before, but instead some small part of me is proud to have known them, to have loved them, and to have been responsible in some small forgotten way that all this.” He glances back at the convention floor, curtained off inside the center space. “All this, was created by the fruits of their love and labor, and the new generation I see is a change of hands, a passing of the guard.”
“I don’t think any of the old Masters would credit themselves for it. There’s no point in recognition than there is being part of something.” He removed his cap momentarily to scratch his head, then waves a hand dismissively when I mistook the gesture by removing my own hat. “These men and women, all of them, are part of a collective history. You are part of that history. I was part of that history.” We’re not so different you and I, I replied, extending my hand. He shook it again, smiling, “You’re listening to some old guy rant.”
Don’t you dare say that, I replied. He arches a brow, as if to say, ‘Really?’ though he said nothing. Thank you, Master <redacted>, and the title is well deserved. “No, thank you.” The old guard extinguishes his cigar, looking back at the convention. Are you alone here? I asked him. “I am.” He replies, glancing back. “Most of the people in my house have passed away, I recognize a few others but most of them are strangers to me.”
“That’s something else,” He adds. “You get used to it after a while. Some day I’ll go back to my family again. I’ll be glad to have lived to see all this unfold, all this grow. That’s the beauty of it – this kind of convention, those contests you hear about, never took place back then. Now look at how things have changed.”
“For the better, I imagine, though not really. It isn’t the same but still somewhere, right down the line, it all began a long time ago.” With a deep breath, he lets out a sigh, then adds, “You should probably go in. Have a good evening.”
Thank you. “For what?” For this, I replied. Thank you for this. He extended his hand again and when I took it, he clasped his other around it and smiled. We hugged one another briefly then, just like that, he was gone.
Next Update: KinkFest by Night: Part 2