Before rife and I had a formal collaring ceremony, we had three other collars, of sorts. As such a major symbol of ownership and property, and dominance and submission, both of us drooled over the idea of a permanent collar early on, but took our time to get there.
The Third Collar
When I started talking about moving to Oakland from Brooklyn, the idea of a collar and a formal ceremony came up immediately. “I want my friends to know who I belong to now,” rife said. “I want everyone to know I am taken.”
Plus, we planned to attend International Ms. Leather shortly after I first arrived, and a collar can protect a submissive — some folks see uncollared submissives as fair game. rife’s deference and submission can be a toy that other dominants tease out of him, but we’d been working to keep that submission just for me.
We bought a length of chain at the hardware store near our house, and a lock. The chain was just the right size, not thick and bulky but almost delicate, as much as chain can be; about as big around as my pinky finger. It was brass-plated nickel, and the brass slowly wore off, leaving a dirty stain and metallic taste around his neck. He sanded down the corners of the lock to make it less sharp. I loved gripping it with my whole fist, and pulling him toward me.
The First Collar
The first collar was a set of dog tags, which said “sweet boy” on one and “dirty faggot” on the other. I had them made at an army surplus store, and the bald muscled boy behind the counter didn’t blink at the words I wanted pressed into the metal when I handed him the piece of paper. Not officially a collar, not exactly, but a promise of a future collar, a future hope. I gave it to him in a hotel with white white bedsheets and industrial carpet that gave us both rug burns on our knees and elbows. It was the first time he’d bent down and kissed my feet, sucked my toes. I wasn’t expecting the nerve endings he found with his mouth. I wasn’t expecting the intimacy of being inside of his lips.
I handed the tags to him on a ball chain, and he teared up. He couldn’t look at me. He barely breathed. I could see how much he wanted it. I could see this was not the first collar I was going to give him.
The Second Collar
While “sweet boy” and “dirty faggot” fit rife very well, we both started itching for something that made him feel owned. Something with my name on it.
Something had happened in the week before our visit that I was teasing him about screwing up; something minor, but enough for me to call it an infraction. As soon as we were in the hotel room with the door closed, I took his sweet boy dog tags away. I told him he’d have to earn them back. (He was crushed. I wouldn’t do this to him now, knowing how seriously he takes disappointment from his dominant. But I had a plan at the time.)
During an elaborate scene, I slid two hollow piercing needles into his chest and threaded fishing line, one through each of them, then removed the needles. To each clear line, I tied a new dog tag. They read “rife” on one and “property of Mr. Sexsmith” on the other. He flies with the sharp pain of needles, so he barely noticed they were new until I pointed it out. He threw his arms around me, giddy, hugged me close, then cried out “Ow ow ow!” as the tags and fishing line pressed against me.
The Fourth Collar
The fourth collar was the first that came with vows and witnesses; it was the first that included a request to the gods to watch over our bonds and support them; it was the first that was meant to last indefinitely, alongside a deep commitment from both of us.
We built a collaring ceremony together, planning a party at a picnic area by a lake with a huge batch of grilled chicken and salad, and asking folks to bring pie or wine or both. Guests showed up in suits, in leather pants, in titleholder vests — all done up and gorgeous, such a fun combination of formal and fetish. We thought through the details — what to wear, what to say, where to stand. It came together beautifully, more perfect than I ever would have expected. Isn’t it amazing when special days go like that?
Everything happened so fast that we started rushing to complete the ceremony before the sun set, and ended up in the dark with lanterns and fairy lights. I took off rife’s old collar, the one that left a metallic taste on his neck, but we kept the lock for the new collar. We invited questions from our friends, since we wanted to be more open about this dynamic between us, and to let folks who don’t understand it have an opportunity to ask about it. “What’s your protocol like?” They questioned. “How do we respect this dynamic between you? What should we call you? What does the collar mean to you?”
Carefully, because we are both very precise about language, we had crafted some words to say to each other, with mirroring intentions behind them. Friends said they couldn’t really hear the words we were saying, but they could feel the impact and the exchange of love.
I accept the gift of your will, time, body and mind as my property. (I accept and take.)
I will take care of myself. (So I can own you.)
I will quest for responsibility to balance my hungers for control and domination. (I will be my best self so that I can take care of you better.)
I will actively seek out ways you can add pleasure and value to our lives. (I will make requests.)
I will make no rules that I will not enforce. (I will take my rules seriously.)
I will act with both of our best interests in my heart and mind. (I will consider your needs.)
I offer myself to be yours. (I give and allow.)
I will respect your property. (So I can serve you.).
I will strive for simplicity, humility, kindness and generosity with you. (I will be my best self so that I can take care of you better.)
I will do anything you request. (I will respond to your requests.)
I will execute your preferences to the best of my ability. (I will take your rules seriously.)
I will communicate and let myself be seen in full. (I will communicate my needs.)
I clicked his first lock, the one he’d sanded down, into his new collar, and people cheered. I held him close. We cut the pie and opened the wine, and the night went all too quickly. I basked in such an outpouring of love, this ceremonial symbol of our devotion to each other, and deep gratitude to our communities. I wouldn’t pursue this without the vast support we’ve received.