Lately there's this crazy Algerian guy who comes into the club and wanders from table to table accosting people. He didn't strike me as crazy the first time I met him, because right after he says or does his outrageous bits he smiles like he knows what he's done is crazy. It's a sexy smile, the smile of a gambler in a smoky underworld bar in some noir movie set in Paris. He's bat-shit nutty, though. I finally twigged to that last night when he came up and started yelling at the group of guys clustered around the ATM in the VIP room trying to dick me out of money.
They were a bachelor party of over-priveleged young suits who'd rented out the entire Champagne Room and made Jagermeister flow like water. The head honcho of them attached himself to me while I was on a side stage doing a dispirited version of the macarena. It had been a crap night. In fact, I was only on stage because it was the DJ's final condition before he let me go home. Then suddenly there's this blank-faced little pink piggy in an expensive-casual shirt standing by the stage with fistfuls of money. I bent over and upulled out the side of my thong. "I love you," he said.
He sat there by the stage until the song ended and I climbed down, and then he took my hand and trotted me back to the furthest couch in Champ Room. "I want to bail on this whole scene," he said and buried his face in my shoulder. "I want to sit with you forever." I quoted him my hourly fee and we agreed that $500 would cover the rest of the night. We did shots of Goldschlager and he touched my legs and told me all the travails of his life as a sales representative for a manufacturer of very expensive golf clubs. He told me he used to like to party, but now he was too old. He was 25.
"Let's party," he said. "Let's just have crazy party back here."
Sure, honey. Sure.
Meanwhile the debauchery went on around us and some of his friends were trying to get Lori, the pretty waitress with the glasses, to go with them when they leave the bar. They offered her $250. For what, she wanted to know. To party, they said. Winkity-wink. No way, said Lori -- if she was going to get paid for sex she's was going to get way more than that. Like a million at least. "No way," said her chief propositant. "For a million I could fuck Shaq."
"So fuck Shaq," she said, turning on her heel.
All this was making the wheels spin in the head of my little compadre and pretty soon he was trying to talk me into coming back to the hotel with him. "There's got to be a price," he insisted. "I want you so bad and I have a lot of money. It's just a party, sweetheart. I love you."
It kills me that guys drop the L-word like it's a magic panty-dropping spell. Maybe in the outside it is, which is sad. Out there somewhere is some over-bred little pink piggy of a girl dying for a boy like this to say that to her. Sooner or later he will find that girl and they will have a big, fluffy wedding with a designer cake and they will buy a condo in the West End of Dallas and in five years he will be back in this bar bullshitting some stripper with the same old words, and loving her for not believing him.
I told him I'd party with him for $10,000. Compared to Lori, I'm a bargain, but then again my skank ass is used goods. "Damn," he said. "That's too much." He then calculated out loud how much time we would spend fucking vs. the price tag, and what the per-minute cost would be and concluded that $500 for several hours' company was a bargain.
He actually said this, which stuck in my mind, because immediately thereafter he tried to dick me out of almost all of that. I once saw Jerry Seinfeld do a bit on the illogic of paying for dinner after you eat -- you're not hungry anymore and you're stuck with a bill that now seems enormous. It's true for strip-clubs, too. Nobody wants to pay when they're getting ready to leave.
Unfortunately my bar has no mechanism for getting money up-front, nor is there anyone other than the dancer who's job is to collect. So you always have to do this awkward dance of getting boyzo to the ATM and then, by God, you can only withdraw $100 at a time, and they stick you with a $7 withdrawal fee every time. Sometimes it seems it's set up to make the process of getting paid as unpleasant as possible.
Towards closing, my gentle companion's friends started rounding up to get back on their chartered bus. "Hold up," he told them. "I have to pay the dancer." He told them how much, and they all looked shocked and said there was no way he could possibly owe me that much. He was looking at me now and sidling towards the door. "You didn't even dance that much," he said. "How about $100? I don't want to make any trouble."
I told him I had no problem making trouble and it was time to go to the ATM. His friends came with us, protesting all the way. In addition to the stick-up fee, the ATM also takes upwards of a minute to mull over the withdrawals and spit out the money. When things are turning nasty, the minutes go by like years. He got to the fourth withdrawal and the machine wouldn't read his card anymore. This also sometimes happens. His friends were antsy -- "That's enough, man. You don't need to give this bitch anymore of your money."
He looks at me under his eyebrows. Standing up, I've got at least 8 inches on him height-wise. "You don't need any more of my money," he repeats.
"Don't make me get a bouncer."
This is the emptiest of threats. Assuming I could even wade through all the Saturday night madness to find the frail octogenarian who is the club's one and only bouncer, the most he will get back for me is $20. Most of which he will extract from me as a tip for his services. But my little buddy and his friends didn't know this, of course, and all of a sudden three of them were around me yelling and two more were leading him away by his hands and one was snatcing his card out of the machine and making a beeline for the door. I have to hand it to them -- it was a smoothly operated heist, which they probably didn't even think of as a heist. They were just extracting their buddy from the clutches of the succubus. The world of over-privileged white boys runs on this kind of fucked-up loyalty. If he had taken me back to his hotel room and accidentally killed me, these were they boys who would have helped him get rid of the body.
Then the Algerian was at my elbow, yelling with everybody else, only he was calling them names and demanding that they give me money. "You call her bitch?" he howled. "You, you, you are bitch!" He likes me, you see. Only his attack startled me into silence and the boys scattered in the confusion like pigeons, so really he was worse than no help at all. "Niggers!" he screamed after them. "Pig-niggers! Jews! Faggots!"
"I hate them for you," he said. "Here, take all my money. Take what's in my pocket."
What's in his pocket was $42. He went and got another $100 out of the ATM and made me swear not to tell anyone he was rich. Then he handed me a piece of paper with a phone number on it and asked me to call his daughter and say that her father never wanted to speak with her again.
I could really use a break from this. I'm leaving town Tuesday for Colorado, where I'll be camping in the mountains with my lover and a truckload of psychedelic drugs. When I come back, I might not be a dancer anymore. With any luck I might be something completely different, like a mushroom or a squirrel.