Getting back to Tampa was a relief – I’d never been happier to be back in familiar territory. No worries about getting back and forth to work, where to eat, permits or a runty little man smoking weed in my bathroom. Of course, it was a bit mundane at first: the girls at work weren’t as exciting to watch as the ones in Vegas. Everyone looked tired and haggard. The bitterness rolled off of them in waves, washing over me. Where was the shine? The glamour? The men in suits anxious to throw money at me? And I had to take my panties off? It’s unreal how much harder I had to work to make the same amount of money…
I felt the urge to diversify once again. I wasn’t getting too many shifts at the Cherokee lesbo bar, so I decided to try another new one that opened up…The Rainbow Room. How fitting, right? The owner was beyond butch, mullet and all, but a sweetheart and excited to have me aboard. It was a small bar, barely enough room for a pool table, but the coziness made one feel instantly at home and I was excited to get started. Another bonus? We didn’t/couldn’t serve liquor, just beer. When I say brand-spanking new bar, I mean brand new. No liquor license yet. So I didn’t have to worry about those pesky drink recipes. Yet.
It felt great to break up the monotony again. The neon lights of Vegas were a distant memory, replaced by rainbows and family. I was only there a couple of nights a week and because it was so new, there wasn’t much money to be made but I didn’t care. I was having fun and making new friends. Gay ones. No one to date necessarily, but it felt so reaffirming to be around other women who adore and appreciate women. I can’t say that enough, can you tell?
One Sunday evening, I stayed behind after my shift, drinking and enjoying the great conversation. Got a bit tipsy…looking back I think what happen next was a good thing because the alternative might have been me getting pulled over. No bueno. I head out because I wanted to get to the strip club to sell off a bunch of goodies I knew I wouldn’t be wearing any time soon. When I say goodies, I mean over a thousand dollars worth of merchandise, easy. Stilettos, gowns, costumes…I had so much stuff left from my many purchases as a buyer back in Gainesville – it was just taking up space in my closet at this point. So I had tons of stuff: tagged, bagged and ready to sell. Once I got out to my car, I thought I was dreaming, drunk or delirious. My trunk was open. Did I take the stuff inside? It didn’t register until I walked around my car and caught sight of my trunk: empty. Holy shite. You gotta be kidding me.
More damage. My driver’s side window had been busted out and the door stood ajar. I stared in silent disbelief. This wasn’t happening. I ran inside, where the waterworks started. The one night I stay behind. The one night I finally organized my stuff to sell and make a bit of change. The one night I was having a good time.
By the time the police arrived, I was a sodden mess of nerves. Everyone tried to cheer me up, to no avail. Not only had they stolen everything out of my trunk, including my emergency road kit, but they also rummaged through my glove compartment – they knew my address. I was instantly paranoid. The officer wasn’t much help. He barely brushed for prints, all the while telling me that the chances of recovering my property were slim to none. My best bet would be to start checking around the thrift shops to see if any of my stuff turned up. Wait, isn’t that your job? I was pissed. He was absolutely no help and in my drunken state, I just couldn’t wrap my head around why he wasn’t running down the street chasing after someone…anyone. And what the hell was I supposed to do with this busted window? What if it rained? Having a team of butch lesbians around didn’t help my disposition, either. They hated seeing a woman cry, so every consoling word only fueled my whiny, hiccuping demeanor. Sure, I’d been robbed and left feeling immensely vulnerable, but where were my big girl panties and when was I going to put them on?
After the report was filed, the officer gone, nearby dumpsters searched, tears dried, broken window taped up with a garbage bag, I finally drove my broken, sobbing butt home. I discovered that with good insurance, a broken window is really not much to sneeze at. It was done in no time. I was out quite a bit of money thanks to persons unknown, but it could have been much worse. Another patron whose car was next to mine had money stolen out of her center console. So, yeah. It could’ve been worse. At least that’s what I kept telling myself. But for anyone who knows me, there are two things I can’t stand: liars and thieves. I went on the hunt for my missing stuff. It was short-lived, however. Who knew there were so many thrift stores and consignment shops that carried stripper gear? And how in the world would I prove it was mine, let alone get someone to I.D. the person who brought it in. I chalked it up to lesson learned. I could only hope that somewhere, my stuff would give a struggling, bright-eyed, novice stripper the courage to step foot out on stage in front of a huge, expectant crowd – trip, fall, twist an ankle and bust her thieving, no-good ass.