Wednesday, August 12, 2009

True Blue American Love Story

Ted was drinking. Ted was drunk. You could say he was drunking. “Drunking” was a term Carl Johnson coined. Carl was Ted’s card carrying alcoholic father. His “card” was actually his one-day chip he got from AA that he carried for forty-three years until his death from cirrhosis of the liver. Carl had named his son after Ted Danson, star of the show “Cheers.” It was his brilliant plan to manipulate the fates. He would be setting the stage for his son’s own future bar ownership and giving of drinks on the house to his father by naming him after someone who owned a bar. I know it was Danson’s character, Sam Malone, who owned the bar on the show, but Ted Johnson’s mom’s name was Samantha and Carl wouldn’t want people to think he named his son after “that fucking bitch.” TFB was Carl’s nickname for his wife. It was very clever. It worked if there was any distance between their persons in “that fucking bitch” or if she was close by in “this fucking bitch.” I don’t know if it was the dodgy name association or if it was just a stupid idea hatched during a common drunking but Ted Johnson didn’t own a bar. I don’t think Ted would have floated his father free drinks if he owned a bar anyway. The last thing that Ted gave his father “on the house” was a sincere ass whooping.
Ted worked at the local feed mill and the past tense is the correct tense. He was fired at 2:37 on the day he was drunking. Mr. Charlie had been on his back since Ted showed up hour late. “Mr. Charlie” was what he demanded to be called “out of respect.” It was that demand and Mr. Charlie’s general personality that really burrowed under the Ted’s skin. “Mr. Charlie wants you to think his shit don’t stink,” Ted would say to his girlfriend. Mr. Charlie’s shit actually didn’t stink, a least not as much as it should. It was a disease, something with the chemicals secreted in his intestinal tract during digestion. His life was going to be considerably shortened because of this disease, but he would never show this weakness to the employees much like Ted, even after Mr. Charlie’s constant badgering, wouldn’t give the reason why he was an hour late to work. What Ted would give Mr. Charlie was a sincere ass whooping. Raul Charlie then gave Ted his pink slip. Both the ass whooping and pink slip were on the house.
I will tell what Ted wouldn’t. The pink slip wasn’t the first “walking paper” he had received that day. Ted was to be dissolved from the partnership with his live-in girlfriend, Julie, aka Trixie. When I say “partnership” I just mean romantic partnership and I’m even using that loosely. Julie cut Ted loose at his favorite part of the day, when he was having his cup of coffee and bowl of Count Chocula before work. It was the argument that led to his work tardiness. She told Ted he was too denim and this was hurting his “upward mobility.” This was quite ironic to hear from Julie, aka Trixie, who after four years on the day shift at The Dancin’ Clam had yet to be granted the opportunity to circle the pole on the main stage. Julie said she had found a man to take her away from the Clam. Benjamin was that man. He wasn’t denim at all. He was fancy. He was silk. Benjamin and the silk worm had given Julie the opportunity to “get down” on the most heavenly bed sheets. Benjamin’s own worm gave her the gift of what STD savvy high school students call the “Cream Donkey.” Benjamin, or shall I say “Cream Donkey,” did take Julie, aka Trixie, away from the Dancin’ Clam. The Cream Donkey’s main symptom was an off white genital discharge that smelled much like rotting codfish. This seemed to hurt the Clam’s customer’s own genital upward mobility and Trixie was given her pink slip. Ironically “pink slip” was also the name of one of her routines. Benjamin found out about his own Cream Donkey from the high school boy he contracted it from at the Motel Six next to The Dancin’ Clam. It seems Ben was real fancy.
Ted was real drunk. Splitting his time between the bar and the old jukebox near the men’s crapper. He played songs like the chocolate he’d never taste and the love he thought he had, bittersweet. Everything was blurry, the past, the present, the future, and Brenda.
Brenda was the woman sitting a couple stools down from Ted at the bar. Brenda was ovulating. Brenda also liked Count Chocula.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

White Whale

I went to my first strip club (titty/tittie bar, nipple derby, skin bar, girly bar, nudie bar, or go-go bar) at the tender age of twenty-two. My twenty-two was tender. Probably more tender than yours. I can only compare the feeling shortly before stepping through the velvet rope at Flashdancers approaching the nudity to the feeling shortly before stepping through velvet rope at the Salisbury Mall approaching a Mr. Santa Claus. I wondered if I knew all the rules of engagement that were in play. I wondered how I should ask for what I want. I was filled with nervousness, excitement,, and believing the hype. At the mall, you sat on Santa’s lap. At the club it is your lap that is to be addressed. Addressed in dance form.

The strip club was a careful merging of the two poles of a Foghat concert into one cohesive entity. The smoky lightshow and near deafening music volume of the stage,
combined with the heavy drinking and naked women of backstage, living as one unstoppable being. For the sake of expedience lets call this being “Slow Ride.”
Slow Ride
wasn’t a “Gentleman’s Club” because there were no gentleman there. Not because these men weren’t gentleman. You just weren’t expected to be one there.
Slow Ride was Boschian Shangri-La where men smelled like alcohol, butt sweat,
and good times and women smelled like love, spring flowers, and attainability. If you smell them outside the club the bouncer or even the dancer will break your nose unless there was a previous negotiation.
In Slow Ride the rule was, ”Look but don’t touch.” This went
for the dancers and the buffet. This too was negotiable.
Women in Slow Ride, unattainable in the outside world and wearing nothing but a smile and a sliver of shiny fabric not large enough to use as a blindfold would talk to me. I wasn’t able to understand a word they said given near
deafening music volume mentioned earlier but given the heavy drinking also mentioned earlier I could only assume it was positive. I could even go as far as saying it was a proposal of marriage or even just a more temporary union. You can assume quotation marks around the word union. I’m a gentleman in the outside world.
I was a gentleman when I walked out Slow Ride. I was a gentleman with glitter on him that wasn’t there when he entered. I was a gentleman who had been tagged.

I was also someone who desperately wanted to make a picture about the experience. This was my white whale. The thought of getting this down in an image and of writing off skin magazines for reference was compelling. I failed in my task. Not at writing off the magazines, the picture. Given the transient nature of letting a picture take you where it wants to go because it wasn’t intended for anyone else, this picture didn’t go to the titty bar. The picture doesn’t really have the nipple derby feel, except for the nudity. Even if there is some Freudian symbolism or metaphor making this an skin bar picture, I was not consciously aware of it and it’s subconscious nature would put it out of the reach of my understanding. Even the fact that eight years after this failed girly bar picture, I moved to an apartment not far away from a go-go bar named “Mermaids” could be made to connect but its understanding would be “cosmic” and thus beyond simple boy from just below the Mason Dixon.

I write all this just to say that yesterday, almost a decade after the experience, I finished a nudie bar picture. I’m not saying I captured the image, harpooning my white whale. I just want him to realize I still know he’s out there and that I’m still looking.

I still believe in Slow Ride like I still kind of believe in Santa Claus.