January 28: Both Sides of the Story

Letter: C
CD Number: 10
Track Number: 26

Song: “Both Sides of the Story” by Collins, Phil off the greatest hits collection

This is a companion piece to this one.

I noticed him the moment he walked in. We get his type at least once a shift. They are by far my least favorite customers. I call them the “Who, me’s?” As in “Who, me, in a strip club? Certainly that must be some sort of mistake!” They make awkward eye contact, inspect the architecture of the room, crack unfunny jokes about drink prices…basically do everything to pretend they aren’t looking at us.
I want to shake them and say, “Come on! It’s fine. I know you are here to see my breasts.” No one has ever stumbled into the Hot House on a hunt for the best cuisine in the city. Just as none of us applied for jobs here thinking, “This looks like a classy establishment. I wonder if they have dental.” We have no delusions about why we are here, guys like him shouldn’t waste our time pretending that they are stunned, simply stunned, to find naked women in this establishment.
And we do have dental, by the way. Actually, the health plan overall is pretty good. Probably better than that jerk’s.
It is guys like him that make us strippers feel gross or slutty or whatever. Like I said, I know what I do. I know it is not, well, “respectable.” But most of the time, I don’t have to feel bad about. Yeah, the drunk frat boys can be a bit handsy, but they are also wildly appreciative of seeing us naked. They hoot and holler and, hey, although I’d never admit it to my friends in Women’s Studies, it feels kind of good to have someone like your body that much. And on slow nights, when all we have is a few quiet types, dancing is almost like running track was for me in high school. I can just do it and everything else kind of grays out. The music becomes muted. I can still feel the beat in my heart, but otherwise, it’s like it is not even there. Everyone else sort of fades out. It is just me exercising. It used to be running the hurdles, now it is dancing.
But The Who Me’s? shatter that. They stand around leering, but not, ogling, but pretending otherwise and suddenly they are all I can see. And I remember, I’m not just dancing, I’m stripping. And as much as I tell myself I’m okay with that, I still remember what we used to say when the bus took us past this club on the way to school. On what the boys used to shout. And while the women I work with are nothing like I thought they were back then…I still have those ideas in my head.
You know what I mean: sexually abused, drugged out or high achieving med school student who needs the money, just for now, so she can become a heart surgeon. Or the stripper who says she’s the latter, but is really the former. I am sure some of my co-workers were abused. Statistically speaking, it is a definite possibility. And yes, I think three of them either drink or use too much. Also, I do think Candy (real name, no kidding) is studying for her law degree. But me, and most of the rest, are achingly…average. I go to community college. I live at home with my parents who raised me just fine, not too restrictive or hands-off, and I think I’ve been drunk 3 times in my life and smoked pot once. This was just a quick way to make money, you know? But the Who, Me’s? make me feel like I’m…the cliché. The stereotype. And I’m a stripper. So, you know, works tough enough already, thanks.
So, what do you think? Enjoy it? If so, feel free to follow me on Twitter (@UnGajje) for various bon mots and links directing you to the newest updates on this site as well as my other various writing gigs (Marvel, Complaint of the Week at the Living Room Times, and New Paris Press, set to debut shortly although information may be available before then here). If not it was not so enjoyable for you, feel free to tell me that too. And still check me out at all those things above. One of them you are bound to like more.

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