Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I Was 15

I was fifteen when I saw my first naked woman in the flesh.  It occurred at a strip club in [redacted] ON. called the [redacted].  I didn’t actually enter the club, of course, being underage at the time.  Instead, I approached it from behind.  The bar was attached to a motel and a lot of the dancers, if they were from out of town, stayed there. The windows in the bathrooms were usually kept open an inch or two in the summer, and if you were lucky you could catch a glimpse of a dancer rinsing off before or after her set.  That’s what I did. I peered through that 1 or 2 inch crack and spied on the dancers showering.  I’m not proud of my behavior, but there you have it.  It can’t be taken back.  Judgmental types will be happy to know I’ve had worse done to me in my life.

I didn’t enter a strip club through the front door until I was a nineteen-year-old student living in [redacted].  It was a big deal for me the first time I went because I was in a new city where I didn’t know anybody and I was lonely.  I thought so many naked women in one place would cheer me up. All I remember of the night now is that I got a bit drunk, became very maudlin and fell in love with a 22 year old Sophie B. Hawkins look-alike who finished each set by disrobing to “Damn, I wish I was Your Lover.” To this day, I’m still moved by that song.

I went to the club about twice a week, usually with my roommate, [redacted].  He was a good-looking catalogue model and very free with his money.  The strippers loved him.  They’d sit on his knee, run their hands through his hair and say things like, “Oh, [redacted], you’ve got such beautiful eyes.”  All while they were emptying his wallet.  It was amusing to watch but after a while it just made me depressed.  Strippers will talk to you but every conversation leads to… So do you want a dance?  Pretty soon you realize that they aren’t even listening; they’re just looking for an opening to ask their question.

One night [redacted] bought me a dance.  To my surprise, I hated the experience.  It wasn’t at all what I expected.  Often you will hear about strippers experiencing a sense of power when they strip; often you will dismiss this as a load of horseshit – you will always be wrong when you do so.  Really, there is nothing more uncomfortable, nothing more emasculating than to be sitting fully clothed in a bar while a naked woman undulates in your lap. You can’t do anything.  You can’t touch her and you can’t kiss her. If she gives you a hard-on, she has you right where she wants you. 

And mentally there was so much I couldn’t get my head around.  My big-hearted roommate bought me a dance to watch me get turned on.  I had watched him get turned on numerous times. I got turned on watching him get turned on. Fuck, the whole bar was full of rugged, hockey-loving, macho men from Northern Ontario, all of them watching one another get turned on by women.  Is it weird that I find this weird? I’ve tried my entire life to get comfortable with these sorts of situations and I’m still not there.

I live in Toronto now.  I love the city, but it isn’t the type of place where I could visit strip clubs regularly.  It’s cold here.  The women won’t even make conversation with you, won’t even pretend to be interested in what you have to say.  It’s all hustle, hustle, hustle and move on.  Some of the women, if they are older, harder, more desperate, can be very persuasive.  They might grab you by the balls and remind you that the menu in the V.I.P. area is much more open than the menu downstairs.  You’re best just to drink your beer and leave.  But….

It isn’t all bad.  I remember once, years ago, in a place long since closed, I had a memorable experience.  It was a second floor club on [redacted] Street called [redacted], or possibly [redacted], I can’t remember.  It was Toronto’s non-alcoholic strip club.  You paid ten dollars at the door and could spend all night drinking orange juice and watching the girls.  No one bothered you to buy a six-dollar beer, no one hustled you for a lap dance. If you didn’t want to drink, you didn’t have to drink. The crowd was a quirkier, lower testosterone collection of older guys than you would find elsewhere. When I walked in the door, I knew I’d found my place.

The women were different, too. They ranged from young students to older housewives and no one had fake tits or walnut tans. They danced to odder, less commercial music. Some of them put on performances more burlesque in nature and some of them performances more … gynecological.  I had a great time watching. I even picked out a girl for a private dance. 

She led me down a hallway lined with small booths.  There were no doors on the booths, just acrylic bead curtains, and I could see that some of the activity going on wasn’t quite above the board.  I was nervous and I even started to shake a bit; part of me wanted to run out.  We entered a booth containing two small stools; she sat against the wall and I sat almost in the doorway the booth was so small.  When a new song began she started to move herself against the wall and run her hands slowly up and down her body.  I knew she must have been acting but it seemed real.  I shifted on my stool and tried to hide the fact that I was getting aroused. I wanted to look unimpressed and leave after one song. 

“It’s okay if you want to make yourself a little more comfortable.”

I ended up staying for four songs.  Afterwards, she shook my hand and said her name was [redacted], told me to come back some time and choose her again. I’d never been so excited by a woman in my life and I wanted to ask her out. I didn’t have the nerve to do it, though. How do you ask such a question after you’ve just paid $60 to jerk off with someone?  Maybe you just ask.

I’m forty-one now and I don’t go to strip clubs anymore.  I find them dreary places. I think I still have some things to work out but I’ll do the work elsewhere.