Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Chicken Wire Theory of Reality

By Lisabet Sarai

It's past midnight, in the late seventies. I'm sitting around the kitchen table with my boyfriend J. and my housemate M. We're all extremely stoned, a not-uncommon state back in those days, and we're descending into a labyrinthine discussion of life, death, probability, fate and time. It feels as though we're getting somewhere, untangling these eternal issues. It always feels that way when we're stoned.

J. is talking about how, in some future, he'll be master of the universe. All he has to do is open the right doors. I'm listening in admiration, thrilled by the notion, ready to believe.

"But what do you mean by right?" I ask. "How will you know? Every instant you make choices, and every choice creates a new universe." I struggle to wrap my pot-laced mind around the notion of infinite parallel universes, ramifying endlessly. Then I have a vision.

Choices give rise to new strands of reality. Maybe, though, the divergent paths rejoin. After a while, parallel universes collide and collapse into a single reality. Different decisions might ultimately lead you to the same place. It's like chicken wire, I see clearly, a mesh of realities that split and merge, a web of possible futures - all existing simultaneously. There's always a route, though perhaps a long one, from any decision point that spawns a new world to any other. There's no such thing as an irrevocable choice.

It's a revelation. I try to explain it to J. and M., who nod sagely. It makes sense to them. Wild notions often do when you're stoned.


Fast forward to a few years later. My master is crying. Early in our relationship he made me promise that if I met someone else, someone serious, I'd come see him first. He brashly vowed he'd convince me otherwise. I was pretty sure the guy I'd fallen for was my soul mate. (As it turned out, I was very wrong.) Still, I wanted to keep my end of the bargain. I'd shelled out for a plane ticket and flown 500 miles to give my master the chance to change my mind.

I'd expected him to bind me, to whip me, to fuck me until I screamed - until I realized and admitted that I would always belong to him and no one else. Instead he huddles on his couch, tears in his eyes, and barely speaks to me for two days. I'm angry he makes no effort to get me back. I suffer because of the pain I'm obviously causing him. I'm relieved that I am apparently free to go back to my new lover.

I'm very confused.

In later years, I've always identified that weekend as one of those inflection points that give rise to parallel worlds. If he had claimed me then, the way he promised... if he had come right out and told me he didn't just want me, but also loved me ... if he'd brought up the question of marriage or cohabitation... I might well be with him now, instead of half a world away and married to someone else. And maybe in some other strand of reality, I am his wife and lover, perhaps even mother to his children, as I wrote a few weeks ago.

On the other hand, if I were in that reality, what would I have missed? Would I have traveled? My husband has had travel fever since his teens. My master doesn't even have a passport. Would I be living overseas now, every day an adventure? Speaking of adventures, would I have had the chance to explore the delights of ménage and polyamory, the way I have in my present universe? My master's both possessive and surprisingly shy, for a sex maniac Dom. My husband and I share so many delights beyond the realm of sex: work, music, felines. Would the intersection between my master's sphere of concerns and my own have been as rich and full?

Still - I dream about a life of complementary fantasies, where my desire to submit perfectly matches his need to command. It's been decades since anyone tied me up or spanked me. I remember the intensity of those times, the overwhelming sense of being in the now, the glow of devotion and the sweet knowledge that I'm cherished for my surrender. I miss those feelings. I miss him, with an ache that's mellowed a bit over time but has never disappeared.

It occurs to me, though, that Lisabet Sarai, spinner of lascivious tales, would never have been born if he'd grabbed me that weekend, thrown me onto the couch, flipped up my skirt and buried himself in my ass, the way I imagined he might. If I were living the life of a submissive, I might never have been moved to write about it. It was my frustrated longing for him and his magical mind that led me to pen my first erotic tales and send them to him - to bridge the gap between our bifurcated lives. Raw Silk was a compendium of all my favorite D/s fantasies. It was a thought-experiment, a tentative stroll into that alternative world where he voiced his true feelings (as he has since, but perhaps too late) and changed our fates.


I sit here at my computer, stone-cold sober, a woman a few years short of sixty, remembering the crossroads in my life and trying to recapture my dope-induced image of the universe. Could it be true that all possibilities continue to exist, beyond the point of decision? Or is the universe like Schrödinger's cat, multiple potential outcomes collapsing into a single state as soon as one chooses to open the box? I'd like to believe that there's some way to get back to that point in time where my master and I took separate emotional paths, and strike off in a different direction, together. I'm not sure that I'd actually choose to return and walk that road not taken. Still, I'd like there to be, somehow, a chance.


  1. You can't live forever with the box unopened. Eventually, you find out if Schrodinger's cat is alive or dead. Or, in my weird little world, it's a zombie cat, in which case, it's both.

  2. I think you've found ur answer in creativity, Lisabet.
    U get to explore all fantasies, past lives, roads taken, or not. I've been reading ur posts for several years now
    and I never get the sense u have any regrets, that ur life has turned out exactly as you would have wanted it to. Me, I'm a work-in-progress, but I'm finally having fun with it all!

  3. I'm also close to 60 and finding myself grinning at all those existential questions I pondered back in the day. Great post!

  4. I love this, Lisabet. I love pondering the what-ifs of life, of looking back and pointing to those moments that could have changed my life in a different way. You've done a lovely job exploring your road not taken. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Hi Lisabet

    I was especially taken by your description, raw honesty, of your breakup with your dom and how you wished he would have just dominated and taken you. This is a side of women which i find fascinating and always unexpected. I remember in the past rape or something like it was a staple of romance novels and those novels were mostly written by women. I find this dark side of female nature always fascinating and kind of forbidding to a quiet soul like me.

    And then you describe how your dom wept and rather abjectly pleaded for you. I read this in a story somewhere. Was it yours? It must have been yours, I've read so many of your short stories. Somewhere I read this scene and was amazed by it.


  6. Hi, Kathleen,

    A zombie cat. Wonder what a quantum physicist would make of that.

    But what I'm really wondering is DO you have to open the box.

  7. Greetings, Mary,

    No answers, really. Writing is nothing but continuing to ask questions.

    No, I have no regrets. I've had a wonderful life so far and this morning I had an insight. I'm not getting old, I'm "ripening"! Still, I find the universe mysterious and intriguing.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  8. Hi, Joylene,

    Some people like to get drunk and act silly. I used to get stoned and discuss deep philosophical questions. My friends and lovers tended to be like that too!

    My husband and occasionally still have those kinds of talks. Great fun!

  9. Hello, Kristina,

    I love to play with the thought that the road WAS taken, in some universe.

    Thanks for coming up with a great topic.

  10. Hello, Garce,

    Don't get my comments confused with rape. It's really not the same at all.

    I came to him willingly, because he asked me to, because I loved him. The dominant side of his personality was part of what thrilled me about the relationship, and I half-expected/hoped that was what he would express in that sad meeting. I know now that he was far less sure of himself than he pretended to be. If he had been more dominant, that wouldn't have been rape or anything like it.

    I've never written this scene in a story. Actually I debated with myself about including it here. He'd hate to seem his vulnerability exposed, although there's obviously no identifying information provided.

    (You might be thinking about the story "Never Too Late", though, which is now published in BODY ELECTRIC. The dom in that story does practically beg the sub to stay with him. The emotions are somewhat similar but the situation is quite different)

  11. Every time I read your blogs I'm reminded of how boring my life is. :) The thing about chicken's shaped somewhat like a tennis net. I learned a long time ago that you can only play one side. When I was younger I tried to play both, but now as an official senior citizen, I'm too tired and too old to run and jump, and I'm just taking life one day at a time. You always amaze me.

  12. The 'chicken wire' image is a good one, I have used the concept of a froth of bubbles, with each bubble being a 'life' or an existence, intersecting with other 'lives'. The connections of the membranes being those cusp points where a choice takes a new path, similar to the nodes of the chicken wire. In this model one can try and conceptualise the effects of choices of others as well as one's own.
    I have virtual partners who inhabit just such bubbles which minimally intersect with mine. Our points of connection are primarily sexual yet physical meeting is exceptionally rare. Some are D/s, some sensual and some Master/sub. Many have blends of all and more. Each has aspects unique and yet similar.
    Because there are limits which I impose and do not break,, just as you found, partners grow beyond them or desire greater connection to be fulfilled. Usually that means a parting of the ways, a different path taken, both left, hopefully richer for the connection. However, that may just be a selfish viewpoint.

  13. Hey, Ginger,

    You've got more going for you as a senior citizen than lots of folks decades younger!

    Thanks for dropping by to read my weird scribbles.

  14. Greetings, Essemoh,

    I like the bubble imagery. I've had similar notions, when pondering the metaphysical.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  15. What a wonderful, beautifully written post, Lisabet. Yeah, the road not taken is one that always makes me wonder. But you've put it so eloquently. It's fascinating but also sad, because if your Master had only put into words what he felt...Fear can cripple. Yet as you said, one door closed, and another opened. I'm glad you followed your path to writing. :)

  16. Reminds me of one of my fave quotes by Rainer Maria Rilke: Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves...

  17. Lisabet,
    I like the way Word Actress put it. Trying to love the questions themselves is such a wonderful concept. The phrase I think of is "embrace change" - which is of course, impossible because if you embrace something, you change it, and then you have to constantly chase it to embrace it. Perhaps that's the idea anyway. The title of this post made me come and see wtf it was all about. Glad I did. And if you're a few years shy of 60 I find that surprising. I had the impression you were a 20-something who was simply wise. ^_^ I turned 60 in April, and I have to say, I've never been more alive and alert in my life. This is my time to live and create and to "be" and I'm loving it. There are so many choices I've made where I took that road less traveled, and I've never been sorry. But I have sometimes wondered what the view would have been like. You can only play one side of the net is also a great line. So many great comments on this post. You have awesome readers. Prolly cos you're such an awesome writer! I'm glad you made the choice to share your stories with us.

    One more thought. Yogi Berra said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." He didn't say which direction though. Or did he mean as in spoon, knife, fork? Either way, it makes you think!

  18. Great post, Lisabet. It reminds of some line I remember vaguely about how opening a window involves closing a door, or vice versa, i.e.: sometimes you have to make a choice because you can't have it all - or not all at once. You seem to have made good choices.


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