Hidden under skin
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
I was tempted to ask each of the girls if her daddy knew what she was doing. Surely the question would send the young strippers scattering to other patrons. So I kept my mouth shut while they rubbed their lovely, perfumed mammaries all over my face – and my mind, strangely, considered less sexual things, such as what “Ophelia” might be studying in school (my guess was English).
Mostly, that October night at my buddy’s bachelor party in Boulder, I contemplated the power of a dollar bill. Who was I? What were they and what did this money make us? There is so much having to do with green paper these days. Digies in the bank account are always a hot topic, but it seems people around me (as well as myself) can’t help but rethink our directions in the world in this recession. What do we do next if we don’t have enough income to pave a sparkling path into the future? The thought has a way of making a person strip life down to bare essentials. Being a special occasion, I was spending some cash I didn’t have that night as well as partaking in an experience mostly foreign to me. It was worth it, if for nothing more than laughs with old friends and a ride on an unusual thought train. I slipped another buck into a gyrating G-string.
I’ve entered a “gentleman’s club” two other times. Once was on a road trip through Texas with my 18-year-old friends (we stopped in San Antonio, looking for a place to eat but the club only had a vending machine and we ran away from the seedy emptiness of the dark room and purple spotlights). The other was for a class assignment when I was 21.
The three-credit sociology course at the University of Colorado-Boulder was titled “Deviance in Sexuality.” The final project was to patronize a sex business and write a paper about it. At the time, the only nearby operation was a club equally as seedy as the one in San Antonio. Called “The Bus Stop,” it was the last bus stop at the edge of town, as well as the last lights before Highway 36 rounded a bend, went down a hill and shot into the uncivilized blackness of the mountains. It was a scary place for me, even with my 25-year-old friend from work, Jamie, who was a New York City native.
A walkway under a long, pink awning led us to a greasy man with a black pony tail that hung down the back of a purple button-up shirt. He snatched our 20s with ring-studded fingers and handed change back in rumply ones that smelled of sweat. Pink lights, slick floors, poles and mirrors spangled the large room. I felt naked, unable to blend in with the handful of old, worn men. Jamie did all the work for me – enjoying a lap (more like “face”) dance from a middle-age stripper with scars who said she was an accountant by day.
“I do this,” she said, “because I’ve got the body for it.” Foolishly, the only time I opened my mouth was to mumble something like, “Uh, sure,” as I looked away. She left me alone on the seat with my notepad like the geek I was. Still, I was curious to understand more about that foreign, socially forbidden world.
Last October, when the boys wanted to check out the new establishment in the heart of Boulder, it was the perfect excuse. I didn’t care so much about boobs as I did the desire to see if I could relax in a place that put me on edge. After all, it was only a fake, a show, a tease to charm my money out of the wallet. Call it entertainment.
I continued with the interviews I began years ago, curious about the real personalities under the skin and fake names. A stripper is a challenging interview. With constant threat of stalkers – particularly for these teenage (college?) girls – they must feel comfortable with a patron to reveal any hints of their hidden lives. I think they loved me (ha ha – every guy says that). I sat back and visited, almost forgetting what I was paying for. One named “Scarlett” reminded me to look in the mirror as she draped her naked body over me. She was a freelance graphic artist by day, she said, and asked about me.
“You’re a writer?” she perked. “Are you going to write about me? You can.” I gazed up to her face, framed by smooth beautiful bosoms. “Maybe,” I said. “I don’t know. I might write about you 15 years from now, or maybe tomorrow. I don’t know.”
The song ended and she put her “clothes” back on. I went to bed and puzzled over the $100 I’d blown over the course of the night, guessing what the girls would buy – groceries? Tuition? Drugs? I wondered if their parents knew what they did to get along in our strange, material world. Still under the covers of my hotel bed, I called my girlfriend, happy to have my simple life, nothing to hide for the sake of money.
Derek’s column appears every other Monday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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