One morning last week I was at a twee coffee shop near downtown to meet with a big mucky-muck I was going to sweet-talk into helping me with my project. I got there early so I could have a slice of pie and do the crossword and compose myself. Midway through my pie-and-crossword induced reverie in walks Massage Guy with mid-morning sunlight glinting on his spectacles.
Massage Guy has been coming to see me since I worked at the old club, years ago. He pays me $20 a song to rub his shoulders and scalp, many songs in a row, so that a half-hour chair massage can end up costing him $200 or more. Having known real, qualified massage therapists, I am aware of the ludicrousness of this, but it's his idea, and I do a hell of a job. I adore Massage Guy, and not just because he's so generous and so little trouble. His semi-autistic fumbling of social cues and deadpan demeanor and general oddness awake a strange tenderness in me.
And there he is, ordering a double latte and a croissant in his distinctive muffled voice that sounds as though he were speaking from inside a box wrapped in wet towels. I consider hiding behind the newspaper, but he's walking right toward me, so I look up and smile. When he sees me he does a text-book rendition of dumbfoundedness, including stopping dead in his tracks and dropping his jaw.
Then he sits down at the table next to me and we have a fairly normal conversation about yardwork and the American cult of victimization. I don't remember how we got from the one to the other, but this is a fairly normal conversation for us; Massage Guy doesn't dick around much with small-talk, which is a trait we share. The art of talking about nothing for hours, so crucial to stripping, was a painful learning curve.
After ten minutes, Massage Guy gets up and says he has an errand to run, and leaves me half his croissant, which I eat, because I am a scrounger. If I had to run into someone in the middle of the morning right before I business meeting, it'd could've been a lot worse. I'm not sure Massage Guy has ever even seen me naked. He'll tip me on stage occasionally to alert me that he's in the club, but he always puts the money on the stage and darts away. Still, having my stripper-self summoned up in unfamiliar surroundings is weird, and I can't get back into the crossword puzzle. I sit there feeling a bit, well, naked.
Then my mucky-muck comes in. We've never met but I know it is him because he's looking around him like he's supposed to be meeting someone. He's hot, too. Maybe I wouldn't have noticed a few years ago, when I wasn't really into older guys. But I'm older now myself, of course, and dancing has really shifted my frame of reference as to what constitutes an "older guy." Some men, I've noticed, go through a second sexual ripening in their early forties, when you can just sit across the table from them and smell the rut musk, strong as any adolescent boy's, but gamier. I'm grossing myself out. But yum.
Anyhow, I got a grip on myself, didn't start pawing at him under the table, and we had a very good meeting. He's going to help me. Actually, I got an e-mail from him on Friday with some of what I requested. So, go me. The stripper wins again.