Tuesday, July 31, 2007

satan in danger

The other morning I woke up from a dream about the Satanist.

The dream left me with a feeling so vivid that I called him up later that morning. He sounded happy to hear from me. I told him I'd dreamed about him. He wanted to know what the dream was about.

Me: I can't really remember. I woke up feeling really guilty, though, like I'd done something bad to you, and I wanted to call you and apologize. Then when I woke up and realized I hadn't done anything I was so happy I called anyway.

Satanist: What had you done?

Me: Nothing too fucked up. I didn't stab you, or shoot you, or anything like that. I think I just made a scene, like, yelling at you. Maybe I was drunk.

Satanist. Oh.


Me: So how are you?


Satanist: Well, I've been stabbed and shot.

Turns out, he had been. One evening a week or so ago, he woke up in the wee hours in his nifty historical home in one of Austin's Better Neighbhorhoods to the sound of his air conditioner wiggling in the window frame as somebody outside tried to dislodge it. Since he's a shady underworld figure who doesn't want the Law at his house, he went outside to deal with it himself. Long story short, he got stabbed in the arm, and a ricocheting bullet took a small divot out of the bridge of his nose. Then the stab wound got infected and he had to buy a pump to suck the puss out. He was on Delotid as we spoke. By legitimate prescription, I believe.

Poor Satanist. One of those people to whom awful things seem to happen with more regularity than ought to result from chance alone. I offered to stop by and smooth his pillow, but he said the house was messy and he was messy, and give him a day or two to make himself presentable.

I like him so much. He's the only strip-club customer I could ever incorporate into my outside life with any degree of comfort. He was always so respectful and appreciative. Even when he offered me $300 for a blowjob, he made the offer in the politest and most professional way, and without the least pressure. "Just putting it out there," he said, "So, you know, call me if you're interested."


I don't want to blow him for $300. But I would miss him, kinda, if for some reason I could never see him again. Like, if he were fatally stabbed or shot by intruders outside his house in Old Money Town. In my dream, I was beside myself with remorse for whatever ill-defined, gauche thing I'd done. I wanted so much to give him a hug. He is really huge -- both tall and broad -- so that hugging him is like throwing yourself into a feather bed. I would miss that.

I didn't tell him that part, though.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

whither sixty?

The venerable "Sixty's Place" -- a blog chronicling the stripclubbing adventures of an articulate forty-something Yankee with a marked taste for high-mileage blondes -- disappeared in May. From the ammount of clamoring in the comments section of this blog, others, like me, have mourned the passing of the greatest literary perv since Pepys.

As best I recall, in the year or so I followed Sixty's adventures -- and it was a blog whose entries dated to the dawn of blogging -- he got entangled with an older dancer with apparent designs of his freedom, shtupped his 20-year-old favorite dancer for whom he then developed a deep distaste, abandoned her, got divorced -- wait he was married? Throughout it all he maintained a knightly devotion to the one hot, blonde stripper who wouldn't go OTC with him. (Although he always did intimate that she gave it up pretty good in the Champagne Room.)

Then, like a bolt from the blue, Sixty fell in love with a live, human female of the kind who keeps her clothes on at work. He blogged a bit about the blissfullness of it all, went to see his fave a few more times in the dutiful spirit in which one visits an elderly aunt. Then all of a sudden I got an e-mail from him asking me to take down the link to the blog, because it didn't exist anymore. And that was that, til this morning, when I woke to find this in my inbox:

Grace ...

Was sorry to hear about your misadventures in Colorado, but glad you're home relatively safe. I wish you good health and prosperity. I wish you enough, at least, for you to appreciate where you came from. Keep an eye on that zipper, now.

In case you were wondering, I'm doing fine, ridiculously happy and in love, totally against all expectations. I'm no longer blogging about stripclubbing because, funny thing is, I'm not finding any interest in doing it any more. Ah well, it may return some day, that interest ... I'm too much of a horndog to pretend it isn't lurking just beneath the surface, ready to spring at the slightest opportunity. I would've left my blog up, but coincidentally it was discovered by my old fave Miss C(remember her?). She got pissed at me, and so much do I love and respect her that I immediately took it off line. Funny, isn't it, that a blog that so pathetically gushed about how completely enamored I was of her should offend her. I don't know, maybe it's not so hard to understand after all. Let me ask yhou: if you were in her clear heels, how would you feel?

Best always.

Mystery solved. Yes, strippers have computers and Internet access, too.

As to how I would feel if I discovered I were being blogged, I can only imagine. I imagine it would give me the creeps just on general principles. Like most people, I think, I prefer to think that people just don't think about me when I'm not around and that I am therefore in a position to control their every thought about me through the sheer charisma of my immediate presence and the clever things I say. I find direct, written evidence that somebody had been weighing, assessing, and speculating over my words and deeds and drawing their own conclusions about me would probably give me a gray turn.

I do live in constant anxiety that one of my blog subjects will discover us here. (No, not you, Tommi. I know you're here, silly. And not you either, Joe. That's all champagne under the bridge now, no?) But one of the innocents. That would be terrible. I worry most about Mr. B, both because I like him awfully and because, being a tech guy who spends a 85% of his time on computers anyway, and who discovered Stripperweb all by himself, he is the most likely to find us.

I've never written anything especially mean about B. -- in fact, I think I've spoken of my fondness for him many times -- and he's not my customer anymore either (or hasn't been for months) so it's not an issue of economic concern. It's just that one of the chief agencies of this blog is to speak frankly about a world where everything is art and artiface except the money and the tits. You were like this, too, Sixty. Most people just don't like to hear a frank opinion about themselves. They'll say they do, but they don't.

(On the subject of blogs and anonyminity, I also live in contant fear that I'm going to forget to log out of the Grace account before I go posting on the blogs and message boards where I maintain a professional prescence, and fifty million of my colleagues and collaborators are going to get an earful about grindage and benjamins and how I hate it when fat old golfers slobber on my neck, but will endure if the price is right. Sheesh. Now that's really a nightmare.)

Then again, maybe Miss C. is annoyed that you used her real name. Well, not her real name, but her real stage name, the name by which she is known in her professional life, which is as real for most purposes as any other name. (You'll not that I have ommitted her full name from the body of your e-mail.) Did you use her real name, and the real names of all those other dancers with whom you did sport over the years? I always wondered this. Maybe she didn't like having her professional name linked with the naughty things you said the two of you had done in the back corners all those times. I know that while I personally have made my peace with what I will and won't do at work, seeing a catalogue of my activities detailed on line somewhere would be disconcerting.

Still, if this is the problem, it's easily fixed. Change Miss C.'s name -- and the name of anybody else you care enough to protect -- and pop the blog back up. It is too great a loss to the world of stripper-blog literature to be lost. As I wrote in my reply e-mail to you, maybe you should tell Miss C. that her frank and persistant refusal to see you OTC, and your continued adoration, were an inspiration to me as I moved upward into the ranks of strippers who get taken back to the VIP and offered hundreds or thousands (OK, one thousand) of dollars for a romp in a hotel room. Would the prospect of being an inspiration to young strippers everwhere would reconcile Miss C. to a place in the spotlight?

Anyway, I hope you at least saved all your posts somewhere. Truly, they were awesome.

I still curse the circumstance that took my right past your hometown last year but wouldn't let me stop and siphon out your wallet.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

money troubles

Fuck me, it's already started. Today C. and I had our fourth fight about money in three days. It's mostly my fault and it's utterly predictable and I still can't seem to help myself. I'm such a raging cunt.

Thing is, I've been poor before. Back in college I used to dig through the sofa cushions for enough change to buy food and if I couldn't find it I'd steal something. I particularly liked stealing from the convenience stores on campus. I'd take the good shit, too -- killer sandwiches, organic juice, candy bars, danishes, coffee, flan -- and just stroll out the door with it. No one ever stopped me. I was invisible. Stealing gave me an angry kind of high, all puffed up on my own boldness and invincability, the stupidity and complacence of everybody else in the world, especially the other kids my age shopping and working at those stores, soft and groomed like over-bred dogs. I was so tough in my own mind in the those days. Little old Army of One.

Stealing made me feel poorer, and being poor made me feel weirdly privileged. Like it was OK for me to take advantage of other people, because they had it better than I did. Like if I was smart enough to take things, that was proof that I deserved to have them more than other people did. Bad, bad mojo. My karma is probably still in the red from the things I did in this phase of my life.

I also had a boyfriend/room-mate at this time who was fourteen years older than me and worked at the post office. He made twice the money I did as a graveyard-shift short order cook, but somehow he was always broke anyway. He rarely gave me a full month's rent, and sometimes he would wake me up in the morning to ask me for five dollars, ten dollars, like a fucking child, like I could just roll over in bed and pull the money out of my ass. I had actually started to hate him by the time we broke up. Sleeping with someone you hate is a rotten karmic practice also.

That was years ago. Still.

I knew this stuff would come up for me if I agreed to be the breadwinner while C. was in school, and it has. For the most part I've dealt with it OK. C. is a wonderful person and a supportive boyfriend, not a free-loader or a jackass or a deadbeat. And I'm not a dumb 19-year-old desperate enough for love and acceptance to buy it at inflationary rates. I'm much too clever and enlightened to let myself be so taken advantage of ever again, no way, never. This is what I tell myself. Meanwhile I look at all the other people tell themselves they'll never again make the mistakes they are at that exact moment engaged in making. And I think, holy crap.

I mean, we're not broke, C. and I. We just have to be careful. The day-job presently pays me an entry-level professional salary that would have seemed exorbinate to me back in my fry cook days, and if it's less than I was making a few months ago, well boo hoo. Most people can't make a grand in a weekend every time they feel like it. As long as I keep the mental abacus constantly running a tally of what we have and what we need and what we've spent, and don't get careless or indulgent, we're OK.

But the result of all this internal calculus is that we'll be at the grocery store and C. will ask me if we can get olives, and instead of just thinking it over and saying yes or no, I'll start to hyperventilate and wonder if he even really loves me. I freak out over ridiculous shit, and C. can't understand why, and thinks I'm a crazy woman, or maybe just a bitter cow being mean for the hell of it. But listen:

When I was small, I saw one of our barn cats taken down by a litter of her half-grown kittens. They were big enough to hunt, but they didn't feel like it and she still had milk in her tits, so they pinned her to the ground and sucked her dry. They did it every day, every time she walked across the yard, till she was skinny and her hair fell out. One day she disappeared. Probably she crawled under the barn and died, but I'd like to think she just said fuckit to the whole program and lit out on her own, and maybe she's retired in a condo somewhere in Florida.

I don't even know, man. I don't even know.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

sort of like normal

As I was healing up in the hospital, C. and I were pondering how best to get back to Texas with a van that didn't start half the time and an adult with a recent belly wound. We needed a wing-car.

My family were the closest people to us geographically, but they proved unwilling to make the trip, and come to think of it, wouldn't have been much fun anyway. C.'s parents, who are awfully nice, offered to come and shephard us back to their place in New Mexico, which was supposed to be our pentultimate destination anyway. It would have been a long drive for them, though, and fate happily intervened in the form of my hetero lifemate B., who was looking for an excuse to drop out of graduate school and who brooked no denials in flying out to Denver, renting a car, and rushing to my bedside.

So I was born back to Texas via Las Cruces, NM in a winged chariot with air conditioning and XM radio and good shocks. I even felt a tiny tinge of guilt as C. rattled along in front of us, hot and dusty in good old Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which predictably died at every other pit stop, so that B. had to nose the rental car in behind and give the van a little boost til C. could pop the clutch and start her. This worked like a charm, however.

So now we are back home and my regular physician took my staples out last week and told me to avoid "heavy lifting and extreme activity" for at least two months. I guess this means I won't be dancing any time soon. I was wanting some time off this summer. Now I don't have much choice.

The scar is long and red as a millipede, and sore. Standing up straight without wincing takes effort and concentration. In a few weeks I may be able to cover up the cosmetic damage with clever use of corsets, but the real test will be stamina. I don't think I could walk around in stilletto's for eight hours bullying drunk people out of money at the moment. We'll see.

Meanwhile, bills are coming due, not least of them C.'s fall tuition. I have some savings, and my dayjob project has enough funding for me to pay myself to work on it full-time at least for the next little while. Lean times, though. Let's hear it for beans.

Monday, July 09, 2007

revenge of the zipper

OK, so obviously I didn't die. I didn't even see the light at the end of the tunnel -- though I didn't see any lights or tunnels after the car accident, either, when my spleen burst on the operating table and my lung collapsed and my blood pressure crashed and my heart actually did stop beating. No lights, no tunnels. Just a warm, lovely feeling like dozing under blankets on a cold morning, when staying in bed and falling back asleep is the best idea in the world except the alarm is going off all obnoxious and loud and you can't turn it off and roll over because it's algebra-test morning and you must wake up. So you wake up in a nest of tubes and wires.

C. and I were supposed to be having an easy day. He'd nearly been hospitalized for dehydration in the Black Canyon the day before, so we were going to have a day or two where we didn't break a sweat, just drove an easy stretch up the road, found a camp spot, and hung around the van all day drinking water and doing some of our more fanciful campfire cookery.

The first part of the plan went swimmingly and we were kicking into the second part of the plan -- taking 'er easy for the rest of the day -- when my stomach cramped, suddenly and visciously.

There was no ignoring it, though because I am stupid, I tried. And there was no pretending it was diarhea, or PMS, or food poisoning, or anything normal like that. The only possible explanation was that an alien fetus was about to burst out of my abdomen, raging for food. C. tried to comfort me while we waited to see if maybe it would all just go away. "I best your just going to pass the mother of all farts, and that'll be that," C. said hopefully, holding me and patting my back like a colicy baby.

Then I threw up all over everything in the van. This is the unmistakeable signal that it is time to stop toughing things out and drive to the nearest hospital. Only we were in the fucking wilderness in fucking Colorado and the van wouldn't start. Sometimes it just doesn't. Then we have to get out and push her to a head of speed and jump back in and pop the clutch, which is fine when you have two healthy adults to push. Only I couldn't even stand up straight so I wasn't a very effective pusher, and C. couldn't do it alone. Oh, and it was almost dark.

Which was good, as it turned out, because it brought the park ranger around in his little golf cart to see if we had a permit to camp where we were camping, and he helped us push the van out of it's spot and into starting position. From there, it was literally downhill all the way to the one-and-a-half horse town that is the county seat of that sparsely settled part of the world, where the ranger told us there was a hospital. It was about a forty minute drive, but felt longer. I started speculating out loud that I might have ebola, the only disease I could think of where your guts turn to mush and leak out through your pores.

In town at last, we located the hospital with the sixth sense of desperation and staggered into the emergency room barefoot, like the last survivors of a terrible battle. The ER was abandoned. This was a quiet town. A nurse took me into the back, and gently tapped away at me with swabs and scopes and listening devices. Meekly and with relief, I surrendered my body into the hands of Science.

They X-rayed me once, then twice, then made me drink a hideous potion with barium in it and wheeled me down the hall and fed my body into the CT scanner. After that they shot me full of something that stung my whole arm like a jellyfish as it went it and was supposed to stop the vomitting, which by then was constant. Finally they took mercy on me and pumped me full of Delotid and I went down, down, down.

I woke up surrounded by beeping machines, with an IV in the crook of my arm, a tube up my hoo, and a device stuck down my nose into my stomach, which scratched my throat and whirred softly as it sucked great gobbets of black and yellow bile into a bucket beside the bed. C. was there, thank God. They gave him a cot so he could sleep in my room, which was kind.

Presently a doctor with a ponytail came in and explained it all to us. My old scar, the zipper, had gone all nutty on the inside, growing knots of scar tissue in and around and through my organs, particularly the small intestine. Perhaps randomly, perhaps stimulated by the previous day's over-exertion in the canyon, the scar tissue had chosen that golden afternoon up on Grand Mesa to squeeze shut like a fist. The pain and vomitting and wierd taste in my mouth were what organ failure feels like.

By the time I woke up, the scar tissue had released it's grip on everything but my intestines. The doctor with the ponytail told us my guts might or might take care of themselves on their own, and that if I shat myself it would be a good sign. With that he left me to twiddle my thumbs and get better or not.

I did not get better. I got worse. Timed passed weirdly. Every few hours a nurse would come and put Delotid in my IV, and afternoons and evenings went by like a tape on fastforward. Other times I woke up and watched the clock in a stupor while the second hand made it's interminable way around. When I slept, my dreams were so painfully vivid that I woke up exhausted.

On the evening of the third day Dr. Ponytail told us I wasn't getting any better and he was going to operate in the morning, before my intestines strangled and turned gangrenous. Waiting to be operated on is a strange thing. When I was in the accident, I woke up in the hospital smashed to bits, with no memory of the recent past. In some ways, that is easier. I tried to think good things about being cut open in the morning, like how healthy I am, and how I was glad I was going to have the operation and get the scar tissue removed and that would be that, and how my doctor seemed like an intelligent person, and at least I wasn't in Mexico.

Long story short, they cut me open the next morning. A nurse told me later they took half a pound of scar tissue out of my tum, but they didn't save it for me in a jar liked I asked. The doctor stitched me up very nicely, with 53 tiny little staples, instead of the 19 economy-sized hardware staples they used the first time. The line of the scar is thinner and straighter than it was before. So, good.

They couldn't have been sweeter to me in the ICU. And on the third day after the operation I took a shit. And it was good.

Friday, July 06, 2007

black canyon

About 20 yards up the trail from the bottom of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, C. threw up for the first time. The trail was what the National Park Service brochure called "strenuous." With the arrogance of the young and healthy, we'd decided nothing was too strenuous for us, and at first the trail seemed utterly tolerable -- steep grades along a series of switchbacks through pretty evergreens and wild roses.

Then we reached the part of the trail where a heavy chain has been struck into the ground to help you repel backwards 80 feet or so down a part of the trail that is more or less vertical and full of sliding, crumbling shale rock on which it's impossible to get a footing. The chain made it possible, though, even fun. Problem being that the chain ends rather abruptly, but the trail keeps going -- vertical and sliding and dusty and scary as ever -- another 1,200 feet to the dang bottom.

We made it down, though. Once you're down there it's beautiful but there isn't much to do, as per se. There are no river beaches or friendly wading pools along this stretch of the Gunnison -- just big, jagged boulders and rushing white water. The educational video at the visitor's center kept calling the canyon "impenetrable" and damned if they weren't right.

So you just sit on a rock and contemplate the sinister beauty of raging water and steep black rock walls, in this little crevice where the sun is only overhead for a little sliver of the high afternoon and the rest of the day is twilight. We were there an hour or two or three. We ate lunch and listened to the water and then there was nothing much else going on so we decided to head back up. This put us climbing vertically up the canyon side in the broad heat of the middle of the day, but we still thought we were young and healthy and nothing could ever happen to two kids like us.

We took a lot of breaks because there's just no other way to climb a bitch of trail like that. It was our third or fourth break when we broke out our last bottle of water. C. unscrewed the cap and started slugging it down, and because it was one of those yuppie camping accessories with ounce-measurements on the side I could see two, four, six, eight ounces of water -- a quarter of what we had -- disappearing into his mouth. I said "Fuck, dude, go easy" and he froze with the bottle at his mouth giving me what I thought at first was a look of sheer hostility. Then he went pale under his stubble and his eyes glazed and he leaned forward and vomitted eight ounces of our precious water into the dust.

Immediately, he said he felt better. He said it was probably the sardines at lunch making him sick. He said he was in tip-top form and ready to climb. I know what heat exhaustion looks like, but there wasn't really a lot of choice. What was I going to do, carry him on my back?

He threw up two or three more times and we kept climbing in short little staggered stages, me going ahead and him catching up. Sometimes I could hear him scrabbling and shifting stone behind me and sometimes I couldn't. I didn't know what I would do if he fainted and fell so I hoped that he wouldn't. I would yell his name and after pauses so long I wanted to claw myself with despair he would yell back. Then he didn't yell back and I hiked back down to find him curled up in the shade of a scrubby bush, big-eyed and panting.

I left him there with strict instructions not to move and hiked back up the ranger station for help. It was just about the worst 90 minutes of my life. I wanted to run the whole way but my legs wouldn't go above an exhausted shuffle. At the top of the canyon I located a sweet young park ranger named Wendy and a burly first-responder named Steve and we hiked back down the canyon together and found C. collapsed on the trail several hundred yards above where I had left him. (His explanation, much later on, when I was laughing and crying and boxing his ears: "I didn't want you to have to climb down so far to get me.")

Steve the First Responder gave C. some water, which he puked up immediately, and then some more water, which he also puked. After that he only allowed C. a capful of water ever 25 minutes and, after an hour, a few nuts and raisins from my bag of trail mix. Eventually C. started keeping stuff down and after a few hours we were able to hike slowly back up. By the time we got to the top, C. and I were giggling and cracking gallows jokes, which is the only reasonable way to handle a brush with mortality. Wendy and Steve thought we were pretty strange.

Steve thought we ought to go to the hospital and we had to sign a piece of paper saying he had advised us of this. Then we cheerfully ignored all his warnings and drove into town to have a motherfucking steak and sleep in a real bed at the Best Western. And we slept like stones that night because we had no way of knowing that the next day I would die.