When I was in my early twenties, my future husband and I moved to the city we would call our home for eight years. We were child-free for all but one of those years, so if we weren’t working, our days were spent at the dog park rather than the kid park, and our sleepless nights were due to being out too late instead of being up with a baby.
One night, we were out with a group of my fella’s visiting college friends, and it was suggested we hit up a strip club. I’m not sure why I was with the guys. It was probably because my man and I were so in love, he didn’t want to go out without me (a phase that has long passed, let me assure you), but since I am such a cool chick, a night at the nudey bar was still an option. One of the guys had a favorite shirt from this bar that he had lost camping or something, and it needed to be replaced. As you can imagine, his friends were very supportive. I have to wonder if they would have followed him into The Gap so enthusiastically for a replacement shirt.
I like to think of myself as unflappable. At ten years old, I attended my first concert. It was Bob Dylan with my parents, at a popular outdoor venue in Washington state. At this concert, I saw many interesting things, the most memorable being a topless woman smoking a joint. Even at ten, I pretended that this was the kind of thing I saw every day. I imagined my first strip club experience to be like that. I would see things out of the ordinary, but hey man, I’m not judgemental. To each his own. Whatever floats your boat, and other inclusive cliches. It didn’t hurt that I had a bit of liquid courage already on deck, and that I was looking forward to surprising people by being a girl. A girl in a strip club!
Before we got in the door, my bubble was burst. I had to pay a cover. ME. A girl! Screw that, I was out. No way was I paying to get inside. Of course, one of the guys paid my cover to shut me up, and I got a “Knock that shit off and don’t be one of those girls” looks from the boyfriend who would eventually be my husband. I still get those looks more often than I should for being such a cool chick.
When we got inside, the real shock began. First of all, I expected to be the only patron in the establishment with a vagina. I didn’t really think about the fact that we were very close to a gay-friendly part of town, but I would have understood a table of lesbians.
The women in this strip club were all with a man. If you looked up “depressing dates” in the dictionary, you’d see images of these couples, with the women playing video poker, and the men stuffing dollar bills. It was one of the grossest things I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying a lot considering I grew up with a little brother who got violently car sick.
I secured a drink quickly, thanks to the pack of guys I was traveling with who were afraid I would get mad again and actually pull the trigger on leaving. This place was small, with a stage that took up most of the front, a tiny bar, a handful of small tables, two video poker machines taking up valuable real estate on the back wall, and a long vinyl bench in the back corner. There was nowhere to sit by the stage (thank goodness) and apparently at a nudey bar, you can’t just stand in the middle of the room blocking the view, so we sat on the empty bench in the back.
I started to loosen up. What the first woman lacked in appearance and youthfulness, she made up for in talent. I didn’t even know it was possible to climb a stripper pole upside down using only your legs! I was seriously impressed. I was too far away to toss her some cash, but I did give her a hearty round of applause. For a big girl, she really could move!
The next dancer was tiny, blond, and adorable. She was what you could call “traditionally slutty hot.” She wasn’t nearly as skilled as her predecessor, but she probably raked in more cash for doing half the work and not nearly as well. When her dance was over, I didn’t clap for her, but I did clap when one of our friends brought me a fresh drink. I watched Hot Stripper join a table of guys, and wondered what it would be like to make conversation with a group of men who had just seen you shake your literal moneymaker for them.
After a minute or two, Hot Stripper stood, as did one of the men from the table, and they walked across the bar, stopping right in front of us. “Can we borrow the bench for a minute?” she asked with a smile. It took me a second, both because I had a hearty buzz and I was a strip club rookie, to realized OMG! OMG! OMG! We had been sitting on the lap dance bench!
We all shuffled out of the way, and felt every eye in the room on me. I realize now that zero eyes in the room were on me, but on the gyrating ass to my left. I could see the disappointment in the eyes of the guys in our group. They knew the fun was over. In fact, I think while the lap dance was taking place, the souvenir tee shirt was being purchased. When the dance was over, Hot Stripper flipped her hair and said, “It’s all yours.” I tried to smile, and choked out, “No, thanks. I’m good.” She flipped her hair, again, and retorted, “I’m sure there’s lots of places to sit where you’re from. Prudesville.”
I said…nothing. I was in shock. How could I be a prude if I willingly went to a strip club? Also, do people really sit on the lap dance bench when they weren’t paying for it? I was done. It was time to go. I had tried to be cool, and failed miserably. The guys tried to console me through their laughter, we tipped our glasses, and shuffled out, past a group of lesbians on their way in.