Friday night I sat with the Cowboy. The Cowboy and me go back to the last time the rodeo was in town, nearly a year now, all the way back to Sugar's. Back then he lived in Dallas, but relocated last fall to be closer to yours truly. Just kidding. He's a construction chief who has a big job running in town. I forget exactly what. Anyway, he's an absolute angel-puppy and I adore him. He doesn't spend a ton of money, but he is consistant, respectful, and fulsomely complimentary. Also, sometimes he comes in with crews of horny young construction workers or rich old dudes, and he does a really good job of talking me up so that they all buy dances from me and I make a million dollars. That, and he once he gave me a toolbelt.
He was complaining Friday night that I barely worked in January, which is true. "I came in three or four times to see you and you weren't here," he said. "This place is no fun at all without you." (I happen to know he gets dances with other girls and has a perfectly fine time in my absence, but thanks for the kind word, dude.) "They should have a big marquee outside that says 'Grace Is Working' or 'Grace Is Not Working' so us guys would know if we should even stop."
Awww. See? It's nice to feel like the Most Popular Stripper, even if it's just for one sweet old cowboy. Unfortunately, Cowboy's opinion has not been shared of late. The general public does not generally seem to care if Grace Is Working or not. Well, January is hard. The collective consciousness is hungover and regretful from it's Christmas-time orgies of excess, and the titty-bar-going public is surly and impecunious.
That's what I tell myself anyway. I struggled through Friday night, lacking serious sparkle but finally managing to pull the minimum dollarage it takes to go home satisfied -- barely. At the end of the night, I was hobbling out of my spike heels in the dressing room while two thin blond girls hunkered on the floor a few lockers away, shuffling stacks of hundred dollar bills. I hear them counting out loud for each other -- four hundred, five hundred, six hundred.
"Did you do good tonight?" asked the thinner, blonder one.
"I did OK," said the other. "Not that great. I made $600. But I bought an outfit. And I tipped everybody at the bar $20. And I gave the manager $60. So really I made more like $800."
"Yeah, it wasn't a great night," the first girl said. "I made $800. I tipped everybody, too. This one guy gave me $400 for an hour and then I got him to tip me another $100. It wasn't that great a night though."
"Yeah, working here sucks," said the other. "We should go to Dallas. They're nice here, though. The manager always buys me drinks. Did the manager buy you a drink?"
"Oh, yeah. He always does."
Rule: you never want to know what anyone else makes. Don't ever ask. The answer won't make you happy. I have a general idea what the average is, and a general sense that I'm in the top of the average range most nights. These blondes are VIP Girls, though. Bombshells. Superstrippers.
I'd done OK that night, or thought I had -- but I sure as hell didn't make any $800. I make that money maybe once a month, and it makes me spin around and shit myself twice every time. Hearing these girls count it out so blase and bored put a cold lump in my stomach. Oh, and the managers didn't buy me any fucking drinks, either. I thought I was doing well when they started remembering my name.
I get home and pour out my misery to C. He hears me out with an incredulous stare. "You're jealous? of those girls?" he says. "Baby, those girls are losers."
Weeeelll, maybe. But yeah, I am jealous. Not of their lives, not of their personalities, not of their sportscars, one payment away from being repossessed at all times. Did I tell you the thinnest, blondest girl said she *had* to make even more money the next night, because she was $30,000 in debt and owed her parents money? So, yeah, not jealous of that. My life is awesome, my boyfriend is cool, and my bank account is solid. Just jealous of the money -- the beautiful, beautiful money. The mountains of large denomination bills and the cred that comes with earning them, knowing that your flesh is trading at a premium. And maybe of their hair -- pale, glossy, soft, cotton-candy blonde hair. If I had that hair, I tell myself, I could trip the miracle money-spending trigger in the male brainstem that all my curvy flesh and bandinage and good-humored sluttiness and high standarized test scores are powerless to touch. Blonde. That's it. I want to be blonde.
Bah. I'm in no state. My hormones are haywire. Last night I cried at a kung fu movie, during that requisite scene where all the villagers are giving the hometown hero their pitiful life-savings so he can go into the city and avenge their wrongs by kicking major-league ass. Seriously. I wept. It was just...too much.
(Blonde. That's it. I want to be blonde.)