Iâ€™m writing this from a strip club dressing room, where I sit cross legged in a plastic lawn chair, wearing a black pleather corseted naughty nurse dress with red accents, a gaudy rhinestone necklace, thigh high black fishnets, and a pair of flip flops. There are no customers, and has only been one so far.
I spent the last few hours in the office with the owner, trying to set up his router so I could be on the internet. If there were wifi here, Iâ€™d told him, I wouldnâ€™t mind hanging out for free when there were no customers. I could be getting my internet fix. Alas, the internet problem was beyond me (I really think itâ€™s his ISP only letting him have one IP at a time), and instead we spent a couple hours talking about the stock market. Over the years Iâ€™ve heard from more than a couple people about his amazing stock predicting method, and he finally showed it to me. It has to do with black lines, blue lines, red lines, yellow lines, and when they cross, uncross, spread, and come back together. I took a few notes, and I get the general gist of it, but the details mostly went in one ear and out the other. Fortunately, I also jotted down the URL for the rough draft of his book about it. I love this guy. He canâ€™t spell to save his life, he never made it past the seventh grade, and he used to own every single hotel in this town, plus the strip joint.
At one point he was trying to explain the concept of an index fund to me. Like, you know, because you couldnâ€™t afford to buy the whole market, so they make this stock and itâ€™s, like, a little bit of all the stocks so it represents the whole thing.
â€œYeah,â€ I said. â€œItâ€™s an index fund.â€
He squinted. â€œYouâ€™re kinda intellectual, are ya?â€
â€œNo.â€ I giggled. â€œIâ€™m just a stripper.â€ This is my response to being called anything: smart, a writer, an herbalist, a poet, whatever. There was a time when I pursued those labels, thinking they qualified me for some kind of respect. Then I found out that they really just qualified me for a lot of â€œshouldsâ€ and the imposition of other peopleâ€™s expectations. So now when people call me anything like that I respond that Iâ€™m just a stripper. People donâ€™t expect anything important from a stripper, and strippers are allowed to say no all the time. Cause weâ€™re crazy unreliable bitches like that.
He shook his head. â€œYeah, just another stupid stripper, eh?â€
Earlier today I went a thrift store, with the full expectation of walking out with a nice foofy down comforter. I felt a little ridiculous, because why would there be a nice down comforter at the thrift store? If it were there, someone would have bought it. But I knew that I would find one, so I went anyway.
Walking in, I took note of the crowded parking lot and the fifty percent off everything sign. Fuck, it would definitely be gone. I walked in and went straight back to the blanket wall. Synthetic sleeping bags and cheap polyester throws abounded. But then I saw something white and fluffy. Could it be? I grabbed the bag and pulled it out from behind the other ones. Yep, it sure was a Pacific Coast down comforter. Well, not a comforter exactly because itâ€™s actually one of those things meant to be laid on top of. But itâ€™s the perfect size for lying under on my bed, if I donâ€™t spread out too much.
It was fifty percent off of fifty dollars. It smelled bad. I called my mom for down comforter washing advice, but she didnâ€™t answer, so I sent an email to the van dwellers (wisest people on earth, Iâ€™m telling you). Right away a guy responded back to tell me that one should never wash down and always have it dry cleaned. Luckily, I ignore men who lecture (women almost never do this, but when they do I ignore them too). Then my mom called back and told me how to wash a down comforter: you use Ivory Soap Flakes, which do not take the oil out of the feathers, and when you put it in the dryer you throw in a shoe (but not the ones she gave me) or tennis ball to keep it fluffy. Awesome. I went to every store in town to find the prescribed soap, and then settled in at the Laundromat to wash them.
I love Laundromats in Alaska. Theyâ€™re like little community centers, where whole familyâ€™s make it a point of going on the same day every week so that their freshly showered kids can play together under the tables or in the toy pit while they catch up on whoâ€™s selling what dogs and whether the road to so and soâ€™s place is still drivable. Thereâ€™s also wifi, so I got on the internet and there was an email from a smart woman advising me to do exactly what my mother said.
Last night we had more customers. Four, altogether, but I still left with $300.
Ronnie was here, and I hadnâ€™t seen him in ages. After helloâ€™s he had a question for me. The last time he was here someone told him I was in this little ocean town, and the time before they said I was in the big city, and now Iâ€™m here again. So where do I actually live?
I was tempted to say something corny, but I decided to be honest. â€œI live in a van. I just live wherever I am.â€
He looked at me sitting there beside him in a rhinestone encrusted gown and laughed. â€œYeahâ€¦ good one. But really, where do you live? I promise Iâ€™m not being creepy, just tell me what town you have an apartment or whatever in.â€
â€œIâ€™m serious, I live in a van,â€ I told him.
He never did believe me.
A little later he pointed at Xena, who was sitting on the other side of the bar in her street clothes, coloring in one of those velvet color by number things. â€œWhatâ€™s up with her? She comes to a strip club to color?â€
â€œOh, she lives here.â€ I told him. â€œYou know, itâ€™s your local Strip Club and Home for Wayward Girls.â€
I was serious, she does live here on the couch in front of the fireplaces, and you canâ€™t even get a locker in the dressing room anymore because sheâ€™s got all her stuff in them.
He laughed again, because he didnâ€™t believe a word I said.