Last night was really hard. Lucrative, which somehow sneaked up on me; I went until 12:47 unaware of how much I was making and mostly really disturbed because the manager kept giving me less than I was owed, by 10$. At first I wrote it off as them finally taking my flake fee from last Sunday, but that was only $40 and three hours later I was still missing money. The worst was my second half hour—which was also my worst dance of the night, even though my first dance/half hr of the night was with a guy who came in his pants when we were by the atm, and I didn’t notice. I mean I thought he was acting weird, sure, but I didn’t realize until he sat down and I leaned in to purr in his ear and felt a wet spot against my thigh and almost threw up on him. In 9 years of dancing this is the first time I’ve actually touched it—jizz pants aside it’s pretty rare for guys to come when I dance for them? Like I actively try not to let that happen but at my club I’m the exception, not the rule, and I knew I wasn’t going to get any sympathy just because my thigh accidently touched some guys jizzy pants, and despite our stated policy of no refunds, I couldn’t decide if, if I ended the half hr right there, they would make me give the money back. So I kept going; and it’s like, lap dances are basically cuddling with varying amounts of ass/crotch grinding but since I didn’t want to get anywhere near him and his hands horrified me (their hands in general horrify me because I have a justifiably low opinion of customer hygiene, like literally guys will reach into their pants and adjust their dicks and then try to touch me and seriously are you crazy? I have a whole nother post on this, but anyway) but in the end I ended up holding his hot sweaty hands, perched awkwardly on the side of the chair or standing on it waving my ass in the general direction of his face and—how did I even write so much about this guy, I didn’t mean to.
Ok so but that was how my night started and it set the tone for everything that followed. My customers were uniformly awful, but everyone I talked to said the same thing and a lot of them weren’t getting dances and I have rent and Anna and Sallie Mae to pay back this week so like… what are you going to do? I told myself I would leave as soon as I hit 750 which isn’t great for me on a Saturday night but worth it to get free early.
My second half hour got me just shy of my quota so I was glad, and he looked like a harmless old guy. He had a zippered shirt on which is a not-great sign but not everyone has my excellent taste in menswear. He was also missing some teeth and seemed like a broke ass agricultural workers so like missing teeth: to be expected sort of. Whatever. I try to be optimistic because some guys who seem most foul actually turn out to be really tenderhearted and respectful and conversely some guys who definitely read as like, aware feminist men, turn out to be the absolute worst but really, that’s not even surprising any more. And also never forget that time I was washing my hands in the bathroom sink and a female customer who looked like a social justice-y feminist radical queer came up and shoved her fingers in my vagina through my bottoms and then told me it was my fault for being in front of her. What I’m saying is You Never Know.
Anyway he wasn’t an awesome tender guy. Worst dance in recent memory bar none. I started off feeling fragile because I thought they were done skimming money off to pay for the flake fee but when I counted I was still short ten dollars, and like… how could I ever prove it? I spun out in my head for a few minutes while he kept talking, freaking out about whether this is just how it’s going to be, I’ll be consistently shorted, bleeding even more money for whatever reason they give me or maybe no reason at all.
Then the guy leaned in and his breath was rotten-sweet and he told me about how girls in his town dance from two feet away and he likes that I’m so into him and planted a wet kiss on my shoulder and I plunged back into the cycle of dodging wet kisses and streams of fetid breath as he just got worse and worse. It was his breath and the things he was saying that made it so terrible, he didn’t try to touch me except for the kisses, but he started telling me unfunny jokes that gradually escalated into a weird one about how he punishes women by fucking them but then they want him to do it again. I briefly toyed with the idea of telling him how absolutely unfunny it was: pro-he gets mad enough to end the dance early, con-he doesn’t and keeps talking, con-I have to actually muster the energy to talk to him, and just cracked my gum as loud as possible.
He moved on to telling me how much I was enjoying myself, and how my entire body is an erogenous zone and how much I must love my job. This is something I tell people with varying degrees of sincerity—sometimes I mean it 100%, others I just need to preserve the happy facade so they feel like they’re getting their money’s worth and any waitress will agree with this so just don’t even go there—but at this particular moment in time it was 100% not a true fact.
Then the familiar and hated moans of Backhanded Compliment Moany Girl started up next door, with whimpers and yells and this proved his point. There’s almost nothing more awful than being told how much you like something, short of being asked to verbally corroborate it, which he did stop short of. At one point he got in another wet kiss on my shoulder and my skin crawled, literally breaking into goosebumps of disgust and he crowed, “You love it! You’re fighting to keep from coming,” and I almost laughed. Almost.
The next worse dance of the night (because by this point Mr Jizzpants wasn’t even a contender) was my last dance. A really sweet girl bought a dance for her friend, “he’s in love with you!” which isn’t necessarily awkward except that it turned out he thought this was true. It was like being on a really awkward first date, made deliberately more awkward by his intense staring at my face and insistence on trying to formulate our interaction as genuine by talking about how awkward it was and how I probably didn’t want to be there. Like are you really going to go there? Does anyone want to be anywhere? How many people would continue to do their jobs if they weren’t paid for them? Because I was holding the money I told him that I wanted to be standing in line with him as much as I wanted to be standing in line with anyone there, and more than some. He continued to be weird and awkward until I lost patience and told him to think of it as a donation to my student loans, which hurt his feelings. But not enough to get him to back out.
He didn’t get better. For fifteen minutes he asked me out indirectly, about how if I was only into him—if I really liked him, that is, and wasn’t just pretending for money—I would go to brunch with him at some diner filled with children the next morning, but he wouldn’t ask because he didn’t want to be creepy. I tried to laugh it off by saying I don’t really like being around children, they need too much attention and people in the club take my weekly quota of attention to spare. That doesn’t actually sound funny so maybe my humour was off or maybe my delivery in person was better, who knows. He told me all about his favorite movie and band (Once, and the musician from Once, a movie I barely remember at all even though I know I saw it with Aubree and I think she liked it more than I did. The name brings up vague feelings of boredom and irritation with the musician, and I think I thought he was annoying and creepy, which hurt Customer’s feelings). I offered that one of my favorite movies is Morvern Callar, thinking “he’s english, he likes once, he may have heard of it,” but he hadn’t, and he asked me if it was like Garden State. What the hell.
“I mean, maybe? I haven’t seen it but I don’t think so. What do you mean?”
“If you’d seen it I would know to disregard everything you say but I guess I can still like you.”
As the third song ended he said, trying for casual, “So I know you’re not coming to brunch with me” very astute “but, what if I saw you walking down the street and you were in your bubble because you don’t like attention but I was like ‘hey, you’re thinking this thing and I’m thinking this thing too!’ what would you do?”
What the hell kind of question is this? “Um, well, since you can’t actually know what I’m thinking, that’s not exactly relevant?”
“But I can’t know because you’re in your bubble! How can I talk to you on the street if you’re in your bubble?”
Is this a real question? are you really revealing yourself to be one of those men I hate so much? “I don’t mind being addressed on the street as long as the person talking can accept the fact that I may have other things to do and don’t want to engage. Like maybe if they led with an interesting question and were willing to allow me to keep walking if it didn’t work, but it never works like that. I mean A) men who approach women on the street usually lead with something like ‘smile!’ or ‘Nice tits!’ and then B) they follow up disinterest by getting really angry and often yelling insults which proves it was never about getting to know women anyway, it was about needing their attention regardless of whether the women want to give it.” Much like you think I should go on a date with you without actually having even asked me what kind of foods I like or even what my favourite movie is about, I added mentally. But yes, I actually said everything in the quotes.
He looked massively betrayed and said angrily, “then I guess I’ll never see you again,” and did the big tall man version of flouncing away and I looked at my phone and it was 2am and I could now leave without paying the leave early fee which all seemed like A Sign. I went to pay the bouncer fee and was somewhat reassured to learn that the tens I had been missing from earlier had gone to the bouncer fee which saves me time—the line to checkout from 2.30-3.30 can literally be an hour.
So, but like I said the worst part was that there weren’t other people to share it with who would understand how I felt. Every time I went into the dressing room one of my work friends (whose work ethic is really low which is why she’s always back there, also she has a regular who comes in a few times a month and gives her thousands to play video poker with him so her work ethic is justifiably low) would say “You look so pissed. You look like such a cunt.”
and it’s like, I’ve lived with my face for 28 years, I know that people think I’m scary or intimidating or stuck up when I’m not smiling, which is why I’m always always fucking smiling on the floor. But surely I’m exempt from keeping that inane smile in place in the relative privacy of the dressing room. Especially since I’ve worked there for two years and people know by now what I look like when I’m not smiling. Does it need to be commented on? No. We’re under scrutiny from every other angle and I tolerate it from customers because they pay me, but I want to motherfucking eviscerate dancers, even relative friends, who comment on my appearance with anything other than constructive criticism. Like “Your tag is out.” oh, ok, thanks. “You look great!” also thanks. Anything else? I’ll fucking brain you with my heel.