Once, out of curiosity, I went to a high-end BDSM store in Los Angeles; a big high-ceilinged place, a Macy’s of BDSM, with every kind of whip, chain, corset, costume, and leather restraint you could imagine. In the back of the store a clerk was helping a woman cinch her corset. A tall, fit, beautiful and charismatic woman with long black hair, whose considerable breasts seemed to become more considerable as the small, effeminate clerk tightened the laces. She saw me looking and gazed back with a coolness, not any coolness, but something clear as absinthe. It was not a “what the fuck are you looking at” gaze. It was not combative, but both friendly and austere. The image is burned into my memory. I see her now. There is something tender about the acknowledgement of what we hide.