A little over a week ago, What the Faith featured its first guest author, Rev. Ryan Bauers, and holy sanctified poop of God did you guys respond to that! Five-thousand views and eighty comments later, I like to think we contributed, in our small way, to the defeat of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. So for all of you readers who voted “No,” thanks for your support. And for all of you readers who voted “Yes”, let’s keep being friends! ‘Murica is a great place for people who disagree with each other to hang out in, especially in the parts of it that serve beer. Unless you’re an angry drunk – if you are, we can be friends, but I’m ordering you a vanilla Coke.
As the debate about the marriage amendment swelled (both on my blog and elsewhere) I was, at times, surprised by my own vehemence. It can be hard to remember that all Christians are my brothers and sisters when my blood gets boiling. Luckily, that’s why we have things like communion – rituals that we partake in together, which remind us that even though your brothers and sisters can be total douchebags, they’re still family. I really wanted to attend one of the nationwide election day communions, but it took me a little longer than expected to vote, so I was able to. Still, in the spirit of confession, I was a (in my heart) a total douchebag myself, to many people who disagreed with me about that particular issue. So, if you are a person who leaves (or left) rude comments on my blog, I probably called you names. I’m sorry. I could have been a lot more patient with you, and I regret that I wasn’t.
I had a singularly odd experience a few weeks back, when I was attending my best friend’s bachelor party. I was his best man, but being that I lived 2000 miles from my friend, didn’t know any of his current friends, and had no idea where to host the thing, he ended up planning the party himself. We started the evening at another friend’s house, where he, about ten of his friends, and I all hung out and awkwardly made small talk while waiting for strippers to arrive. After about an hour and a half, I turned to my friend and said, “There are going to be dinosaurs on this dinosaur tour, right?” People laughed.
That line isn’t an important part of the story. I just wanted to share because I want people to know that I made a joke, and that people laughed at that joke.
So after we gave up on the “house call” strippers (adult dancers not being known for their punctuality) we all drove down to a charming establishment called, classily, Cheaters. My friend changed into a black t-shirt that read “I support single moms” under the silhouette of a woman dancing on a pole. We entered, paid our cover, and somehow – somehow– got convinced, as a party, to purchase a $200 bottle of Captain Morgan’s spiced rum. “Why did you do that,” you may ask. “Was it better than a regular $30 bottle of Captain Morgan’s?” No, reader. No it was not. In fact, so far as I can tell, the sole purpose of buying a $200 bottle of $30 rum was so that the dancers would be encouraged to come up to our table and drink all of our fucking rum.
Rum-scavenging aside, the dancers spent a lot of time in our corner of the club. After all, we were a bachelor party. We had a groom in our midst. We had a group of dudes with money to burn (except me – I was saving up for a family vacation happening just days later). We even had a kid who, at nineteen years of age, had never been to a strip club before. Suffice it to say, I was surrounded by boobies.
Here’s where the surprise comes in.
Those boobies made me depressed as hell.
I’ve said before that I didn’t believe in “wholesome” bachelor parties. I’ve said that I felt that bachelor parties were supposed to be “sinful” – it was the whole point. I’ve also said that I don’t, as a Christian, think that God cares as much about what we do with our private parts as some other Christians believe. On top of that, Brandi had ordered me to go enjoy myself at this bachelor party. She told me that, as the best man, I had to have fun, or else I would bring people down. And while we both knew I wasn’t going to spend any money at this shindig (again, we had a vacation coming up just days later) I was supposed to watch the girls dance up and down the pole and hoot/holler like everyone else.
That’s not what happened. Sure, I saw boobs, but I didn’t actually look at boobs. Since my group had the groom, the strip-club-virgin, and the $200 bottle of mid-level alcohol, I was propositioned for private dances dozens of times. Dancers would come up to me, sit in my lap, shake their butts in my face, and try to entice me to give them $20 to simulate the dirty-dirty in a curtained closet. Now, knowing that I was broke, I knew I wasn’t going to give them money – but I thought that I would at least regret being broke. Instead, I found myself hoping, whenever a topless lady would walk toward my group, that she would go grind on someone else. And yes, I did bring the party down – and if any of those fine gents are reading this article, I apologize for being a prude. One stripper, after failing to entice me to show interest in her chest, even said, “Man. I suck tonight.”
I saddened a stripper, guys.
So why did I feel this way? I hesitate to say that the Holy Spirit swooped down upon me the moment I walked into Cheaters and used its power to cock-block me. It wasn’t Brandi – she’d told me to have fun at the bachelor party, and she wasn’t checking up on me or anything. But then again, maybe it was Brandi – I kept texting her the entire night, and I had more fun chatting with her than anything else. And let me offer this piece of advice – if ever you want to make an adult dancer leave you alone, check your phone for a missed text when she’s flashing you. She’ll get the message.
I like to think that (cell phone checking aside) I wasn’t rude to any of the dancers. I tried to be friendly – to show them that, even though I had no interest in them as a sex object, I could still be interested in them as people. I complimented those who had nice tattoos – I saw all the tattoos – and I got into a decent conversation with a dancer who supported the legalization of marijuana, and who then offered to start the party early by selling me marijuana. One girl was wearing cats-eye contact lenses, and they looked cool, and I told her so. For the most part, the girls would talk to me for about thirty seconds, figure out that I wasn’t going to ask for a private dance, and go away. Sure, I was willing to show interest and respect toward them as people – but they didn’t want my interest or respect. They wanted $20 for a private dance. They weren’t looking for friends, they were looking to pay their bills. They weren’t looking to drink our rum – no, wait. They were looking to drink our rum, but they did so while trying to convince us to give them $20 a lap dance.
The whole experience was just depressing. It wasn’t just that the dancers’ value had been reduced to a dollar amount – it was that my value had been reduced to a dollar amount, and once it was clear that the amount in question was zero, I was basically an obstruction to be avoided. I was a lump taking up space on a (hopefully clean) couch at Cheaters, and I was no good to anybody.
It felt wrong. Not “Oh Lord, I have sinned against you!” wrong, but, “We should mean more than this” wrong. Just because I didn’t want any of these girls to rub their crotches on me didn’t mean that I disliked them. And if I’d met them outside of a strip club, maybe we could have chatted. Maybe we could have been friends. And sure, I wouldn’t have known what they looked like naked, but that’s perfectly fine by me – I have lots of friends, and I don’t think I’ve seen any of them naked. But in that particular place, on that particular night, nobody was anybody. The people dancing on the poles and the people sitting on the (oh dear Lord, please let them be clean) couches had become dollar signs, and all of the strawberry-scented, sparkly body lotion couldn’t mask the smell of desperation in the air.
Luckily, none of this was noticed by my friend, the groom, who was a straight up pimp that night! He got dances from all of the girls, some of them multiple times, and went home with a grin on his face. I was the designated driver, so in the end I was useful. And if I didn’t have as much fun as Brandi ordered me too, well, that’s all right. The next day I ran into some old friends I hadn’t seen in years, and we geeked out for hours, talking about video games, cartoons, comedic movies we could all quote by heart – the things that matter to me. All in all, it was educational – I learned that I am a shitty pimp, but an awesome geek. At a strip club, I am worth zero dollars – but amongst my real friends, I am worth gallons of water.