I was a mess at 22. It was a hard time. My twin brother had died, we’ll never know definitively how, at 19. In may of that year. I remember the day so clearly. The last day he was alive. I won’t get into it here but it was a catalyst for so many things.
The police had their theories, gang related they thought, I pushed my hypothesis aside that he committed suicide because of an impending 15 year prison sentence. I knew he was suicidal because he told me he was and like so many I didn’t believe him. It’s scary to believe that someone you love is serious about ending their life but they are.
There were detectives that cornered me, walking down the long driveway to where I was trying to meditate. Casually introducing themselves. Seeing if I knew anything about various gang activity.
I was a nanny at the time and I genuinely loved the kids in my charge but I knew I had to find myself apart from all of that and apart from being a vessel of grieving. People in my family had a hard time looking at me, alive. While my twin, was dead. If you’re a twin who lost a twin, you’ll understand. I’ll get into that another time.
My good friend had an apartment with two bedrooms that she needed to share. That’s all I needed to hear.
Very quickly, I was packing my shit. My parents were horrified. At least that’s how they looked as I drove away in a van with what little I had gathered.
When I got to the apartment, I felt liberated. My own room that I pay for. Just me. For the first time I wasn’t a portion of a twin combo. I was me.
It took maybe two days to realize I’d moved out in a sheer attempt to distance myself from a tragedy. Then I thought, oh shit. I don’t have a job.
My friend worked at a strip club in the city and had a lot of cash. I asked if she could get me a job there. Not as a stripper, I told her, as a waitress. She did.
Finding a wardrobe for my new job was intimidating. I had dressed scantily in my youth but ironically, I’m a child of the 90’s. Babydoll dresses, fishnet stockings. Doc Martins. With my friends help, I found some especially slutty cloths, and off to my new job I went.
I got very little training on my first day, I was told I had to have a certain amount of money “on me”. But where? I was to walk around with a tray and “check in” with strippers and their customers to see if they wanted drinks. I wasn’t given a pad and paper so every time I did this, I had to repeat it in my head the entire time it took to make it to the bar.
I had no idea how to make change, was it my own money? Actually it was, I think, I still don’t know! I can’t believe I figured it out and I still don’t know how!
I mostly got the orders right but it took everything in me to hold my head up, knowing I could do better. This wasn’t for me. I was raised better. For some reason a notepad was not acceptable.
A few weeks in, my manager, a hateful young woman, told me that one of their most “important” patrons, wanted an hour with me in the champagne room. That’s a private room where you can spend “alone time” (I put that in quotes because there are cameras waiting for you to be a whore)
I went. He looked me up and down, or what I’ve come to call “eye raped” me. He said I looked like a nice girl and he’d like to have dinner with me. But not the way I was dressed. I was wearing a bikini top and a floral sarong with 6 inch heels. He told me to change into whatever cloths I came in on. I did but what about my shoes? I figured barefoot, he was creepy enough for me to think that.
He ordered food from his driver who brought it to us. Not gonna lie, it was amazing. I had no delusions that he actually wanted to get to know me, so every time he asked about my life, I answered vaguely then turned it into a question about him.
He was married, happily, had two kids, one in college one married and successful. There was nothing sexual going on here. Just him talking about himself. He was successful, owned alot of businesses, and came to this strip club regularly.
The next night, I came to work in my slutty waitress garb, and I was told immediately that this man wanted to see me again. In the champagne room, with the cloths I came in on.
He came with a full meal, or his driver carried the full meal and placed it down, I caught a side eye from the driver that I didn’t appreciate. It was delicious though. Same thing, we ate, he complained about his life, he could have done this or that. I actually started to like him!
The next night, same situation but he was different. Apparently his younger son was upset with him. He accused him of ignoring his mother and asked him if he had someone else. I wanted to throw up. Even though I had never touched him, I was convinced this other person was me!
But wait! I was doing my job right? Was I? What was my job? I cried in front of him. Shameful! He put his arm around me and I tensed up. I realized, I don’t know you! You don’t know me! How did I become a part of your life!?
Well, I worked in a strip club. I dressed like a whore to make money, but wait! This man wanted me to dress the way I came in! Jeans and a tee shirt! But I was barefoot. I sensed that’s what he wanted or was it! Did I just assume?
To the detriment of my job, I told him this. He got quiet. Then, he told me he owned a certain business in the city and he could get me a job. I told him I didn’t feel right about that. He said “okay, how much money do you need to stop working here?” I had no idea what to say.
He asked me what my monthly expenses were. I knew but I didn’t want to tell him. I could see where this was going. Be my mistress and I’ll pay your bills.
I’m not gonna lie, it was tempting. He treated me well and I liked him.
I remembered a woman in the dressing room, a really hot one. I knew her to be a “couples” favorite. She told me she was propositioned by one of her couples. She told me she turned them down because, as she said, she had to look herself in the mirror the next day. I was floored! Integrity! Here!
After he propositioned me, I quit. Being a waitress. I asked for stage time. I became a full blown stripper. I felt more control that way. I could dance on the stage, there was a mirror behind me and I would dance facing it,for myself. It was oddly empowering. At the end of my set, I would point at the man I chose to spend time with.
There were other issues, and I’d like to say that was the last club I worked at, but I ended up making money in what I felt was on my terms. I was wrong.
Years later I still don’t know what to think of this, but I made the right choice regarding that man who wanted me to be his side piece. Thanks to that woman who had integrity who’s name I never knew.