It’s been awhile. And yes, I’ve missed you too. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I find myself facing yet another holiday season single, passive and not so jolly. I could be on the verge of a breakdown, but I have to force myself to remember what I should be grateful for. I have my health, I have a full-time job where I get to keep my clothes on and I have the love and respect of friends who have proven their loyalty to me time and time again. So why so blue, poppit?
I guess my disappoint this season lies in the people I’ve lost: two-faced opportunistic ‘friends’, distant or deceased family members and even people I’ve met in various clubs who have passed on. The world around you can only be enriched by those you allow into it: no matter how much or how little. And sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most. The trick is how much energy you put into each of your relationships. That determines the level of damage they can inflict when they stab you in the back.
Take, let’s say, oh, how about a…strip club?
I learned fairly quickly that strip clubs probably have the highest turnover rate than any other occupation. Common sense dictates that one should probably not get too attached to any new faces right away. And definitely don’t lend them any money. Or let them stay the night on your couch. Or invite them as a +1 with your regular in the champagne room. The first few pointers are obvious, at least to me. I’ve seen a few dancers over the years get so upset after their best friend of two weeks stole all of their stuff and disappeared. They never saw it coming! But while I poke fun at obvious missteps, I have fallen prey to this last one the hard way. I have lost a regular or two to the ‘hidden ho’. Smiling, pleasant, innocent-seeming women who are just so sweet and helpful they almost make you want to puke. This very situation is why I don’t trust people who are too nice. They, more often than not, have a hidden agenda and most of the time it involves screwing you over. Myself? I’m content with being considered a bitch. Hey, you will always know where you stand with me. If I’m going to screw you over, there’s probably a good reason and therefore, I’ll be sure to forewarn you. It’s only fair. But I have felt generous on a few occasions and figured, what the hell? The more the merrier, the less work I’ll have to do, the less conversation I have to make…right?
Wrong. I had to remember that this woman has no loyalty to me – no reason in the world to care about how her ‘transaction’ would negatively affect me. And why would she? We don’t know each other, except in passing. We have no contract or bond, obligating us to respect each other’s boundaries and customers, no matter what they ask for. We weren’t business partners. So why did I invite her in?
Every once in a while, I feel this urge to, how do I say it, um, be nice. It’s infrequent and is usually after a few sexual alligators or vodka/red bulls. And then it happens. A wink, a giggle and then the look from both of them that says: we’d like to be alone, would you mind…? There’s nothing more humiliating than being kicked out of the champagne room that you arranged with a regular. Your regular. Another lesson for me: no one owns a customer. Why get so angry at someone who owes you nothing? We have no contract or bond, obligating us to respect each other’s boundaries and fellow strippers, no matter what they ask for. So why should I be angry? I didn’t have enough energy to stay mad at every individual who walked into that club and disappointed me. I’d be mad at everyone continuously all the time. And that’s no way to make money. Lucky for me, I didn’t invest too much time in developing a friendship with that dancer, so I chalked it up to being part of the business. What can you do except get over it and move on.
But what do you do when you have invested time and energy into a friendship that coalesces into a business relationship, only to be stabbed in the back? I’m going to fast forward several years, only to demonstrate that the setting – be it a strip club or a conference room – doesn’t make a bit of damn difference. I respect a person more who at least openly steps on my toes, rather than someone who calls me their friend only to bad-mouth my name to mutual acquaintances. I’d much rather be stabbed in the front than in the back. With the former I can move on rather quickly; the latter kind of knocks the breath out of me for a second.
I have made and lost ‘friends’ in Atlanta so often that I’ve lost count. And that’s pretty sad. For those who know me, I’m a pretty good person. Not perfect, but I’m honest, fun to be around and loyal. But I guess some people in my life felt that my jovial nature rendered me stupid, unable to discern between lies and reality, ill-equipped to call them on their bullshit. But I did and we are no longer. It hurts to lose a friend, but if they’re mistreating you and your relationship, what did you really lose? The ones who are closest to you have the ability to hurt you the most.
And every once in a while, you come across perfect strangers who are perfectly nice and treat you with respect, whether you’re in a suit or a lace bustier. Those are the people who still call and keep in touch with me, encouraging me after I left the industry. They’re the ones who understand that my candor is part of my personality and my charm. They’re the perfect strangers who may not become a great friend, but it’s always nice to see them out and about, to know that they’re having fun and doing what they do.
So it’s always a shock to learn of their passing. And it’s a definite reminder to appreciate all that we have today, because tomorrow is never promised. So ladies the next time you’re out at a club and someone tips you generously, be genuinely grateful that he (or she) took the time to think of you and appreciate your presence. Gentlemen, the next time you’re in the club and a lady smiles at you, gives you a few extra seconds of dancing pleasure, remember to thank her in turn. These little moments of random human kindness go a long way. I know that I remember the little moments with a few select clientele or staff members who may not have been my best friends, but they were cool people and they have since passed on. So I dedicate this entry to them and I pray that they are enjoying their lapdances in heaven.