When I’m ready, hair tamed, nipples covered, eyelashes glued firmly in place, I still have a few minutes before I have to go on stage. There’s no point in selling a dance if I’ll just have to go on stage, so I turn to Ishmael.
The gorilla is talking about stories that we enact. I’ve called it premises and I’ve called it context(a la Charles de Lint), but I like this way of saying it better. It makes it more active, and it is active even if it’s also unconscious.
When Princess bursts into the dressing room, throwing her cash on the table and announcing, “eight fucking dollars!” it’s my turn.
As soon as I step out of the dressing room Mike starts yelling my name. He is leaning forward from his bar stool, waving, and I worry that he might fall.
“I have to go on stage, honey,” I yell to him as I flip through Hat-Ma’s CDs (I swear, I couldn’t function in the mid west without her).
Mike works at the car wash and he comes to see me every day when he gets off work. His tips for the day determine how many lapdances he can get. Usually it’s two, but he tells me that if I came in the summer I would get rich off of him. Once he washed two hundred and sixteen cars in one days and made over two fifty in tips. Think of all the lapdances! Mike does this every day because his only friend, the only one who will talk to him, told him that the strip club was the place to look for a girl who would really love him for who he is. I’ve tried to explain the limits of the stripper/client relationship to him, and he accepts it instantly every time, always saying: “I’ll be back tomorrow after work.”
Frankenstein approaches as I step on stage. I’m serious, he looks like Frankenstein, and he’s coming at me with his wallet. I dance over to him and hold out my garter. “You’re a good girl,” he says, crooning the way I do when I talk to overexcited puppies, “a very good girl.”
“Thanks,” I say. “That’s what I’ve always aspired to.”
He is still shoving dollars in my garter, my thong, and my top. He doesn’t miss a beat. “You have very sexy eyelashes. I like your eyelashes. Has anyone ever told you you have a great rack? Yes, you’re a goood girl.”
I twirl around a couple times and stop in front of the next guy, which of course is Mike. He grasps his dollar like it’s a ticket to heaven. “How are you?” he asks. “I like friends. I think it’s good to have friends. Would you consider me a friend?”
I giggle and jiggle and tell him that I enjoy dancing for him.
Another twirl and it’s the sweet old guy who’s been coming to see me and Hat-Ma for the last two towns. His wife of twenty seven years just told him that she’s just had the best eighteen months of her life fucking another man. He slips me a five and tells me that he’s already ordered drinks for Hat-ma and I, but we should make what money there is to be made before feeling obligated to his table.
Eventually I twirl my way back into the dressing room and pick up Ishmael for a quick minute. The story as a metaphor for the teachings is just amazing. I wish I had written a book like this. The Bible part blows my mind. I had never thought of it in the terms Ishmael puts it in, and I’m at least a little tempted to run out and get a Bible.
My first couple dances are for Mike, of course. It’s been a great day at the car wash.
A few conversations later my next dance is for Clem, my one half way normal customer in this town. In this environment, his lack of mental illness and tragedy inspires someÂ crazy attractionÂ in me. I use it to build some super charged chemistry while he blushes and gasps underneath me. His wallet’s running dry, though. Oil fields have had him on standby for too long.
I catch up with the sweet older guy just as the ice is melting in my drink. He rubs my feet and tells me how amazing it is to be in the presence of young beautiful women who talk to him. Finally I excuse myself and leave him to get dances from Hat-Ma.
I look around the bar. As they say in Alaska, the odds are good, but the goods are odd. I retreat to Ishmael. I don’t like the narrator. I want to smack him and yell at him for not always knowing this stuff, but then if he knew it I wouldn’t get to hear it re-articulated so wonderfully.
Just a couple minutes later I’m on stage again. It’s exactly the same, but all the players have changed and it’s completely different.