Pee Wee Herman
“When I first started dancing…” the girl began. “I worked at this nude club where the men would sit around the stage and you had to walk around after you danced and talk to each one. There was an area where you would walk around naked, collecting tips…”
She ran her hand through her hair, pushing her dark curls back and off her face. “Well”, she said, telling the story with her whole body. “When I was a little girl I LOVED Pee Wee Herman. I had the doll and everything!” Her face lit up as she spoke. “It was my brother’s so by time it got handed down to me it had pen marks on its face and it was old but I didn’t care. I still loved it…”
She took a sip of her drink and continued. “When I was working at that club, I was on stage one night and I couldn’t believe my eyes! There, right by the stage was Pee Wee Herman! I got so excited that I rushed off stage and ran over to him. There was a girl on his lap but I couldn’t wait to meet him! I said, ‘PEE WEE HERMAN! OHMYGOD, IT’S YOU!!!’ He looked at me like I was crazy.” Her expression changed and she looked away for a moment.
“So… what happened?” I asked.
“I swear, I thought I was looking at my childhood idol” she said. “I would rather meet Pee Wee Herman than Beyoncé!” She paused before exclaiming, “Nobody looks THAT much like Pee Wee Herman unless he really is Pee Wee Herman! And if you do look THAT much like Pee Wee Herman and you’re not him then you shouldn’t be surprised when people think you’re him!!!”
“Well what did he say? What happened?”
“Brittney…” she started. “I was so embarrassed… He was yelling so much, I don’t know what he said exactly but he was mad… He was sooo mad! I can’t believe it wasn’t really him! I can’t believe it!” She took another sip of her drink and smiled bashfully. “Oh well.”
The Head Squeezer
I was walking the floor in search of a willing couch dance or VIP customer. The Saturday night spending had dipped to a lull and I was left with only a few possible patrons to prey on. I chose a man on the younger side of thirty. He was immediately interested in doing a VIP room but didn’t want to go right away. He didn’t have a reason not to but I could tell it had to be his idea.
He held me tight with his right arm hooked around my waist. “Sit on my lap for a while” he said. He tried to make it work but it felt awkward and forced to me so I got up and put my arm around his shoulders, waiting for him to decide to go for a dance.
“Ok, let’s go” He finally said, after a few minutes.
He handed me his beer to hold while he paid, thanking me and courteously paying the host for the room.
On the way to the private room, he gave me a little smack on the butt cheek and said, “Gimme back my beer, dammit”.
“So, you’re that kind of guy” I said, with a smile and a wink,”
“No, I’m just playing with ya” he replied in a teasing kind of tone.
You see, I had already built a profile of him in my mind based on the way he treated me and his mannerisms with me at the bar. I had surmised that he wasn’t really rude or disrespectful but that he was surely the dominant type. I waited for him to tell me what I already knew but he didn’t.
Once we were in the room, I discovered that his pants were wet. Either he’d spilled his beer or he was already very excited to be here with me. Mystery fluids are the grossest part of this job and probably any other.
I danced in his lap, carefully avoiding the wet area. Things seemed to be going fine except something was different. My slow, sexy dance moves weren’t quite entertaining enough for him. He felt the need to hold me tight in in his arms. Then, in a swift motion, he tossed me over to the side of him. He then moved closer and kind of towered over me, except we were sitting. He ran his hands along my hips then pressed his thumb into the spot right above my hip bone. It tickled and I said, “no!” squirming out of his grip.
I expected him to realize after the first time that I don’t appreciate being tickled during a lap dance. But no. He did it again. “Stop tickling me or I’m leaving!” I yelled. He apologized and playfully pulled me back onto his lap. Holding my back, he plunged me forward so my head nearly touched the ground. I screamed.
While all this was going on, the young man kept saying things like, “You like it, you like it, I know you do.” I don’t know how he missed the signs that I, in fact, did not like any of it. When he grabbed a handful of my hair from the top of my head and pulled it, I corrected him. “Yeah, I would like it except you’re doing it wrong.” He asked how he’s supposed to do it and I explained that you have to be sensual about it. You run your hand up the back of a girl’s neck, tousle her hair with your fingertips and then tug on a handful of hair at the base of her skull. I’m sure there are variations from woman to woman. But it should always be a sensual touch that starts out soft and slow and turns aggressive only with gradual build up from the beginning.
I thought he might slow down and practice the move I’d just explained. I thought it only common sense to do so. But no. He wrapped his arms around my head and squeezed. I have no clue why. I didn’t feel I was in any real danger but as I felt the pressure of his arms squeezing my cranium, I wondered WTF? Why ever would anyone do this?
On the way out, he reached out and I instinctually jumped back a bit. “Oh, I see how it is. Our dance is over so we’re done.”
“It’s not that…”, I said. Awkwardly, I failed to come up with a reasonable explanation. Instead I just said, “Um, thanks for the dance…” I couldn’t remember his name. “It was fun. See you out there.”
While I didn’t even try to remember his name, I carefully took note of his face in hopes that I would recognize him should he stop in at a future time. I wouldn’t want to end up with the head squeezer again.
On the way out, I didn’t bother to walk back to the bar with him. I made a beeline to the dressing room while wondering why anyone in their right mind would think head squeezing was a turn-on. I imagine this might be the reason he’s single.
Mom, What’s a Strip Club?
“What’s a strip club?” My son asked. My heart jumped into my throat and I nearly choked on my tongue.
This is how it started.
I’ll be honest. I have a collection of Barbie dolls in my closet. It’s the second coolest thing in my closet next to my awesome Lego collectibles. (I know it’s weird but I enjoy keeping a small collection toys.) In a house full of boy things, it’s nice to have something feminine and playful to remind me of my childhood. I keep them in a pink bag with a smaller bag inside that holds all of the extra, interchangeable outfits and shoes. They help me relax when I get sick and tired of adulting. My littlest son calls them “Mommy’s Barbies”.
I walked away momentarily to get something from the other room while he played on the floor with his monster trucks. When I came back, my Barbies had been dumped along with all of their clothes and shoes.
“I guess you decided to play with Mommy’s Barbies?”
He silently continued spreading the contents of the bag all over the space in front of him.
“What happened? How did Barbie’s clothes get dumped all over the floor?”
Before he could answer, his older brother belted out loudly from the other room, “BECAUSE IT’S A STRIP CLUB!”
“What?!” I asked. He wouldn’t repeat it. “Do you even know what that is?”
“I think” he said, with his head down.
“No. I’m not sure. What is a strip club?”. He was asking me this time.
I didn’t know what to say to him. It is my policy as a parent to be truthful with my sons whenever possible. I wanted to be honest but careful.
I quickly texted some friends. “What should I tell him?”
I got an immediate response from one of them. “Tell him that’s where Mommy goes to make lots of money so you guys can go on cool vacations.” I started laughing my ass off. His suggestion was comic relief for me in a tough situation but I knew that I had to carefully consider the question and how to answer it.
I’m not ashamed of what I do for a living. While I do have to keep it a secret when it comes to my sons’ peers and their families, certain family members of ours, and our kids’ teachers, I don’t have a problem with people knowing. I give full disclosure to babysitters and people in my own social circle. Explaining is fairly easy because I’m not ashamed of it and I don’t really care what they think of me after knowing. Telling my kid is going to be different though.
The first problem is, most adults that I share my secret with have a general knowledge of what a strip club is what a stripper does. Some people have stereotypical images in their heads or ideas they’ve gotten from movies and books. Either way, wrong or right, they’ve at least got some concept of what my job title means.
A kid, however, has no idea.
When I was a kid, my sisters and I used to spend a lot of time at our Grandparents’ house. Our cousins were often there too. About ten minutes from the house was big, brick building with no windows. It always had signs all over it advertising “GIRLS” and an “ADULT STORE”. We saw it all the time as we passed by it on the way. I don’t know at what age it occurred to me what it actually was. I just remember, way back, just being aware that that’s where strippers were and that they worked in this dark building and didn’t wear clothes while they were there. It wasn’t something we were particularly curious about. It was more of a general knowledge that we didn’t question.
“Ray told me that he plays a game called Grand Theft Auto where you steal cars and you can go to the strip club in the game” my son said.
“Oh, he did? Does Ray know what a strip club is?” I asked.
“I don’t know. He didn’t say. But I think I know what it is.”
“Go ahead. Tell me.”
“No. YOU tell me, then I’ll tell you if I was right or not”. He likes playing these games with me sometimes.
“That’s not how it works” I informed him.
“Why can’t you just tell me? I want to know.”
“I’ll tell you tomorrow.” I figured a cop-out was the safest option.
“Show him Burlesque videos” my friend advised me. “It will satisfy his curiosity and help him understand the basic concept of it.”
It sounded like a great plan. I searched some videos on YouTube and kept them ready for the next time he would ask.
I remember, a few years ago, he saw a small avalanche of crumpled up ones fall out of my purse. He was probably seven or eight. “Mommy! What happened to that money!?” he exclaimed.
“Don’t worry about it. It’s ok”.
“Who did that to the money!?” he demanded, worried.
“Um…It’s a game that people at my job play…” I thought fast. “It’s not nice to do that to money and it’s not fun fixing it up after it’s like that but some people think it’s a really fun game and they crumple the money and throw it for fun.”
“Oh” he said. “Is it bad?”
“It’s not really bad but it’s not really good either. It’s just something people like to do when they go to the kind of bar I work at.”
“Oh. You didn’t crumple the money though, did you?”
“No. I didn’t.”
He went back to playing with his toys and didn’t bring it up again.
He was eight then. I knew I wouldn’t get out of it quite so easily this time. I spent days racking my brain to try to come up with a developmentally appropriate explanation, something honest but not too revealing to a point where it could be damaging.
Finally, I decided to just show him some burlesque clips on YouTube and start talking without a script. So often, in Motherhood, I have been in a place where my child asks me a question that I really don’t know how to answer. I’m never prepared enough when thee moments arise. Yet, somehow, from somewhere deep within, I find the right words to answer the tough questions.
I pulled up a clip of one of the scenes from the Burlesque movie where Christina Aguilera and her scantily clad co-stars are giving a saucy performance on stage. His brother had been away with his Grandparents and it was just the two of us. He’d been showing me video clips of this online gamer who has a website devoted to sharing his gaming experiences and offering tips and tricks to others. It had been a few days since my son had asked me the question so I felt he was overdue for answer.
“This is it?” he asked me when he saw the clip I’d pulled up.
“Sort of” I answered. Not exactly but it’s the same idea.”
“They just dance”.
“Oh. Can I go back to the videos I was watching?” he asked.
“I was going to show you another one”.
“It’s ok. I want to watch something else.”
I couldn’t believe it. I was off the hook. “You asked me a question that I told you I would answer.”
“I just want to go back to what I was doing” he said. He pulled up some flashy, yellow, childish website.
“You really don’t want to hear about it?”
“Nope.” My son happily turned his attention back to the screen. I breathed a sigh of relief and smiled to myself. Whew!