I know what my coworkers think of me. Innocent, and naive. Prude, to be more exact.
But sex nor nudity shocks me. On the contrary, I love sex. Crave it, even. I am human, with an unquenchable desire for physical pleasure. I do not shy away nor deny my libido — though I’m often mistaken for having none.
Because I try to save intimacy for someone who has touched my heart first, before I give of my body. A personal rule I hold for myself and myself only.
And often times, especially within this last year, I found myself envying people who could give so freely of themselves without any emotional remorse. To enjoy the presence of someone simply on an atomical level of colliding forces.
But, I have realized that is just not the kind of person I am. And I either need to accept it, or change it. Needless to say, my attempts at changing this aspect of my heart have been utter failures.
Anyway, they’ve made it their personal goal to, for lack of better words, get me laid.
Friday night, I was ushered to a strip club.
Dim lighting, and the smell of cigarettes circulating the utopia of lust. Men in suits, and men in baggy jeans — women in stilettos, and women in casual autumn wear — all lining the stages, hungry eyes fixated on the pole, lips wet from alcohol — inhibitions being lowered, imagination being let free from the chains of responsibility.
There wasn’t just one type of person sitting in the Victorian red velvet cushioned chairs. And I think that’s what people like to think about strip clubs — that only a certain type of people go there. So far from the truth, as my eyes scanned the crowd, heavily avoiding the performers.
I was nervous. Why, I’m not quite sure. I’ve been to strip clubs in Greece and Amsterdam, and there the performances are — much more hands on.
Perhaps because it was my first time at a strip club, without being in love. Maybe subconsciously I was afraid that my own desire would supersede my own moral compass. That maybe my own preconceived notions about people who went to strip clubs — were wrong. And that I would soon join the ranks of mesmerized eyes.
Yet again, I found myself doing something solely for the experience. Not realizing the impression it would blazen across my mind.
My coworkers all looked at me with curiosity, no doubt they didn’t truly expect me to show up — but they’ve got one thing wrong about me, an event in my name, I will daringly always be present at.
Reminding myself, boundaries of comfort are meant to be broken.
A cherry vodka sour was pushed into my hand. I’m not sure if the cold water searing through my palm was from the contents of the cup, or my own nerves had worked up quite the drench — either way, I guzzled my first drink down.
Our table wasn’t at the front of stage. It was off to the side, where people with prying eyes but empty pockets sit.
This nerved my counter parts, so they bribed a waitress to move a solo gentleman sitting at a table of 5 to move elsewhere, so we would have front stage.
Not gonna lie, I panicked at this. I knew I would be expected to engage in the stage performance at such close proximity.
And coerced I was.
I found myself standing directly in front of the stage, the stripper’s smoldering green eyes and fluid body making her way to me. Her fingers clasped my shirt, her head dipping towards my chest.
Naturally and instinctively, I objected with a smile, and a raised hand.
She laughed at me playfully, a hint of empathy hidden behind rose stained lips, as did most of the crowd behind me — I was embarrassed, a feeling I tend not to encounter often.
I sat back down, and shrugged light-heartedly looking at my coworker to the right, his impatience for me had run out. It had been his grand scheme to bring me here.
He had heard my tales of transatlantic relationships — and didn’t care.
“You are waiting for love, but it isn’t waiting for you,” he once told me in one of our first conversations about matters of the heart.
I have become really great friends with him since, despite our often opposite views about love, sex, and everything in between.
So at his request, I came. But physically being at his choice of establishment wouldn’t be enough.
I think he recognized just how awkward I felt. He returned a coy smile, got up and placed himself at front stage, ones in between his fingertips.
A different stripper now, grinded on him. The heel of her stiletto draped carelessly on his shoulder, revealing to him every angle of her chiseled body. Indeed, I was impressed at the ease of which she performed. An easy 10$ she made in the 30 second dance.
He was showing off, doing what I couldn’t do. Again, a tinge of envy in my heart being suppressed. It was okay though, I was me and he was him — And that made all the difference. I needed to accept the fact that there will be some things others will be better at that will render me incapable. Stupid superiority complex.
The night went on in this fashion. My other two female coworkers joining in on the seductive fun. They were letting loose, bypassing responsibility for a little fun. I understood this concept all too well. I didn’t think any thing less of them though.
At the end of the night, my male coworker actually bought me a lap dance. He had grown tired of my “noble” habits. Funny, I never thought of it that way, nor did I want to be noble; connotation of holier than thou.
The girl led me to a back room. I kept my eyes up, I felt like an intruder ransacking a holy pyramid.
She sat down on the couch, and hesitantly I sat beside her. Boldly speaking through a shaky voice:
You don’t have to do this, really. We can just talk.
Yeah, I went there. I was the type of person who’d rather converse than get aroused.
So we spoke, about what I was doing home. Where I’ve travelled and what wines I’ve tasted; what she dreamed of and what she was scared of losing. We shared laughter like old friends.
I think what struck me as the most peculiar thing was that she liked her occupation. She has been dancing for 3 years, and just kind of got stuck in the motion; the access of ever flowing money from bottomless pockets. But she respected what she did, and held dignity in funding her education. I admired her courage for believing in herself and what she was doing — even if it wasn’t conventional, even if societal norms dictate it immoral; who was I to judge another person’s journey?
The song playing above head started fading out, signaling the ending of our encounter, and she said something to me I won’t forget:
It’s rare to see kindness in a place like this, thanks for not judging me.
Temple de Debod
I have befriended lonlieness in a way that to be alone with my conscience is enough judgement to evaluate the meaning of my own existence and how I put my life to use.
There is enough struggle and pain and heartache in this world. Be kind, always. Remember that, even when being kind is the hardest thing to do.