For a long time, I was a nerd, and then I dated a stripper. This was a weird thing to have happen. Guys who spend their teenage years playing “Bard’s Tale” on the Commodore 64 do not generally excel in the art of dating strippers.
To be fair, when I started dating her, she wasn’t one – a stripper, I mean. Stephanie was just a college student, but she needed money to pay her tuition and her bills, and there was a strip club in our college town in New York – so therefore, hence, there you go.
Stephanie was also bisexual, which, I know, this just sounds implausible – or, if you knew me in real life, it would seem implausible. She was originally just a cute student that I started dating; but then, since she was bisexual, she wanted to go to the strip club so that she could watch other girls.
I must reassert here that I wasn’t just a nerd, I was a SUPER nerd. I didn’t only spend my teenage years playing video games in a basement; that would have been nerdy enough, but in-between that, I would do other absurdly wholesome activities – like, for example, I would bake bread. I would bake bread from scratch. While reading a recipe from a cookbook. I never was invited to a party when I was a teenager; I never dated a girl until I was in college. So, I was ridiculously unprepared for all of this.
The weird thing about strip clubs is that they look just like strip clubs in movies. This was odd, because nothing ever resembles its depiction in movies. It sort of freaked me out. I would walk through the door, and then there’d be the awful music, the stage with poles, and the not-quite-fish-tank in the back of the room. I don’t know why I still think of the fish tank, but I do. It was enormous, and it covered an entire wall, and it wasn’t really used to hold fish, it was just this neon thing on the wall that was filled with bubbles – and although it wasn’t the 80s anymore, it was the most 80s-looking-thing that I had ever seen. “My god,” I said to myself. “I’m not in my real life anymore. I’m in ‘Scarface.'”
Annoyingly, Steph wouldn’t let me pick her stripper name; we had lots of debates about this. The name that she eventually came up with was “Thisbe,” which I thought was overly pretentious. But despite this, there were consolations that made up for the debate. Like, suddenly, I was dating a stripper. I was dating the girl that other guys leered at. I would go to the club to pick her up, and there she would be.
And there were other strippers in the club, of course. They all had sad names in real life. Their fake names were like a parody of their real names – I would talk to them after-hours, while they were rubbing their heels and complaining about guys, and that was when I would learn their actual names, which were always something sort of plain, like “Mary,” or “Amy.” Their real names couldn’t have been more different from their stage names, which were always things like “Cinnamon,” or “Peaches.” These girls were all single moms or students, every single one of them. And they would all talk about how much they hated their jobs, which – well, it was depressing, hearing about that, and I stopped going to strip clubs after Steph and I broke up, except for lame bachelor parties that I don’t want to go to – and so, if you ever see me in a strip club, I’m the guy sitting furthest from the stage, looking depressed.