March was not a good month, and the end of any month is never good. Last week was bleak. Mr. B's unlooked-for return has partially insulated me from the downturn, but back in the dressing room I can tell the lean times are upon us once again. I need to be careful.
Saturday was Mr. B's birthday, and he spent the evening with me. I was at the club a good three hours before he arrived, though, and in that whole time I did once dance. One. Now, once he got there, it was a party. I brought him a slice of sugar-free cake, bought him a few dances from one of his other favorites, and let him keep my panties as a memento.
At the end of the night I was back at my locker counting hundred dollar bills. There were a lot of them. Lily, who attacked me on stage several months ago and then decided she was my friend, peeked over my shoulder.
"How'd you do tonight?" she wanted to know.
Pretty good, I told her.
"Did you break $300?" she wants to know.
I nodded and smiled, because I was happy. Then I wanted to kick myself. You don't ever want to tell someone what you made. Especially if you had a good night and they didn't.
Too late. Her face flickered and changed.
"I got lucky," I say. "It was my customer's birthday. He's a great guy."
I was making things worse, not better, so I shut up.
"Ohhh, that's great," Lily said. She left and I knew I'd have to get one of my customer to tip her stage or buy a dance from her in the next few days, or some other bullshit political move. I don't need enemies.
Sunday night there was a fight in the locker room right before night-shift started. Some girl talked to some other girl's customer, and the second girl jumped the first one out on the floor in front of God and everybody. One of them got fired; I don't remember which.
By the end of the night, a little gaggle of girls has collected in the dressing room a few lockers down from mine. "I hate nasty bitches," says the girl at the center of the knot. "I can't believe that nasty bitch told a manager on me and I didn't do nothing. I didn't even take my shorts off tonight. I ain't taking my shorts off on $10 dance night. Fuck those nasty bitches that do that, anyway."
The other girls cluck and agree for a while. Then Marisa comes barreling past me. She's the thickest dancer on night-shift, easily -- not fat, but built like a tank. Caramel skin and caramel hair in a braid as thick as a rope. She bears down on the group's skinny ringleader at ramming speed. "CALL ME A BITCH YOU FUCK YOU BITCH," she's screaming.
The skinny girl lashes back. "How can you tell the manager on me?" she wants to know. "Bitch, you're fucked up. I didn't even take my shorts off."
"I fucking see you, girl," Marisa says. "You put your pussy in some guy's face for $10? You're nasty."
"You're nasty," shrieks Skinny. "And you're fucking FAT."
On cue, the door blows open again, and two floor managers and the DJ storm in like a Secret Service detail just as Marisa closes the gap between her and Skinny. What's going on, they want to know and Skinny goes into her spiel about her shorts again.
The Sunday-night DJ hangs back by my locker. He is a skinny, bespectacled fop who couldn't be less happy than being called on to break up a fight over panties. He'd only get rolled if he tried to break Marisa's fury, anyway. "It's $10 dance night," he murmurs. "If you don't want to take your pants off for $10, you just don't come to work."
The conflict at the other end of the lockers subsides, though it will never be resolved. I put my second shoe on, grab my purse and prepare to jet. On the way to the door, I have to squeeze past a thin blonde who appears either passed out or exhausted in her chair in front of the make-up counter. Skinny steams up behind me and gives the girl's chair a kick. "Move it, fat-ass," she says.
The girl looks up, bleary and scared. "What?"
I keep going. I gotta get the fuck out. It was a bad night for me, too, until I met a westernized Pakistani guy who liked having his arms pinned over his head while I danced. Even then, it wasn't great. It was the end of the month. It's like that.