I Like To Be Tied UpSince early boyhood, the thought of being tied up has fascinated me. By the age of seven or eight, whenever I saw a woman bound and gagged on TV or in a movie, I experienced a thrill. At first, I simply wanted to look at her, to watch how she might free herself or be rescued. As the years passed, however, I developed a different focus: in time, I wanted to know what it was like to be that woman, tied up by robbers, held for ransom, or bound and gagged by a burglar.
This strange wish mystified me. It also frightened me. As a young man, I felt ashamed of it, and I never spoke of it to anyone.
Yet it would not leave me alone. In fantasies at night, in daydreams, whenever I saw someone tied up on TV, my mysterious wish kept resurfacing. When at age 25 I read the Sherlock Holmes story "Hound of the Baskervilles" and came upon Miss Stapleton tied up and gagged in a garret, I knew I had to act. Concealing myself in a bathroom of my parents' house, I opened the glass shower door slightly, so that it reflected my image, then I gagged and bound myself with strips of fabric ripped out of a discarded old table cloth. The reflection in the glass was dim but O! How it electrified my imagination! For one magic moment, I'd become Miss Stapleton.
A few years later, I indulged myself again--this time, in a much more daring fashion. While living in Frankfurt, Germany, I befriended an artist who'd been living in the streets but had recently acquired a small apartment. I commissioned him to do a painting for me. The painting was to depict a beautiful woman tied to a chair surrounded by mischievous elves, Santa's elves, burglarizing her apartment. The woman was to symbolize New York City. The painting's theme was that big-city crime had gotten so ugly that it besmirched even Christmas.
Considering myself blessed to know an artist who would execute my commission, I looked forward with the greatest expectation to the result, especially the image of the woman tied to the chair. Then another idea occurred to me, one that made my heart race: instead of using photos of women from magazines and whatnot, why not model for the painting myself? Given my slender, flexible physique, I'd make a pretty good model, at least from the chest down. For the bust and face, my friend, I was sure, would have an ample imagination from which to draw.
Tingling with excitement, I showed up at his apartment one evening, my customary briefcase in hand. We had planned to discuss the project, but he had no idea of the surprise I was about to spring. Inside the bathroom, I whipped off my shoes, pants and socks, and slipped into a pair of pantyhose and a black evening gown.
"Anything the matter?" he asked, noting the extraordinary time I was taking.
I'd be right out, I replied, heart pounding.
Re-emerging into the main room, I held my breath. How would he react?
As a proud, inveterate eccentric, he concealed whatever astonishment he may have felt. He, after all, was the artist. It was his part to shock, not to be shocked. In truth, though, I think my "display" did perk him up a bit.
I sat down on a chair, took a bundle of rope from my briefcase, and proceeded to tie my feet together, snugly cinching the bond. After tying my ankles back beneath the seat so that only the balls of my nyloned feet touched the floor, I fastened my legs together above and below the knees, roped my lap to the seat, and bound my waist to the back. My friend obligingly tied my hands behind the back of the chair. Then using a hefty bundle of rope, he trussed me up from shoulders to waist. By the time he finished, about all I could do was turn my insteps out and wiggle my fingers.
"Ready for the gag?" he asked.
I swallowed hard. This was it. I was crossing a Rubicon here. With the gag in place, I'd have no way to speak, whether to criticize him or defend myself. I nodded and opened my mouth.
In went a big, fat chunk of sponge wedged in between my tongue and palate. Duct tape followed, wrapped round and round my jaws, sealing the gag inside. Over this the artist wrapped a white neckerchief, knotting it firmly behind my neck.
Thus I remained, bound and gagged for a couple of hours, while my friend, who resembled Santa Claus, sat on his bed doing sketches. Occasionally, I explored my possibilities, but there was no way to free myself. I couldn't even work the gag loose. After my jaws began aching with the attempt, I gave it up. If this had been a real robbery, I'd have had to sit there for God knows how long, all night perhaps, until found by someone--a roommate, co-worker, the police...
After twenty or thirty minutes of motionlessness, physical sensations all but vanished. My head and upper body tended to slump forward, assuming a relaxed posture. I fell into a semi-meditative state. In other circumstances, I might have drowsed off. My surroundings, the positions of my limbs, the sponge crammed in my mouth like an elephant in a closet---all these things seemed to fade away, as did the very feel of the ropes gripping me from shoulders to ankles. Only when I stirred, writhing one way or another, did my bonds seem to reassert themselves, holding me fast to the chair.
What discomfort I experienced was that which arises from the body's need for occasional movement. Bound as I was, I had to strain to satisfy that need. Tugging at the rope holding my feet back, shifting my legs an inch left, an inch right, as far as my bonds would permit, I twisted one way and another as best I could, alleviating but hardly vanquishing the discomfort to which I refer. Being tied up like that for more than two or three hours would have been an ordeal, especially if not knowing whether or when a rescuer might appear.
If, God forbid, you are ever tied up--in a robbery, kidnapping, or something awful like that--and if you are bound and gagged effectively, as I was, don't expect to get free. Keep your hopes realistic. You might have a chance if you're someone like Houdini, but short of that, your wisest course would probably be to avoid any dangerous attempts to get free, such as tipping the chair over; keep the gag out of your throat, so you can keep breathing; encourage your circulation by moving as best you can, wiggling your fingers, twisting one way or another; and just have faith that sooner or later someone will find you. One thing you can do is pray.
In fact, being tied up offers an excellent opportunity for prayer. You might pray not only for your own safety but for everyone you care about and even, perhaps, for the criminals who left you bound and gagged. Remember: they could have done worse.