Naked truths

‘Would you like to stay for another dance?” I ask sweetly.

He looks me up and down in grim appraisal, makes a
miserable face and says,”Not if that was your best effort.”

In the same sugary tone I tell him that maybe if he wasn’t
so repulsive then girls might want to get a bit closer to
him. When I’m dressed again and opening the door of the
dance booth, I mention that he might like to try losing a
few stones and a few years.

I get his change from the bar, ball it up and toss it in
his general direction. He’s still trying to look like “he’s
the man” despite the fact he has to scrabble around on the
floor to find his tenner.

I don’t do this often. I have learned that the best way to
make it through the night is to swallow my tongue and let
the insults wash over me. It’s clear that a lot of the guys
who come to strip bars are here to get their revenge on
women. I can usually spot them. It’s an expression of
distaste they wear permanently – whether it’s a handsome
young blade, a suited business man or, like last night’s
guy, a bloated, sagging, professional onanist, whose sallow
pallor, slack features and faint fishy reek indicate a
bitter life misspent.

Sometimes I panic that all men are serious women-haters,
but then I catch myself, think about my men friends – my
funny, clever, warm, intelligent friends – and remind
myself that the men I meet aren’t necessarily a healthy
cross-section of male society.

The problem is that every week I am exposed to about 100
men who are leery, needy, hostile, angry, creepy and
ultimately dysfunctional. Even if these guys have other
fine qualities I’m only getting the negative ones – the
secret Mr Hydes whose wives think they are having a couple
of drinks with friends.

Last night a handsome married man in his early 30s proudly
told me about his four-year-old son and another one on the
way, just moments before begging me to let him touch my
breasts as I dance in front of him.

“Why not?” he asks, completely uncomprehending.

“What’s wrong with you?” I reply.

Another is in his late 40s with dad and husband written all
over him. I chat politely with him about his illusory life,
careful not ask too many tricky questions that might prove
difficult for him to answer since he is clearly not what he
pretends to be.

We get into a bit of hot water when I ask about his
fictional work. Does he enjoy it? What does it involve?
When he starts to flounder I gently steer the conversation
elsewhere. He launches into a diatribe about feminism. He
is apparently a staunch defender of the cause. The word
feminist comes up about five times as he stares deep into
my bra. He’s trying so hard to pretend he’s nice and single
that he doesn’t notice how drunk he’s getting and by the
end of the night married dad is drooling down his shirt and
telling me how he would love to piss on my tits.

There are countless men with wedding rings, clearly on
display. Countless others sit and happily tell me about
their girlfriends before paying a naked girl to dance
around for them and plead for a little bit more. There are
others who delude themselves, though not me, that they are
young, free and single though they are clearly old, tired
and married.

“I wish I’d met you in a normal bar. It’s such a shame
you’re not allowed to come home with me. Meet me for
dinner. Come to my hotel. Kiss me. Touch me. If you turn
your back to the cameras you can do it …”

Every night I’m bombarded with endless pathetic entreaties
from men so caught up in their deluded fantasies that they
forget for a moment that they are paying me to pretend to
like them. They are oblivious to the irony that the only
person who could possibly handle their fetid breath, boring
chat and lack of charm are the women they are married to.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/nov/20/gender.features11

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