Sunday, April 16, 2006

the ballad of the plumber

So, the oddness. I promised I would tell you.

You know about the plumber. Slender, curly-haired, pushing fifty, with mustache and an eight-mile stare. Is there an acronym for the male equivalent of a MILF? Probably not. Probably the idea of young doxies lusting after older men is too mainstream a fantasy to need its own name and aisle in the porn store. But really, it doesn't work too well for me. Maybe becausee my dad was not your standard paternal authority figure. He and I were always wary equals. We engaged in yelling matches, not spankings. When I didn't win, I retired to my closet where, instead of crying, I plotted eventual revenge. If the word Oedipal is flitting through your mind somewhere, don't think I don't know.

I've never found the other extreme of age-fetishism particularly inviting, either. Young boys, small and effiminate boys, I find myself absently picking off me, like burrs. I like men my age, my size, as smart as me or smarter. In our sock feet, C. and I look straight into each other's eyes and that, to me, is perfect.

But the plumber. I like the plumber, and yet he never made me nervous, the way I have been the one or two times I've danced for someone I might, in other circumstances, have fucked. That was weird, feeling myself wavering back and forth between personalities -- the person of Grace flickering like a faulty bulb. Uncomfortable.

Dancing for the plumber, on the other hand, was very comfortable. More so over time, til I could sit on his lap without a consant sitting-on-lap meter running in my head, and ask questions and then care about the answers. And he could hug me hello and goodbye and I could feel an inner quickening of feeling, as when you touch a friend.

Do dancers ever fall for regulars, most regulars sooner or later want to know, even if they don't want to know that they want to know. The answer is sometimes. In a way. Probably not in the way that you want. Once in a while, after a long time has gone by and a substantial ammount of trust has accumulated, a dancer might actually be happy to see you, as opposed to being happy to see the dollar ammount written over your head in her brain. She might sit with you instead of with someone else who's dollar sign (yes, the radar is still on, albeit temporarily over-ridden) is bigger than yours. Although probably not for long, and if that dollar sign is a whole lot bigger, you can forget it. But the odds you will ever get to this point -- depending as they do on whether you can restrain yourself from doing the many, many things customer almost universally do and dancers almost universally hate -- are astronomically small. Like, quantum mechanics probabilities small.

The plumber and I were there. At least, for me we were. Maybe because at his age, and having already made for himself a prosperous life, he was going back to school to study political science, for fun, and that tickled me. Maybe because he never asked me anything about myself, but got to know me slowly, genuinely, and over time, the way friends do. Maybe because he never bothered to tell me how much he respected me, because he did actually respect me, and I already knew that. Maybe because he had a real person's smile. Where were we in his mind? What sort of long hurdles of past experience had I made it over in his brain, and where did that leave me? I can't guess.

And all this brings us to Saturday two weeks ago, when I spot the plumber's familiar silhouette from the stage, through the stage-light glare and across the big cave of the club's main room. I'd been in the middle of a solid block of lap-dances with somebody who's face I no longer remember, and was due to return at the end of my stage set. So it was a little while before I made it over to the plumber, and he had finished his drink, of which he never has more than one, and was about to leave. He told me this while I was hugging his neck from behind, and then he turned around, getting up. When he saw me he did an actual actual double-take, said, "Damn! You look amazing," and plopped back into his chair. We danced the next song. and the next one, and -- which is rare for us -- the next. And the next.

After about song five, I started to tire, as one does after twenty minutes of quad crunches and back bends, to slow down, and to gradually rest more and more of my weight against him. (What's the point in getting hundreds of dollars of lap dances? As wise regulars know, it's not to buy your favorite dancers affection, but to exhaust her until her mileage needle creeps up like an engine over-heating from a too-fast grinding of the gears.)

As I rested against him more and more -- my arms against his shoulders, my forehead against his, my thighs on his thighs -- I felt his body through his clothes. This was the oddness. Because customers, to me, are scarecrows. Sorry, fellas. You feel to me like stuffed suits of clothes. As to you I am always naked, to me you are forever dressed. This is one of the charms that protects me, and it wasn't working.

It didn't feel bad. It didn't -- really. And every dancer and customer and feminist and women's studies major and womyn-friendly, eco-dreaded college boy who needs to believe that this can never happen, that the stripper/customer relationship is always and only "fantasy" draws a collective gasp and hisses: slut.

I didn't do anything differently. Nothing got sucked or licked or fondled or jiggled. It did feel -- sharply -- the way it felt the second before you kissed someone, back in junior high, when kissing was a heady new frontier. That feeling of suspension, of your guts being sucked out of you, as you fall, before you actually begin to fall. Afterward, like teenagers, we couldn't look at each other. He put the money on the table, said he'd see me again, threw back the last of his drink, and was gone. By the time I'd settled the bills into my garter, my guts were back in place and everything was gone. leaving only a weird impression of the kind that, after avoiding a wreck, makes you pat yourself down for injuries anyway.

Hi. No. I'm not in love. My apologies to the romantics, if I've led you on. I'm non-plussed, with the non-plussedness you have after you accidentally make out with a friend, and aren't sure how long to wait before you call and leave a message on their machine. Last Saturday, I was up on stage and looked out past the lights and saw him again. But I was in the middle of a solid block of dances with the little perv in the VIP, and by the time I'd made my money and wriggled free, he was gone. Yesterday was Saturday again, and he didn't come in at all.


patrin said...

Damn, girl. I know that feeling, and it's very strange indeed. The oddness was palpable in this entry; it was wonderfully written and a pleasure to read. (did I just sound teacherly right then? heh)

Anonymous said...

bored at work and have this afternoon read reading your blog through since your first post in jan 06.

you write very well, but i do have to point out that the female version of the oedipus complex is the electra complex, so your oedipal reference in the 2nd paragraph is close but uhm... no cigar.

hur hur.