SMOKE: Selling Your Partner Short
Originally published: 8 April 2005
I'm not going to start asking "why" or "wherefore" and wringing my hands in disillusionment - fact is, it happens. People put meat hooks through their flesh and are hoisted slowly into the air, to hang suspended.
Whatever, you know.
It's supposed to make you high - euphoric, some claim - and obviously nobody has pointed out to body suspension devotees that you can simply kick back with a nice hot cuppa and a bag of Swazi on the comfort of your couch and get a far more comfortable kick.
And - like, bonus - you don't have to hang from the ceiling like a piece of meat as blood gushes down you from your ruptured shoulder muscles, swaying gently.
Call me old-fashioned if you must, but the whole abattoir side of suspension doesn't sit well with those greasy eggs I had for breakfast.
I was reading about an annual body suspension convention held over the weekend in Providence, Rhode Island - everyone loves a good "freaks hanging themselves up from meat hooks" story, and this one was good.
There were lots of interviews with participants of the convention and it related how there are different 'hangs' or poses - fresh 7.5cm fish hooks are inserted under the skin and you can do things like a "suicide hang" for beginners - just a few hooks in the back. Nothing special.
But it gets better. You get the chest suspension (or breast suspension - one female student from Canada was there, hanging from nought but hooks in her breasts), the knee suspension (which sees you hanging upside down with hooks through your knees) or - if you're really adventurous - you can try the Superman pose, which requires you to lie spreadeagled and have hooks inserted all the way down your back, and through the backs of your upper thighs.
Pulleys slowly hoist you up and you hang there, turning gently. Like Superman, I guess.
But nothing beats this image - two dudes were spotted playing tug of war ... with wire through their elbows. They were trying to pull each other using their elbows. Have you heard of anything more horrific in your life?
Everyone interviewed said they did it for the euphoria it brings them. One enthusiast said it's not about the pain - it's about getting past the pain. Sure bru.
Another dude - also a Canadian - said that he didn't enjoy the first few times he did it. "The first time I blacked out, and one time I was convulsing", he said. "But the third time I got better. I wasn't blacking out anymore."
Ah. Well that's all OK then, isn't it? Phew. No more blackouts. Just lots of awareness of vast oceans of pain, and perhaps a convulsion or two.
But believe it or not today's Smoke is not actually about body suspension. The body suspension was the courier, but now I must deliver the message.
I found the following quote from some chick who was standing by lovingly as her boyfriend hung in the Superman pose.
"Look at his face. He's so serene," she said. "We've had some really rough times this year, and he needed this really bad."
Whooooa, Nelly. Stop the horse. Time to get off a moment. That quote is so symptomatic of modern relationships.
I was at a friend's house the other day and ended up having one of those deliciously drunk conversations with someone outside. Those conversations you get fully into, passionately making your point through a fat tongue and numb lips, while desperately trying to focus.
The person in question is a very nervous sort - I didn't realise how nervous she is until I talked to her and it all came out. She's terrified of everyone and everything, and her worst fear is dying.
Through drunken interrogation I established the fact that her husband never does anything about it - she didn't say that, but that's what I concluded. He knows how nervous she is of things but he makes no effort to help her become more confident.
Surely that's the whole purpose of a marriage? To build each other up and to help each other face your demons?
I've resolved countless issues in my life by having someone to help me through them - issues I could never have resolved on my own, or perhaps more accurately - issues I would simply have avoided had I been single.
That's the benefit of marriage, or a long term relationship - you get to become a better person, and you get to make somebody else a better person. Individually you become stronger, which (hopefully) makes the bond between you stronger.
If I was that girl's husband I would never allow her to cower in fear like that. How could you want to see your wife afraid all the time?
I would talk through all the things she's afraid of - spend hours and days and weeks and months and years dealing with them if I have to - and I would not stop until I was satisfied that she was genuinely no longer afraid.
Through doing that I would have made her life better and she would no doubt help me when I require help.
But lots of people like to see their partner in a vulnerable position - it gives them power and status in that relationship. Makes more sense to some men to have a wife who is afraid - that wife becomes reliant on them, and makes them feel all special. Some descend further into physical abuse, and so forth and so on.
I've known men - even women - who prefer not to deal with a partner who has a substance abuse problem. When their partner is taking drugs they are vulnerable and reliant, and some folks genuinely get off on that.
What does all this have to do with body suspension and some chick with a peacefully suspended boyfriend?
It's just this: "We've had some really rough times this year, and he needed this really bad."
No, actually - he didn't, you stupid bitch. He needed you to talk to him - that's all.
It's impossible to maintain perspective when all you have is inner dialogue, but if you have someone who will talk to you and allow you to bounce your concerns and problems and dilemmas and troubles off them - perspective is bound to follow.
You'll see that things are not as bad as they could be. Given time you'll learn that no matter how bad something seems, or no matter how desperate a situation - at some stage it will always be over.
Think back on all the times in your life that you've stressed about something, or thought it the end of the world - how many times? Thousands and thousands. Yet none of those situations matter anymore, do they? You can't even remember most of them.
Which means that all your stress and worry and panic was for nothing. All it did was take years off your life and put lines on your face.
Someone who can put that in perspective for you will solve a lot more problems than a few fish hooks can. Trouble is - you need to find someone who is prepared to do that. Someone who is prepared to give themselves to you.
But once you find that person - you'll be hooked.
All Smoked Out,