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Episode Eighty Six

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Monstrous Agonies E86S03 Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]


H.R. Owen

Monstrous Agonies: Episode Eighty Six.


[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-I'm a journalist-”, Irish trad music, a voice saying “-healthy hormones-” and guitar music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]


The Presenter

-strenuous but mercifully fruitless efforts to set up a station TikTok account.


It's 1.45 on Thursday morning and time again for our weekly advice segment. First up, a listener trying to help their partner relax.


The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)

I seem to find myself between a rock and a hard place. For context, my partner makes up our household's primary income. She's out, working long hours, while I work from home and keep things tidy, since my exothermic genus doesn't do well in the colder climate.


She comes home exhausted some days, and has thanked me up and down for the deep-pressure therapy during our cuddle sessions when she's wrapped in my tail. It's... nice, to see how much she appreciates this side of my genus.


She also, surprisingly, doesn't find off-putting my genus's ability to put others into a deeply relaxed and highly suggestible state. I feel like I've lucked out, honestly. Most people don't want anything to do with someone who can do that.


But... [sighs] That’s where my problems lie. She's headstrong, very much one of those people who doesn't like asking for help from someone because she thinks she's being a bother. She's only just learnt to ask for a cuddle when she needs one.

But there are days where she comes home and she seems about ready to crumble. And I know I could help. I could help her just... let it all go.


But I can't. That state of relaxation... It's not like a cuddle where she can pull away when she's had enough. I don't want to violate her trust. I want to help her, but I won't undermine her agency to do so. But I know her. She won't ask. I know she won't ever ask.


I've talked to others in my community but the most anyone seems able to suggest basically amounts to a... ‘kink contract’? But I don’t know if things like safewords or the like would be sufficient given the state this process would put her in. It's not incapacitating but it does affect one's judgement.

I can fix this for her, I can do it so easily. But I know she won't just... ask plainly for it. Is there anything I can do? Or do I just need to find some other avenues to be of help, and make do with that?


The Presenter (as themselves)

The short answer is yes, listener. You do have to wait for her to come to you. There's absolutely no way you can push your girlfriend to accept help she doesn't want.


I know this feels frustrating. You can see that she's struggling and you know you can help her. But the very nature of that help is such that you need nothing less then her wholehearted and fully informed consent before you can even think about proceeding.


That isn’t to say you can’t offer, however. Begin the conversation by telling her that you’ve noticed how tired and stressed she is at the end of the work day, and that you’ve an idea for a way you might be able to help, if she wants you to. If she isn’t interested, let the matter lie.


If she is interested however, take the time to talk her through exactly what the process entails and how it will affect her. I hear your concern about navigating consent while she’s in this suggestible state. I agree that she likely won't be able to make those judgements for herself while under your influence.


You’ll have to agree in advance what kinds of activities she finds acceptable while she’s in this state. She may be comfortable being given food or cuddles, but draw the line at undressing or any kind of sexual contact.


Remember, your boundaries are important here too – just because she consents to something, doesn’t mean you have to as well. Take your time, listen carefully to each other, and be honest about your needs and expectations.


With that groundwork in place, you can move on with putting your plans into practice. Go slowly, and let her call the shots. Over time, she may grow more comfortable asking for your help .


Or she may give it a go and decide it isn’t for her, or have no interest in the suggestion at all. If that’s the case, let it go, and find other ways to support her. It is far, far more important that you respect her autonomy and trust her to make the right decisions for herself.


[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]


The Presenter

Ever get that hunted feeling? The sneaking suspicion an unscrupulous someone is on your trail? Perhaps a certain hungry someone with a taste for blood? Set your mind at ease. We can help. We just need to know where you are. Give us your location. We'll help. Just tell us where you are. Just tell us. We'll help.


[End background music]


The Presenter

Tonight's second letter is from a listener wanting some advice on impressing the in-laws.

The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)

I first started listening to your show because of my girlfriend. I’ve never dated a person of the night before, and it’s a bit cringey but I guess I was just worried I was going to accidentally say or do something really offensive or insensitive! [laughs]


Your programme helped a lot, even just to reassure me that, as long as she and I kept talking things through, we’d probably be alright. And we have been! Eighteen months now, solid as a rock. She’s even invited me to her family’s spring equinox celebration in March.


When I say her family, I mean the whole family. It’s a massive reunion. And, yeah, I’m kind of nervous! [laughs] I mean, we’re a cross-genus lesbian couple. That on its own would be enough to make me a bit apprehensive.


I’m also kind of worried I’m going to lose track of the gossip she’s told me about them all. I love hearing the stories she tells me about them, but for the life of me, I can never remember who made the blood pact with who or whether it was Aunt Gwendolyn or Aunt Lilian who has a habit of catching people in blackberry bushes. [laughs] I really don’t want to put my foot in it.


On top of all that, her culture puts a lot of emphasis on etiquette and courtesy. She still doesn’t let me cook her dinner without a [over formal voice] formal renouncement of obligation. Though sometimes I say she has to pay me back with a kiss. And she always settles her debts.


I know the basics. I know to speak honestly, don’t make any wagers or bargains, mind your manners. But I don’t want to be basic. I want to do her proud, and treat her and her family with the courtesy and grace they deserve. That- That she deserves. Call me a daft old butch but... I want to be chivalrous! [laughs]


I make it six weeks until Spring Equinox. I want to sweep her off her feet, and make the best impression on my in laws any woman’s ever made before, sapio or no! So. Where do I start?


The Presenter (as themselves)

I don’t think you’re being daft, listener. In fact, I think it’s extremely sweet. You love this woman, and you want to show it in a way that suits your inclination towards old fashioned romance and celebrates her culture.


On the issue of family gossip, I think your best bet is to simply avoid raising any of the topics you've mentioned yourself. I... happen to have some experience with people from this particular culture and while I don’t usually like to generalise, I think it’s fair to say that as a rule, the more opportunities they have to gossip, the happier they’ll be.


If someone mentions Aunt Lillian and her blackberries, you can say with absolutely honesty that you think you know this story, but could they please remind you. You avoid offending anyone, and they get the chance to share the story all over again.

On the matter of learning your courtly manners, the good news is, you don’t have to go it alone. If you live somewhere with a large community of good folk, you might be able to find a community centre offering classes or workshops.


You needn’t worry about being a sapio in this kind of space. This is precisely the kind of cultural sharing and education that these groups exist for, and they’ll be very happy to have you along.


Otherwise, you might have to seek out private coaching. It will be a bit more expensive, but you’ll have the benefit of being able to choose from a more generalised approach or finding someone who specialises in the court your girlfriend’s family belongs to, for example.


Finally, listener, a word of reassurance. While, yes, your girlfriend’s family is from a culture that values etiquette and formal manners, they are still your girlfriend’s family. That’s the context in which they’re meeting you. Given that context, he only thing they’ll really care about is how you treat her.


You already know enough not to commit any glaring faux pas. A flourish of courtly manners will add a little extra, and be a lovely romantic gesture to your girlfriend. But all you really have to do to win them over is demonstrate that you care about your girlfriend, and are going to take good care of her. In short, you need be nothing more complicated than yourself.


[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]


The Presenter

131.3FM – the voice of liminal Britain.


[End background music]

The Presenter

Next tonight, we talk to astrophysicist and science educator, Doctor Valerie Pickering, about the complex relationship between liminal and celestial bodies...


[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through rock & roll music, a voice saying “-very trusted-”, discordant piano music, a voice saying “-random thoughts-” and pop music before fading out.


Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]


H.R. Owen

Episode Eighty Six of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.


Tonight's first letter was submitted by The-Trinket-Witch, the second letter was from Dahlia345, and this week's advert came from an anonymous submission. Thanks, friends.


Hello and welcome to our latest supporters on Patreon, Riley, Alyssa and Oleander! Join them at patreon.com/monstrousagonies, or make a one-off donation at ko-fi.com/hrowen. You can also help us grow our audience by sharing with your friends and familiars, and following us on Tumblr, @MonstrousAgonies, and on Twitter, @Monstrous_Pod.


This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.


Thanks for listening, and remember - the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.


[Fade to silence]


--END TRANSCRIPT--

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