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I Would Rather Have Chocolates

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One of the promises that I made to myself after my 12-year marriage ended in divorce was that I would not say no to new adventures, even if they were outside my comfort zone. When I was offered an invitation to an exclusive event at a mansion in Malibu, I decided to attend even though I would not know a soul there and it meant an hour drive each way at night alone.

It was quite an opulent party in a Gatsby-esque mansion. The back of the house featured large glass doors, opening onto a large expanse of manicured lawn overhanging the lit beach and the Pacific Ocean. I was wearing my best designer outfit -- a sequined trench coat with thigh high black boots -- and I felt confident and sexy. I walked across the grass sipping my glass of champagne and savoring the view.

Suddenly, a handsome man appeared at my side. We engaged in flirty conversation, and he was charming and delightful company. We spent the rest of the party together and exchanged cards as I left for the long drive home.

The next morning, I received an email from him, thanking me for making the party so special for him and inviting me to dinner in a few nights.

We met at the restaurant bar. He was even more attractive than I had remembered, and I felt instant chemistry. We moved from the bar to a booth, and he began to nuzzle my neck. It was wonderful and new and exciting.

In between glasses of merlot, I asked him how long he had been divorced. He responded that he was happily married with twin teenage daughters.

I almost threw up. I excused myself and went to the ladies room to catch my breath and place a 911 call to my best friend. She calmed me down and told me to return to the booth, tell him that I did not date married men, and leave. Fortunately, I had obeyed Safe Dating Rule #1 and had driven my own car to the restaurant.

As I pulled out of the valet, he ran in front of my car and threw a wrapped gift into the passenger seat. I certainly did not want anything from this man, but it was too late to return it to him, and I drove home.

I must admit, I was intrigued. The box itself was heavy black cardboard tied with a wide matte black ribbon. Nestled in black tissue paper was an object that I did not recognize. It was long and belt-like. The center section was made of woven leather cords, about 4 inches wide and 8 inches long. Attached on either side were long black satin ribbons. Whatever it was, it was beautifully made, and I first tried it on as a headband. That did not work. Then I tried to wrap it around my wrist as a bracelet, but that did not work either. It was not a whip, and it was not inexpensive.

I googled the name of the boutique and the address. I did not want this mystery momento of a date gone bad, and I decided to return it to its home and discover what it was. The next day, I drove to the address in West Hollywood. I expected to find a small gift store. What I found instead was an elegant boutique with an outside fireplace and sofas. The entrance walls were glass, with concrete floors, raw brick walls and beautiful display cases.

I approached a fashionable young sales associate and told her that I wanted to return the gift, but first needed to know what it was. She responded that it was a gag.

I broke into gales of laughter. A gag was not even on my radar as a possible use for this beautiful leather ribbon accessory. I had no idea that such high-end S&M items existed. When I asked the price, I was told $675. Again, I was flabbergasted. I ended up buying a silk negligee with my credit, money that I would never have spent otherwise.

That afternoon. I received an email from the man, asking if I liked the gift and explaining that he thought we could enjoy using it together, but that I must wear the thigh high boots that I wore to the Malibu event. I told him to lose my info, and that he was fortunate that I was not the kind of woman to call his wife.