I got fired from the club today. An hour ago I was wearing white fishnets and a satin corset and applying dark red lipstick in a dressing room with five seperate leaks in the ceiling and no buckets to catch them, dancers just dodging in and out shuffling out of sandals and into platform heels. Now I'm at home playing with the cats in comfy linen pants and a T-shirt. Doesn't seem like such an awful trade-off, does it? After I left the club I sat under a tree and screamed at life for a little bit, but that's all over now.
When I got to work today the place was busy for once, DJ scrambling because there weren't yet enough girls dressed to start a stage rotation. I've been in the dressing room just long enough to get my thong and stockings on and am lacing up my corset when the day manager comes in asks me where I've been. "I haven't seen you in weeks," he says.
Huh? I worked Saturday. I remind him of this.
"OK," he says. "But Jim saw you come in and he doesn't know why you're here. You know you can't work Fridays if you didn't work all week. He hasn't seen you in weeks."
Yeah. But I worked Saturday. Jim hasn't seen me because, as general manager, he takes Saturdays off. I remind him of this again. My tits are hanging out. I make a gesture that says, mind if I keep getting dressed?
I finish stashing my boobs and pull my stockings on. Nice way to start a shift. Dark clouds are gathering.
He comes back again. "Jim wants to see you in the office."
OK. I start to put on my shoes. Then I think: Shit. This is going to be one of those conversations. One of those things where a dude in the ugly sunset of his middle years is going to rake me over the coals and I'm going to want to respond as to a peer -- because who is this tool anyway, the president? -- except that this is my manager, who will likely view anything but total submission as an act of impudence, and do I really want to do this today in a corset and high heels?
I de-costume and put my pants and shirt back on. I go back to the office where Jim is holding court. "Long time, no see," he says. I don't say anything. I'm bad at this. I smile politely.
"So, tell me," says Jim. "What are your plans?"
I have no response to this. What are my plans? Like, for my life? I smile again.
"How often do you work with us, Grace?"
Every Saturday, I say.
"For how long?"
"It's not enough. We need you to work more days."
I remind him that he and I have had several conversations about this. I can't work during the days because I have another job. Would he like to offer me some night shifts?
"That's not up to me," he says. "That's up to the night manager. But we need you to work more days. Apparently you have enough time to work at the sister club."
He spits this last part out like he's unveiling a secret so dark that I will have no choice but to crumble and confess. Come on, guy. The clubs are owned by the same people. Of course you know I work up there. I haven't made a secret of it. Are you a super-sleuth in your own mind?
"Up there they let me work at night. I'd like to work more shifts here. I just can't work days."
"Well, we need you to work more down here. What days can you come in?"
We are going nowhere. This conversation can only end with my teeth in his throat. I start to explain myself again, and he starts talking over me. Hell no, you don't. I keep talking; I ask again if he'd like me to work at night.
"It's fine for you," he says. "You come in here and you make your little bit of money," -- he rubs fingers and thumb together contemptuously in the universal sign for cash, makes the gesture of stuffing it into a garter -- "You make your little bit of money and you walk around but it doesn't pay our bills. We're getting rid of all the girls like you. You're not part of things."
Sir, you are insane. You are a stupid man. I pay this club every time I work for God's sake. My tips pay your salary and the salary of your shift managers, your DJ's, your doorgirls and waitresses. The customers who come in to see me pay your utility bills with their drink prices. I cost you literally nothing; every dollar you make off me is pure profit.
I know the club is going downhill. I know the place is infested all day with young, broke gansta wannabees who scare away the white collar clientele you crave. I know you have to let the girls give blow jobs in the back booths to keep anyone coming in at all, and I know that paying the law off can't be cheap. I bet the owner is riding your ass like a little French pony to get the attendance up and restore even an iota of the class that this joint once had. I'm sure it's very tough. But, unfortunately for you, firing me won't make it better. I am not your problem.
I don't say any of this, of course. After these sorts of things I always kick myself for not just going postal on these assholes. What do I have to lose, after all? Shouldn't somebody lay some truth on this weird being, this man who, nearing the close of his time on this planet, is the general manager of a formerly first-class titty bar? Am I not the right hand of karma here?
Well, probably I am not. I continue to be polite, although I am no longer smiling. I ask again if we could solve the problem by giving me some shifts at night. It's not like they haven't been running a huge, desperate ad in the paper for weeks seeking daytime/night-time entertainers. ("Have Fun! Make Money!") But by this time he is all worked up, and I am not placating him. It occurs to me that placating stupid, angry men wouldn't be a bad talent to call my own, but sadly my skill set is lacking or maybe I just don't want to.
He's still talking about how great it is for me to work one day a week, and about his bills, and how I'm not paying them. We've reached a point of no return and the only logical outcome of this conversation is heaving into sight. He's got to get rid of me and maybe when he does all his devils will go with me.
"Work Sundays, then," he says.
"You can work at the sister club, though. Why don't you just go work up there, then? Why don't you? Just go."
Then there's a silence. And then I just go.