Sunday, October 6, 2013

Popping and Not Popping: The False Dichotomy

It's supposed to be the great divide between balloon fetishists: popper vs. non-popper, as if we could picture some great room with a line down the middle, and on one side the poppers would be gleefully destroying their balloons, and on the other the non-poppers would be lovingly protecting theirs. And presumably, for those non-poppers who are also phobic, the line down the middle would actually be a soundproof wall.

It's a silly picture, I know, but it's the kind of simplification I hear over and over again. I even get asked, frequently, "Are you a popper or a non-popper?"

Well, the pseudonym I chose might give you a clue. But the first name is not short for Timothy; it's short for timid. I'm what you might call a sometimes-phobic-sort-of-popper. And that's about as much categorization as I'm willing to commit to.

Each of us has a very individual relationship to balloons. For some it's very emotional, for others it's only sexual, and for others it may be both. And if you think that there is an perfect correlation between the emotional side of the relationship and a fetishist's position on popping balloons, you might find yourself quite surprised.

Take me, for example. I have a strong emotional attachment to balloons. I love having them around, and I used to rescue them from being popped when I was little. I will often keep balloons around for months, hanging up or hidden somewhere to play with. My first sexual interest in balloons revolved strictly around close, physical, non-popping contact with them. When they popped by accident, it scared me and made me sad. Parties were a nightmare.

But somewhere along the line, I also came to be sexually excited by balloons popping, and I am to this day. But the prospect of watching even an incredibly gorgeous, totally naked woman take a pin and pop a huge number of balloons very quickly leaves me not only unexcited, but highly disappointed. Because the pop is not what I'm after. The pop that excites me comes at the end of close contact, as with sitting or lying on a balloon, or with the total involvement of blowing up a balloon until it pops.

Pin, lighters, knives, high heels, fingernails, even bare feet don't do it for me; I want to see intimate involvement. The best, for me, is bare butt against not-too-tight balloon, with considerable bouncing before the balloon gives up.

But that's just me. All of the things that I mentioned that don't do it for me, do it for someone else. So when someone says they are a popper, they are only telling a small part of the story, most likely.

Same for non-poppers. Not wanting to pop balloons—and it can be about fear, about loss, or even about indifference—says nothing about how a fetishist enjoys balloons, and the variety of ways can be rather staggering.

And the crossover, what the so-called experts who like to classify things would call being a "semi-popper" (what does that mean, that you only pop half your balloons?), can get even more complicated still. There are those who don't pop that are still somewhat excited by the pop, or by the danger of the pop without the actual pop. Conversely, there are those for whom the pop is a buzzkill. There are also non-poppers who don't much care if a balloon pops, but they are just not excited by it.

So the next time you see an article or TV show about balloon fetishes that claims that we are neatly divided into "poppers, non-poppers, and semi-poppers," take it with a grain of salt, and maybe write in and set the record straight.

Or just send them here.