Wednesday, February 6, 2008

In Which I Get Punked...

Roger has been in trouble for a while now. He's a scheming little jerk. He worked out a nice little scheme involving the theft of some farm implements. They take a pretty dim view of that sort of thing around here. So, to avoid having his neck stretched by a group of red-faced guys in John Deere hats, he plead guilty and took probation.

Since being on probation he's been rather lazy and tends to "forget" to report. Two months ago I got really tired of his little games and we had a bit of a Come To Jesus meeting. I told him I was not going to waste my time hunting him down. If he can't report, he can go to jail.

I also told him the only reason that I haven't already filed the paperwork to have him arrested was the fact that he owes his victims $3,000. If he goes to jail, they won't get their money. That wasn't fair to them. So, I told Roger I had a deal for him. He would be getting his tax refund soon. I wanted it. All of it. He would be getting enough to pay off the restitution. That way, when he screws up again, I would have no reason not to have him arrested. He could pay and stay free, or he could go to jail.

I'm not above a bit of old-fashioned extortion.

The next month, Roger came in and whined about how he was barely getting enough money on his refund to cover the amount I was demaning, and he had to let his wife have part of it - it wasn't just his. I told him he should have thought of that before.

Today, he came in again and made a payment. He paid $2,000. That was about $800 less than the total amount of restitution. I sat at my desk, mentally flipping a coin. How much of a witch did I want to be about this? He hadn't been behind on payments in the first place. He's been paying me almost $200 a month every month, even the months he skipped his appointments. Two thousand dollars is a lot of cash. Did I want to quibble about the $800 that isn't even due yet? I finally decided to give him a hard time about it, then let him off the hook.

I retreived his sorry carcass from the waiting room. When he sat down in my office I gave him the evil eye and demanded to know where the rest of the money was. He claimed that was all he had. We both knew that wasn't true, but I glossed over it a bit, and told him if he will continue his $200 a month payments and not miss another appointment - not to mention doing his community service - I would call it even and not put him in jail. For now.

"So you're going to take your boot out of my ass?" he asked.

"That's one way to put it," I answered.

He agreed. We went through the other information we needed to cover for the month. Then as he was about to leave, he motioned to my right hand. "You were wearing your Wonder Woman bracelet when I came in here last month," he said.

That was rather surprising. I didn't know he paid that much attention to my accessories and I was especially astonished that he recognized the bracelet for what it was.

"Have you researched Wonder Woman's background, any at all?" he asked.

I told him I knew quite a bit about it and he asked what I knew about the guy who created Wonder Woman.

"His name was William Moulton Marston and he was famous for something totally unrelated to comic books, but I don't remember what it was," I told him. (Just FYI - he invented the lie detector.)

He nodded thoughtfully. "You should look it up on the internet," he said. "You don't know anything about his personal life - how he lived with his wife and their two kids and his housekeeper and their two kids? You should really look it up - you'll learn some things that will probably make you look at Wonder Woman in a whole new way."

I wasn't really sure what to say to that - just sort of raised my eyebrows and said I'd check it out. Then I made a big, big mistake.

I reached out towards him to shake his hand as he stood to leave. He took my hand, looked down and then back up at me. His eyes had an malignant twinkle and he laughed out loud. Then he walked out the door.

Needless to say, I was rather confused. I immediately sat down and googled Mr. Marston. This is what I found on Wikipedia:

Dr. William Moulton Marston (May 9, 1893May 2, 1947) was an American psychologist, feminist theorist, inventor, and comic book author who created the character Wonder Woman. Two strong women, his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byrne, (who lived with the couple in a polyamorous relationship), served as exemplars for the character and greatly influenced her creation.

Ooookay. Well, the polyamorous bit is a little weird, but whatever. I read on...

Marston's Wonder Woman is often cited as an early example of bondage themes entering popular culture: physical submission appears again and again throughout Marston's comics work, with Wonder Woman and her criminal opponents frequently being tied up or otherwise restrained, and her Amazonian friends engaging in frequent wrestling and bondage play (possibly based on Marston's earlier research studies on sorority initiations). These elements were softened by later writers of the series. Though Marston had described female nature as submissive, in his other writings and interviews he referred to submission to women as a noble and potentially world-saving practice, leading ideally to the establishment of a matriarchy, and did not shy away from the sexual implications of this:

"The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and unbound force to enjoy being bound ... Only when the control of self by others is more pleasant than the unbound assertion of self in human relationships can we hope for a stable, peaceful human society. ... Giving to others, being controlled by them, submitting to other people cannot possibly be enjoyable without a strong erotic element".

About male readers, he later wrote: "Give them an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to, and they'll be proud to become her willing slaves!"

It was at this point that I laid my head down on my desk and tried to make up my mind whether to laugh or cry. This was when I realized what a horrible mistake I'd made when I reached out to shake Roger's hand. It wasn't until I stretched my hand out towards him that my sleeve pulled away from my wrist and he could see what I was wearing where last month I'd worn the Wonder Woman bracelet.

Damn that Hot Topic gift card...

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