Teacher's bet

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andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

I have a bit of a moral dilemma. I am a submissive. Sometimes I correspond with, or even meet up with, people I find on the Internet for no-strings-attached fun. I always feel like I'm in control of my life, even when I'm chained up and blindfolded, and I think that it's a healthy (enough) expression of my sexuality. However, I am also about to start training to be a teacher of kids under age 10.

Obviously, the two parts of my life have no relation to each other. But is it possible to pursue interests that could varyingly be described as "niche" or "perverted," and at the same time be a responsible caregiver to children? Do you think it is possible for my private life not to get in the way of my professional development?

Love,

Tied up in Knots

Dear Knots:

Of course I do. I'd better. I'm a retired pervert (I have no time!), and still writing this column and consorting with every stripe of (harmless) freak you can or can't imagine. If I thought that knowing the people I know or admitting in public to having belonged to clubs which would now no longer have me as a member posed any sort of threat to my children — ever! — you better believe I'd be out of Pervertville and living in the suburbs wearing those weird sneaker-loafers (snoafers) that normal moms wear before you could say "I shop at Talbots." Happily, I don't have to. There's nothing about your hobby which should impede your ability to be the bestest teacher of little kids you can be. There's nothing wrong with your hobby! Your question does set off some alarm bells, but I have no question that you can be not only a good person, but a self-directed one, fully in control — of your life, if not your limbs — while still enjoying being caught in any number of compromising positions.

What does worry me is the online hooking-up for activities that leave you helpless to defend yourself. I understand that some might find the very phrase "helpless to defend yourself" kind of hot (hell, I find the phrase kind of hot), and I'm also aware that real life is not an episode of Law and Order: Sleazy Exploitative Plotlines Unit. But seriously, I would not let strangers tie me up, and I wouldn't mind if you didn't, either. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you can join a club or take classes or otherwise meet people who would love to tie you up, and, even more important, meet other people who know those people. The chance that any of these Internet strangers might wish you harm is admittedly slight, but there are bad people in this world. Please try not to meet any.

The other thing about strangers, of course, is that you don't know very much about them, including where they work and whom they know, which brings us to our next area of worry: how to keep your two worlds from ever, ever meeting. I'm imagining the principal at your new school arriving, toy bag in hand, to administer a good caning to that girl he met on the Internet (Or are you a guy? It doesn't matter either way.) That scenario is far-fetched, granted, but you'll be wanting — needing, actually — to keep your two lives rigorously separate from now on, if you aren't already. I said your personal proclivities should not affect your ability to be a great teacher, and indeed they should not (if you find yourself so drawn to the alleged Dark Side that you can't get it together to sleep or do lesson plans or get up for work in the morning, we'll have another talk), but that depends utterly upon your ability to keep your secret self secret.

I am not a huge fan of the deep dark secret any more that I am big on urging people to blab to Aunt Babs at Sunday supper about their previous night's exploration of scrotal inflation and anal electrodes: to everything its proper time and place, I say.

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