This weekend I was offered marriage and Canadian citizenship by an online gambling magnate from Toronto. Failing that, he also offered to fly me in for a weekend rendevouz in Cancun or London or wherever I might want go. Oh, if only.
This was also the weekend that I began my new goal-setting regime. It's been lousy the last few weeks -- few customers and no one who wants to spend any money. It's the end of the summer, and everybody's either saving to go on vacation or spent all their money on vacation already. Besides which, this is still largely a university town -- 50,000 young people with disposable incomes and poor impulse control leave every June, accompanied by the sucking sound of the municipal economy going down the drain. Couple that with a positive deluge of expenses on my part, large and small, expected and unexpected, and you get that scene with the Red Queen from Through the Looking Glass -- "Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." Now add to that a throat infection, a hideous outbreak of acne, and a flare-up of the old clinical depression and you've got Grace moping around the club all night starting at her fingernails and wishing she could have a cigarette. I wouldn't have wanted to dance with me either.
But this weekend I'd had enough and decided to pull it together. I was thinking wistfully of the average money I was making last spring -- easily two or three times my new average since coming back from vacation -- and I decided that fuckit, there isn't any reason I shouldn't make that money again. So I just decided I would. Every time during that day that I felt a flicker of doubt or apprehension about the night ahead, I just repeated the dollar ammount to myself. At work, every time I got turned down for a dance, every time I heard another dancer back in the dressing room ranting about the slowness and impossibility of it all, I repeated the ammount to myself again. It was my mantra. And stunningly, amazingly, magically, it worked. I exceeded that average two nights out of three, and on the third hit it dead on the button, despite that fact that local college football team lost the first game of the season and the mood in the club was quiet and sullen.
But the best night was the night I met the Canadian. At first, I didn't know he was there at all. I stopped to talk to a swarthy, corpulently handsome Brazilian guy in a sports jacket, who seemed to be sitting by himself. A few sentences into things, the Canadian returned from parts unknown, a non-descript 50-ish white guy in a nice shirt. The Brazilian was playing hard to get, so I switched the charm over to Mr. Canada, who was telling me how classless he thought it was to tip the stage with less than $5. This is a great line to use on strippers, obviously. We got along swimmingly, talking about the lovely lines of girls' hip-bones, and how I registered with marryacanadian.com after the '04 election, and next thing we knew we were back in the Champagne Room getting naked and romantic.
Some customers -- young ones, mostly -- ask me if I don't hate dancing for men who are old or ugly or fat. What they don't know is that when you're a stripper, there really isn't any such thing. Being a stripper, for me anyway, is sort of like being truly in love. Appearances are incidental. What I care about is, truly, what lies underneath -- i.e. your wallet. But the single-minded focus on whether or not you are going to give me money also shows me, peripherally, a host of other qualities that might otherwise be hidden. If I were going to date you, or fuck you, or take you home to my parents, I would be worried about things like your appearance and your circumstances and your station in life and your probable impression on my friends. Freed from these hypothetical constraints, however, I look at you and see your soul. Most of the time, people's souls are boring and/or a little bit gross, but sometimes you meet a real sweetheart, and the Canadian was one. Interesting fact well known to strippers: the guys who give you the most money are almost invariably also the ones who don't try to finger your orifices. And the Canadian lived up to this rule. He did try to get me to go back to his hotel with him, but I can't blame him. I'm hot like that.
Turns out that for legal reasons involving his line of work, he can never come back to the States, though, so I guess I won't be seeing any more of him. Unless I want to fly to London and be his mistress. Actually, I'd adore being a highly paid courtesan to wealthy globe-trotters, but I'm very attached to my boyfriend and value the regard of my family too highly. If only I were a friendless orphan, what a time I could have.
NB: Joe must have been to the club sometime recently and missed me. He left Memoirs of a Geisha at the front desk for me with his name and phone number inside the cover. I should probably call, but then again, do I need the headache of a customer whom I actually find attractive and charming? Answer: As long as he's paying, why the hell not.