On Asking Permission vs. Being Offered It

My uniform code specifies no hair styling or makeup or jewelry unless you count my collar and watch; no tattoos, piercings, hair cutting or coloring.  It occurs to me very rarely to ask to shake it up; fashion has never been my thing, especially over convenience.   

There’s one dress that’s not my uniform that’s stuck around; Mistress has me wear it to the occasional holiday party or on her birthday.  This past year on my own birthday, I asked to wear a sweater I’d received for the recently passed Christmas before donating it; she said yes.  (The sweater was from her mother.)   

Oddly inspired, I recently asked to put my hair in two braids mostly to functionally keep it out of the way and off my neck in the three digit heat when we went out to play tennis; she said yes. It felt like a strangely big thing to ask for without a real occasion.  My uniform hairstyle was a twisted ponytail for about a year until we found out it was causing headaches; it’s been about a year of leaving it down since.  The only time I’d asked for a hairstyle modification previously was that birthday with the sweater. 

When it does occur to me to ask, I rarely do.  It’s the one percent when I ask of the one percent when I think of it.  It feels… loaded.  I feel like I need a justification, or something that waters it down, like a brief timeframe.  I think of the circumstances and if I’m ahead on chores and what mood she’s in and if she’s busy and what other things I’ve asked permission for recently; I probably ask or gain permission for dozens of things a day, most of them being granted permission to leave her presence or shift from my kneeling position on the floor.  Little things.  But the may I… comes up so often that I don’t want to add to the count unnecessarily.   

Usually, at dinner time, when I’ve just put the food on the table, I send her a message; she has an alarm set for ten minutes before our set time, six, so she knows to wrap up what she’s doing.  My message is a final notification.  And then she’ll come downstairs and either tell me I may sit at the table, or tell me first to get her more coffee, more water, something from the kitchen. 

Once, recently, she came downstairs and mistakenly thought I had asked for permission to sit before she simply granted it without the question.  Usually her first words at the bottom of the stairs or edge of the dining room are, “You may sit,” before I say anything.  This time, she thought I asked first and seemed a little bewildered.  I had to laugh, a little, because she had previously teased me for not sitting at the table before she got downstairs, leaving me technically alone, thus able to sit on the furniture at will.  Later, I reflected to her that it felt rather like rules lawyering to sit at the table when I was alone but knew she’d be down in a minute at my notification, the thing in the back of my mind that kept me from doing so. 

I brought this up to her along with an idea.  What if I didn’t ask to sit on the furniture?  What if I only did so if she granted the permission unprompted?  As an offer of permission, it’s generous; as a question, it’s loaded.  I explained how much goes on in my head when I ask permission for things and expressed that this seemed like a simple permission to experiment with, because I so rarely have to actually ask, and it’s an easy thing for her to notice I might want.  Once I cleared up one misunderstanding and she heard my explanation, she agreed to give it a shot, noting only the promise of punishment if I complained about an opportunity where she didn’t offer the permission.  

It’s been going well so far, and largely unnoted.  I’ve enjoyed it.  I think I sit on the furniture a little less, which is fine by me.  Headspace reinforcing.  One friend, visiting and then running a brief errand and returning, came back and found us with Mistress on the couch, and me kneeling in front of her on the floor in my standard position, knees apart, hands behind my back.  He asked if he was interrupting.  “No, no, just having a conversation,” she told him.  He still seemed to be backing away. 

“Not a conversation,” I told him, seeing what he was eyeing; “but like, chatting.  This is just how we talk.” 

Realization or remembering dawned and we proceeded.  

Yes, I guess it can look a little formal, but I often forget what it looks like to a third party.  To us, it’s natural.  It probably does look like we’re having a conversation visually even if we’re audibly discussing the weather or what’s for brunch.  It was barely in my head until it was noticed during that conversation, less notable than the unleashing position I’d assumed early that morning to get out of bed, or the inspection position I’d assumed after my shower, and those weren’t much conscious, either.  It was just, I was wiping down the coffee station, Mistress was sitting on the couch, she said, “When you’re done wiping that down, come kneel over here,” and I said, “Yes, Mistress,” and did. 

But the formality difference might have been somewhere in my head when I hesitated to ask to sit on the furniture, and it feels better to wait for the offer, or not do so at all—to be more at her true whim.  That’s a great feeling. 

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