One of those nights like a music video

My job was to babysit my friend’s regular to make sure he didn’t get distracted by another girl while she was onstage or in the bathroom. Men! Their attention spans are so short.

Like, this one time I was in the dance line for a guy and he had to pee but we’d already waited for fifteen minutes, so I weighed the odds and thought, bathroom, pee, back. Like I’ve timed myself and it’s about 30 seconds and he doesn’t even have to worry about hygiene because men just don’t. Their dicks have no bacteria, apparently. Or they just don’t care about getting their dick bacteria on everything they touch. Take your pick. So I let him go to the bathroom alone. And he came back three minutes later with two different girls whom he now wanted dances from. He didn’t even remember who the hell I was. 20 minutes of my life, gone for free.

I waited with her guy outside while he smoked and she peed and he offered me meth. This happens, rarely, but it happens.

“It’s a giant rock!” he said. “I’ve been looking for someone to pass it off to!”

“Ummm, no thanks! You should keep it! Unless, is it blue?”

He scoffed at me. “It’s as clear as crystal! Ha! Ha!”

“Ah, no, it’s cool.”

He shrugged, like “your loss.”

After the half hour ended we left in a cab. This is important because I bring my dogs to work, first Manny, now Mavis, because this way they get extra outside time and it’s not a huge effort to walk them right when we get home; when I get home I want to shower and go to sleep, not climb up and down three flights of stairs three more times. Plus it’s comforting to have them right when I get in the car.

We called a cab and had to stop at his apartment for more cash before continuing on to the next destination, another strip club. You want to be in an environment where money is easily accessible and it’s normal to be handling it, to better facilitate him spending money on you which is the real point of the whole thing—otherwise you (we) could still be at work fending off other girls and giving 30% of y/our take to the fucking club.

It’s sort of funny to have dynamics like this in public. Cabdrivers are fine because it’s the service industry too, and because there’s so much overlap between them and strippers. While we waited for him to come back I filled her in on what was going on while my friend, solidly wasted, ranted about greedy sluts from the back. You know how some people get drunk and they become awful people? Yeah.

The guy got back and threw a wad of twenties at the driver before handing thicker wads to my friend and me. I eyeballed the drivers and counted mine discreetly down by my thigh, a good amount. It was nice because she had been so nice, so I was glad she profited from having to listen to all of us. When we got out of the car I took her number so I’d have a reliable ride back to my car at the club without a big wait. I texted and asked her to come back in 45 minutes and she answered,

“Sure. Haha you guys forgot to get him to give me more.”

I feel fickle and guilty and confused but all my goodwill toward her evaporated in that moment—once the initial guilt as I flipped through my memories making sure he did in fact give her over 100 on a $17 fare. Yes, he did. I feel like I’m really good at reading people but text just throws me off, even though I also love it. Just text, words, you know. Something to give you distance from the immediacy of another person’s voice. So like maybe she was trying to be funny, haha, you guys forgot to get me more money, but I’m still so offended and immediately I wished I hadn’t just set it up that she would give me a ride back to the club, like how much was she going to want from me in the ride back? if whatever 83/103/I’m not sure profit wasn’t enough for her?

And also god, yes they were annoying but holy shit. She put up with us for all of ten minutes, fully clothed, from the front seat of her cab! How much money was she expecting? It’s confusing because I know a lot of people think we do even less, like emotional/mood management and maintaining a fun happy environment is not actually work. And I don’t want to be one of those people! But really, really? I’m still so baffled and offended.

In the next club we got over 2,000 in ones and made it rain on the girls there for about 20 minutes. I also ordered coconut custard because I was hungry and ate it at the rack like a douchebag even though I loathe people who eat at the rack, someday I’ll tell you about my days at the steak house strip club (one customer described it as “like eating titty when you’re watching titty,” MEN) and how people are such slobs and how hysterical I would get when I once again sat in or stained my stockings with steak juice. Of all the places I’ve ever worked,that’s the one I would physically push into the river myself if I could.

The girls came over (because why would you not be friendly to the people who just literally threw $500 at you) and I kept apologising about my food and shoving it away. It was good, a custard/mochi ball. Not as good as rice pudding tho. Mmm which I definitely need to buy tomorrow on the epic grocery run I will go on. And also pie, more pie.

It was also confusing because my friend kept shoving wads of ones in her purse which she kept on her lap, smart!, whilst I’d tucked my bag behind me. So her profit on the night has to be a good 2 or 3 times mine, which makes me a little dizzy. not enough to text her “hey ha ha you forget to get him to give me more money!” but like, whoa. And also I felt like taking the ones was morally dubious because those were for the girls onstage and weren’t we making enough? but that just sounds so pious and annoying idk.

We did make their night, most of them. And I did hold on to a few hundred ones but when Friend and Regular went in back for a lap dance because a girl came onstage whom Friend knew and hates, I felt guilty. Everyone else got this amazing display of cash out of like whatever lil wayne video and this poor girl got a shit deal, plus her cheerleading outfit was really unfortunate and made me sad so I threw my ones at her.

It was amazing though. Because ideally, to me, this is what stripping is. It’s the really specific, intangible service of making people [men] feel awesome by confirming and displaying their masculinity in a really public performative way.* I mean and this was super public! unlike dances or the interactions at my club. My club functions in a really weird way that it sort of bums me out I’ve gotten used to, and it was unspeakably refreshing to have a night that was like old times, just creating a party atmosphere in a way that benefits multiple people, none of them men, all of them strippers.

*which is maybe questionable idk but it also at best (like this) feels harmlessly stupid rather than like I might be working within the parameters of/reinforcing some asshole’s abusive understanding of the world.

whatever I just got tired and stopped making sense.

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