Category Archives: Dating stories

More, More, More! the story of a dynamic man

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Back by popular demand- Dating Stories.  This is actually more of an homage to one man I dated who became a really great friend. I will call him “M”.

In this post I am going way back to my college years as a dangerously energetic and naive Art Major at VCU.  It is 1984(?). The obsession of my young adult life, a man I will refer to as Lord Byron- LB for short, had unceremoniously dumped me the day after he has told me he wants our relationship to be exclusive. This was a fairly major event because we shared an almost psychic connection. The sexual and intellectual attraction between me & LB was so palpable that when we walked into a public space together, people would stop talking and turn to stare. We were young, good-looking people with magnetic energy that when combined, was simply arresting.

During the 24 hours in between the incongruent events of my heart leaping to new heights as I blissfully dreamt of eternal happiness with the most gorgeous, sensual, exotic and darkly interesting man I had yet met and the emotional equivalent of having my heart and dreams smashed to a bloody pulp like what remains after an arctic hunter bludgeons a big eyed baby seal, I had given my other boyfriend, Snarky Ass Artist (SAA), his walking papers.

It was all quite inconvenient because LB and I worked at the same place so despite the break-up we saw each other almost everyday.

After a month or so post devastation, I got back with SAA and moved in with him.  We spent a broiling RVA summer in his cockroach infested, un-airconditioned, railroad apartment. As the summer sweltered on,SAA formulated a plan  to move to California rather than return to school.

So at the end of August a bunch of friends and I throw a farewell party for SAA.  At some point during the revelry I decide to walk to a bodega a half block down the street to pick up a few bottles of champagne. As I zwoosh past the cash register to the refrigerated section as if on a mission from god, I call back to the spritely guy behind the counter, “I want six bottles of the best champagne you have. Do you have any cold?” His response, “I don’t know where you are going but wherever it is, I want to come along.” That was how I met “M”.

I went back to that store three or four more times that night and by the end of his shift, I had invited M to join the party. The next day I took SAA to DC to catch his flight to San Fran and cried all night feeling abandoned and untethered. In the morning M rang and invited me over to soak in the baby pool in his back yard (a popular thing for college students in Richmond in August at the time – the river was too warm to be refreshing but a baby pool filled with cold hose water was rejuvenating) where he offered me cocktails to remove the sting from my aching heart/ego and cucumber slices for my swollen red eyes. He listened patiently to my story of the previous months, about my soul crushing love for LB and my sadness of SAA leaving while periodically donning my eyelids with fresh cucumber slices and filling my glass with more frozen margarita.

The next day when I arrived at work, one of my sister co-workers discovered a long rectangular box tied with a fat yellow silk bow in the cold storage where we kept french pastries. “The card says they are for you,”she squealed looking directly at me. M, knowing that LB worked with me, had sent two dozen long-stem yellow roses to the workplace and had delivered them when LB would have been the only person to receive them. It was a wonderful moment as there was quite a bit of excitement generated by a bouquet of expensive flowers amongst a gaggle of young women and LB looked a bit chagrinned.

This is just one of a dozen stories of M’s generosity. Always a nurturer and ready to shed some sunshine on anyone’s rainy day, M is an extraordinary person (we are still friends). He is constantly doing nice things for people.  And to the soundtrack of Dire Straights, Brian Ferry, Prince and Big Audio Dynamite we have had many adventures -like a hilarious road trip to his family home, nights on the town in Manhattan, days lounging on the rocks in the James River, and just generally being there for each other through the tough times. He helped me find a place to stay when I first moved to New York, introduced me to his cool artist friends, helped me to get my first real job out of college, threw me a birthday bash for my 50th, and lent me money and an understanding ear at a low point in my life.

Through all the years I have known him he has always been: in love with his high-school sweetheart even though there have been other women in his life; plagued by addiction to drama and a variety of substances; possessed a penchant for obsession from orchids to jewelry making; loved everyone with his whole heart yet peppered himself with potshots of self-depreciating humor; been dangerously charming, clever and glib; had amazing good taste in all things; and generally been one of the luckiest blokes you might ever meet.

But probably the most impressive thing about M is that he is a survivor.  His childhood and young adulthood, though privileged, contained the kind of tragedy that would turn anyone into a bitter, hater type yet somehow, M survived and is able to love people powerfully.

Thank you, M, for being complicated, adorable,extreme, funny, supportive and an absolute love. It is an honor to call you my friend. Holding you and your family in the light.

Sailing

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071119-N-3165S-029 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 19, 2007) The amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4) conducts flight deck qualifications with the air combat element of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit along with members of the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28. Nassau Strike Group is preparing for an upcoming deployment. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ryan Steinhour (Released)

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 19, 2007) The amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4)

Yesterday I was driving across the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel on my way to a Bon Voyage Fete in Virginia Beach for a dear friend. (Cue: Bobby Daren’s version of “Sailing”.) I have traveled Eastbound across this particular connector countless times filled with thoughts of sun filled days stretched across bright colored beach towels on the sandy shores, building sand sculptures and body surfing the brownish green waves.  But yesterday as I headed towards the tunnel that allows ships docked in Norfolk to pass out to sea, my car window open to allow the salty fresh air kissing my face, I glanced to the left towards the Naval Base and a rush of phantom excitement came over me.  It was as though I passed through a time warp to a warm June day in between my Senior Year of High School and my Freshman year at Boston U when I was speeding in my 1974 Ford Mustang convertible towards a day or two of heaven spent with a dashing young sailor whom I will refer to as Trent for the sake of decorum.

My entire being recalled the tingling of every cell in my body that earmarked the thrill of anticipation. The Cheshire Cat smile that emerged across my face when I saw his ship from the bridge because it meant I was close and getting closer to someone who was waiting for me with equal enthusiasm. The freedom of youthful carelessness rushed through me-  certainly I had called in sick to my job in order to race down to the beach at the last minute to see Trent for a few days of irreverent bliss. It was all there for a moment.

I thought about Trent and how ridiculously handsome he was. A gorgeous specimen of a man with chiseled features, dark straight hair, flashing blue eyes and the muscular frame of a boxer. The broad smile on his face when I arrived at the ship. How he showed me around and showed me off to his shipmates. Two years older and a little dangerous  (he had dropped out of college to join the Navy- something that was unheard of at my prep school and he was a boxer of sorts) he was quite popular and being with him made me feel important and special. But other than growing up in the same town we had very little in common except  a frat-like penchant for drinking (Bourbon & Coke was his poison of choice), a love of dancing (and I mean ballroom – all the men in his family were fantastic dancers) and an animalistic appreciation of each other… so, sadly, relationship did not last long.

Though it was a pleasure to remember that moment and to reminisce about my old flame it made me sad that there is not someone in my life at present who gets tingly in anticipation of seeing me and I wondered if I will ever feel like that again?

Perhaps the fact that I can recall it so vividly is a good sign that it can and will.

Oh Great! Another F-ing Valentine’s Day

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I have said this before, I detest Valentine’s Day.  It is hardly the holiday itself, which is adorable by nature- the celebration of love and all.  I like the idea of Valentine’s, I just hate my experience of it.  So many awful ones… like the humiliation of observing throughout the day the growing bouquets of pink, red or white carnations carried by other girls in high school as I  navigated the halls empty handed EVERY YEAR weather I was dating someone or not. I remember one year when the boy I was “dating” sent a flower to a rather unpopular girl in our theatre class because he thought she wouldn’t get any and that I would get dozens. Ouch! Then there was the year that as a young college grad living in New York City, my boyfriend presented me with a Swiss Army Knife – because it was red. We had a huge fight because, though I was appreciative albeit  a tad confused by the Freudian interpretation one might derive from such a gift, he spent the better part of the evening apologizing and berating himself which after a few hours sent me into a rage. Or the several years I worked retail and sold thousands of dollars of nice jewelry and clothing to men who were eager to please their sweethearts whilst my guys failed to cough up the sentiment to even pick up a card. No wonder the day often fills me with snark.

H2, though, as I have said, did a good job of gift giving and being romantic on Valentine’s. He would shower me with gifts of jewelry, flowers and nice dinners. Actually, until recently and post divorce mind you, he would send me flowers. But now he is otherwise occupied and it is a day that just evokes painful memories. A day that provides an excuse for my critical self to hold a mental magnifying glass over my insecurity and nag at me,”Why don’t you have some special significant other in your life? Look at all these couples around you doing lovely things for each other today?  What is so terribly wrong with you that you lack a partner?”

To make matters worse, I recently had a conversation with a woman who is not even moved out of the home she shares with her soon- to -be- ex. She is already mooning over a new man she is “seeing” but not “dating” and boasts of plans for a future together.  And another friend who last year at this time was miserable in a marriage, is 365 days later divorced and starting a new fairly serious relationship. There are of course more examples- I could go on and on. And my male friends are even faster to get connected.  One married within a year of getting divorced without knowing the woman beforehand.  Another is simply “having trouble” in his marriage and is already looking for someone to date – just in case things don’t turn out with his wife. AGGGHHH!

The fact that these people can find a satisfying  relationship so quickly pisses me off.  It seems unfair.  I know I am whining here but it does feel like something is wrong with me when I would not have any of these guys (either the ones so eager to find mates or the ones my female friends have hooked up with) served on a silver platter.  Am I sabotaging any chances of having a relationship in the guise of being picky?  I don’t know but I seem to have a total aversion to being with someone for the sake of having someone to be with.  It seems to me that it is difficult enough to find someone who is actually single. After that it would be nice to find someone with whom I actually enjoyed spending time and for whom I felt a physical attraction.  Outside of those requirements, being gainfully employed, non-addicted and having a positive attitude would be great. So until I find a man who fits those requirements, I will revel in the fact that being alone is better than being with just anyone.

In terms of my Valentine’s angst- I gave myself permission to enjoy being pissy about Valtentine’s rather than trying to make myself feel better and somehow it feels empowering. I realized while leaning into my angst, that I can  stop fantasizing that all the couples I see around me are all happy or monogamous. (Statistics prove that many of them are miserable and putting on a show or at least one of them is having an affair.) I am resolved to  enjoy my independence and embrace all the great things I have because I am single like having a bed and a bathroom all to myself, setting the thermostat to the temperature of my liking and not having to work around the schedule of some sports team’s game time on the weekend.  Besides no one can spoil me as well as I spoil myself. I can celebrate Valentine’s as a day of love for me.

So I started writhing this post on February 12th and now it is the 14th.  Feeling empowered as a single person who on this day can express my love for myself, I decided to go to a long anticipated concert of classical music in my home town.  No date – just trusting the magic that the extra ticket would get used by someone who really wanted it and was willing to take a chance at the door.  I decided I would feel my best by looking my best and planned to wear a classic little black dress with some sexy tall boots and my unapologetic full length mink (originally belonging to my mother and a symbol of her independence – she bought it for herself from money she earned from her own business).  The idea- taking myself out on a date. A date which would be totally magical for ME.  Looking good and listening, unencumbered by concern for anyone else’s thoughts or opinions, to music that pleased me.

Then this afternoon a text came from one of the few single men my age in my town.  It was an invitation to a special wine dinner and he just happened to have an extra ticket.

Here is where I screwed this Valentine’s up.  I agreed to go for the early part of the dinner which would still get me to the concert on time. I Love good food and wine but really, I have so much to do tomorrow I shouldn’t be drinking at all and I should just stay true to myself and follow my original plan, right?  But no.  I was lured by the flattery of being invited by a single man, the promise of good wine and delicious food so agreed to go for the first course then run off to the concert.

Evening came and I got dressed. As I started to pull out of the parking garage where I live I saw about three snow flakes drift delightfully down from the sky. Less than one minute and a quarter mile later it looked like a blizzard. Loads of snow and blasting winds so that by the time I parked at the venue, maybe five minutes later, there was a quarter inch of snow on the ground. I hadn’t seen snow like that since I lived in Boston – very unusual for Charlottesville, Virginia!  Things get cancelled for less. I arrived at the wine event flustered and a tad soggy after walking only a half block in the wet snow and blustering wind, was seated to the left of the host (the person who invited me) and began chatting with the people at the table.  Comfortable, sipping a bubbly red wine while snow continued to fall, I made a judgement call within a half hour of the start time not to go to the concert. It seemed like a good idea in moment. It was still snowing and I had the wrong shoes on for walking in the snow and then I would have to park and walk blah blah blah. So I stayed only to discover towards the end of the dinner and too late to change tact and make it even to the second half of the concert, that my host is obviously involved with the woman sitting across from me. The big clue was the discussion of their pending trip  to Eastern Europe in the spring. At the end of the evening I left  feeling at first, embarrassed then shortly following, pissed that I had ditched my own empowering plans only to discover myself in a confusing and awkward situation.

The man involved was being gracious (other than failing to mention his relationship with the woman seated across from me ahead of time).  He obviously (giving him the benefit of the doubt here) invited me as a friend to join a party of interesting people at a posh event. It was nice to be invited. The dinner was delish. It was my own expectation of special treatment that got me in trouble and I am grateful that  I wasn’t flirting profusely or otherwise potentially making the evening stressful for anyone else.

I am simply tired of the awkward situations that tend to be the hallmark of my experiences where men are concerned these days.

Like the man I dated for a short time who invited me and several of my friends to a party at his home under the guise that I should meet his friends because he was that interested in me. I will call him Double Trouble – DT for short. On the night of the party DT ignored me after a brief greeting. When it came time to leave I noticed one guest lagging behind, the only other single woman present, and she was obviously not going anywhere and was very comfortable. Awkward. A few days later DT invited me to go on a nice trip to the islands.  I asked about the woman. He said they had a wonderful relationship that fulfilled all his emotional needs but he failed to feel a sexual attraction for her.  I broke it off.

But more significantly, I am also tired of ignoring the importance of taking care of myself before others.  If I had made plans with another person to go to the concert, I would not have even considered dropping by the wine event in the first place.  Why did I feel it was OK to ignore a great date with myself?

Oh well, perhaps, one day, I will learn my lesson: To thine own self be true -despite the promise of a good dinner and bubbles  or the potential of attention from the opposite sex.

Happy Valentine’s day!

The Rock Star

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When I first started this blog I made a list of some of the men I had dated like bank robber  but I carelessly omitted an important title – Rock Star.  OK, when I met Dave Brockie,  during our first year in Art School at Virginia Commonwealth University, he was not a rock star nor did his preppy button down Oxford shirt looks indicate that he might ever be one. But I, along with a collection of other arts students, punk rockers and club kids got to witness his transformation into his alter ego, Odurus Urungus, that lead the “punk” band GWAR to enough fame to go on world tours and garner two Grammy nominations.

It must have been the summer of 1984…or maybe ’85. The dates are irrelevant.  It was Richmond, Virginia and it was as hot and muggy as a Bikram class with 100 people. We were both in our early twenties and crackling with hard bodied sexuality. Most of our friends had left town for other adventures or at least the respite of air-conditioning in their parent’s comfortable homes in whatever suburbs from which they originated leaving us to discover each other with little notice by our social circle.

Brockie was already known in the local music scene due to his involvement with a band called Death Piggy which played local bars and Schaefer Court at VCU and was about to envision Odurus during a drug induced splurge of creativity.  By the next summer he and the original GWAR members would be squaters  in the Milk Bottle Building carving the first character costumes out of foam.

I was a fixture on the dance club circuit, marking my weeks by what club I was in rather than the actual day.  (If I was at the Bus Stop it must be Wednesday.) My wardrobe gleaned from almost daily visits to fan area Thrift Stores where store owners simply gave up selling stuff to me and lent dresses, shoes, jewelry and bags for the night with the understanding that I would pass out business cards to anyone who asked about my outfit.

I fail to recall how we became involved.  We already knew each other so there was not a moment of spotting each other from across a crowded room or anything as charming as that to mark the beginning of our little affair but there was an undeniable, tractor beam of physical attraction between us that resulted in insatiable, power-full sexual encounters. We could barely be alone for ten seconds before garments were ripping from flesh and raw animal passion engulfed us. I think many women may have had this experience of Dave, but I swear there was something different about the two of us. Some primal connection from a past life, maybe, but definitely something.

At any rate, we did stuff other couples did at the time, like talk on the phone, go to the movies and eat in restaurants. But anyone who knew Dave Brockie will tell you that he was intense, expressive and intensely expressive.  There was just something unique going on in that oversized head of his, a world that intrigued me but that I was pretty sure I did not want to dwell in.  He could be so endearingly sweet yet equally crass and thoughtless.  And, ohmygod, the violence in his art.  His paintings at the time were filled with sex and violence, blood and gore.  Cartoon like but raw. I often thought it would be amazing to be in his head for about 20 minutes but any time over that would be too much.

I remember one time we were out with my cousin, another woman close to our age, and she expressed an interest in him.  I told Dave that if he liked her I would be OK with them having a tryst and he became super indignant.  I asked him to explain why he was so angry and he just couldn’t and he stormed off.  We never agreed on that but we did make up only to end the relationship soon after.

Dave wanted to give me a painting and so we made a date for me to come to his apartment to pick one out.  When I arrived he was surprised (he was already stoned or tripping) we greeted each other in our own special way then he said he had promised some of his friends to drop some acid and break into the National and did I want to come along.  I said, “No” and expressed some dismay regarding the change in plans.  Dave said he really wanted to go with this friends but I could wait for him.  I said “No” again and left.  That was the end of our summer fling but not the end of our attraction.

A few years later, after I was married and had become a mother, my then husband and I went to the 930 Club in DC to see a GWAR show as a break from early parenting.  I went to the green room to see Dave and Don Draculitch (who was another VCU pal).  Dave was chatting with some major reporter from the Post or somewhere.  It was as though he could telepathically sense me because once I was fully in the room he stopped talking to the reporter, turned around and made a bee line to hug and kiss me.  “Mary Burruss, ” he beamed.  I introduced him to my husband then Dave sidled up a little closer and looking down into my eyes, a mischievous grin forming across his face, asked, in all sincerity, If I would come back after the show and go back to the hotel with him. I laughed as if he were joking but he really wasn’t. And to be honest, it took a great deal of restraint to ignore his request but I behaved and at the end of the show went home with my husband.  There were other incidents over the years were we would run into each other and I would detect that same twinkle in his eye and he in mine- not memory but gleeful possibility.

But of course it was impossible.  I could not cross the line into the kind of life Dave had chosen though I applaud him for making a living out of truly doing and being what he loved.

I was oddly touched when he died of a heroin overdose on March 23rd of this year.  I hadn’t seen him for four or five years though I had toyed with asking him for that painting.In  a profound way it was the perfect time for Brockie to check out.  He embodied youth and child-like wonder so at age 50, the precipice in time when our lives transition from youth to undeniable adulthood and pending limitation, it was right for him to leave  quietly.  I like to think he simply left his body as part of his drug trip, got distracted by something and forgot to jump back into his skin.

I cried rivers for the loss of my own youth that Dave symbolized but I didn’t cry for him.  He had an excellent ride, performing for crowds all over the world, making art, living his perverse dreams. What more could anyone ask for?

Three days after his death, he visited me in a dream to tell me he loved me and give me some advice -which I have now forgotten.

I don’t know if I will ever experience that kind of carnal chemistry with another human being again in this lifetime but maybe one summer with Dave Brockie for a lover sufficiently filled that quota.

 

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Defining Moments

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I am hiking behind my boyfriend of six months through a forest of leafless trees on an early spring day in 1989.  We are backpacking somewhere in West Virginia with two other couples and have taken an off-trail short cut, bushwhacking through young trees with bendy switch-like branches. Thwack! my beloved walks through a branch and lets it snap back, smacking me in the forehead.  It hurts but I giggle and ask him to be more mindful of the branches.  Less than two minutes later another skinny branch whacks across my bare shin, this time leaving a scratch.  “Ouch!”, I exclaim.  I ask again that he hold the branches rather than let them switch back. This is common trail courtesy anyway.  He remembers this for the next couple of branches then returns to his original behavior.  After the fourth or fifth round of thwacking and asking I realize that he is uninterested in changing his behavior and  I purposefully lag far enough behind to keep from being hit every few minutes.

This was a defining moment. One of those bridges one crosses in a nanosecond from innocence into knowledge. Oprah would call it an “Aha, moment”.  I realized this guy had little consideration for me and it was the beginning of the end of our relationship. That this behavior- the lack of consideration demonstrated by letting branches and briars smack into me -even after I asked him to be more aware- was an indication of how he would treat me for the rest of our relationship.

When a relationship is wrong, your instincts will warn you with a revelation. When it does you have a choice to listen or ignore that inner voice. In every failed relationship I’ve had, I can recall  one of these instances, a window into the future that indicated exactly what I was getting.  Experience and heartache has taught me to heed these moments and it least make a conscious decision to stay or go rather than simply ignoring the signs and returning to the blissful blindness typical of the first several months of a relationship.

Not in tune with your instincts?

The best way to get acquainted with your inner knowledge that can reveal great truths out of seemingly everyday moments is to spend time with your self. Weekends alone. Keep a journal. Meditate. Take long walks in nature.  Vacation solo. Whatever it takes to get into your own head and learn to hear your greater intelligence. I promise it will serve you well. Then the next time you feel that tightening in the pit of your stomach and a revelation smacks you in the face you will know weather to keep walking with that person or to turn around and walk the other way.

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How to Spot a Skunk

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When people discover that I write a dating blog they often ask me how can they determine if someone is right for them.  If you have been reading you know I have mentioned many signs that may signal potential problems down the relationship road but the absolute best indicator of someone’s character is how they react in a crisis.

Certainly everyone can behave relatively well during good times, particularly if they have the motive of attracting you.  This is one of the problems I have with long distance relationships because a person can easily hide a hideous personality or major character flaw when they only have to be pleasant for a short period of time generally doing pleasant things like wining and dining and having sex. Life is a ball and you may want it to go on forever only to be horribly disappointed when that person turns out to be ill suited as an everyday-take-out-the-trash-clean-the toilet-do-the-grocery-shopping life.

No, the good times are not the test.  The test is how does a person react when things go wrong.  Do they fall apart, drink heavily, throw tantrums, get violent, angry, laugh or simply breath deeply and make the next logical move or what?  Big hint here people- you want to be with the person who can either laugh or breath and move to the next logical step or both because most of life is about handling stress and dealing with messes.

Here is an example that still makes me giggle.

I invited an intriguing man, “Tom”  and his dog, “Marley” out for a hike along a charming bit of the Appalachian trail one warm early spring day. We drove a ways out of town to the trail but it was closed so I suggested a less interesting but near by place to walk thinking that with the shortened hiking time we might stop at a vineyard  on the way home for a nice glass of wine.  Within five minutes of starting out, the dog took off running at full speed across a field towards a skunk.  Though its owner tried in vein to stop him, curious little “Marley” stuck his nose directly into the skunks backside as though it were a small dog to identify the way that dogs do and, oh yes, the skunk did what skunks do when they feel their personal space invaded- and sprayed right in the dog’s face! Tom trotted calmly over as the skunk sauntered away, and gently clamped the leash on Marley’s neck and said, “Well, it will be an interesting ride back.”

We walked a little more and banished the fragrant pooch to the back of the SUV and endured a painfully smelly 30 minute ride to a pet store to pick up de-stnkifying shampoo.

The day was cut short and it was a truly uncomfortable situation but this guy kept his cool even in the face of my intermitent bursts of laughter.

That my friends, is the kind of temperament that can get you through the hassles  of daily life.

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Men to Avoid: Guys who go to strip clubs

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Burlesque celebrates feminin sexuality.

Burlesque celebrates feminin sexuality.

A good friend gave me a fun read recently, Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman. I must admit that I fail to agree with all of Moran’s musings on a definition for modern feminism but I did get some good laughs.  Moran earned my nod of approval in her chapter titled, I Go Lap Dancing. Via a witty recount of a night she went to a high end strip club, Spearmint Rhino, in the mid-90’s with another female journalist to conduct research for a story and gulp down free champagne.

Moran points out in her story that strip clubs are depressing places and she is right.  As part of a social experiment when I was in college, I went with my male friend JB to a small strip club in the afternoon.  He wanted to see if the men in the club would behave differently with a “regular” woman in the club. They did, according to him, tone it down a bit but it was sad.  So impersonal.  The women all looked so bored, distracted, as if they were going through the motions and not enjoying performing at all.  The men also looked bored and some downright despondent. It must be sad if you have to pay someone money to stick their twat in your face rather than being someone has someone do it because they like you.

This is not my only strip club experience.  Back in the late ’80’s I lived at 20th and Park Ave South in New York City, a then rather dull neighborhood just at the very beginning of becoming someplace anyone would want to be.  There was a high end strip club right around the corner from my apartment and sometimes when I was coming home from a night out and I looked respectable or at least dressed up, the bouncers would invite me and my posse in for a drink as a way of being neighborly. It was pretty much the same depressing dynamic as the tiny little titty bar I visited with JB but in a posh setting with a lot more money being exchanged.  The girls were gorgeous but they all had fake boobs- beautiful boobs but fake all the same.  I know because they would tell us all about it while seated at the bar after their shifts. And they were all “just doing this go pay for graduate/medical/law school”- which made me laugh just imagining the reaction of some guy getting rolled into the ER having a heart attack and recognizing his doctor from her days in the club or a judge recalling that very special lap dance the defense attorney performed for him on his Birthday a few years back while she is giving closing arguments.

Anyway…

These girls were making loads of cash.  $500 to $1,000.00 a night and sometimes more (which in todays dollars would be about $1,500 to $3,000 on a regular night).  They would tell me if I got my boobs done I could make that kind of money too but alas, I chose working in retail over a career as a stripper possibly proving once again that I am a financial moron. But really I declined because I think, as Moran does, that women should be in control of their sexual energy and that objectification of women is sexist and fundamentally wrong.

As Moran so eloquently puts it, “No man who ever cared for or wanted to impress a woman made her stand in front of him and take her knickers off to earn her cab fare home.”

But …

Moran does support Burlesque Dancing (and I agree with her on this) because in Burlesque, unlike stripping, the woman is in control.  She is celebrating her creativity, her sexuality. She is enjoying herself as she performs for an entire audience of men and women.  Burlesque is empowering and feels communal and comfortable to women in the audience.

She writes:

“Perhaps as a direct consequence, burlesque artists treat their own sexuality as something fabulous and enjoyable- rather than soothing bordering on a weapon, to be ground, unsmilingly, into the face of the sweaty idiot punter below.

…burlesque clubs fell like a place for girls.  Strip clubs- despite the occasional presence of a Spice-Girl, ten years ago – do not. Watching good burlesque in action, you can see female sexuality;a performance constructed with the values system of a woman: beautiful lighting, glossy hair, absurd accessories (giant cocktail glasses; huge feather fans), velvet corsets, fashionable shoes, Ava Gardner eyeliner, pale skin, classy manicures, humor, and a huge round of applause at the end- instead of an uncomfortable, half-hidden erection and silence.

Burlesque artists have names- Dita von Teese, Gypsy Rose Lee, Immodesty Blaize, Tempst Storm, Miss Dirty Martini- that make them sound liek sexual superheroes,  They explore a culture that allows them to do, creatively, as they please,  They are dames, broads, and women- rather than the slightly cold-looking girls you see in strip clubs,  Their personas embrace the entire spectrum of sexuality- fun, wit, warmth, inventiveness, innocence, power, darkness- rather than the bloodless aerobics of the podium.”

The difference is the attitude. Stripping is objectification while Burlesque is empowering.  Men who enjoy the objectification of women are bad news.  They may seem perfectly wonderful on the surface. They are usually very charming and flirty.  Objectifiers give nice presents- usually something that makes them look equally good in an egotistical way and decorate the object – like nice jewelry or fur coats. They like beautiful well dressed women – arm candy. They equate expenditures on dinners out, trips and gifts as payment for sexual favors and may get cross if you fail to agree with that concept. They will be the first to express dismay if you gain a pound or two.

It is as satisfying to have a relationship with a person who thinks of you as an object as it is for you to have a relationship with a rock.

One woman told me her story of going out with a man she met online.  She had only ever dated one man in her life, her former husband of 30 + years and had little idea of what dating would be like.  She met the man at a restaurant.  He talked mostly about himself at dinner then as they were leaving the restaurant asked her if she would like to sit in his car and chat for a few more minutes.  Seeing nothing wrong with that she complied. Once she was in the car he ambushed kissed her and began groping her breasts.  When she pulled back in horror his response was, “Well, I bought you dinner didn’t I?”

Charming.