On FetLife I'm part of a group called NYC C.O.P. (Creepy Old People) 45 and up, started by my friend "Dictatrix". It was I guess started as tongue-in-cheek, a self-deprecating attempt to counter the new wave of young'uns that make up TNG (The Next Generation). Now, I have my friends among the 30-, 40- and 50-somethings, plus some older people and some younger people.
But when faced with a crowd of younger people, the majority of whom I don't know well, it is easy to feel intimidated. Will I make any connections here? Will I automatically not fit in because, by their group's description alone I am excluded (not from Paddles, but from membership into TNG)?
Do I NEED to fit in? No, of course not. The reason the group exists was to counter feeling different in some of the venues. Many of the parties HAVE been populated by older folks for a long time. Of course many of us weren't old when we started! But some of us were, just by nature of not being comfortable publicly displaying our kink.
Many of the younger generation were raised in a more public type of world, with the internet, texting, blogging, Tweeting -- a more public, exposed way of living that made taking the leap into the public scene not a big deal. At least that's what I gather.
The difference between TNG and myself is that I am not, and never have been, part of any large group. I never belonged to a leather family, in fact, in my early days of coming to Paddles I remember feeling quite jealous that I was not part of one of the little groups that I would see gathering there.
Contrary to popular myth, a single woman does NOT always have an easy time of it in the scene. Yes, I got offers to play, but the offers often came with caveats I wasn't comfortable with. I liked casual play, but (usually) not casual sex, for instance -- a lot of doms seemed to have a hard time understanding this. As I've said on previous occasions, spanking is not my only kink, but I gravitated toward the spanking community because it was more accepting and less demanding.
So, seeing the large group of younger folks at Paddles on Saturday night reminded me not only of my early, lonely, tentative steps into the scene, but also of high school, where I was constantly on the outs. I'm sure within TNG there are people who don't feel liked, who aren't as pretty or as outgoing as others, who have a similar awkward feeling when approaching the throngs. But they are, at least, within the required age range. I'm not.
And why does that matter? Well, for one thing, it means less attention for me! Who are you going to look at? The flabby 46-year-old, or the nubile 20-something dangling from a beautiful display of rope on the main stage? There are hot young girls afloat, much more than Paddles has probably seen in a long time. If a 40-something dom has his pick of 20-somethings or 30-somethings who are just as willing to take pain or have things done to them as a 40-something, who is he going to pick? (I have YET to have a 20-something dom ask me to play -- some "let's play soon" comments, but nothing serious).
I feel awkward in general, among both the girls and the guys. In the ladies' room at Paddles women often talk to each other as they are struggling to change or simply to wash and dry their hands within the tight space. Compliments are exchanged -- "nice skirt!" etc. I saw a young woman with red lines on her back and shoulder. "Nice marks," I said. "Single tail?" I got the impression that she didn't want to be bothered. "Knife," she answered. "Very nice," I repeated, and I might have gotten a "thank you," but it seemed cold and dismissive, as if I wouldn't understand. Yes, you are young and wild and hot. I am old and boring and ready for pasture. Sigh.
Oh, I am not giving up on the public scene by any means, even though I'm feeling my age these days. I still want to go to some of the "younger" parties like Suspension (next time I don't have to work the next day ... ). And as a switch who is quite good at delivering a spanking or flogging or strapping with authority, maybe one of those hot young things will come my way at some point...