Private Magazine

Tag: Strip club

Doomed Chemistry

Ever have a crush on someone from afar? Someone you only know a little bit, but they seem like your “type”? Well, I did.

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It’s 10 pm and I’m driving to Murray’s house. Porch lights flick on as I drive down his street. I pull to the curb. It’s still open-window weather, and I overhear men talking in the driveway next to me.

“Donde estan las setas?”

“En mi patio…”

I’ve been here before, once, a while back.  But where the heck is Murray’s house?

“Hey,” I say into my phone. “I’m, like, here I think.” I take a new coconut-scented tree out of my glove compartment and hang it on the mirror.

“Be right out,” Murray says. I hang up the phone.

Fuck! How did I end up on an actual date with Murray? I think, and smile. Soundgarden is on the radio. And this is, like, the perfect song!

Murray is suddenly at my passenger door. I press the unlock button. He climbs in, leans over towards me, and with booze-soaked breath, says, “Hi.”

“Hey, Murray,” I say. “What’s up?”

“Sorry it took me forever,” he says. “Had to shave, you know how that goes.”

“For sure,” I say, eyeing Murray’s pomaded coif. “I mean, kind of.”

“I hope this club is fiery,” he says.

“I’m sure it will be,” I say, cruising down Fillmore towards Kaisertown/Lovejoy. “Of course it will be! Trust me on this one.”

We get to The Body Shop just in time to catch the action: a scrawny mid-age parking attendant in a yellow vest, idly smoking with a girl wearing fishnet thigh-highs and a North Face. I pull into a spot alongside them.

“This isn’t a spot,” the parking attendant says, coming closer. “This is NOT a spot.”

“Um, ok,” I say, putting my key back into the ignition. “I just figured it was, you know, in the middle of the parking lot…”

“You have to move your car.”

“Fine, fine.” I do a U-turn into an empty space in front of an abandoned freight train.

We walk into the club through a carpeted hallway. Murray is G-ed up for the evening: pomaded coif; sawed-off black tee;  jean jacket I would probably rip if I put it on and did a “Size Six in a Little Coat” routine based on Chris Farley;  pins and buttons adorn his lapel;  black jeans that bring to mind the Ginuwine song “In Those Jeans”; and some slick, gentlemanly monk straps. As for me,  I just wore my Playboy tee shirt.

“Next coming to the stage is Cinnamon,” emanates through the illuminated hallway as we enter the club. The interior has a disco vibe. There’s white shag on the floor. Strobe lights flicker around the room. Murray orders some drinks, and we sit on a saggy leather couch. We’re against the back wall, away from everybody else.

“Murray!” I slurp pinot grigio. “Last time I was here, they only played 60’s rock, I swear.” That was Murray’s main reason for coming. As you probably already know, coming here was my idea.

“Yeah, the music selection doesn’t match their brand image,” he says. Murray may have been on the club’s website all afternoon.

“This is Cinnamon’s last song, everybody, so put a dollar in her thong,” says the DJ, who’s standing behind a laptop on the other side of the room. Kid Rock starts blaring through the club, “Bong with the bong and bang ba bang ditty and the shooby and the doody and the nudie and the roodie-

“This is the worst song EVER,” I say, clutching my head. “The DJ last time was better.”  I bust out laughing, scream with delirium, actually, and watch a girl in a Rancid hoodie and G-string walk in and out of the VIP room.

“Are you going to get a lap dance, Murray?” I say. “Wait – where’d all the dancers go?”

Kid Rock’s song ends. I flop backwards on the couch. A waitress arrives; we get another round. A girl with short blonde hair walks onstage. As soon as the Red Hot Chili Peppers start, she removes her mermaid-inspired outfit and starts shimmying around.

“Let’s go smoke,” Murray says. We down what’s left in our glasses and head outside. Murray lights up in front of the handicap-accessible entrance to the right. A bunch of other smokers, including customers, the parking attendant and several dancers, surround us.

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“You can’t smoke over there,” the parking attendant says from the other side of the railing.

“Why not?” Murray says.

“That is the employee-only smoking section.”

“Oh, all right, let’s just go smoke by my car,” I say.

Murray and I walk off towards the abandoned freight train.

“I’m having a really good time,” Murray says. “Are you hungry? Maybe we should go.”

“Yeah, I’m starved,” I say. We zoom off into the night, as it is still young, and decide to go back to Murray’s house.

“I’ll make you a sandwich,” Murray says. I turn down the radio. He’s murmuring out the window. “Sausages…Italian sausage…Peppers…I do this thing with mayonnaise…Sausages from the deli…” Next time I look over, Murray is slumped over, bent-in half pretty much, passed out.

“Murray?” I say. “Um…where do you live?”

I’m driving down Murray’s narrow one-way street again but never figured out where he lives.

“Oh. My. God,” I say. “What am I going to do with Murray, literally?”

I drive around the block a couple times. Murray is still slumped over.

“Um…Murray?”

I turn up the radio a little bit – it’s “Come to My Window” by Melissa Etheridge – and suddenly Murray snaps awake.

“Hot sauce,” he says. “Do you like hot sauce?”

“Oh, wow,” I say. “Do you live at 199?”

“No, 109,” he says. “This is my house right here.”

“I thought you were dead.”

“Sorry, I’m just a little tired,” Murray says. “I’m good now. Come in.”

“Ok.”

Murray exits my car without any difficulty. Once inside his place, Murray puts the aforementioned sausages in a pan, pours two stiff drinks, and lights a cig. We sit at the bar in the middle of his living room, surrounded by ashtrays and vinyl records. Murray swirls his tumbler, takes a hearty sip, swallows, coughs.

“I’m not boyfriend material,” he says.

“Why d’you say that?”

“I’m not over my ex,” he says. “I will never be over her.”

Murray and his ex broke up two years ago.

“Well there’s more than one person for everybody. You’re really gonna throw in the proverbial towel?”

“I won’t ever be through. It fucked me up inside.”

Murray walks across the room and plucks a record from a crate, removes it from the sleeve, and sets it on the record player. Totally obscure sixties rock drifts around the room like a ghost.

“We bought the record together, and I said I hated her for finding this and not me.” Murray sits on the floor and stares at the wall. His dog comes out of nowhere and licks his face. He gulps his drink, inhales his cigarette.

“Gee, um…” I say. The bear trap around my heart tightens; I look left, and then right.

“That girl was my only chance for love,” Murray says. “Now I’m doomed.” He repositions the needle on the record and the song starts over. I sit in silence for a few seconds, then take one last bite of my sandwich.

“That was a really great sandwich,” I say. “But I really should be going.”

The sixties song, the ghost of the girlfriend from the past, still drifts around the room as I pick up my purse and walk towards the door. Murray walks with me outside to my car. At this point, his pomaded coif is totally fucked up.  Another cig dangles from his mouth.

“I had a nice time tonight,” he says.

“Me too, Murray.”

During the drive home, I realize Murray’s behavior, which many might consider unbecoming, proved one thing. He’s definitely my type.

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Splitting the Bill in a Post-Feminist World

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First dates are like fire drills – sometimes they are real, but most of the time they are false alarms, but we are still lucky to get out of them alive. I’m moving up from not introducing my boyfriends to my parents to completely not telling anyone I’m going on a date at all. I don’t even tell my mom when I’m going on a first date. If I did, she would likely ask, “How did it go?” And I don’t always want to recount whatever sick, twisted ordeal I’ve been through this time.

I’m not choosing men based on how “wild” or, God forbid, “crazy” they are. I did that when I was 19 years old. But just the other day, I had a date within the confines of my old, eerily-small college town. It was a revisitation to my 19-year-old stomping grounds, so perhaps the craziness which ensued should come as no surprise.

The “datee” in question was a man whose age I didn’t really know.  He used to teach entry-level photography at school and take pictures at shows. If I remember correctly, I think he had been “hanging out” with one of my suitemates. Who knows, who cares. I’m older now, wiser now, and something was telling me this chap and I might get along. I did what any Millennial, post-collegiate gal would do. We chatted on social media. That Saturday, I drove down to the infamous town. The plan was to go to the Salvation Army then eat at DeJohn’s – an Italian joint with $1.99 margaritas.

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The first thing I notice about “Juan” is his spotlessly-clean apartment. It is very clean, and VERY quiet in there. (Eerily enough, one of my college frenemies lived in the exact same apartment).  Juan is an artist. He has paintings, photographs, and illustrated skateboard decks on the walls. All of his tee shirts are hanging in the closet, color organized, along with a shelf of thousands of CDs, alphabetized. I spot a lovingly-framed photo of Juan and his parents, just the three of them. There’s a desk with a landline phone. Juan picks up the receiver, dials a number, and says “Dad, my friend is here and we are going out, so I won’t be home the rest of the day.”

We set off for Salvation in Juan’s car.  He is a quiet man with the body of a telephone pole. The shy, hyper-organized nerd hasn’t yet, up until this point, been on my dating repertoire – but I love trying new things. Juan buys a green tee shirt that says “Camp MooShu” and a belt (he is really skinny, and practical too, I guess – you have to keep those pants from falling down somehow).  I buy some practically impractical clip-on earrings left over from a wedding in 1988.

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After the shopping trip, we stroll through town. I’m growing nostalgic with these familiar streets and the old “Party Houses”: 25 Central, 7 Forest, 140 Temple, etc. It’s bringing me back – way back.

“We have to go to BJ’s,” I say. “We just have to.”

BJ’s, where do I begin? BJ’s feels like being inside of a Dinosaur Jr. album on infinite replay. It’s a place where you can get blackout drunk with laundry quarters. It’s a music venue with plenty of shows, where my friends’ bands always played. It’s the top spot for every artsy person in town, at a college where “artsy” people are the A-list and the miniscule“bro” and/or “jock” population gets ostracized to shitty bars on Water St.

“Ok,” Juan says. “They open at five.”

We go to DeJohn’s first. I’m hungry. We are the only ones in the restaurant. A mid-30s guy with glasses and a shaved head shows us to a booth. The booth is red vinyl and has string lights around it, plus there’s “Gilligan’s Island” playing from a television right on the table. He hands us menus and a remote.

“Can I get you some drinks?” the waiter says.

“Yes, I’ll have a margarita on the rocks with salt,” I say.

“I’ll just have a Blue,” Juan says.

Our waiter leaves so Juan and I peruse the menu. Juan decides on lasagna and I order the chicken parm. We begin a pleasant conversation about this and that. Juan is very hard to read.

“Do you have anything else to, like, do today?” I say.

“No, this is it,” he says.

“What else do you do around here?” I say. “It seems like it could get lonely.”

“When I’m not working, I’ll read the paper,” he says.

“Do you have Netflix?”

“No,” he says. “ I don’t have Internet in my apartment.”

“Oh, wow,”  I say. “What’s your astrological sign?”

“I’m a Taurus,” Juan says.

“I’m a Virgo,” I say. “I think we’re supposed to get along…”

We finish eating and our waiter drops off the check.  It sits there, upside down, collecting dust almost, so I poke at it. Juan hasn’t noticed. I pick up the damn check and it’s $37.00. Juan doesn’t say anything.

“Um, ok…mine was, what…like, $17?” I say.

Juan pulls a few 20’s out of his pocket and puts one of them with the check.

“Um, uh, ok… here’s 20?” I hand him a $20 bill.

“I’ll give this to him and you can keep the change,” he says, leaving.

“Gee, thanks,” I say.

After a minute, Juan comes back. He hands me $3. I look at him somewhat oddly, but not obnoxiously so. “Gilligan’s Island” was the only “old school” thing about this meal, I guess. Juan leaves the tip, we exit DeJohn’s, and go across the street to BJ’s.

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The two of us are alone in the bar, save for a long-haired bearded dude sipping a pint. Our bartender comes – a college girl in a knit hat. Juan orders another fucking “Blue”. I go with vodka, pay for my own shit, again, and give the bartender a look that says “keep them coming.” The sky has darkened significantly.

“Can I sleep on your couch?” I ask. “It’s sort of, like, a far drive.”

“Yeah, sure,” he says.

Just then, tons of young, really hot and athletically-built guys start filtering into BJ’s. They are accompanied by older men – their dads presumably – who all fall into the Silver Fox and D.I.L.F. category.

“The hockey team is here,” the bartender says. “There was a tournament today.”

In no time at all, BJ’s is packed full of the hockey team, their dads, and a few moms, too.

“We need to go to the strip club after this,” I say to Juan. “I’m going to invite the hockey team, and the dads too!”

Juan doesn’t flinch at this, but says, “I don’t know….”

“I just thought, when in Rome,” I say. “Are you uncomfortable with nudity?”

“No, I, uh…” he says.

“Can we play it by ear?” I say.

“Yeah, sure, play it by ear,” Juan says, with some trepidation.

Maybe I was misguided into thinking this was, indeed, a date. It could’ve been a date, but it ain’t. Not anymore. At least the hockey team is here. I turn to the hot dad next to me wearing a cashmere sweater.

“We’re going to the strip club after this,” I say. “If you all want to come.”

“There’s one of those around here?” he says, drinking a tumbler of vodka. “I had no idea. Ha ha.”

I look around BJs, at the black wall festooned with lewd scribbles, and the collection of rock band paraphernalia behind the bar. It is the same as it was so many years ago. My ”date” with Juan turned out to be a marvelous flop. Sure, I’m a spoiled bitch when it comes to going out to dinner. It’s too late to change that. Who would I be if I make out with a guy who won’t pay for dinner? Not myself, that’s who.

This story ends with me kissing a stripper at the nudie bar instead of Juan. Will Juan ever find love? Who knows. Who cares. But it’s not going to be with me.