"Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does." - Jean-Paul SartreWhen I asked Grubby how he knew about Sin, he mentioned that he had heard about it on the radio. It was a new club located across the highway near Mandalay Bay. We arrived fairly early for Vegas standards. At 10:30 PM, the parking lot was sparsely populated. Little did we know we'd spend the next four hours there.
We were seated in the back near a smaller second bar and I could see the entrance to the VIP lounge from my seat. Senor bought the first round. We've been going to strip clubs together since we were 18 years old. That was back in our hazy, fuzzy, Kentucky bourbon-drenched days in Atlanta when I'd spend my Monday night's at Top N Tails sitting in the front row of their biggest attraction: Hot Oil Wrestling. Back then, I probably should have been studying for my Criminal Justice exam or writing a paper on Huey Long for my Southern Politics class. But I wasn't. Ironically, I'd soon discover that almost everything I have learned about life... I picked up from conversations with strippers.
I'd had a tough day betting at the sports book and figuring out implied odds was the last thing on my mind. We waited for the waitress to bring us our over-priced drinks and I stared out at the main stage. A young lady with manufactured breasts the size of cantaloupes and wearing in a hot-pink thong wriggled upside down on a poll as the last few lines of a Motley Crue song blasted over the speakers. The song sounded vaguely familiar. Don't all Motley Crue songs sound the same when you hear them in a dark strip club in Vegas?
Grubby ordered an imported beer. I asked for a Stoli and Tonic and Senor aptly grabbed a Corona and a shot of tequila. He cannot under any circumstances remain sober in a strip club. He has to be shithoused drunk. That's the only way he can fully enjoy himself. Sober or sloppy, I don't care about my state of my inebriation. I venture into strip clubs for the conversations. Yes, I also read Playboy for the articles.
It occurred to me that the last time Senor and I stumbled into a strip club together was in Reykjavik, Iceland of all places. It was a dark, lonely, night and we were both snookered on Viking beer. I blew a wad of Icelandic Kroners on lap dances from a nubile blonde with sparkling green eyes who looked a lot a like Gwyneth Paltrow. Her name was Sinna. I definitely remembered that because I wanted to use that name for a future fictional character. It's a perfect stripper's name. But those hijinks occurred back in January 2001. I used to have a ponytail then and still held a weakness for blondes and donuts. Man, that trip to Iceland was pre-9.11. That was a lifetime ago.
Rebekka was working her first shift at Sin after being hired a few days before. She'd had a dispute with the manager at Spearmint Rhino and quit. Grubby told me that if the girls don't like working for certain managers at different clubs, it meant that the were sick of performing sexual favors for them. Anyway, Rebekka was a beautiful 23-year old black woman from North Carolina. She used to be an XFL cheerleader. Go team.
"What's your name?"
I lied right away. I also picked a name out of thin air. For the majority of the trip whether it was with strippers, poker dealers, cabbies, or waitresses... I would tell them my name was "Charlie." For some of you that read my first screenplay, Charlie's Goldfish, you know that Charlie was the name of the main character.
"What do you do for a living?"
"I work on Wall Street."
That was a partial lie. I was retired. Semantics and strippers. Who really cares anyway?
Did I mention that my drink was seriously watered down? I switched to beers after the Stoli experiment failed miserably. I should know better. I'd made a rookie mistake by ordering a name brand vodka in a strip club. That's like going to McDonalds for a nutritious meal.
Rebekka sat on my lap and invited me into the VIP room. That's where they really work it and try to get the rest of the cash in your pockets. As soon as she found out that I worked on Wall Street she went right in for the kill. Just like we use Poker Tracker Guide to help tag fish on Party Poker, strippers use occupations to figure out quickly who has disposable income. Wall Street screamed "Fresh fish!" Afterwards, I would stop telling strippers I worked on Wall Street.
Senor had his hands filled with a not-so-good-looking stripper with a pot belly bigger than mine. When she asked him if wanted a dance he told her, "Look I don't want any lap dances. But if you want to sit down and chat for a while, that's cool. But if you want to go make money, by all means, go visit some other guys."
That wasn't a line or anything. That was the "nice way" Senor wanted to let the strippers down who he didn't think were attractive. That time, it totally backfired. She sat down for over an hour, possibly longer. He did everything to get her to leave. He talked about his wife. He talked about his son. He talked about the dog he never had. He even tried to draw me into the conversation. I avoided that trap pretty quickly. He finally got her to leave when he asked Rebekka for a lap dance.
Grubby was being entertained by an Asian stripper named Sterling. She had it written out in small studs on the back of her black leather panties. I giggled when I overheard Grubby ask, "Are you 24 carats?"
That's when a curvaceous woman in a black bikini came over to me. Her long dark hair cascaded over he round breasts. She looked like J. Lo and had a lot of junk in her trunk.
"Your friends have girls and no one is paying attention to you," she nearly screamed over the loud music and sat down on my lap.
She asked how we knew each other. I told her that we were friends from Harvard Medical School. I had the Dr. Pauly reputation to live up to. She asked me to go to a more comfortable place, but assured me it was not the VIP lounge. She led me into the sports bar area which was empty. There was a couch in the corner and she led me over. We made some more small talk and she explained that she was not Puerto Rican like everyone thinks. She was part Canadian, part German, part Cherokee Indian, and part Peruvian. I pulled a line right out of Fletch and she didn't flinch. "My that's an unusual mix."
"So, Charlie, what kind of doctor are you?"
That was a big mistake. We spent the next ten minutes talking about her two year old daughter. She hates her pediatrician because he blames her for her daughter's asthma. He also said that she should have taken away her pacifier at twelve months.
"Twelve months? No way. At least 22," I said confidently. No way she was going to call my bluff. I have no idea about pacifiers and I'm the last person from whom anyone should seek advice. I don't have any kids and the only science class I took at college was Human and Natural Ecology... and that was only because all the hot hippie chicks in school were HNE majors.
Summer gave me two lap dances and I asked her if she was a fan of The OC.
"Oh my God! How did you know that?"
... to be continued.
Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.