Yeah, that’s right, I’m skipping #5 and 6. You all want me to, anyway. You want to know the story about the girl who said she would never, ever, ever set foot in a strip club, but did. Some of you who will read this are my clients, my peers, potentially my boss, my business associates, my family. In fact, many of you are one of those things. People who I respect and would NEVER normally tell this story to. But I did this as one of my 30 Things, so writing about it is as much of an accomplishment as doing it. I sincerely fear that I will lose all respect from you when you read this. But please, remember who I am and give me the benefit of the doubt. Here’s to 30 Things.
I wasn’t exactly the slimmest kid growing up. Rolly polly. Substantial. Big boned. Call it what you will, but I was far from the lean, athletic build of my girlfriends. So far from it, in fact, that my classmates managed to come up with a nickname for what my parents thought was my non-nicknamable name. Cowlette (do you get the irony of Wee C now?!). Go ahead, laugh. Really, you’ll enjoy it. I kind of do myself at this point. But, at 13, it wasn’t exactly the name I wanted boys to call me. Especially not the boys I was having imaginary flirt sessions with in my mirror before I went to school in the morning. Boy, I had some great conversations. In the mirror, they always loved me.
Fortunately, when I turned 15, I took a growth spurt and Cowlette found her rightful home in the history pages of my story. But don’t think a kid forgets that. What’s that saying – forgive and forget. I had neither forgiven nor forgotten. So when I turned 17 and started dating my first boyfriend, some of that baggage was still around. Ok, a lot of it. And, yes, I was 17 with baggage. What? I was in tune with myself, I make no apologizes for that.
Let’s call him JR. He was my first love. So the night I sat in my car outside of his prep school dorm room waiting for him to come out after the study hours and I caught a glimpse of THAT poster, I immediately put my hands on my waist hoping, wishing that I had magically become taut in the last 5 minutes. But, alas, the rolls were still there. From where I sat, I could clearly see Jenny McCarthy and her hourglass figure (complete with perky, balloon-like boobs). The teasing, the mocking, the boys who pretended to walk like a bovine, all came flooding back. From where I sat, she was everything to my boyfriend that I wasn’t. From that moment on, I hated naked women. Specifically, I hated hot naked women. Hence my early dislike for strippers.
I hated them at my core. I’m sure my argument at the time was that it was demoralizing to women, but the reality was that I was jealous and insecure. I couldn’t handle the way they looked. My need for personal perfection didn’t allow for that. They were perfect in ways that I wasn’t. That’s really all it was. In my competitive mind, they won and I lost. I would have none of that, and neither would the boys I loved.
When hubby and I got married, I quickly drew the line in the sand: have a stripper at your bachelor party and this ring goes back and you become a bachelor all over again. Truthfully, I don’t know why he didn’t walk away just for that comment. But he permitted my bad, immature, self-loathing rants, agreeing to leave his bachelor party if the boys called in the “it’s too hot for clothes” strippers. Yes, my soon-to-be husband would shut his own friends down, leave his bachelor party and come running home to my insecure cow-like ass if those no-respect-for-themselves whores showed up. And yes, I’m naive enough to believe that.
All in all, for as much as I hated strippers, nudie girls posing in posters or in porn, they consumed a lot of my thoughts and were the source of many conversations with assorted beaus over the years. This one was a huge boulder on my way to enlightenment and I knew dealing with it had to be a 30 Thing or I wouldn’t do justice to the challenge at hand.
So one Friday night with the girls, Sassy J, Big L and I decide we were going to have a girls’ night in at Sassy J’s. After some wine for me, a mojitos or two for Sassy J and a handful of rum and Cokes for Big L, we were in the mood to misbehave. One of us, with enough seriousness in their voice to be taken seriously, suggests Ralph’s…the nudie bar. Within two seconds, the cab had been called, the lipstick applied and the last drink taken. We were off to the dirtiest place in the HRM – Sassy J in her cozy sweater, argyle socks and sneaks, me in my modest long sleeved t-shirt (hey, at least it wasn’t a crisp white blouse) and Big L in her tank top and flip flops. “To Ralph’s,” we tell the cabbie. He does a double check in the mirror to confirm that, yes, there are just girls in his back seat. The cab pulls away and we are WAY too giddy. Like a girl who just bought her dream prom dress.
The cab pulls up and out we get…all with a little more swagger than normal. We pay our six dollar cover charge, walk past the dodgy-eyed bouncer (no, really, he had one dodgy eye) and walk into a big, empty bar. Grand total: 20 people. Nothing like shining a spot light on the three ladies at the door: “Good evening, patrons. Tonight’s entertainment has arrived. Watch as they walk in, order a drink, fumble for their money, and find a seat at the back of the room. No, really, watch every.move.they.make.”
My plan: sit at the back, slouch, and hope we go unnoticed. But there was the problem. The nice young ladies (and to be fair, they were far more attractive than I anticipated) were up there providing us with entertainment and no one…not a soul…was throwing money at them. Well, Big L, needed to right this wrong. She attempted to lecture a couple youngins’ who were at a table near us, but they were having no part of throwing their drinking money away. The show was free as far as they were concerned. You can imagine Big L’s unhappiness with this. So, she marched back to our table, pulled our her $30 and had the bar tender change the bills into fives. Then, she waited until the next stripper was performing sufficiently well and she strutted her little apple bum right up to perve row. She proceeded to say thank you for the entertainment and right the wrongs of the cheap men in the crowd. And Sassy J? Well her and her argyle socks got propositioned. She politely declined.
We closed the place out. And honestly, it was one of the best nights I’ve ever had. Not because of the strippers – they were simply a metaphor for a significant mental barrier I had placed in front of myself long ago. The night was so memorable because it was totally spontaneous (something which I am not), it wasn’t 100% good (something which I usually am), and I tackled one of my biggest personal obstacles that night. Truthfully, that night defined what 30 Things is all about. 30 Things evolved from a desperate attempt to recapture my 20s to a vehicle to tackle the types of personal challenges and hang ups we all deal with. Something changed for me that night and there’s been no looking back. Not that I would want to…I know what’s back there and it doesn’t look as good as what I saw on stage that night.
PS – for all you boys who are wondering, no one got a lap dance. Sorry to disappoint.