The Tasmanian Devil, and “I Bled on Him, but He Deserved It”

Friday.

I hit up a small, local barbecue place with amazing brisket for dinner before my shift, running late…again. (How will I ever have a job that has a definite start time after dancing?) After opening my food at work, I found that they’d given me a sandwich instead of plain-ol’ solo brisket, making my $10 gluten-free meal, gluten-filled garbage. Four ounces of sweetened apples and four ounces of baked beans isn’t a solid enough dinner, and I was furious. A bleeding, raging, hungry Tasmanian Devil late for a very important rent-making shift. I grumbled at the other dancers, trying to make light of my fury. I left a nasty post on the Facebook page of the business, who commented quickly that they’d bring me the right dinner at my job if I’d tell them where I worked, and I instantly felt like the biggest asshole ever. I peddled around my growly temper tantrum and said I appreciated their offer, and declined because I work too far away and not in a “public area.” Driving 8oz of brisket 15 miles to a strip club two hours after they closed seemed a little unfair. 

“As the youngest of the Looney Tunes, the Tasmanian Devil, or ‘Taz’ as he has come to be known, is generally portrayed as a ferocious albeit dim-witted omnivore with a notoriously short temper and little patience. He will eat anything and everything, with an appetite that seems to know no bounds. He is best known for his speech consisting mostly of grunts, growls and rasps, and his ability to spin and bite through just about anything.”

The Indian Guy never showed. My hormoned-addled brain probably would have growled at him, too. My boobs were positively killing me, and…itching? A few stage sets here and there, hustling a few patrons between each set with no bites for dances. I set my brain straight and demanded that it play nice with others for the duration of my shift; I headed over to a young, graceful girl wearing a shiny new outfit, and leaned in to say to her privately, “That outfit looks great on you, girl, and you looked fucking awesome on stage just now. Seriously, you look great.” 

Because I will fucking take control of my brain, and she deserved every word I said ten times over. It was obvious she put a lot of time into curling her hair, perfecting her makeup, and the outfit really did compliment her beautiful twenty-year-old skin and shape. Early in the night, a compliment like that can put my esteem high enough to just rock the fuck out of the shift — and I hope it did for her.

After practicing a little kindness, I was ready — or, at least, more ready — to be reasonably kind and laugh at patrons’ stupid jokes and play dumb. I found a polite Patent Attorney sitting alone in my reading corner by the fish tank, and I connected easily over words and wordy things. His favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird, and his favorite word is “dividend” (har har, ugh), and we both like peanut butter. I got the usual astonished look of “oh-she-can-has-words?” when asked my own favorite words — feral, quirky, and calliope, I said — and had a moment of weakness with a single eyeroll in my quest to be kind. He didn’t notice, and I suggested we go for dances (before I got into any more eye-rolling). We headed back to the VIP room.

His hands wandered south towards the thong, and I moved them. His hands wandered, and I moved them. His hands wandered south, and I thought about how much I needed the money after a month off, and I moved them instead of backhanding him. His hands wandered south, and I switched to facing away, bent away from his grabby fingers. His hands wandered south and I pinned his hands and he tried to wiggle them away. His hands wandered south and I pinned his wrists under each of my knees. I asked whether he wanted to continue for a fifth song, and he agreed. Somewhere in the middle of trying to touch my pussy for the hundredth time, he said he just wanted to please me. I gave him the standard not-losing-my-job-because-of-illegal-prostitution-pleases-me-more-and-here-grab-my-ass-baby line. His hands continued wandering, and I stood and gave him a look of intense disappointed-in-you before continuing. He continued, and I named my price: twenty million. For twenty million dollars, we can do whatever you want; that’s enough to lose my job and wind up in jail for and not give a fuck. For twenty million, I’ll suck your dick like an elephant through a straw. For $35/song, I’m going to have to decline. His hands continued wandering south, I moved them, and leaned an elbow into the nerve bundle at the point of his shoulder. After six songs, he called it quits. I never slapped him, because I sometimes possess self-control with my fingers. Sometimes, anyway.

I stood, and before he stood, noticed a shot glass-sized ring of blood on his jeans. Fuck. I was bleeding on him and managed to go through that tampon lightning fast. He buttoned his shirt and stood, a little pony keg of a belly obscuring his view of my uterus being gifted to his front. I walked out, and he paid me, walking to the ATM for more money, in search of someone to oblige his need to stick his fingers where they don’t belong. He’d left me a $50 tip on $210 in dances. 

I cleaned up in the dressing room shower, bagged my g-string to wash, changed tampons, and munched on an individual bag of potato chips, one of the only gluten-free options of vending-machine junk, hungry. I set off to find another prospect for dances. 

I found a trio of guys that appeared to want to be the film version of Italian mobsters, and sat next to one with a shiny VIP tag. He and I chatted, and I genuinely enjoyed him. We talked of Vegas and how he’d never been to a Vegas strip club and I’d never set foot in the casinos to gamble there, and he dubbed me the Marrying Kind of Girl in only a few minutes. Sweet, he called me, and my brain had done its job of keeping my spitfire hormones in check. I don’t know that I’d call myself the Marrying Kind and “feral” is one of my favorite words for a reason; I’m just not high as fuck on cocaine with 4″ fingernails and a toddler’s vocabulary, or some kind of cartoon-version of stripper. The manager waved at Pretend Italian Mobster, and I knew then what was up. You know the manager? Great, I’m sure you’re trouble and expect to fuck any girl you want in this place. In fact, I’m sure you have fucked a few girls in this place.

He told me that he’s known one of the owners for a few decades, and that this place has been his playground for a long time. He’d called me by name and confessed to being a stalker — freaking me the fuck out, because I actually have an unknown stalker at the moment — when I’d introduced myself, and I tried to write it off as a club regular I’d never bothered to notice or talk to. It all made sense, now. He half-joked that the club has ruined him; I half-joked in return that it’s ruined me, too.

I lost track of time as he told me that he can’t find pleasure in women outside of the club, in the interactions, in the courting, in the whole thing. He’s been spoiled by us, by the glitter of it all. I confessed I’d been ruined for timeliness in jest, and waited. He was serious. I offered a little more, to an anonymous stranger, because the whole building exists solely to bare oneself to anonymous strangers. Once in a rare while, instead of being the recipient, I’m the giver of bare secrets. It’s ruined me for my expectations of the world. It’s ruined the sweet, baby-faced girl that used to think hitting and manipulating people were things only Bad People did. It’s ruined my sense of affection, my sense of meaningfulness in personal relationships, it’s rendered me quite lonely.

It’s the best job in the world, I party for a living, I love it, I love dancing, I say, every night, raising my shot of Captain or my cider beer. To making money hand over fist! To being young, and pretty, and dancing the night away! To sleeping in, and showing up whenever I feel like it, and freedom, and titties and glitter, and meeting awesome people (subtext, infer: like you)!

Pretend Italian Mobster and I didn’t do any dances, and I ran into a guy wearing a Timex IronMan, an ultrarunner and triathlete, who kept stuffing bundles of $4-6 in ones in my bra — as if my bra wasn’t already overflowing with period boobage, here’s some money. But, I like money and am always curious about ultrarunners, so I let it slide. As we talked, this lie started to form about having run a full marathon, which I occasionally tell patrons in passing who don’t have a clue that a half-marathon isn’t a friendly little lap around a track, and don’t have the understanding of the sport. The lie sort of popped out in habit, and then he asked about my time. And then he asked about where. And then he asked about the weather at the race, and the lie had to grow. And then he told me about some of his favorite races, and I steered the conversation towards the assload of half-marathons I’ve run, and failed marathon training last fall over being sick all summer. I felt like Paul Ryan, except with actual shame and no real marathon finish to be fact-checked on Athlinks. Fortunately, it’s not possible to fact-check my stage name on anything. I’m not entirely certain whether or not I can be held accountable for things that [Stage Name] does or says while she’s at work. It ended in a handful of dances and being asked to go back to his dwelling of whatever sort, declining awkwardly, and walking away.

I hung out in the dressing room, eating a second individual bag of potato chips from the vending machine, and another dancer gave me two Andes chocolate mints and an Airhead, with the nudging to keep going as she left early. I Facebooked and headed back on to the floor to push through 30 minutes of the night remaining. The last girl on stage for the night, I did well in tips, regardless of my screaming quads and pissed off hamstrings and shitty, compensating dancing.

After finale, I “wannadanced” four or five men on the floor, aiming to get a dance or two before the doors officially closed for the night. A Mystery Man stood awkwardly, as though he was waiting for a friend, outside of the private dance room, and I decided to give it one last try before ponying up my dance fees for the night. He agreed, and the dances were spent with his hands under his thighs — an obvious out-of-towner — and I think the only thing he said to me (sober!) was that he loved his shirt, and wasn’t his shirt soft, and he’d like to wear his shirt all the time. I agreed: his shirt was, in fact, very soft. After $75 in dances right up until the lights came on, he left me with $125 in the club’s version of Funny Money, barely saying a word. I wondered why he’d waited all night to spend it.

After work, I had to grab groceries. I needed quick fuel, and clearly needed to stock my dance bag with gluten-free snacks that were slightly better than potato chips. I counted my haul for the night, and hadn’t done too badly. Enough to warrant a few groceries, some savings, gas, and about half my rent. I gathered up the usual veggies and picked dried mangoes, raisins, and Good Greens bars to add to my always-overflowing supply of work items. I made it to check out, and my favorite cashier was working the graveyard shift. Tony is a pudgy, short little man in his seventies who’s always stocking groceries in freshly-pressed slacks with a nice tie, and it’s always great to see him. His scale didn’t work, he was flustered, and he slipped my entire stash of veggies into a bag, declaring it my lucky day. What a weird, weird food day — first getting screwed out of my dinner, and then getting an equal value in free asparagus, apples, and onions.

I didn’t get to bed until late, and the orange glow over fields and fields of snow rocked me to sleep. Before I closed my eyes, all I could think was, look at this fucking beautiful morning. Look at it. This fucking beautiful morning, man. How extraordinary.

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~ by The Stiletto-Shod One on March 2, 2013.

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