Not long ago I was mistaken for a dancer. I don't mean a back-up dancer for a pop-idol like Britney Spears or Beyoncé, I mean an exotic dancer. Though I can't plead complete innocence, this falls into the category of getting myself into a screwed up situation for completely altruistic reasons. This time it was minding a friend. By minding, I mean tending to, though in this case it also means obeying.
Friend turned up at the wrong time in the wrong place. Let's say he was the Bishop and showed up in his skivvies while mass was in full swing. He needed to be steered out of there and for some reason the task fell to me. To distract him from "church" I spent the evening driving him anywhere he asked, because I've learned that is the easiest way to handle people that are incorrigible and powerful: do whatever they say and they won't hold it against you. This strategy brought us to a strip club. Not just any strip club though, one that looks like it is on the first floor of a residential house and inside appears like someone's dirty basement hangout. They serve food that comes in microwaveable containers by that famous chef... Boyardee. Let's just say it was not my scene, but there wasn't much I felt I could do at the time except sit and watch the show.
There was an older dude sitting a few stools over from me at the bar. He appeared to be pushing 85 actually, and obviously spent alot of his evenings at this dive, since every topless woman there knew him by name. The Bishop tells me "go talk to him, it will make his night". It took him a few minutes to convince me, but I agreed. Mostly because I was bored out of my skull, and had come to a sort of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em attitude."
I stink at flirting but sidled over to him and said "Hi, what's your name?" He replied "Charlie" and then the following conversation ensued:
Hanna: "What do you do for a living Charlie?"
Charlie: "Oh, I don't do anything now. I used to be a milkman, but I retired"
Now I am thinking geez, he IS really old, we don't have those any more. Something about his manner of speaking indicated Charlie wasn't the brightest bulb in the box.
Hanna: "Oh, that is nice!"
Hey, I said I stink at this
Charlie: "Are you a dancer?"
Hanna: "No Charlie"
Charlie: "Did you ever want to be a dancer?"
Hanna: "No Charlie"
Long silence and then
Charlie: "Did you ever think about being a dancer?"
Hanna: "Hmm...not really, but maybe I should"
Meanwhile, the working women are getting a bit peeved. I am obviously horning in on one of their best clients. We are quiet for a while and my phone rings. Yep, it's my Dad. Obviously I don't answer but it does give me a few minutes to think for the nth time "What the hell am I doing here!?"
Then Charlie starts again, pointing over to my friend who is chatting up the ladies, showering them with 20s and close to getting us thrown out by the bartender who clearly feels a mixture of loathing and fascination with the guy. She is hesitating because most of the clients are showering $1s, not $20s.
Charlie: "You are here with him, aren't you?"
Hanna: "Yes, I came with him."
Charlie: "You are leaving with him, aren't you?"
Now at this point I am beyond annoyed with the whole scene, but since we came in his car, I didn't feel good about driving away and leaving him there.
Hanna: "I'm not so sure about that, Charlie"
Charlie: "How much do you get for a donation?"
I'd never heard that term used in this way before, but I knew exactly what he meant. I said nothing for at least two minutes. I didn't know what to say, sitting there in my good church clothes looking like anything but a call girl. Then I grabbed a cigarette from my friend's pack and lit it. I don't smoke. I took a few puffs, thought for a few more minutes then pointed over at The Bishop and said "He gives me a grand." Charlie audibly sucks in his breath and in a suddenly high pitched voice says "uh, uh, uh, A THOUSAND DOLLARS?" and I said "Yep Charlie" He replies "He must have a very good job!"