Out of the Closet
  copyright 2005 by dungeonmouse

Out of the Closet

September 26, 2005
    I'm not starting a blog.  At least I keep telling myself that.  But I must tell you about the past week.  I'll update this essay as things progress.  But I'm not starting a blog.
    Last week I came out of the closet as a bondage fan.  I've worked in the yard, shopped for groceries, gassed the truck, cashed a check at the bank, bought parts at the hardware store and mailed letters at the post office while wearing manacles and leg irons.  The past ten days have been frightening, wonderful, stressful and exciting.  I lost fifteen pounds, although that wasn't an objective at the start.
    I've always puttered around the house in chains.  A few years ago, I made a collar, wrist and ankle bracelets from metal rod and began wearing them in public.  See the Eternity Collar website for an idea what they look like although my collar and bracelets are a slightly different and original design.  I got many funny looks and questions.  Most people were either positive or neutral in their comments.  "What's that around your neck?"  was the most negative comment I got and that only from the tone of voice.  Most people opened with "I really like your necklace and bracelets.  Where did you get them?"  Many assumed the bracelets were for arthritis.  At first, I let them believe that.  Later, I just said I enjoyed wearing them and thought they were fun. Some of my friends figured out what I was doing and made a few quiet comments, all in jest.  "Nice bracelets.  I suppose they go with the eyebolts on the bed frame, huh?" was typical.  Probably many more people guessed my intent than let on.
    My wife, who is not into bondage but supports my kink, is generally uneasy about my new openness.  She is worried about the implications for my job and our standing in the community.  Those are valid concerns, certainly.  I’m trying to balance those concerns against an increasingly powerful urge to be myself.
   The bracelet thing started about five years ago.  My interest in bondage follows an eighteen month cycle.  For six or eight months, I'll experience a very high interest in bondage and generally wear my collar and bracelets 24/7.  Then my interest wanes somewhat for ten months or a year and I'll either stop wearing the bracelets altogether or will wear them intermittently.  So, over the past few years, my friends and acquaintances in the community have gotten used to me looking different from the other 54-year old male Texans.  I eased the transition for others by dressing "normally" (jeans and nice t-shirt for puttering around, nice pants and collar-less shirt for dinner) and by being neatly groomed and clean-shaven.  I found wearing my hardware made me more conscious of my appearance and made me stick closer to my diet.  I tried very hard to look like a normal person who enjoyed bondage and to avoid those stylistic elements associated in the public mind with a social or sexual predator: grubby appearance, poor grooming, outlandish clothes.
    As my current bondage period started, the desire to live in chains became very, very strong.  I wrote the essays "Living in Chains" and thought a lot about how that might be arranged.  I wrote those essays in my backyard while wearing chains.  The neighbors on both sides saw me at one time or another.  I could tell by their expressions that they saw and understood the chains but neither said anything to me directly.  I grew bolder and wore the chains in the front yard.  We are remodeling the hall bath and I set up my tools in the garage with the door open.  I cut wood, cut tile, painted cabinets and played handy man in the garage.  People walked and drove by.  I waved at or greeted most, trying to remain the normal, friendly person who just happens to wear chains.  Some saw me and waved back; some ignored me.
    The crucial moment came on a trip to the hardware store.  The ladies at the hardware store have enquired about my collar and bracelets on several occasions and seemed willing to entertain a deeper discussion than most people I encounter.  One morning I needed a part and started to remove my chains to go to the hardware store.  I looked at the chains and thought about the ladies in the hardware store.  The moment seemed so right.     I removed the leg irons but kept the manacles and its associated neck chain.  I hopped in the car and drove to the hardware store before I could change my mind.  I spent a moment taking deep breaths and relaxing then walked in the store.  The ladies looked at me for a moment then one turned to the others and said "I told you!"  That broke the ice.  We all laughed and had a short chat.  I explained that I'd enjoyed the idea of wearing chains since childhood.  I told them I'd gotten old enough and secure enough to start acting weird and decided to go public with something that had always been part of me.  They were supportive but a little wary.  I've been back several times and they now seem to accept the "new me."
    Since then, I've visited a dozen public places in chains, some several times, with similar reactions.  The most common reaction is momentary shock followed by "OK, I have to ask.  What are the chains for?"  I explain and they either nod their head in understanding or shake their head in disbelief.  About a third of the people I encounter don't ask at all.  My first trip to the bank was almost surreal.  Everyone saw the chains, including another customer in line ahead of me.  No one stared.  No one asked.  No one did anything to indicate that they saw or wondered about this guy standing in chains.  But the atmosphere absolutely crackled with tension and curiosity.  I made normal conversation, waiting to see who would break first.  No one did.  I left the bank marveling at the flexibility of the human character - theirs and mine. 
    The only response I've gotten that remotely resembled a negative reaction occurred at the feed store.  I went to get some steel buckets for my birdseed as a rat had figured out how to chew through the plastic pails I'd been using.  As I stood at the checkout station paying for the trashcans, the store manager appeared and began rearranging the jam jars on a display shelf.  He didn't change the display at all, he just shuffled the jars around.  The girl at the checkout station was probably in her 20's.  The manager was keeping an eye on me in case I tried to do "something."  I have no idea what he thought I might do but gallantry runs deep here in Texas and he stayed nearby should the young lady's honor need defending.  She and I chatted about everything except chains while someone ran a price check on the trash cans.  I paid for my purchase and carried them out to the car with no problems.
    So, the experiment in living seems a success so far.  At one point last week, I spent 72 hours continuously in chains, unfastening the wrist and ankle chains only long enough to dress and undress.  However, I've not yet encountered any close friends.  This seems odd but is nevertheless true.  I worried about how some of them will take this.  Dealing with acquaintances who are reluctant to pursue the subject in any depth seems safer than dealing with close friends who will likely start a counseling session on the spot.  One close friend saw me working in my garage when he drove by.  We waved at each other and he made a cute comment several days later so I'm sure word is getting around. 
    I've chickened out a few times, getting to the parking lot then turning around and going home.  On those occasions something just seemed wrong and I followed my instinct.  I also have the advantage of not working where I live so my boss and coworkers are out of the loop and will probably remain unaware until I chose to tell them, if I ever do.
    The past week has been a roller coaster.  Most nights I fall asleep instantly, exhausted from the emotional strain.   Yet, I look at the chains on my wrists and ankles in the daylight and my heart sings.  Stay tuned, we aren't done yet.

A note on the hardware.  My collar and bracelets are 3/8" brass rod, bent to fit me closely and fastened with allen screws.  The chains are 2/0 long-link chains with zinc plating.  I use 3/16" screw links to fasten the chains to the collar and bracelets.  The leg irons are 20" between the ankle bracelets and have a large ring in the middle.  A waist chain hangs from my belt and attaches to the ring, holding the leg irons off the ground several inches.  The 20" length is several inches shorter than my natural stride although I now have basically two natural strides: on with chains and one without.  The wrist chain is 12" long also with a large ring in the center.  A neck chain connects this ring to the collar.  The neck chain is mostly for looks as it is a link or so too long to restrict my movement.  I started with a wrist chain 16" long and shortened it twice to the current length.  I have no difficulty doing any normal activity with this setup except jogging.  I've been sleeping in chains for years so that has been no problem.  I disconnect the wrist and ankle chains to dress and undress then tighten the screw links down with a wrench so I'm not tempted to release myself when I out and about.

September 29, 2005
    I had my first real negative reaction yesterday.  I went to a mega-home improvement store wearing my chains.  I saw several people and greeted them pleasantly as I always do.  They either greeted me back or just stared.  I had purchased some cabinets there earlier and went back to make sure I was putting the trim pieces on correctly.  I looked around the cabinet department and satisfied myself I had the trim right.  As I started towards the front, a clerk pointed my out to a police officer.  This guy was not a security guard but a regular police officer.  I had seen his car in the lot but hadn't thought much of it.  He approached me in a courteous but very firm manner.  He said I was "upsetting the other customers" and asked if I could remove the chains.  I told him I couldn't in the store but I was leaving and would soon be out of everyone's hair.  He check my ID then pointed out that what I was doing wasn't illegal but he did think I should leave.  I replied that I did not wish to make anyone upset and was leaving.  He asked if I could remove the chains in my car.  I told him I hadn't planned on it to which he said "You can't drive a car like that!"  I didn't argue and told him I would remove the chains in my car.  He escorted me to the front door.  He did not follow me into the parking lot so I got in my car and left, chains still in place.  I have no idea what caused this reaction.  I can't see anyone mistaking me for an escaped prisoner - a prisoner in chains isn't going to walk into a store and stroll around.  More likely, the policeman was standing there and someone instinctively turned to him to investigate an unusual sight.  The policeman didn't want to take sides against the store so the easy solution was to run me off as politely as he could.

September 30, 2005
    Well, I think the experiment is about over.  Yesterday, I went to the grocery store and finished the bathroom renovation at home with no problems.  I had some time in the afternoon so went to a large park nearby for a walk.  I figured a weekday afternoon would be a good time with few people.  I had a nice stroll although I met more people than I had guessed.  No one said anything other than hello though one young lady looked a bit startled.  As I approached my car, a policeman called to me.  He said I had "alarmed someone."  He checked my ID, ran my name with his dispatch (no result there) and took a few notes.  He passed on a message from the Chief of Police (!) that the Chief would really, REALLY appreciate it if I didn't do this anymore.  In Texas, that translates into "I catch you again and you in a heap o' trouble, boy."  The officer almost apologized when he said he personally didn't care what I did but the Chief said....  I didn't tell this officer about my run in with his compatriot yesterday.  I'm sure the two incidents on consecutive days figured in the Chief's reaction.
   I can understand the Chief's position in one sense.  He probably doesn't have the manpower to send officers after some guy startling people by being stranger than normal.  On the other hand, I do think some people are watching way too many crime dramas on TV.
    I am intrigued by one aspect of all this.  One the one hand, people think the chains severely handicap me to the point where routine tasks are impossible.  On several occasions, people asked me if I needed help carrying a small package.  Several others, including the one policeman, indicated I couldn't safely drive a car, while in fact I'm less likely to miss a pedal than a woman in high heels and I'm way safer than a person with a cell phone in their ear.  On the other hand, people fear this person in chains.  How do you perceive someone as severely handicapped and fear them at the same time?  Perhaps they are not afraid of the person in chains, rather they fear the confirmation that someone so different from them exists in the world.  Many no doubt see it as a perversion and fear the perversion will spread.  I could more easily see some of these points if I'd been acting in an aggressive or surreptitious manner.  In all cases, however, I was just going about my normal business and reacting to others in a pleasant, friendly manner.
    Luckily, I live outside the city in a small bedroom community so my house is outside the police chief's jurisdiction.  The local police have not approached me and no one here has complained.  I think the difference is that people in my home village know me by sight if not by name.  They may be startled by my strange appearance but they aren't afraid.  The people in the city are all strangers and I am a stranger to them.  They don't know I've lived here for years, for all they know, I just strolled into town looking to scare some folks.  All this supports a point I made in the earlier "Living in Chains" essay: if someone ever succeeds in living 24/7/365 in chains, it will be in a small town where everyone knows everybody.  The public will know the chain-lover as a person not just as a weird apparition.  Email me if you know a place that might work.
    There is one positive aspect about all this.  I've spent the past two weeks almost continuously in chains.  I've spent the past five days completely chained, loosening the chains for a moment each morning and evening to dress and undress.  My wrists move together effortlessly, staying exactly twelve inches apart.  My stride has adapted to the leg irons.  I cannot remember a happier two weeks in many, many years.  I feel the metal wrapped around my body and I yearn for the day it will be there permanently.  I'm going back to work on Monday.  I don't know if I'll continue the experiment when I get back.  I may go back to wearing just the bracelets and collar and see if I can pick up on what rumors are floating around about me.  I'm sure there will be some repercussions from my two week vacation in chains.  Unless the repercussions include getting shot or arrested, I think the trip will be worth it.

October 2, 2005
    Two incidents yesterday confirmed that my activities have generated more local interest than I suspected.  First, I was sitting with my wife on our front porch, taking a break from reseeding the lawn.  I was wearing my usual chains.  The couple across the street have seen me in chains.  The man mostly ignores me.  The woman says “hi” or waves.  As we were resting, another couple drove up and rang the door bell.  The ensuing conversation had all the earmarks of a church visitation although we were too far away to hear the words.  Such visitations are very common in our town.
    The woman met the church couple at the door but did not invite them in so the conversation took place on the doorstep.  The church couple did most of the talking with the man being very aggressive in his approach.  At one point the man gestured over his shoulder towards me.  His wife looked disapproving and put her hand on his arm.  The woman across the street looked at me with a confused expression.  My guess is I had just been used as a graphic example of evil incarnate. The church couple left shortly after and the woman across the street waved and went back in her house.
    The second incident was even more telling.  Our next-door neighbor is a member of the city council and his wife is involved in every social organization in town.  They came over to see the new bathroom.  I was in chains so I busied myself in the back yard while my wife conducted the tour.  I thought they had left so I walked around the house to finish unloading the car and ran into them standing in the driveway, talking to my wife.  Oops.  Well, nothing for it but to put on a smile and talk to them.  They expressed surprise although I’m sure both have seen me in chains before now.  When they asked why, my wife jumped in with “He lost a bet.”  They accepted that explanation. 
    We talked about the past few weeks and their tale revealed I have caused much more consternation than I first supposed.  Our neighborhood is an older one with very nice and well-maintained homes built 30+ years ago.  Many who live here are retired.  The “widow ladies,” as our neighbor calls them, spotted me right off and generated a flurry of calls around town.  Most didn't know me personally so they didn't know for sure where I lived.  Several nights ago, I was out just after dark looking for my cat when a car turned the corner and hit me in its headlights.  A woman was driving and she swerved slightly as if my presence startled her.  I didn’t think she could see the chains and chalked it up to my dark clothes.  Well, she had seen the chains.  She called 911.  Luckily, I found my cat shortly thereafter and was inside when the police patrolled the neighborhood.
    So, for now, I’m wearing my chains only in the house or in our back yard.  I’m going out of town on business tomorrow so things will have a chance to cool down.  When I get back, I’ll lie low for a while and see what else I can learn about the local reaction.  Maybe the ladies at the hardware store can fill me in.

October 3, 2005
    Public reaction to public bondage seems to fall into two categories.  First, there is the startle or shock reaction to seeing someone dressed in such an unusual manner.  Most people react to something unusual with some apprehension or even fear.  Presented with a picture completely outside one's experience, the mind can conjure up many distressing scenarios.  Presented with a person wearing chains, scenarios such as escaped convict can readily leap into the forefront.  The second reaction is a recognition that this public bondage display represents merely a very different person acting in a very different manner.  How one reacts to this recognition depends on what one knows and believes.  Most adults understand the bondage fetish.  It is a very common one.  If the viewer believes that all such activity represents a perversion of the natural order, then they will react with anything from distaste to revulsion.  If the viewer has a more open mind about such things, they will react with curiosity mixed with a little apprehension at confronting such an odd character.
    My experience the past two weeks was that the people who reacted with curiosity accepted my appearance once they learned I was just doing something I enjoyed and that I wasn't intentionally trying to shock, frighten or recruit anyone.  They may not have liked my appearance or agreed with my kink but they accepted the situation as one they could deal with in a more or less normal manner.  The people whom I startled or shocked either because they were unprepared for my appearance or because they attached some sinister meaning to the chains were the people who called 911.
    For living publicly in chains to work, we must eliminate or dramatically reduce the shock effect of that first contact.  I think that means we must advertise our intentions in advance.  Face-to-face contact would be best but explaining oneself at a town meeting or other gathering would help.  I'm not sure about written materials such as hand bills or flyers stuck in mailboxes.  My gut feeling is that personal contact would be far better.  I'm also guessing that a lengthy preparation period might be necessary to contact as many people as possible and to give them time to get used to the idea.  Introducing various bondage elements one at a time would also help folks get used to the new appearance gradually.  Getting the community opinion leaders to agree with (or at least, not oppose) the idea would be essential.  Living in a small community would make all this actions easier.  Finding the right community will be the tough part.

November 2, 2005
     Wow, I didn't realize how much time has passed since the last entry in this un-blog.  I've been out of town much of the past month on business.  I wear my chains at night in my hotel room and around the house at home.  I'm still wearing my collar, wrist and ankle bracelets full time but have largely foregone the chains while in public.  Several people have asked why I stopped wearing the chains.  These questions have been uniformly sympathetic and supportive.  My wife still thinks I should avoid all public display of bondage. (We've had PDA, public display of affection, for a while, isn't it time we had PDB?)  The conversations I've had the past few weeks leads me to believe the negative reaction I sensed in September may have been limited to older people whom I inadvertently startled.  I wore my chains to a liquor store in the county (i.e. it's not in either the small town where I live or in the nearby city where the police know my name).  I got a friendly reaction there from both the owner and a couple customers.  The owner took my check with only a casual glance at my driver's license.  I've worn my chains outside in my yard and gotten nothing more than waves and smiles from the neighbors.
     I've started pushing the envelope again because of one simple fact.  Wearing chains is who I am.  Being myself in public gives a wonderful sense of being free, of being me.  Wearing manacles and leg irons and feeling free.  I guess that makes me one very different dude.  But it also makes me one very happy me.

November 17, 2005
    I'm traveling home today by air.  Unfortunately, business activities that continued into the airport meant I had to leave my collar and bracelets in my checked bags.  (Security will let me wear them but doesn't like them in carry-on baggage for some reason.)  I feel completely naked!  I'm comfortable wearing the collar and bracelets virtually all the time and the chains around the house.  They now seem so normal that not wearing them feels very strange.  Bondage being normal - now there's a neat way to feel good.

November 19, 2005
   The adventure continues.  Yesterday I ran errands to the video store, grocery, gas station and bank wearing chains.  The lady at the video store was the only one who asked.  Everyone else either stared or smiled, with about even numbers of each.  Early this morning, I drove to the city to catch a flight and wore chains while I drove.  The folks in the convenience store where I stopped for coffee all stared but didn't say anything.  I saw an animated conversation begin as I climbed in my car, however.  At the airport, I drove through the turnstile and got my ticket stub from a lady who paid me no attention or so I thought.  When I got to the parking lot, I took off the chains and boarded a bus for the terminal.  As I got on the bus, the radio was going crazy and buses started diverting around the parking lot.  The driver of my bus got off and had a long conversation with someone in Spanish then came back and began asking me what kind of car I drove and where I parked.  After a few minutes, a policeman boarded the bus and explained an employee had reported someone entered the airport wearing handcuffs.  I guess the toll attendant noticed me after all as she was the only one to see me in chains.  She apparently got my license plate as the police knew my name.  The policeman looked at the metal bracelets and collar I was still wearing and asked if they were jewelry.  I said yes and let him examine them.  He said "I guess those could look like handcuffs in the dark."  His partner came aboard, took one look at me, chuckled and said "Oh, that's what she saw" then left.  They never asked me if I had been wearing chains and I didn't volunteer the information.  The police seemed more amused than anything else.  The bus driver took me to the terminal.  I passed through security and boarded my plane with no more than the usual wanding and pat down. 
    Several instances where people had complained have occurred after dark (pre-dawn in this case) confirming that people are more easily frightened when the sun is down.  My bondage hiking experience has left me feeling as comfortable at night as I am during the day.  I guess I should remember that very few of my fellow humans are creatures of the night.
    People in big cities are also more easily frightened than people in small towns.  As it turns out, only one person in my small village has been spooked enough by my chains to call the police and she was the only one I encountered at night.  See the October 2 entry above for the details.  My other run-ins with authorities have occurred in cities.  Others in my little burg have expressed bewilderment, mild suspicion, curiosity, and maybe even a little disgust but apparently not much fear.  If you are going to be weird, be weird where everyone knows your name.

November 20, 2005
    I got back today, went to the parking lot, put on my chains and drove home.  The lady at the turnstile on my way out just looked at me, took my money and handed me my receipt.  It was early afternoon so I guess I'm not as scary in the day as at night.
    I drove home in chains.  I drove with on hand on the wheel and the other leaning up against the window, playing with the neck chain.  That position makes the chains as visible to the other drivers as I can make them without sticking both hands out the window and waving.  I drove below the speed limit and had at least a hundred cars pass me on the trip home on a 4-lane.  Only two people looked at me with anything like recognition in their eyes.  One laughed, the other stared.  I saw several right-side passengers look at the driver as they passed as if to say "Did you see that?"  Or was it "Did I tell you what Myrtle said at the water cooler on Friday?"  A number of drivers looked in their rear-view mirror after they passed but since most of them changed lanes after they passed me, I assume most of them were just being good drivers.  No one slowed down to get a better look and the vast majority of drivers showed no reaction at all.  Bondage driving could be done completely incognito if you just kept your hands down.  And don't wear a gag.

December 9, 2005
    Things have continued pretty much as before.  I'm wearing the chains pretty much full time when at home or in my local village.  The places I frequent (grocery, bank, hardware store and similar) have generally gotten used to me and I get few comments and just the occasional odd look.  I've slept in chains for all but 12 nights out of the last 120.  I sleep as well as I ever did when not wearing chains and generally have no ill effects.  I'm guessing I've worn chains about 60% of the total time during that same 120-day period.  The past two weeks, I've been home all the time and have probably worn the chains over 80% of that time.  About the only time I haven't worn chains is when I went to the city.  Life now feels more "normal" wearing chains than not.  Going outside the house in chains is still mildly stressful but much less so than the first few times. 
    I've played with stricter bondage a few times but it's gotten cold.  My makeshift dungeon is in the unheated garage so those activities have pretty much stopped until warmer weather.  Mostly, I work around the house, run errands and do normal house-husband chores.  I stay fully and casually dressed all day, wearing the chains over the clothes.  In the brave new world of public bondage, I wonder how the dress code will change?  Will casual Fridays become heavy-shackle Fridays?

December 22, 2005
    I've cut back lately on the public bondage.  The weather has turned cold here and getting a coat on and off around the chains takes a while.  I still wear the chains around the house and to my usual haunts around my village when the weather is nice. 
    I had another run-in with the authorities in the city a couple weeks ago.  The weather was nice and I wore the chains while I drove into town.  I noticed a car driving erratically in front of me on the freeway but thought nothing of it.  Turns out the lady in the car was on her cell phone to 911.  I pulled into a fast food place for lunch and a highway patrol car pulled up behind me.  They asked me to get out of the car, looked at my license and decided I was doing nothing wrong but they would appreciate it if I didn't disturb the good citizens any more.  They left as I took the chains off and removed the handcuffs hanging from my rear-view mirror.  The parking lot was full of cars getting lunch so there was an audience for our little discussion.  I saw lots of smiles along with some strange looks.  I thought about walking around the lot and taking a poll but that seemed like pushing my luck.  As my village gets more and more used to me, the nearby city gets more and more vigilant.  Some days it just isn't worth unlocking the cuffs from the headboard.

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