I am humming with an energy I don’t get to feel often. I am wearing my formal skirt, button-down collared shirt, black thigh-high socks, black athletic sneakers, my formal cardigan, a lace cameo choker, and a broad black hat. I look like a modern take on a style of flemish dress that lost popularity in the 1400s. Like Arnolfini in Van-Eyck’s portrait. A luxury that looks out of place but, ultimately not distinct in a crowd of sexually repressed nerds.

The energy I am humming with is dominant. After having seen an extremely educational BDSM panel prior, given by a full time dominatrix, I feel empowered. But exhausted, so I settle for standing straight, away from the crowd. I’ve set up space in the front right corner of the room, near the puppy play area. A collection of toys has been lovingly placed in the center of several gymnastics mats laid out. Two strangers in pup masks are batting a small squishy basketball back and forth, using paws that cover their hands.

The ball rolls past, and close to me. I glide forward, chin held high, and swoop to pick up the ball.

I raise it slowly, the pups kneel at attention. I loft the ball to the further one and they catch it. They resume playing.

We play this game a few times, us three strangers. The music begins to pulse louder, and the crowd in front of the stage steadily grows.

I feel good, but I know something isn’t quite right. I feel above everyone. As if my ego has lofted me over top the crowd. Condescension rolls through me, directed at nobody. Superiority for resting and staying to the side. It smacks of desperation, feels nonsensical, but necessary; though I can’t say why.

The corgi rolls in. The beautiful stranger I spoke with in the line. He(?)s holding a Shiner in one hand, a corgi head under the other arm. His two friends aren’t there. It’s time to socialize.

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