So it's been almost a month now that I've had this sore throat. In that time I've danced four shifts. I caught the cold, or imbibed the allergin or whatever, on a Friday, which I know because the Professor and I had a date.
Our dates are always for Friday. We sat together through the tail of the afternoon and into the evening and the night. The range of our topics of common interest is brief, but there's a genuine appreciation of each other, too. An awkward fondness. A few hours in I started to notice the burning in the back of my throat, and by the time he left and I could get back to the dressing room my nose was just beginning to run full force.
It was a nasty, salty, rough, wet cold and it lingered. The coughing didn't really set in til the fourth or fifth day, and then refused to go as whatever it was colonized my respiratory system with terrific efficiency. On day six I felt a little better so I went to work and that night I coughed myself awake all night. And every night I've worked since has been the same.
The problem is my smoking. Obviously. When I dance, I smoke. And when I'm smoking, I fucking smoke. Chain-smoking, really, and if I don't know where my next cigarette is coming from, I get a little wiggy.
I'm killing myself. Sure thing. Every smoker knows this. You can't avoid knowing it. But it doesn't even matter, and that's how come tobacco companies can print right there on the box that this is going to turn your lungs to tar and pound on your heart like a ballpeen hammer on a little rubber ball and your babies will be born stupid and ugly with two heads and forked tongues and we still don't even fucking care. We're still ripping at those little pull-tabs, peeling the wrapping back and, cursing if your fingernails slip because the body wants the nicotine now, not three second from now now now nownow now NOW.
Outside of the club, I don't think about smoking. A pack of Camels sits in my backpack all week long, forgotten. I don't need them at home anymore, in my daily rounds, than I need six-inch stilletto heels.
I've made dancing poisonous to myself is the thing, I guess. Like I don't want it to be too sustainable. I've built in a kind of a kill switch, so that I don't think I'm going to be one of those girls who strips into her forties, much as I admire them.
When I didn't know anything about dancing, I thought a forty-year old stripper was the last word in sad, and I think most people who don't know much about dancing assume this, too. But the woman who's dancing at that age is a rare and finely-honed machine. The ones I've known have been almost universally shrewd, savvy, and hotter than shit. They have to smoke the competition, and they usually do. They've got an intensity, too, each one with her own version of the eight-mile stare because they've seen a lot of shit. In this particular little crevice of human culture and behavior here at this intersection of sex and commerce, they are the only experts.
I don't think I'll make it. I think I'll be out of the game long, long before I reach that level. Or so I say right now. We'll see. But right now no way, and hopefully not in two weeks when the rent is due, either. For now I've got to find another way to pay the rent. I need out and away from the club for a little bit. It's hard to breathe in there.