I Don’t Think of Self Care as Service

I don’t think of self care as service.

Firstly, I’d like to specify that—for this post—when I say self care, I’m talking about basic physical health maintenance—a healthy, regular diet, hydration, basic hygiene, enough sleep, so on.  I’m not currently speaking only of luxury self care or of mental self care, and am mostly speaking of the day to day, not lifestyle overhauls.

Now, self care is valuable.  The very basics of it are even necessary.  On either side of the slash, with or without a dynamic, kinkster or vanilla—you need water and food and sleep and such to survive.  To be healthy, you need enough of those things, regularly, and it needs certain healthful qualities.

That’s also reason number one why I don’t think of self care as service: I have to do it, with or without Mistress.  It’s not an option.  I did it before her.  What I strictly need and what is reasonably healthy don’t change because of my dynamic.

My personal—not universal—definition of a service is something that Mistress would need or want, independent of me.  Now, there are services I initially introduced her to, but now she’d want them independently.

Making her meals is a service.  With or without me, she has to eat.  Cleaning the house is a service.  With or without me, she’d want a clean living environment.  (And—as a side effect at the very least—this does mean that there’s food and a clean environment for me, too.)

Now, without me, she’d probably lower her standards of clean.  She’d probably handle certain tasks in a way that was easier or faster, or neglect them entirely, unless there was someone else to outsource to.  This happens on a small scale when I’m too sick to serve. But in her ideal world, she would still want those tasks to have been done, frequently and well, and there are plenty of others she would pick up doing herself eventually.

So, those are services she just wants done, period, with or without me. And I love providing service. It’s my full time job. 

But, if I wasn’t in her life, she wouldn’t want or need my self care.  Sure, as a kind person, she’d wish good self care on any given person out there, but it wouldn’t really have value for her.  So it doesn’t meet my personal criteria for service there.

Let me give a disclaimer: I’m not naturally inclined to self care.  It’s not a talent of mine, for various reasons, including the schizophrenia (which I blog and teach on).  Left to my instincts, I forget self care, I procrastinate on it, I view it as a necessary evil, I shove it aside in the name of being a monomanic tortured artist workaholic. However, I don’t truly endorse that method, and so I try to rise above those instincts and take care of myself to get more done, using productivity systems and, well, Mistress ordering me to take a break already.

Aha, you might say. So she does want your self care. Well, yes. And I’m grateful for that. There are a few things to consider in that, though, besides her just caring about me.

One: not everything I do because of Mistress is a service. Yes, we view service as a key focus of our dynamic, but we also have other focuses and are generally M/s. To me, a lot of other things I do because of her fall under acts of submission, but not service.  While submission and service are highly correlated concepts for me—but certainly not for everyone—they’re not exactly the same. 

I think of acts of submission as anything I do because of Mistress.  This could be obeying a once off order, doing a recurring service task that was assigned, obeying a rule (ever present) or a (somewhat situational) protocol, asking for permission when required, wearing my daily uniform, assuming my slave positions, so on.  I exclude from this the things that I would do with or without her. 

So, some self care acts are not acts of submission, either—things I do attend to well myself.  But some—the ones I do only because of her—are, by my personal criteria at least.  That is an act of submission because it is not something I also happen to want—I am submitting to her will: having a largely healthy slave. And submission is important to me.

Another thing to consider: it’s difficult if not impossible to provide consistent, quality service without consistent, quality self care.  My service declines when I’m too hungry, too tired, too dehydrated, so on.  While I don’t think of self care as service in itself, it is a crucial step one towards service. For her, ensuring my self care is, if nothing else, a cost of quality service. 

In my Anticipatory Service class, I have a section on learning new service skills.  While learning the skill might not be in itself service by my criteria, you sure can’t provide that service without it. I view self care similarly. 

Likewise, if you have a traditional job, self care and learning probably aren’t part of your job description, but you can’t do your job well without them.

And because I want to do a good job, I must value self care at least for that.

Say, virtually all of my (not super incidental) required tasks come from one of two places: my calendar, and my recurring task list.

I have rules about what goes on those. It must connect to at least one of the following: writing, being a kink educator, running Las Vegas TNG, going to butler school, being a slave (service or submission), or maintaining my physical health.  I chose these areas based on their reflection of my personal core values list. I do plenty of other good things, but those don’t earn a place in the official systems.

And you saw my health listed in there: it deserves the priority because it feeds the other categories, including my service.

Now, being a slave also affects my self care in other ways.  We’re high protocol and practice lifestyle sadomasochism. This affects my self care.

I need permission to go to the bathroom. (Sometimes she accompanies me and throws humiliation in there.) I need permission to shower, am required to do it regularly, am required to shave everything neck down whenever I do (unless I gain permission otherwise), and am required to report for an intimate inspection after. (Sometimes she uses this opportunity for watersports, soaping, cold showers, etc.) I sleep on the floor, nude, on a leash, with a set wakeup and bed time.

I love all areas of our dynamic, and sometimes they require self care, and sometimes they make it a challenge.

In the end, I want our dynamic to be about her, for her to get the best deal she can get—and sometimes that means putting myself aside, but sometimes that means overcoming that instinct to make sure she has a largely healthy, well taken care of slave.

I don’t think of self care as service—but it’s part of our dynamic, and it’s important.

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24/7 High Protocol: First Thing in the Morning

This is how I wake up pretty much every morning.

My alarm goes off.  7:20 as required. I shut it, blink myself awake.  I hit the pager transmitter button that will make Mistress’ pager buzz with the message for a leashing related request.  Only she can remove my leash, since she’s awake and home. My pager—slave bell—unbuzzed by this particular alert, sits nearby. 

I move towards Unleashing Position.  Kneeling back on my heels, knees spread, big toes crossed right over left, back straight, with my hair and head out of the way, collar o-ring and thus leash clip in front, leash resting on my upturned palms at the tops of my thighs. 

Some mornings, I’m not quite there yet when she comes in, but she’ll unleash me anyway. Other times, she waits. I like it when she waits.

As I move, my blanket slips from around me. I sleep leashed on the floor at the foot of the bed; my blanket—slave furs—is warmth, a bit of padding, and my primary bedding, though other things—like an extra blanket, a pillow—phase in and out. It’s pretty comfortable. On Saturday nights, I’m allowed to sleep in the bed, and sleep in the next morning.  But that’s not today. 

Today, air hits my skin as the blanket slips; I’m required to sleep nude and I’m not allowed to touch the thermostat, so I frequently feel a little chilly.

Mistress unleashes me for the day with greetings and asks if I have any questions for her.  I ask for permission to use the restroom (required if she’s awake and home/with me).  She grants it.  

“Thank you, Mistress.” The required response for permission answers, and real gratitude.

“You’re welcome, slavegirl.”  The usual response, and real amusement. 

I usually wait until she leaves to get up.  If I want to leave when still in her presence, there’s the asking if there’s anything else I can do to be of service—doing it—then asking for permission to leave, curtsying before exiting.  If she dismisses me, “You may go,” or such, I can just curtsy and exit.  That and the, Thank you, Mistress, only shut off with rare need in vanilla company.

But once she leaves, I’m free to just head for the restroom.  I’m not allowed to lock the door unless there’s company, but I don’t mind—I don’t even fully shut it, today.  

After that, I go to dress in my daily Uniform and see to my required morning tasks.

… 

Now, that can be a lot to keep in mind from the contract before I even get dressed in the morning, in the first few minutes of being awake.  But I love it, and four years into our dynamic, slowly adding things with a lot of investment in practice, training, and experience, it’s actually pretty automatic, feels natural, and is harder to stop than to do.  Some things are easier than others.  

It does require being always “on” to an extent.  No weekends, no holidays, no hours off from protocol.  And Mistress always has to watch for it. 

In all ways, my dynamic has to be my top priority.  Here, that means I’m not allowed to have a job.  That means figuring out the finances. That means a full time job’s worth of service, always on call.  That means no no, no safewords, no limits, no rights, no way out.  That means her deciding what’s best without limitations. It means a lot, and I don’t, shouldn’t, can’t, take it lightly.

But, we live this way every day—first thing in the morning forwards—and we love our dynamic and each other, and that’s what counts. 

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Service Skill: Making Tea

General Notes on Picking Your Tea Selection:

  • Offer both caffeinated and decaf options (in case of sensitivities).
  • For an event, pick teas that brew in the same temperature range for ease of serving.

Making a Pot:

  • Heat filtered water (measure it first, or before pouring into the pot) to the correct temperature, depending on type of tea.
  • Warm the teapot and the cups by filling with hot water for a minute, then dumping it out. Rinsing with hot water will also work.
  • Place one teabag or one tablespoon loose leaves (in the strainer) per cup in the pot. (Some add “and one for the pot”, or might want more or less depending on how weak/strong they like their tea. Check for preferences.)
  • Pour the hot water into the pot.
  • Cover, and steep tea for the correct amount of time depending on the type of tea/preference.
  • Remove teabags/strainer.

Serving Tea:

  • Ask how they take it (milk, sugar, lemon, etc.). Ask first in case you need to leave room for additions like milk or hot water.
  • Pour the tea.
  • Provide the desired additions.
  • Note: if you already know how they take their tea, they might prefer you put in milk/sugar/etc. first.

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Service Skill: Giving a Pedicure

  • Create a soothing environment.  Offer basic selection of drinks, snacks, and/or entertainment.
  • Place towel, then foot bath with hot water (as hot as comfortable) and desired additions, or wrap towel around bath.  Essential oils of choice and bubbles make a traditional luxurious touch.  For serious dead skin removal, try a large splash each of vinegar and mouthwash, though beware this might stain skin and the bath. 
  • Soak feet for fifteen to twenty minutes. 
  • Remove dead skin from bottom of feet.  Foot file and pumice stone works best.  You can also remove hairs if desired with method of choice.
  • Use a cuticle pusher to gently clean under nails and push back cuticles, removing loose dead skin around the nail. Apply cuticle oil if desired. 
  • Trim, buff, and file nails. 
  • Dry, then moisturize and massage feet. A gentle pull on toes and circular motions around the ball of the foot tend to be popular.  
  • Remove old polish if needed.  Apply a clear base coat, two coats of desired color, and a clear top coat.  Toe separators work well here, during and for drying. Keep common polish colors on hand. 

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Service Skill: Bootblacking

  • Unlace boots.
  • Clean with leather soap of choice and slightly damp cloth if needed. 
  • Make any needed repairs (clipping loose threads, etc.) 
  • Apply leather conditioner. 
  • Apply layers of polish (check the color match) as needed. 
  • Buff with horsehair brush.
  • Dampen cloth slightly and apply thin layer of polish in circles.  With a slightly damp cotton ball, apply circular shine.  Repeat as needed. 
  • Relace boots in the same pattern as before.
  • Dryer sheets placed in shoes when not in use can keep them smelling fresh. 

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Service Skill: Making the Bed

General Notes:

  • Bed linens and such that are properly sized, fit the color scheme, and are in good condition go a long way. 
  • Remember to change/wash the linens regularly (once a week is a popular guideline); watch the care instructions.  
    • Having at least two sets of bed linens can save some headaches.
  • Don’t forget appropriately keeping the bed frame and whatnot neat too.  This might mean dusting, or handling upholstery, or something else.
  • Remember mattress care—rotating, cleaning, etc.
  • Set the tasks mentioned on a repeating schedule.
  • Maybe try a light linen spray once in a while—but remember to check on allergies and sensitivities first.
  • I don’t mention certain pieces below—but if you have a bed skirt, mattress pad, etc., factor them in appropriately.
  • Make sure the piece you’re handling is facing the way it’s supposed to, both in vertical/horizontal orientation and where the patterned side is; a patterned flat sheet, for instance, needs to be put on the bed face down to have the pattern facing up when folded back. Note that the side of the flat sheet with the wider hem should be towards the head of the bed.
  • Customize it!  Make sure you adhere to your partner’s preferences.

Daily: 

  • If the mattress has shifted at all, for those tossers and turners, make sure it’s lined up/back where it’s supposed to be.
  • Fitted sheet: evenly place on the mattress; smooth out.
  • Flat sheet: make hospital corners. Remember to have pattern side facing down, and widest hem at top of bed.
    • There are many great resources on how to make hospital corners online.  A quick Google search should get you to guides for a variety of learning types if you haven’t done it before.
  • Main blanket: evenly lay on top; create hospital corners if desired; smooth out.
  • Fold down the flat sheet and the blanket so the fold lays not quite below where the pillows will be.  Neatly tuck the hem of the flat sheet under the hem of the comforter, or simply smooth out.  (This is really a preference point.)
  • Place any extra blankets, whether another layer altogether, or folded across the foot of the bed, or what have you.
  • Put pillowcases on pillows if need be (tuck excess pillowcase fabric, if any, under the pillow); arrange pillows practically and attractively; try slightly propped up on the headboard.
  • Handle any other pieces needed.  

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Service Skill: Napkin Folding

Version with visuals here.

The Rosebud

1. Lay napkin face down in front of you.

2.  Fold the napkin up in half diagonally. 

3.  Point open end away from you. 

4. Fold the right corner up diagonally to meet the top corner. 

5.  Repeat on the left.

6. Flip the napkin over, left to right.

7. Fold the lower corner up most of the way.

8. Flip the napkin over, left to right.

9.  Curl both sides in, tucking one into the other.

10. Stand up. 

The Envelope

1. Lay napkin face down in front of you.

2.  Fold napkin in half downwards.

3. Fold top left corner to center of base.

4. Repeat on the right.

5. Flip left to right. 

6. Fold in corners evenly.  Tuck in menu, card, favor, or whatever is desired.

The Cutlery Holder

1. Lay napkin face up in front of you.

2. Fold in half upwards.

3. Fold in half to the left.

4.  Peel one layer of upper right corner back to lower left corner.

5. Flip over vertically, downward.

6. Fold lower third in.

7. Fold top third in.

8. Orient vertically and insert cutlery/whatever is desired. 

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Lifestyle Masochism #1 (Asking to Masturbate)

After waiting quietly in Mistress’ office doorway until I’m acknowledged, as always, I ask for permission to masturbate.

My thought process on this is that we have sex scheduled for 9PM tonight, just like every Sunday (and Wednesday and Friday). I’m rarely allowed to come during this, and am sometimes permitted to masturbate afterwards—but unless I do so exceedingly quickly, I end up past my bedtime, which is permitted, but means I lose out on sleep.  

So I ask if I may do so now—about an hour before I’m scheduled to go start dinner.  

There’s the usual response to this.  “Why?” and all that.  The usual taunts. I explain my reasoning.  But I sense more coming.  There’s a lot of touchiness that isn’t going somewhere quickly enough to suddenly, teasingly flatline, end with permission and dismissal, nor slowly enough to be casual and actually distracted.  There’s the hand around my collar, the hand around my throat, the hand tight in my hair, the way I get pushed and pulled around disorientingly.  We end up in the dungeon.   

“Okay,” she says finally.  “You’ll get to masturbate.  But first, go get something for me to beat you with.  And the vibrator.” 

“Yes, Mistress.”  It’s a common enough order, the first part at least. 

I consider options, the whips hanging on hooks.  Since I’m allowed a choice this time, I ask for an informed one: “Are you going to want me to be able to hear you?”  In the case of loud implements, I tend to shield my ears if I can, sometimes meaning I don’t hear her orders, degradations, whatnot.  So if she wants to chat while she beats me, I’ll pick something quieter, easily spoken over, something that doesn’t invoke my ear covering instinct. I reiterate some of this. 

“You can pick something loud.” 

So I do.  I pick the item I happened to think about the most recently: a belt from a bin of impact toys, and pull the Hitachi from a drawer.  

I give them to her.  “I think the cord ended up in your office?”  

“Yeah.”  There’s more of the push and pull and taunt routine; there’s the bookshelf shaking behind me as my back hits it.  The sun is going down already, and I didn’t turn the light on when I came in; everything is cast in shadow.  

Still, this moves us back towards her office, where we started, better lit.  She tells me to grab the cord, grabs her coffee and water.  Gives me a little shove, points to the bedroom down the landing.  “I want you in that bedroom, naked.  Now, march.” 

“Yes, Mistress.”  I curtsy as always and go, but again she follows quickly, and I’m still in the process of stripping out of my daily uniform, sneaking in reapplying chapstick.  I make sure to shed a few items first out of habit—my slave bell pager, which got the clip securing it to my leggings broken once already when she shoved me over and into the bed to beat me.  (We traded clips after that, as she doesn’t wear hers and usually leaves it on her desk.) 

“Have you been a good girl lately?” she asks me. 

“I’ve tried.” I never say yes. I never say no. I can only tell her my intentions; the rest is up to her. 

“How have you tried?” 

“I… I rotated the mattress earlier.”  One of my quarterly tasks I did today.  “I cleaned a bunch extra yesterday.”  Before my mom and sister came over. 

“Why did you chose this?”  She holds up the belt as I finish undressing. 

“It’s like…” I try to get out the tropes that it invokes for me.  The handiness of it, suited to the kind of random domestic violence we try to mimic, though this particular scenario doesn’t mimic the spontaneity as well as others.

Still, soon enough I’m bent over the foot of the bed, kind of over her knee—she sits at an angle—and the belt comes hard and fast and I’m not ready for it at all; I contain my struggle only enough to prevent another strike from catching my shin, and—thoughtfully, I think—try to bury my head in the blankets enough that the neighbors can’t hear me scream.

It can’t last that long—maybe a full minute—but it feels like so much longer—and it takes me several more seconds to gulp down enough air, like I’ve just surfaced from water.  Still, everything in me begs for more.  I almost ask.  Her hand is between my legs, stroking me.  “You know, the way you acted, you’d really think you were being hurt,” she tells me, among other things that become hazy.  “But you’re wet.” 

She says more; she touches me more; I don’t remember details, I barely experience it in the moment, my mind only on the belt and if and when it will come again.  And it does.  It’s wonderful.  Everything else goes away. I scream wordlessly; I don’t cry. A stark contrast to the usual quiet and stillness, of, say, weekly maintenance discipline, the breathy counting. 

I still want more, when it once again stops and I’m once again gasping like I’m drowning.  We do this enough, I bet there won’t be a mark on me later; my body’s used to it.  Still.   

She strokes me again, talking about the sort of sex scheduled for tonight.  Using me like a sex toy and discarding me, not seeing to my needs, kicking me out of the bed to my slave furs (my usual blanket on the floor at the foot of the bed) to be leashed for the night when it’s done.  Object.  Toy.  Mine. 

I repeat back whatever she prompts me to, even though words feel like something that happens to other people.  “Yours.” 

The belt comes one more time.  Something tells me it will be the last, and I find peace with that while it’s still coming.  I think I’m quieter, stiller, this time. 

“Stand.” 

I do, on slightly shaky legs.  She sits up on the bed, against the headboard, legs extended and parted in front of her.  “Come here.”  She gestures.  I sit between her legs in front of her, leaning back against her a little, while she pins my legs open with hers.  She holds the vibrator on me.  It’s intense and pleasant.  I could come if she told me to, but I’m not begging yet, which she reminds me I will.  Her hand is around my throat; she whispers horrible things against my ear and makes me say them back.  “I like it. I’m pathetic. I’m worthless. Yours.” 

At one point, she turns the vibrator up again—to setting three of four.  I’m at the edge; I’m over the edge, not coming, but where it’s too intense for me to come, where my body is yelling make it stop not I want to come.  When I masturbate—like I’d originally asked to—I frequently turn it up to setting four well before I’m done, but I also progress slower than we are right now.  I squirm, trying to get it onto a more bearable spot, but, fearing the intensity might translate to orgasming, beg as ordered.  “Please, Mistress, please, may I—” It’s a little panicked and incoherent. But she grants it.

“You may.” 

I fall into a strange wave of successfully adjusting, bringing the sensation back down into makes me come range instead of make it stop, then letting it do so, pleasure hitting intensely for a long time. I finally squirm away from the vibrator again, oversensitized, as it fades.  “Th-thank you, Mistress.” 

“You’re welcome, slavegirl.”  The vibrator shuts off.  

I stay settled against her and catch my breath for a minute.

“If you still want to masturbate…” she begins. 

I shake my head frantically.  She laughs.

I quickly hop up to get dressed, since she told me I was allowed.  We talk about whatever for a few minutes as I slip things back on, and then she leaves, and it’s almost time to start dinner. 

This is part of the Lifestyle Masochism series. Find more information here.

Thank you to Mistress for fact checking this.

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Choosing Service

By the time I woke up this morning, I’d thought about asking permission to sleep in a dozen times.  

I’d thought about it last night, cooking dinner—stir fry style chicken in the wok, and homemade bread, which I enjoyed—in such a fog, I barely remembered the process as I hit the pager transmitter button to page Mistress and waited in, well, Waiting Position, as always at 6 PM.  I’d thought about it rolling my way out of the bed after sex—pleasant, but no orgasms for me, as expected and preferred—and stumbling over to unfold my usual soft blanket on the floor at the foot of the bed. I’d thought about it every time I stirred in the night, and I’d thought about it when my daily 7:20 alarm finally went off, welcoming an unusually cold, wet day. 

I hit the transmitter button.  By the time Mistress came in, I was still trying to find my way to Leashing Position.  I was impossibly, unusually tangled in my leash, and the blanket that serves as my bed.  She helped detangle me and unclipped the leash.  I shivered as the cold air hit my bare skin.   

I didn’t ask to sleep more.  I figured that I could do all my required morning tasks, but, if need be, doze a little during the hour I usually reserved for writing.  I didn’t want to slack on the service tasks, and I’d gotten assigned a new one for the morning last night, and didn’t want to miss my first opportunity at it. 

So I stumbled through my morning routine.  Dressed in my daily uniform. Washed up. All that.  I brought the sunscreen to Mistress’ office—waited silently in the doorway until she beckoned me in—and applied it for her for the first time.  New service task complete, she dismissed me before I could ask if there was anything else I could do, or for permission to go, so, ritual cut short, I curtsied and left.

In that time, I’d also given her the required notification that I was leaving the house, so I set out on my usual morning walk, about a mile loop.  The drizzle was a little chilly, but light, and in the desert, welcomed.

The house was in sight again when something else came into sight—a beautiful, bright, full rainbow, right over the house.  I admired it, and walked a little faster.  I quickly brought Mistress outside when I got back, but it had mostly faded.  My phone camera, also retrieved from the house, couldn’t catch it. But it was awesome just to see, an extra bonus for getting up this morning.

Inside, I don’t nap through my writing hour.  I write this instead, before my alarms go off for morning housekeeping and serving brunch.

The thought I’m invigorated by is choosing service.  I could’ve chosen to ask to sleep in—and maybe Mistress would’ve let me—or I could’ve chosen to complain the whole way.  I could’ve chosen the writing hour, and slept during potential service time later, if I did decide to nap. But I didn’t. Not that I’m perfect, but today I chose service. 

Because—even in an irrevocable consent dynamic like ours—to an extent, it’s a choice.  If I want to serve, to serve well and consistently, with the proper spirit—I have to choose it.  Even when I also want to sleep. Priority, not an option. Because otherwise, I’m missing the opportunity. 

That’s true of almost anything I want to do, really. If I also want to write, I can’t doze through the writing hour, either. 

And submission isn’t the convenient line up of what you both happen to want—that’s a matter of compatibility—but the choice to submit, to serve, when you’re beyond the limits of the tasks you prefer, when you choose and prioritize service and obedience over conflicting desires like sleep.  When you are truly submitting, not doing what you would have chosen anyway. 

And I do want to serve, and I do want to submit, and I do want to write—and so I make those things a priority every day. 

Tales From the Butler Academy: Etiquette Drills and Compassion

(This is part of the “Tales From the Butler Academy” section. Please start here.)

In Module 4—etiquette—I receive my first video assignment.  It’s a series of etiquette drills.  There are about twenty, each outlining a different tricky situation.  My job is to sketch out a more specific scenario if needed (I figured this out after the first round of submissions), and film myself, as the majordomo, responding to it.  The instructions emphasize, Acknowledge!  Resolve!  Redirect!  Acknowledge the problem and how the person feels; resolve it if possible (or, state why you can’t, if it’s illegal or such); redirect so as to smooth things over (“May I get you a drink?”). They also heavily imply that you will almost certainly be asked to film several rounds of redos.

So, I write up some notes and set up in my office.  My daily uniform is far from scandalous, but not the butler usual.  So I basically add a blazer and play with angles.  I do a quick check on my surroundings, moving the erotica novels I’ve written, for starters.  Books, journals, string lights, and Polaroids remain. I place an oversized stuffed bear in the canopied hammock chair swing across from where I sit in my desk chair.  What a look. I fire up Zoom on my laptop, place it on my desk, set it to record the session, and begin.  I read the drill number I’m doing, sketch the scenario, and then give my response.

It does, as the instructions also warned, feel a little silly.  “12A,” I read seriously.  Deep breath.  Shake my head.  “12A,” I repeat firmly.  I look at my notes.  No, I can’t do this.  I look up at the ceiling, exasperated.  “Do I look stupid yet?” 

This is the outtake I send Mistress and a few friends. 

I finally get the first round in.  Yes, there’s a lot of feedback, and a lot of redos requested.  A couple are deemed simply, “Fine, pass”, and others merely ask me to take the scenario one step further. But some get admittedly hilarious negative feedback. Yikes! reads one. I think your employer’s wife (who happens to also be your boss) might slap you if you responded like that!  

Yes, well, I think, I have some news for you about “my employer’s wife”… (who happens to be me). 

But the overall theme of the feedback is needing more compassion.  One issue is that I’m clinically low empathy.  And there are some scenarios I think I just struggle to relate to.  One sketches a scenario in which my employer is frustrated because the chauffeur has brought the wrong car around to pick them up for an important meeting, while the chauffeur has to go switch cars.  I laugh about this with a few friends.  Problems I wish I had. I’ve made it clear there isn’t any other staff here. 

But the thing—the thing I have to finally hit on to pass the drills—is that the scenario isn’t really about the car.  It isn’t really about the chauffeur.  It is about a human being having a stressful day, experiencing the straw that broke the camel’s back, and turning to their trusted majordomo for reassurance and, yes, compassion.  We’ve all done it—snapped over a ridiculous little thing because of an underlying serious stressor.  This important meeting is in a few minutes, and the chauffeur can’t get their job right.  Okay. 

So, I need to acknowledge what happened, that it is a problem (because, minor or not, that was a mistake on the chauffeur’s part), and that the employer has a right to be upset by that, and that I will proactively handle it before it happens again, because that’s my job.  And I need to do it with compassion.

It takes me three tries to pass that drill and one other.  The others take one or two.  But I grasp the importance of the compassion, and the how of delivering it, even if it’s still not a deep seated feeling or instinct. 

And really, the etiquette drills teach skills I need as a slave.  While kink protocol can be different, the core skill is the same.  Whether it’s knowing what to do when Mistress is upset over something small that is actually about something big, handling mistakes, or dealing with unruly or uninvited guests or vendors, a lot of the drills translate, either directly, or via the underlying skill.

While I turned to butler school more for hard skills and professional standards, the coursework also emphasizes again and again that as I learn each of those skills, they remain wrapped in soft skills, and need to be presented with the famous high end service touch that defines the butler industry.  And at the core of that is compassion.  

So, I’ve tried to carry that with me in the four modules and life since.