[LMB] flinch

Pouncer at aol.com Pouncer at aol.com
Fri, 14 Nov 2003 17:59:00 EST


> would have guessed you were discussing Miles's
> Betan-ness rather than his growing savoir faire

I'm not, entirely. I'm riffing off the flinch reaction to
hugs, and other physical displays of affection, as
much-discussed just prior. Miles flinches at herm Bel,
where werewolf Taura - a few hours later - inspires no such

Note that Bel shares Miles's accent, his uniform, his
(immediate) goals ... Bel and Miles share comparable and
compatible size and venue and schedule and rank ... Bel has
even had recent opportunity for a shower and toothbrushing.
Taura is an xenophobe's Worst Possible Thing.  At first
Miles isn't even sure she can speak. She's
running near-nuff naked, and, of conflicting goals, the
desire to eat and not be eaten (in a wholly unsexual sense
of that expression) seem, to Miles, to be wholly in
opposition between himself and Taura.  That Taura is
monstrously bigger, that the venue is fraught, the timing
awful, and the difference in rank (which I only mention
because at this time, Miles was using that "reason" for
stiff-arming Elli Quinn) impossibly wide, between the
Admiral and the not-yet-even-recruit.  And, of course,
there's the after-dead-rat breath.  But Miles masters his
flinch reaction, in this case.

Had Bel NOT found Nicol at about the same time (flipping
its gender roles and preferences )  there might have been
QUITE the jealous reaction to the perception of Miles's
"selection of Taura over me!"

So, the flinch.  Unless we posit that Miles might have
flinched in the same scene at a caress from Elli, we have
conclude that Miles is - a bit, at least - er, hermophobic.

Which is a fear, by definition.  An insecurity. A SHYNESS,
if you like.   Miles is afraid of his friend.  He flinches
at the touch of his friend.  He'd freak out at a full body
hug and a wet sloppy open mouthed kiss ...

This is not at all unlike the shyness Pilot Padgett has
discussed among fellow fans. To a point, the friendship is
quite close.  But any sudden escalation is terrifying. And
hence Louann's t-shirt:

                  THEN AWAIT PERMISSION
                BEFORE MAKING CONTACT !!!

OkAY, that background established, let's move away in a new

We see Miles from the very beginning as insecure and
fearful of body image, and developing his coping
stratagems. He borrows the clipboard-as-swaggerstick trick
from the ImpMil test proctor, he borrows his father's
furious whisper, he borrows Bothari's lethal intimidation
glare ..  We watch him construct the Naismith persona bit
by bit.  The thing is, Naismith becomes the front man, the
ventriloquist's dummy, for the "real" Miles.  This lets
Miles hide behind the persona in the same way he advises
Baz to hide behind an impression of Tarski-with-the-
cigarski. But at the same time, it frees up Naismith to
take risks, to touch and to love and to f*ck - or be
rejected -- that Miles won't risk in his "own person."
Charlie McCarthy can say things that Edgar Bergen can't or
won't or would never be forgiven, but if McCarthy is ripped
away and chopped to bits ... well, Bergen is left. But
Bergen, and Miles, then work to become
ever more invisible.  Don't look, you might see my lips
move.  Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!  I,
OZ, the Great and Powerful, have spoken ...

By _BoI_ Naismith, the persona, is so powerful and Miles,
the little fragile fearful naked slug is so invisible, that
it's almost possible to dispense with Miles entirely.  Then
comes along Ser Galen and a plot against Miles qua Miles --
not Naismith, even tho Naismith has grown to have problems
of his very own - and suddenly Miles is real again and
Naismith is a whole 'nother person, equally real.

This all collapses in _ Memory_, though even by _ ACC_ the
effects linger. (Miles restraining himself from courting
Ekaterin dons the Charlie McCarthy suit, slips into the
tones of Oz the Great and Powerful, and immediately and
unreservedly commands the girl to come away with him. )
Here, Miles is PRETENDING to be shy, self-restrained, and
distant.  And STILL he brings up Naismith to speak his true

We might note in passing that the "invisible boy / blatant
caricature" approach to the universe was so successful that
Miles's most studious protigi also adopted it - with a
vengeance.  Killer/Grunt/Howl/Gorge play Oz, while Mark
hides behind the curtain.

But let's keep on passing and pass on to Ekaterin.  Her
approach was developed wholly independently of Miles's and
we see most of it as a finished product.  We don't get to
see it patched together.  But her outward, frontward,
constructed face is the stone.  She does NOT flinch,
flinching only encourages "them". She thinks.  (Later she
comes to realize that lack of feedback may be mistaken for
assent to abuse ... )  She makes a conscious choice to open
up for Miles ...

But we know, though the hints are few, that Tien has shut
her down in a number of vital ways.  And even so demanded
that she respond.  So in this one area she could not be the
stone, and developed an alternative approach.  She doesn't
even allow herself to dwell on it, so we don't have
details. But it almost appears she forced herself to
respond to Tien using dark and and violent fantasy.  One
might imagine her imagining Tien playing "Howl" ...and
herself in the role of Baron Luigi.

This is almost certainly not a game she wants to play with
Miles.  But she's, at least, out of practice with other

So, honeymoon at the Orb.  Therapeutic as well as

Side note - I make no claim either way whether this
represents my personal reality or not, but as an
illustration - think of a couple who enjoys Alpine Skiing.
Very fashionable outfits, -- some of which are also, though
Incidentally, functional/practical --  fancy equipment and
toys, (ditto "functional") beautiful venues, many post-
activity activities such as the hot tub, the conversation
pit around the stone fire place, the massage table, the
mulled cider bar .. . a minor health risk if anything
happened  to go badly wrong but generally and overall a
nice fitness boost for the participants.  Anyhow,
recreational sex is the same, right? Outfits, toys, venues,
post-activity activity .. .  At least, it ought to be

So, again, the Orb. I suspect that for Ekaterin the Orb is
part of developing a better attitude toward the activity.
Finding a good coach, doing a few exercises, stretching,
trying on new outfits and new toys; enjoying the venue. ..

I _also _ expect that Miles had, heretofore, considered
himself in no need of instruction. Always diving in feet
first to the deep end. (er, fix that metaphor.  Takes the
black slopes .. . )   We are talking about the man who
tastes rose blossoms just because his horse likes to eat
them; who pretends to be an admiral, a plumber, an auditor,
a detective - whatever the immediate requirement.
Training? He don't need no stinkin' training!

Except now it's important.  And a good husband, like a good
commander, never asks for anything he's unwilling to try
himself ...

So, Step One: Find the good coach.

Miles: Money is no object, pick us each the best, whatever
it costs, take your time ... oh.  That much for the week?
PER HOUR?  Oh. No, no, that's what we want . ..

Ekaterin:  Er, do we really need TWO?  Kareen was telling
me - <blush> -- wouldn't we really be more comfortable with
a single coach who's a herm?

Miles:  <Covering surprise>  One - between us? <Pretends to
leer> How ... outri.

ANYHOW, something like that. Or so I infer.  If it wasn't
that easy, I'm still of the opinion that, after
conversations with Dono and Kareen, Ekaterin would have
expectations of availing herself of a broader-than-mono
viewpoint.   Who can explain him to her and her to him
better than it?

And ANYHOW, part TWO ... we now come back around to Miles's
"Betaness".  He has always had the accent, the in-jokes,
the disrespect for authority.  But those reflexes ...  Bel
offered to rub off the rough edges, and Miles never
accepted. But after acquiring Betan "polish" . ..  Miles's
reactions to Bel in _DI _ are more open.  Even if he's now

Or so I speculate.  I feel as if Lois explicitly invites
such speculation about her folks' sex lives. That's mine.

Debbie /  bobkat98

>I also don't think Miles would share; he craves her
>obsessively.  I attributed Miles feelings towards Bel
>as being the 'clearer' sight some people develop when
>they're in a serious monogamous relationship and look at
>others as 'oh well's.

I'm not sure "getting a good coach" constitutes "sharing",
from a Betan perspective.  My wife gives me maintenance
haircuts - but for style, once in a while, I go to a
stylist.  I might even go to HER stylist.  This is neither,
I think, faithless nor divisive.  (My/our perspective on
_other _ services, as available in Texas, do differ from
those of Betans, of course.)


>First, why should visiting the Betan Orb mean sex with

It doesn't, of itself.  But Kareen's visit seemed to.
Kareen was pleased enough with the experience to discuss
it. Ekaterin, lacking experience, might very well take
discussion as advice ...

>An LPST is a licensed sexual therapist.  Most sexual
>therapists don't engage in sex with their clients

True enough in Texas, 2003.  Probably even truer where ever
you are.  I'm not sure that is true on Beta Colony.  One
_can _  teach swimming without wearing skimpy lewd clothes
or  getting into the pool with the student, too.
(ObCazaril) But not everybody is going to do it that way.
Some impose more restriction on themselves, some less.

>Obviously sex with an LPST is appropriate in certain
>circumstances, such as first encounters, sexual healing,

I think M&E think that healing is exactly what E needs.

>brushing up on your technique

I think both M&E would agree that, as long as one is there,

Bobkat again >I see a big difference between the Miles of
>_TWA_ and the Miles of _DI_.

There are a LOT of them, yes.

> By "Labrynth" he was confident he knew what to
> do, he was just intimidated by his partner.

He was intimidated by Bel, too.

Whatever experience he'd had between _WA _ and
_Labyrinth  _  it appears not to have included gaining
Betan "polish" with regard to herms.  Rather like skiing
the bunny slopes only, perhaps.

>I would say he eventually made the decision he couldn't do
>much to make it easier to persuade a woman into his bed,
>but he could make sure she had no complaint once she got
>there and tacked the problem with his usual "forward
>momentum".  That sounds very Miles!

Agreed. But .. . again:
>>I suspect that Miles never got around to a herm

Bobkat >I suspect he never wanted _a_ herm.  His regret
>was for never following up on an offer from one of his
>dearest friends, who had stopped being "a herm" and
>become Bel.

But he would never have let himself think of Bel "that way"
until ... well, something has changed.

>Yeah, it was clear to me as well that Ekaterin's
>sexuality had been turned into a mine field where each
>bomb would have to be defused individually with patience,
>care, diplomacy and a sense of humor.

Ob PelianDandelionClusterBombs, exactly.

Bobkat >My preschoolers are hauling me off to bed so
>I'll have to wait until tomorrow to properly introduce

You see, MY kids have delayed my end of this conversation
as well.   Well met, fellow feline!

Pouncer>> I'm going to have to finish that lat

Megera: > Grrrrr....

SORRY!  The small Pouncers have NO respect for keyboard
time, lately.  But later is now.  Okay? Forgiven? What I
lack in timeliness I've tried to make up in sheer length
.. .

James Bryant :

>We do have a glimpse (no more) of this in progress
>in "Winterfair Gifts" (he gloats) but it is very
>important to realise that <Ekaterin> has been growing,
>encouraged by Miles, for a year and a half  .. .
>While the Orb may have liberalised her sexual
>insights I doubt very much that her growing
>strength has much to do with the Orb.

I compare it to the experience in free fall training.
Go in, timid. Stay, snarling. Emerge, glowing.

I suspect there have been other courses, formal and
informal, as well.  (An informal class in formality, as
taught by Alys Vorpatril, for instance.  A formal, if
brief, discussion of the informal "Rules of Sexual
Discussion in High Vor Society" -- as taught by Countess
Vorkosigan, for another.  "You have to sit through this,
dammit, because nobody was around to explain to ME how this
worked and mistakes are EXPENSIVE. Anybody ever explain to
you about Vordarian?  His very first treason, I hardly
recognized, because I didn't know it was against these
rules .. .  " )  It's not amazing that Ekaterin has learned
a lot in a year, but it IS amazing she'd had time to do
much _besides _ learn the role of Lady Vorkosigan.

Finally, Pilot Padget:

>I'm bowing out of the thread on touching and shyness.

NO!  I've just busted my damn rump bringing SEVEN
F*CKING DAYS of your pathetic OT: discussion about
"hugs without permission" and  "flinching at your touch"
back *ON*! F*CKING! TOPIC! via  OBVIOUS  specific
reference to Bel and Miles.


Go hug your (male) kids or something. Embarrass the
crap out of both of them and then come back and talk
like a civilized human being instead of crawling
away like some sniveling rat.

(this, the e-male equivelent of punching you on the arm.  Luv  ya,  man!)