“That’s a great idea, Laura!” Angie said. “Now that you mention it, I can’t believe I haven’t set you up with him already. But…” The blonde paused as she sipped her tea. “I know Paul is out of town for Valentine’s.”

“That’s OK,” I said, masking my disappointment with a shrug. “Maybe some other time.”

Angie and I were seated at our regular downtown café, and I had a specific purpose in mind for our get-together. All the chatter about Valentine’s normally didn’t get to me, but this year felt different. Why should I sit at home alone? It seemed everyone else was out having romantic fun. I interpreted this unfamiliar angst as a sign that I needed to adjust my work–life balance. It was time to get myself back into the dating game, and Angie’s longtime friend Paul seemed like a good place to start. A very good start.

“It’s just a commercial holiday anyway, cementing old gender stereotypes,” I continued sarcastically. “Man, buy pretty flowers for your precious woman.”

Angie nodded softly. “Yeah, I guess so.”

I had expected a more heartfelt agreement. As the only women in an otherwise all male cohort, the two of us had struggled through Medical School together and shared many eye-rolling moments over the years. Angie had been single even longer than I had, so I expected her to share my sentiment.

“So. Anyway,” I said. “Do you want to do something together on Valentine’s then? I’m off work.”

Determined to push myself to finally go on a date with Paul, I’d turned down all requests from married colleagues to trade shifts at the hospital. Apparently for no good. Why did I put it off to the last minute to ask Angie to set me up? Of course, a man like him would be busy on Valentine’s.

“Oh, uhm…” Angie began. “I’d love to. But I’m busy.”

“Oh, do you have a date?” I asked, hoping she had some exciting news to tell me.

“Yeah, no. But I’m going away.”

“Oh, where to?”

Angie looked uncomfortable. “Well, it’s a kind of S.A.D. celebration.”

“A sad celebration?” I asked, confused. “You’re gonna celebrate sadness?”

“No, no, no,” Angie chuckled. “S-A-D. It’s an abbreviation for…” She hesitated a moment before continuing. “Singles Awareness Day.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s sort of an alternative to Valentine’s, celebrated by single people. I’ve made it a tradition to celebrate it the same way every year.”

“That sounds fun—I’m single too,” I hinted.

“Oh, Laura, honey. It’s kind of a closed thing—by invitation only. I would love to invite you, and even if I could get you in, I really don’t think it’s your thing.”

“OK,” I said. I shrugged my shoulders as if I couldn’t care less, but I still gave Laura a disappointed look. “You could at least tell me what it is.”

“I would, but… Well, know I love you. But you can be a bit judgmental sometimes.”

“What’s that supposed to mean? I’m not judgmental! I’ve supported equal rights for every community out there. Remember, we were in all those demonstrations together?”

“Sorry, sorry… I shouldn’t have said that,” Angie said, holding up her hands defensively.

“So, tell me then,” I demanded.

“I can’t, hun,” Angie said. “We’ve promised each other we wouldn’t talk about it outside the group.”

“Now you’re making me worried. Have you got yourself tangled up in something bad?”

Angie chuckled. “No, not at all.”


“No but,” Angie said, smiling ambiguously.

“What’s going on, Angie? I thought we were best friends.”

“Look, I can’t tell you any details. But here’s the basic deal. I’ve been pretty much single for as long as we have known each other, right? Maybe someday the right person comes along, but in the meantime, I’m very happy to be on my own. I like my independence, and for the most part, I don’t miss having a regular partner in my life. For most part…”

Angie paused, stalling by sipping her tea. I stared at her with cocked brows.

“But there are some things,” she continued. “Let’s call them desires—desires that usually require the trust and respect of a long-term relationship. And I think that’s unfair.”

“Maybe,” I said. “But that’s just how it is.”

“Well, not necessarily. And I found a group of like-minded people who feel the same way. So, for S.A.D. we get together and…”

She suddenly turned quiet.

“And what?” I pressed.

“Sorry, I’ve already said too much.”

“Come on, tell me!”

Angie shook her head. “No, I can’t. And you wouldn’t like it.”

I stared at her insistently, but my friend wouldn’t budge.

“I don’t know if I should be worried about you or hurt that you won’t tell me,” I said.

“Can we just drop it, please?” Angie pleaded.

We finished our tea in awkward silence. When I left, I felt more alone than I had in a long time.

* * * *

That sentiment of loneliness lasted through the week. Two nights before Valentine’s day, I picked up the phone to start calling my married colleagues to see if they still wanted to trade shifts. I could at least make myself useful rather than sit around moping. But a knock on the door interrupted just as I was about to dial.

“Oh. Hi Angie,” I said as I opened the door. “What’s up?”

“Hi hun, can I come in?”

“Of course.”

I made us tea, and we chatted casually as the kettle boiled, avoiding the reason for Angie’s unannounced visit until we were comfortably seated on the couch.

“Sorry about the other day,” she said.

“It’s fine,” I said. “You’re allowed to have secrets.”

“Yeah, I know. But I didn’t mean to make you feel left out. I shouldn’t have said anything to begin with.”

“Really, it’s fine. Is that what you popped by to say?”

“Well, yes—and no,” Angie said and paused for a moment. “Look, did you make any plans for Valentine’s yet?”

“No, but I thought you were busy?”

“I know. But I spoke to the organizer and convinced her you could come along as a medic if you want.”

“A medic? What kind of activities are you up to that require a medic?”

“Nothing serious—a sprained ankle at worst. Do you think you’re interested?”

Confused yet intrigued, I eyed her up. “Depends what it is.”

“Of course. Now, promise me you won’t be judgmental.”

“Why do you keep saying that?!”

“Just promise, OK?”

I responded with an exaggerated eye roll. “Fine, I promise.” I could tell my friend was taken aback by the sarcasm in my voice. I moved closer, placing my hands on hers to reassure her. “Go on, honey. I won’t judge you.”

Angie took a deep breath. “OK, it’s strange that it’s so hard to talk about, because it’s really not anything bad. But here it goes. You know how I told you S.A.D. is short for Singles Awareness Day?”


“Well, the group I spend S.A.D. with is dedicated to singles only—no couples or attached people are allowed. So, it is a Single Awareness Day, but we use the acronym for something else too.”

“Yeah, OK. What?”

“Spanked Ass Day,” Angie said hastily, as if making sure she quickly got the words out of her mouth.

“Spanked Ass Day?” I reiterated. “What the hell is that?”

“It’s really not something I talk about—with you or anyone else,” Angie said. She lifted her cup from the table, and her jittery hands revealed that she was noticeably unnerved by the subject. Yet, she made a point to hold my gaze. “But the thing is, Laura, I liked being spanked.”

“OK,” I said and stared wide-eyed at my friend.

“I like it a lot, actually,” Angie said, putting emphasis behind her words. “I might not want to like it, but at some point, you just have to be honest with yourself, you know. There’s something very erotic about a man putting me over his lap and slapping my ass red. I guess it connects with me on some deep, primal level.”

Shocked, I said nothing.

Angie put down her cup. “You look shocked.”

“No, it’s just… I hadn’t taken you for that kind of woman.”

It was Angie’s turn to roll her eyes. “And what kind of woman is that, exactly?”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean… So, what are you saying? That you found some gallant knight who is willing to spank you every Valentine’s?”

I tried my best not to sound condescending, but I knew I was failing.

“Well, yes and no,” Angie said. “It’s a bit more to it than that.”

“Like what?”

“Well, the idea of just going somewhere and get spanked is a bit… let’s say crude. So, the people who started this gathering realized that it needed a bit more finesse. They came up with a sort of hide and seek game. Basically, the men have to catch you before they can spank you.”

“Hide and seek?”

“I know it sounds silly. But the rush…It’s amazing.”

I stared at my friend in disbelief. This sounded crazy. “Men? So, it’s a bunch of them chasing you? And then spanking you?”

“Well, it’s mostly one man at the time. They tend to spread out when they search. It’s actually a rather intimate moment between the spanker and the spankee, so I think most want to do it alone. And it’s not just me—there’s a bunch of women every year.”

“And where do you do this?”

“The chase takes place at a vineyard. Isabella, the woman organizing the whole thing, owns it. It’s very secluded. None of us want any nosy spectators, as I’m sure you understand.”

I nodded vaguely, struggling to fathom what my friend was telling me.

“So, anyway,” Angie continued. “Since there is a fair bit of running going on, it’s good to have someone with a bit of medical training in the group. I’ve had the responsibility the last few years, but I told Isabella that I would prefer if someone else was there this year so I can keep my head in the chase. Nothing serious ever happens, so it’s more of an excuse to be honest.”

“An excuse for what?”

“So you can join without joining, so to speak. You said you wanted to do something on Valentine’s, and this is the best I can offer. Well, assuming you don’t actually want to join the game?”

“Don’t be ridiculous!”

Angie chuckled. “I thought not. But do you want to come along as a medic?”

“I don’t know. The whole thing just sounds extremely sexist, to be honest. Isn’t this the sort of thing we always fought against?”

“But that’s the thing, Laura—this is completely different. It’s a game I enter on my own free will. And 364 days a year I’m right there with you, your woke sister in arms. But, on this one day, I allow myself to be something different—a woman willing to be dominated by the man that captures her.”

Angie’s breath grew heavy as she spoke.

“Good lord,” I said, shaking my head in disbelief.

Angie collected herself. “So, what do you say?”

“I don’t know, Angie. It seems a bit far out.”

“You don’t have to answer straight away.”

“OK. I guess I’ll think about it.”

“Great. But let me know by tomorrow.”

With that Angie stood and prepared to leave, even though her tea was nearly untouched. I was relieved that she didn’t want to sit around and chat as if everything was normal after dropping a bomb like this. I followed her to the door.

“How did you find these people?” I asked.

“A friend of mine invited me.”

“Who? Anyone I know?”

“Well, I’m not sure he would want you to know, so if you’re not coming tomorrow, it’s better if I don’t tell you.”

He, I thought. What man might Angie know who would invite her to some crazy spanking game? I was admittedly curious and was tempted to ask for more clues. But instead I merely hugged her goodbye.

Yet, the curiosity didn’t leave me. Later that night when I lay in bed, Angie’s words kept spinning in my head. Never in my life had I expected this from my friend. I had always considered us very much alike, with similar values and views on life. How could Angie possibly think it was OK to let men treat her like that, even if it was only for a day?

Angie’s revelation haunted my dreams too. My mind created vivid images of my friend over a man’s lap, her blonde hair covering her face as she submitted to his spanking. I woke up sweaty in a state of agitation.

I tried to shake these images the next day, but they kept popping up in my head. How could I ever look at her the same? I didn’t want to know this side of her existed, but now it was all I could think about. Why did this affect me so deeply? When Angie called me in the afternoon, I felt guilty for the images I’d imagined.

“So, what do you say?” Angie asked.

“I still don’t know,” I sighed. “The whole thing just sounds really weird. Are you sure you even want me there?”

“Otherwise I wouldn’t have suggested it. It would actually be nice to have someone to share these things with. It’s different with Paul, we sort of have a silent agreement not to talk about it for the rest of the year.”


“Ah, fuck,” Angie said. “I shouldn’t have said his name.”

“You mean Paul, as in your very attractive friend Paul?”

Angie giggled nervously. “Yes, he’s the one who invited me in the first place. The first year, I was only there as medic too, but I knew straight away I had to join the game the next year.”

“So, is that what you expect me to do—get drawn into your deranged games?”

Angie sighed. “I thought we agreed you wouldn’t be judgmental. And no, I don’t expect you to join. You obviously have no interest in it.”

“Of course not,” I said. In my head, I repeated my words with more emphasis, reassuring myself I had had no interest in being spanked by any man. “So, Paul, huh?”

“Yeah, I shouldn’t have told you that. Now I’m going to feel really bad if you don’t come.”

I chuckled. “Well, I guess I don’t want to make it awkward between you and your friend who spanks you.”

“So, is that a yes?” Angie asked enthusiastically.

“I guess it is.”

“Great! I’ll pick you up around noon tomorrow.”

My sleep was even more restless the next night. The images of Angie over a man’s lap reappeared, but this time I could see the man’s face. It was Paul exerting his domination over Angie. And as the surreal scenario perpetuated, the woman over his lap morphed from a petite blonde to a curvier woman with long, curly brown hair. In the dream, it was me under Paul’s control, his hand slapping my round ass. I woke up screaming with pleasure. My hand was buried between my legs, and I realized I’d had my first wet dream since my teens.

* * * *

“So, how long does this game last?” I asked as I got in the car with Angie the next day.

“The game usually lasts a few hours. There’s a maximum time set at four hours, but it never lasts that long. And then there’s an event afterwards, but it doesn’t need a medic. We can just go back into town and have dinner or something after the game.”

“I wouldn’t want to keep you from your fun—or whatever you want to call this,” I said, sounding snarkier than I intended to.

Angie didn’t call me on my condescending attitude this time.

“No, it’s fine,” she said. “I feel like I talked you into come along. The only thing is…”


“Well, in the off chance that I lose the game, I have to stay. It’s part of the rules. In that case you can take the car back to town. But don’t worry, I know this game well by now, and I won’t lose.”

“So, what happens after the game?”

Angie glanced at me. “Uhm… Why don’t we focus on the game for now? Is there anything you want to ask before we get there?”

“Yeah, there’s a lot I don’t get. For instance, you say all the women do this out of their free will, right?”

“Yes, of course.”

“But if you really want to get spanked, why do you run?”

“Oh, well. It’s complicated. I guess for me, I want it, but I also dread it. And when I see a man come chasing after me, the dread part of me takes control, and I just start running. Instinct takes over. And some of the women claim they don’t want to get caught at all. This one woman told me she enters the S.A.D. games to prove to herself she can outrun or outsmart any man.”

“Sounds like nonsense to me.”

“Maybe, but as far as I know, she’s never been caught.”

“But you have?” I asked.

“What—been caught? Yeah, of course. Many times. But I really try not to. And when they catch me despite my efforts, the sensation is so much better.”

I sat quiet for a moment, fiddling with my curls as I built up the courage to ask what I really wanted to know.

“Did Paul ever catch you?”

I failed to sound casual. Angie glanced at me, as if trying to make out if I really wanted to know.

“Yeah, he catches me pretty much every year,” she said. “He didn’t the first year I played. I think it was to spare me the embarrassment, because he saw me at one point and didn’t chase after me. But the second year I played he did. I ran like crazy, and when he caught me…”

My friend trailed off.

“Yeah?” I pressed, sounding more intrigued than I wanted to.

Angie giggled nervously. “I was mortified! It was so embarrassing to get spanked by someone I’d known half my life. But damn it was good!”

“I can’t believe Paul would do that.”

“Aha, and why’s that?” Angie’s voice turned agitated.

“Well, he doesn’t seem like the type of man who…”

“Are we still on this?” Angie cut me off. “What type is that exactly? Maybe bringing you along was a mistake after all. Stop being so uptight!”

“Sorry, sorry!” I said, holding up my hands to concede.

Angie took a calming deep breath. “Look, I’m sorry too. I get it. You still believe it’s only bad guys who get off on spanking women. But I can ensure you—you’re wrong. Paul, for instance, is exactly as good and respectful as you believed him to be. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be allowed to participate in this group.”

I sat in silence for a moment, staring at the road in front of us. I really liked Paul. It helped that he had an indisputably good physique, but there was more to it than that. He had always struck me as honest and sympathetic. And his kind, deep blue eyes often made me want to melt away. Could he really hide this strange desire under that sweet surface? It was hard to believe he would spank women in some outlandish game. Could I still go on a date with him, like I’d asked Angie to set up? The scene from my dream reappeared, and I blushed even though the image of me across Paul’s lap was merely in my head.

“So, what are the other men like?” I asked, trying to divert my attention from my own imagination.

“What do you mean? Physically? Well, there is a fair bit of running in this game, so it’s not a place for lazy slobs. That’s for sure.”

“But why do they do it?”

Angie smirked. “Why do you think they do it?”

I took it as a rhetorical question and didn’t reply.

“Look,” Angie continued. “There’s a basic understanding in this group that what happens there is an isolated event. I’m sure these guys abide by the same standards as you and me the other 364 days of the year, with ideals of equality, respect, and all that fluffy stuff. But on this one day—the annual S.A.D.—they allow themselves to recognize other parts of themselves. I guess it’s the same function for the men as it is for the women, only reversed. It’s like vent for singles who enjoy the art of spanking.”

“So, no couples?”

Angie shook her head. “Nope. S.A.D. is just for singles. Spanking can be difficult to fulfill in casual relationships. It’s not something most people bring up on a first date, you know. Couples can spank each other as much as they want—every day of the year.”

“Well, I certainly didn’t get spanked when I was in a relationship.”

Angie gave me a lethargic glance. “Of course, you didn’t. But maybe you should have.”

I turned quiet. The remark hit home, probably more than Angie intended. My last break-up was over two years ago, and it was long overdue when it happened. The relationship had lacked any trace of passion for a long time before we went our separate ways. Maybe I should have done something to spice things up. But spanking? Why would anyone be into that? I just didn’t get it.

“So, what happens when they catch you?” I asked.

“What do you mean? I thought I told you. They spank you.”