Tuesday, June 12, 2007

escape velocity

Tomorrow morning we're leaving. I'm scared to death that something's going to happen and keep us here. I always think that, though. The van is packed with thermal underwear and biodegradable paper plates dehydrated soups and mix CD's and everything is going to be fine.

I peeled my fake nails off last night. Which is terrible. You're supposed to take them off with remover that smells rotten and sinks into your skin and gives you liver cancer, but last night I just got sick of them and bit them off with my teeth. Underneath, my fingernails are thin and soft as paper.

I am tired. My last night at work was unremarkable, which is to say, awful, but awful is expected at this time of year. All I really remember is some sloppy middle-ager lugging me into a corner and forcing me to guess his age. Goddammit I hate it when guys do this. It's like a girl who asks how much you think she weighs. They want to hear you guess as low as possible, but guess too low and they know you're flattering them because you think they're really old.

I tell him he looks 45, and honestly I am> flattering, cause this dude is all soft gut and floppy hair and looks just awful, whatever his age may be. He wanted to hear a lower number though, so he gets irritated and starts telling me how gray hair is a symbol of power and women flock to him, especially very young women, because he has such a powerful appearance and has so much money, which I would understand if he told me what he really does for a living, but he can't cause then I would just be all over him, too, and he would never know if it was really because I liked him for who he is.

The cards are all set up for me to play -- yes, baby, you're gray hair does make you look distinguished and gee I bet all the girls just love you and it's not for the money, it's cause you're such a manly, manly man, and if they can't see that well, baby, I can -- and I can't fucking do it. I sit there giving him the incredulous look I would give anyone who laid this bullshit on me anywhere else.

Then he starts telling me that I had better get my act together because while I am hot now, I won't be when I'm his age. He can get women of all ages, but I won't be able to, because he's still a good-looking man and women don't age well, especially not tall women like me, and not redheads, either. All of a sudden I've had enough and I get up, smile my best tea-party smile, and walk off in the middle of his sentence. The rest of the night is a total bore.

I think the mountains will make me clear-headed again. I hope so. I won't dance until I feel beautiful again, so I hope it's soon.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


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.