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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Looking is free. If you want to touch, you have to pay.

Submitted: February 13, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 13, 2015



The first time I crossed paths with Raven, she was a skinny teenage girl, working as an assistant at my veterinarian’s office.  I only saw her for a moment, I didn’t even know her name at that point.  But I noticed the pretty girl with the nice smile.  I could tell she really liked cats by the way she handled my girl and two bad little boys.  She didn’t stay at that job too long, I never saw her there again. 

It is now ten years later.  My father had a stroke and was in a nursing home.  Raven is a certified nursing assistant and is working there.

He was quite a handful after his stroke.  He was confused a lot, that makes for bad medicine.  He often dog cussed Raven.  He hit her a few times, hard enough to leave a mark.  Through it all, Raven handled my father like he was a misbehaving cat.  Not only that, he became one of her favorite patients.  Don’t ask me how that happened.

She wasn’t faking it.  When he died, she came to the funeral.  She cried harder than anyone.  That was the way she was. 

I didn’t expect to see Raven again, but sometimes it is a small world.  A few months later, I am playing guitar at an open mike night.  When I finish my set, as I’m walking through the crowd, there she sits with her boyfriend.

She gives me a big hug, and asks me to sit down.  She introduces me to her boyfriend, Lance.  Lance was obviously bored, and spent half his time scoping out the other ladies in the bar.  Which I found quite interesting.  Because the one he was with, Raven, is a stunningly beautiful woman.  There were other attractive women in the bar, but none more so than her.  And aside from her, none even remotely likely to go home with his scroungy looking ass.

After a few minutes of small talk, I excused myself to the bathroom.  While I am watering the lemon scented insert, Lance walks in and takes the stall to my right.  And says something that absolutely floors me.  He says, “I’m thinking about dumping Raven.”

I could count the number of times I’ve been at a loss for words in my life on one hand.  I’d have fingers left over.  But that was one of them.  I don’t remember what I said to Lance, or even if I said anything.

What kind of schmuck says something that bone stupid to someone he just met?

By the time I got back to the table and sat down, I had composed myself enough to be able to speak.  I asked Raven, “How much longer are you planning on dating Lance?”  She sighed and said, “He hardly pays any attention to me anymore.”  I said, “Well, why don’t you dump him?”

After that, the conversation degraded into one I’ve had before, with other female friends.  There is a certain personality type you’ll see in some women.  They often end up health care, although that is not a requirement by any means.  They are caring, kind women, who will do anything and endure anything, for the asshole boyfriends or husbands they always seem to end up with. 

My observation is that assholes come in two types.  Lance is a neglectful asshole.  They are bad enough.  The others are the abusive assholes.  They are worse.  Some men are both.  We can be flexible.

This was the first time I’d talked to Raven on a personal level.  All of our conversations before had been about my father.  After a while, I realized Lance had not returned from the bathroom.  I looked around, and noticed him sitting at the bar, talking to a woman.  Wow.  I pointed that out to Raven.  She sighed again and said, “I know.”

I guess Doofus figured that as long as I was keeping his girlfriend occupied, he had time to scope out the next one-nighter.  Nice.  Guys like that give men an even worse name than guys like me.

She mentioned the funny song I had played during my set about the stripper.  I write songs about what I see going on around me.  Once I went to a bachelor party, determined not to spend any money.  Back then I didn’t have much.  But the energetic, pretty, and persistent stripper ended up with my last twenty. 

Raven said the nursing home had cut back her hours and she was considering dancing to help pay the bills.  The thought of long, tall, beautiful Raven gyrating on a brass pole was pretty appealing.  She is my friend and I wasn’t sure how I would feel about strangers gawking at and pawing her mostly naked body.  But I knew I would like doing it. 

She asked if I would hang out with her on the first night, if she decided to get a stripper job.  Game on.  You never have to tell me twice.

My opinion of strip clubs is, they are a lot of fun to hang out in, as long as you are willing to spend a lot of money.  The ladies will lose interest in you quickly if the cash isn’t flowing.  From the female perspective, it’s a pretty seedy way to make money.  Most of the customers are not wholesome, clean, upstanding citizens like Serge Wlodarski.  But there is a lot of money to be made.  Sadly, more of it gets spent on alcohol, cigarettes and crack than on rent or diapers.  There are a few that actually are working their way through college.  That, by far, is not the norm.

Despite Raven’s problem with men, she does not have the much deeper problems that many strippers have.  She isn’t any kind of addict and has always been gainfully employed, as long as I’ve known her.

The first night of Raven’s new job, I stopped by the ATM and put $200 in my wallet.  This is the only rational way for a guy to handle strip clubs.  Decide in advance how much you are going to spend.  When the wallet is empty, it’s time to go.  If you lack self-control, leave your ATM cards, debit cards, and credit cards at home.  I’ve seen more than one sucker pulling cash out of the ATM that sits near the front door of every strip club, while some impatient hottie looked on.

I told Raven I was planning on spending $100 on her in tips and lap dances.  The other $100 would cover drinks and whatever I would spend on other dancers.  As long as I was there…

At first, she just sat at my table when she wasn’t on stage.  I told her that was okay, but if she wanted to make money, she was going to have to work the crowd.  The best way for a stripper to make money is to develop regular customers.  Which means you have to find new ones, or take one away from another girl.  It’s a dog eat dog world.  A very rough, mostly unregulated form of capitalism is practiced in strip clubs.

When she was on stage, Raven was spectacular.  She was already tall, the high heels and the elevated stage gave her an elegant look.  She moved as well as any of the more experienced ladies.  She was a natural, and a natural blonde, unlike many of the pretenders she was competing with.  I decided it wouldn’t take long for her to get the hang of it.  If she wanted to.  Most of the guys that hang out in places like that are pretty icky.  Personality wise, Raven did not fit in with the rest of the ladies.  But you never know.  Money is an excellent servant, it is also a relentless master.

I had a blast hanging out with Raven.  I told her if she wanted to keep doing it, I’ll pick one night a week and that would be her night.  We decided to avoid weekends, that was when the club would be busiest, and the best chance for her to make money.  Monday was open mike night. That is how, for a short period of time, Tuesday nights became Raven Night for me.

As it happened, it also turned out to be Lexi Night.

Lexi was the complete opposite of Raven physically.  She was very petite, with short brown hair.  She was the girl next door, and she was quite an athletic specimen.  She had been a gymnast in high school, and was still in shape.  Lexi had six pack abs.

When Raven danced, she did the same moves on the pole as most of the ladies.  She was elegant, beautiful, and seductive.  When Lexi danced, it was more like watching two songs worth of the Olympics.  That girl could work the pole better than any dancer I’d ever seen.  She was spectacular. 

I tipped her while she was on stage, and told her I’d like a lap dance.  You’re supposed to call them table dances.  I wasn’t going to pay her to sit on my table.  She said she had two already lined up, but I was on the list.

Time for a frank discussion of what goes on in strip clubs.  Pretty much anything.  If you want oral, regular or strange, there are places you can go for that.  Bring protection and cash.  Most of the clubs are not that hard core.  The one Raven worked at did not allow that sort of thing.  Any dancers there that were interested in extracurricular activity would have to make other arrangements.  There are ways to make that happen. 

However, any pretty, talkative lady can make plenty of money in those places without getting poked.  You do have to be willing to work mostly nude, and not be averse to rubbing yourself all over a complete stranger, twenty bucks per song. 

Most dancers try to get away with just dancing in front of the john, without making much contact.  For the customer, that is even dumber than paying full price for something at a pawn shop.  I make it clear to any dancers that want my money. “What part of lap dance don’t you understand?”  The customer is always right.

Lexi didn’t need me to explain anything to her.  She was a pro.  It didn’t take her long to figure out what I like.  She knew the rules, and she knew just how far she could bend them.  But don’t worry.  This was a very tame club.  And I don’t do diseases.  There are places I’ve gone once, and never gone back.  Sometimes I looked, and decided not to touch.

When Raven wasn’t sitting with me, and when there wasn’t much going on in the bar, Lexi would sit and smoke her cigarettes.  I’d buy her drinks.  Unlike most of the ladies, Lexi didn’t talk much.  But the lap dances were awesome, and the occasional smile, and those big brown eyes, were worth every dollar I was spending.

I never learned much about Lexi.  I don’t ask questions when people don’t talk much.  But we had at least one thing in common, and that was what turned Raven Night into Raven and Lexi Night.

That first night, when I told Lexi I was about to take off, she said, “Hang on a second.  Very discretely, hold out your hand under the table.”  That is a common way for ladies to give a gentleman their phone number, letting him know extracurricular activities can be arranged.

But it wasn’t a slip of paper with a phone number that she handed me.  Though the two items were wrapped in paper.  I smiled and pocketed them.  Raven was going to have to share.

How Lexi knew about the hobby we had in common, I don’t know.  I had not mentioned it.  Maybe she was guessing.  Maybe women are from Venus and they know things us Martians are clueless about.

I understood what the gesture meant.  Samples are free.  There was more where that came from. 

For as long as Raven and Lexi Night lasted, I had Ginger and Mary Ann giving me all I could handle, one night a week.  And, my usual guy had some competition.  I was in hog heaven.

It was interesting to watch the dynamic between Raven and Lexi.  Raven had absolutely no problem sharing with Lexi.  Raven has told me many times, I’m nicer to her than any of her boyfriends ever have been.  On the other hand, I could tell Lexi would have rather had all of me to herself if she could.  She was a successful businesswoman, and not afraid of the competition.

But she knew why I was there, and she got along fine with Raven.

There was always something going on at the club.  Raven kept her money in a small zippered pouch.  One night, she came out of a booth after a dance.  When she got to my table, she realized she’d left the pouch in the booth.  About that time, the john came out of the booth, and headed into the bathroom.

Raven got back to the booth, the pouch was gone.  As she was telling me that the john stole her money, he came out of the bathroom and headed for the door.  I went in the bathroom and found Raven’s pouch, empty, in the garbage can.  I headed to the front door and told the bouncer what happened.  We went out to the parking lot.

The dude was already in his car, the bouncer and I were between him and the exit.  I had a “Holy crap, why am I doing this?” moment, then decided if he doesn’t stop I’ll just dive hard right.  I’ve eaten pavement before.

Maybe it was my menacing presence.  Maybe it was the 6’6” 260 pound bouncer waving a baseball bat.  But the dude stopped.  That was the second mistake he made that night.  It wasn’t his last.

I told him, “Hand me the money, and you drive away, no questions asked.”  The bouncer seconded the opinion.  Dude said he didn’t have any money, didn’t know what I was talking about.  The bouncer pulled out his cell phone and called 911.

It took several minutes for the policeman to get there.  I tried to talk some sense into the guy while he still had a chance.  No go.

The policeman explained that he couldn’t do anything about any possible theft.  But it was clear to him the gentleman had been drinking.  The officer told him, “If I see you on the road, I’m going to pull you over and give you a sobriety test.  Is there someone you can call that can pick you up and take you home?”

The man said he could call his wife.  Wow.  There’s a real intellectual giant.  I wonder what the little lady thought, when hubby woke her up at 2 am and said, “I’m at a strip club and the policeman says I can’t drive, can you pick me up, honey?”  I can’t imagine how much hell he went through for $80.  She probably took the money away from him anyway.

Such is the nature of the people you might meet in those places.

Nothing lasts forever, and it wasn’t too long before Lexi’s boyfriend got a job in Arkansas and she was gone.  A good stripper can make money anywhere.  Shortly after that, Raven got a new job as a phlebotomist in a hospital, full benefits and all, and quit stripping.  It was fun while it lasted.

I kept up with Raven on and off after that, for another few years.  It would depend on boyfriends.  If she didn’t have one, or she had one of the neglectful ones, we’d hang out from time to time.  When she was dating an abusive one, she didn’t dare.

Eventually she got smart and stopped dating at all.  Some women are like out of control alcoholics.  Abstention may be the best strategy.


When I write straight fiction, or fictionalized accounts of real events, I always like to wrap the story up with a twist or a tidy ending.  But this story doesn’t have an ending yet, because it is real life.  Raven got a job somewhere else and moved off.  I’ve got her phone number, but I haven’t called.  She hasn’t called me.

But we’ll cross paths again.  I’m certain.  Because she promised.  Because I asked her the question.

I’m not talking about marriage, or sex.  I’ll never do the first, and will probably never do the second with Raven.  Not impossible though.  She’d have to lower her standards.

The question I asked is an important one, something any single person who doesn’t have children or a big extended family needs to think about eventually.  One night, when Raven’s car was broken down, I gave her a ride to the club.  On the way we had a conversation about life, and I asked her this:  “Raven, when I am old, will you take care of me?” 

She said yes.

© Copyright 2020 Serge Wlodarski. All rights reserved.

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