Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I'm a 24-Year-Old Drone

I've gone to strip clubs because my life lacks intimacy.

There we go. Might as well just come out with it. Nobody talks to me, nobody cares what I say. I'm a 24-year-old drone who wastes his days sitting at a computer reviewing spreadsheets that don't really matter. Oh, I'm told to believe that they matter, sure. But they don't.

I get there at 8am. I leave at 6pm, and often times I find myself sitting in the parking lot wondering just where the hell to go. My family's far away, I have no friends to speak of; nothing awaits me at my apartment except Netflix and a couple of cold beers. Despite the overall pointlessness of my life, though, I do feel the basic human need to talk to someone. Not even necessarily to vent about how much I hate where I've ended up (especially compared to my childhood dreams of being an astronaut), but just to have someone who listens. Perhaps that's why I'm writing this e-mail, even.

I know the girls at the strip club don't truly listen, don't truly care. I know why they're nice to me, and they know I know it. But they pretend. Most of them pretend to care pretty damn well. When I think about it, that's enough to satisfy that basic human need. I'm sure they're not interested in hearing about my day, or my troubles, or my general dissatisfaction with the state of things, but they'll smile at me, giggle at my not-at-all-funny jokes, and give me some artificial sense of being cared for.

I'm probably the least common denominator; I bet most men go to strip clubs to look at asses, but I don't really talk to the men that much at these clubs. That's one thing I also find interesting about the strip-club scene. It's not at all like the bar scene. At the bar, you talk to the guy next to you; if he's a good guy, you buy him a drink. If he's not, you talk to the other guy. Rinse and repeat till you find someone who deserves a drink. At the strip club, it's not like that. If you didn't come in with a friend, you're not talking to anyone except the bartender and the dancers. It's not a social engagement, it's a spectacle.

I don't even really watch the girls when they're dancing. Sure, I'll tune in when they're pulling off something magnificently acrobatic or abnormally impressive, but most of the time I'm either watching whatever sporting event is being broadcast or pretending to care about whatever impending doom is being vehemently discussed on the news. It's when the girls come around to talk to you that gets me.

They almost always begin by asking why I'm all alone, or why I look "sad". I see what they're doing here; it's all part of their pitch. It's the used car salesman telling you that you look like a busy person who couldn't help but pull into their lot because you were so enticed by their spectacular deals. They know you came for a reason. Everyone's sad. Especially men at strip clubs. The patrons know it. The strippers know it. The guy out on the highway who couldn't afford the cover charge knows it. When you're a stripper, this knowledge of the target market can yield great profits. Appeal personally to the customer's emotions and you're sure to receive great return.

After feeding them whatever lie I come up with about how my friends are busy, or at a birthday party, or otherwise indisposed (to avoid the appearance of being friendless, of course. Who wants the 80%-naked lady to think they're a loser?) they either move on to the next customer or stay a while and talk. The reason I go to places like this is for those moments when they stay and talk. That's all I wanted. They don't have to be naked. They could be wearing a suit of armor for all I care; I just want to talk to someone who cares, and $1 every 3 minutes is a lot less than $250 an hour for a therapist.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I have some awful mental aberration that needs fixing from professional help. I just want to talk to someone. I'm fully aware that these dancing girls do not give half a care about my life or my situation, but they pretend. And they pretend very, very well. It's their job to pretend. That's why they all have fake names.

Strippers provide inauthentic care and concern in an authentic enough manner to satisfy my need to talk to someone, at a reasonable price.