This post contains content that may be considered inappropriate for those under 13 years of age.
I stepped over the streams that sprung out from the gutters over the sidewalk on my way to the back of the building where Edward was waiting to pick me up from work. I tiptoed my wet, heavy hiking boots into the passenger side and then crammed my breast pumps and work gear over my feet and cracked a few jokes, and at Ed’s insistence leaned in to kiss him. “Alice says I need to take you to a strip club tonight.” He glanced at me in between making turns. I imagined our tires crunching over the wet asphalt and calculated our speed and acceleration in correlation with the other vehicles in the lane we turned into. I’m guilty of back-seat driving from the passenger side, but I’m silent about it.
“Okay.” Work was progressively more of a burden on my mind. If it weren’t for the monster-in-laws I could be home with my baby, working online for the charity, doing laundry in between breaks, and instead I get yelled at for the ethics of a for-profit company or for someone’s TV picture being distorted in one way or another. I longed for a break from the monotony, but the last call I took almost took my voice, and I had battled nausea and dizziness for a week now and could probably use the sleep, if Guinevere would allow it.
“I kinda want a chicken sandwich,” he announced. It’s a sort of ongoing joke that we go to strip clubs just for the food. Since they’re under so much more scrutiny, they have to work harder at making good food, and oftentimes have the best graded kitchens in health inspections. By ‘we’, I’m mostly referring to Edward and Alice, since this would be the first time that I’ve been to a ‘real’ strip club. I’ve only otherwise been to the one for ages 18 and up, and I can’t remember if it was once or twice. So when he asked me which I wanted to go to, I told him to pick one he thought I would prefer, or pick his favorite and pretend he picked it for me, since I wouldn’t know the difference. I think I annoyed him with my response, since he’s been accused of telling us what to do and has been trying to give the Ladies more control.
He parked just outside of the parking lot, explaining about the valet. I thought valet for such a small and exposed parking lot was silly. Maybe the only positive with valet was that there wasn’t a puddle right outside the car door. I didn’t mind, I had my hiking boots. As we walked in, I thought of my appearance: disheveled braid, Grumpy Cat black tee under a black fleece sweater, jeans, walking in with ‘Mr. Biker gang-leader’, also in a black tee and jeans.
We made ourselves comfortable and Ed ordered me a Jack Daniels with honey, even though I insisted that I hate whiskey and Jack Daniels specifically reminds me of my father, but he insisted it would be good for my throat. Our server was very polite and down to earth. I hate the kind of servers at the restaurants that Chris would take me to, they’re such brown-nosers, and I would much rather share company with my equal. That’s why I was so pleased when one of the strippers came up to our table and plopped in the last available seat and sighed, “That man is such a creeper.”
Rosalie was pleasant to talk to, she had only been here for three days and had actually started out as one of the servers. Meanwhile I tried to focus on the sweet, syrupy honey in my drink, but I really hated the whiskey part. It’s not the strength that I hate, it’s the flavor. I hate it hate it hate it. I managed a total of three sips and just couldn’t tolerate it anymore. Edward turned from the conversation he was having with our server back to me and asked me what was wrong. “I f***ing hate whiskey.” He took my cup and put it on the other side of his hard cider, and asked me what I wanted to drink. I don’t drink enough to know what I want, just that my favorite liquor is Gin, but since the time I went to a party with my ex and let him mix my drinks, I have a hard time drinking anything. Ed offered Rosalie (the stripper) a drink, and she at first declined, but then asked for a Pink Taco, and when Ed asked, recommended that I try one as well. I was relieved to get a sweet but not saccharine mixed drink with tequila and pink lemonade.
As we watched the strippers, I wondered what made me so uncomfortable in places like this, sipping on my sugar-rimmed beverage, relieved with the effect it was having on me, as well as having Rosalie sit with us. When it was her turn to dance, Ed and I took turns tipping her. I’m proud of how generously we tip, and the take we have on exotic dancing. I couldn’t help but feel defensive for her when this older, scrawny, weak-esteemed man went and delayed to tip her when she danced for him. What goes on in men’s heads when they come to these joints, anyway? Edward explained that men want to feel appreciated, and that is their motive in coming here. I still am working to wrap my head around it.
Again I pondered over the emotional effect atmospheres like this have on me. I reasoned that it likely had to do with how I was introduced to sex and how my father treated me. I can’t watch porn because it gives me this grotesque feeling, and I don’t know if that’s my reaction to the content or if it’s tied to the time that Anakin watched a porno with my sister and me when I was… around twelve years old? In ‘Death by Engagement,’ this guy would murder couples after they had sex in celebration of being engaged. That was one of my first introductions to intercourse. The lines that were drawn for me as to what to expect from a sexual relationship and how to act and what’s acceptable were crisscrossed and all wrong or horribly smudged or not there at all. I probably need a psychologist, but I don’t trust most doctors. Yes, I have a blanket stereotype towards doctors because of their occupation, and I understand that it’s not fair and may not be true, but this is compiled from the few experiences that I’ve had. I told my counselor about all the beer my father would by, and one day out of the blue he became defensive with me about it when it never should have found his ears. I wanted to start clean with the court appointed psychologist, and that backfired. I figured I’ve been able to heal this much on my own and might be okay at the pace I’m going in, but I also have children that I influence, and I don’t want my flaws to rub off on them. Fortunately I have three spouses to draw the lines for me, who forgive me for my awkwardness and coax me out of my shell. They understand where my limits are and teach me what’s okay for us and what isn’t.
This is what I was thinking when I went to tip Rosalie, as she slipped her large heels past either side of my waist and stroked her own body and hair. I also wondered about adultery. As according to Merriam Webster, the definition of adultery is ‘voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband’. Jesus said that “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” I know that it’s okay to look at an exotic dancer to admire the art. I am amazed at what the human body is capable of, and would never be able to appreciate it by looking at my own body. But I suppose it would not be okay to look at a woman and fantasize unless the lines for a relationship have already been drawn. I turned these ideas over in my head as I watched her soft skin twist supply like a willow in the wind. She pulled her body from the stage and sat upright, her face inches from mine, her chest not so far from mine. “You’re very pretty,” I told her.
“Thank you,” she smiled, and swayed a little closer. What I admired most about her as I do with almost every other dancer is her confidence in the movement in her body that allows her to be so graceful. I asked her about it, she said that riding horses helped her to learn to move her hips. I like to watch the dancers and imagine that in a few months I’ll love my body enough that I can have the confidence to sway so gracefully.