Thursday, December 31, 2009

Confession: Hiding in Plain Sight

One of my best friends and most objective critics--Ariel, clearly--looked at me last night and asked where my blog was.

I told her I've been busy. With, you know, like, work, which slowly drains my words away over the course of a 10-hour stretch in a fluorescent-lit cube. And those oh-so-busy bustling holidays. And, um, my pro-antidisestablishmentarianism activism work in that commune in Johannesburg. Or somesuch. Ahem.

She called shenanigans on all excuses. (For the record, the draining death-cube part is true, but it's never stopped me from writing before, so...yeah. Erroneous.)

"You're afraid to tell the truth." Bitch. Acting like she knows me... 

...she does know me. I can't not write the truth. But I don't want to write it, because then it's documented, so it's real. So it must be dealt with. Dammit.

The partial truth is I get home at night, at whatever time, drained or undrained, and lift the screen. I put my spritely little hands on the keys, stare at an empty page--and immediately begin to panic.

Not because I've got nothing to write. I've go so much to write my life is bingeing and purging Post-It notes. I could sleep under them, like a bag lady under newspaper. I found one stuck to the back of my cell phone the other day. All it said was: "awkward hyena laugh." There could have been an interesting post in that phrase, but I've forgotten what I meant when I wrote it. There's also the two different totable notebooks filled with scrawl, handwriting spilling into the margins, frantic little arrows pointing to connecting thoughts disjointed by separate pages. "LOOK! More! There's more!" Plus two new moleskines received as gifts recently, already front-heavy with notes and dog-eared pages and----I know, I'm sorry----poetry. Lots of it. Point is, I've got stuff to write.

The partial truth is I've morphed into an anxiety-ridden, talentless bullshit artist being dry-humped to death by her own pathetic existential funk. Excuse me, Mr. Sartre? Could you get off please, I'm starting to chaff...

...and it's all rooted right back where this blog started.

The whole truth is that around the time of The 2nd First Date, Alex and I not-so-secretly went on a 2nd Second Date. And then a 2nd Third Date. And then a fourth, and so on, until we were not-so-secretly seconding right back into an intimate, albeit unlabeled, something that was obvious to everyone but us. And it was wonderful. I slept in his nook again. He looked at me with eyes that know every single thing about me. We walked our dog, together. We even not-so-secretly celebrated our six-year anniversary, as if we'd never split in the first place (even though the term "boyfriend/girlfriend" was blacked out of the syllabus entirely), and dropped the "m" word (m-a-r-r-i-a-g-e) again.

And then, lightning-fast, the brakes. Me, slamming on them. Again. Alex getting whiplash. Again. Me resting my head on the dashboard in shame and frustration. All the people who'd been predicting our inevitable marriage since we were 20 and wringing their hands gleefully over our romantic re-coupling watching the hubcaps rolls down the street.

The prediction most people made when I posted on this blog about he and I testing a reunion was that we'd get back together and the same problems  would still be there. What actually happened was that the old problems were essentially gone, but an entirely new garden of ragweed was springing up in its place, with one gigantic, choking vine in the middle, namely that--through listing, through life, through god-knows-what--I've become someone very different than the girl who grew up with her hand in his. He is still very much the same wonderful man. I do not know if he and this foreigner fit together.

It's been a revelation shocking to no one but me.

I'm trying to think of something to liken it to. This is one of the only things in my limited range of experience that fits:

When I was 17, the punk band I'd been playing in for two years blew up. A meandering impersonation of something we all aspired to be hit a streak of luck and local acclaim, climbed to modest (pre-iTunes/pre-MySpace) and centralized esteem, and set out on a half-cocked tour of the East Coast. Five guys, one girl, a U-Haul of equipment and a van. Eight exhilarating, sweaty, wild, debauched days in, we were cruising down the interstate at the Florida border at about 90 miles-per-hour, all six of us stomping out our own (assuredly heinous) double-bass beat to a Poison the Well cassette jammed in the tapedeck. It was glorious. And at THAT exact, blind, blissful moment, the hood of the van popped up, caught in the wind and slammed against the windshield, starring out the glass in a spiderweb of cracks and blocking the road entirely from view, causing the entire band to let out a sustained unison scream than would have shamed Macaulay Culkin. We swerved off the road and into a small ditch.

Sitting in the side of a drainage shoulder in Florida, broken down and broke and drenched in sweat, our bass player calling his mom for help on a brick-sized cell-phone, reality burned itself into our skin: we were not rock stars. We were kids. And we had no idea what we were doing.

That's what this is like--the sort of utterly unexpected, blink of an eye disaster that stops everything in its tracks...and was, in many ways, totally foreseeable to any of the more mature people around you.

Until very recently I felt like there was a direction. Forward. To Alex? To something. If not to the happy ending, then to a major footnote with illustrations and a bookmark. Now, no direction. I'm an awkward, domesticated house-cat, released back into the wild...again...and confused as fuck about where the Fancy Feast is.

The first time I left, and Hitch Listed, and settled all smug down in Brooklyn to write my gimmicky blog about rediscovering independence, I did it with one hand still holding on to some piece of my old life across the Hudson River. It was being held back in return. I checked items off the list and started to mutate into whatever I am now with the confidence that comes from knowing that, even if you fail miserably, someone loves you and will take you back if you show up on their doorstep and say, "I'm a mess. Please love me anyway." I confess the one hand is still partially there---however, the fingers are being severed. Have been? Are being. There's still an index finger and a thumb wrapped around the doorknob.

Now, I'm settled, not-at-all smug, in Brooklyn, wondering if my gimmicky blog is even read and what the point of it is if I can't write it with some modicum of knowing authority, some end-point in sight. I know the blogs I like best are honest, well-written and exciting because there is no end-point...everyone's along for the ride. But I always need to like the narrator.  And I know that I, personally, don't really like the floundering, confused, frightened me---or at least not her rambling monologue relentlessly being broadcast inside my skull.

So I've been hiding.

There's one question I keep getting from friends and family about slamming on the brakes again. "Why?" Okay, fine:

I want too much. He doesn't seem to want enough. And there we both somehow went.

That's the whole truth.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Wingman Chronicles, Part V: Messy Midnight Oysters

Okay, I'm sorry. I know. I went MIA. But, wait baby, don't go--I'm back. And, even after that inexcusable absence, The Wingman Chronicles is back with me, returning for its final installment (for now). Reliable future posting, and an explanation of my disappearance, to follow.

Thus far The Wingman Chronicles have delivered us blues-singer sex, Ivy Leaguers on balconies, a free strip club romp and a shameful home invasion perpetrated against an award-winning actor. There's only one way to trump all that for this, the final part of the chronicles: 

Bivalve Mollusks.  

The Night of the Midnight Oysters crossed over into new territory, requiring one maneuver I'd never tried in flight school. I'd heard legend of the controversial move, a socially dangerous combination of laziness and perfectly calibrated match-making, but never dared try it: A Double Wingmanning? Mythic, beyond me, like the Five-Point Exploding Heart Technique or a public health care option. 

Ariel was, of course, the ideal partner for the last piece of my official reintroduction to the wild, a "low key" night she declared would be run, casually, on her terms.  (RED FLAG: Ariel metabolizes gin the way normal people do Vitamin C. So unless you're Keith Richards or Liza Minnelli, "low key" may be misleading...)

Due to a random work commitment, Ariel, two gay pals and myself were forced to begin our evening in what is the New York social equivalent of Dante's hell: an 80s prom re-creation/dance party set in the upper level of a bridge-and-tunnel cesspool on the LES. Bitter but motivated, we (the only attendees not dressed in stretch fabrics) did what any dedicated band of Saturday night revelers (who make under $40K annually) can do in such situations--roll in with flasks and an hour's tolerance for drunk bachelorettes dueting Bon Jovi covers with actors crammed in a fake varsity jackets. 

The night thankfully took a turn for the better at midnight (after we escaped the club, stealing a bounty of Ring Pops in the process), when Ariel decided New York City had but one jewel worth seeking, one orgasmic drug to be ingested: raw seafood.

"Oysters?" I half-protested as she grabbed my wrist, leading us down a side street. Her chin was tilted slightly upwards, a gesture midway between militant defiance and a hungry pit bull sniffing the air. This was followed by an even more skeptical "the Meatpacking District??" when she Pied Pipered me (the gays dropped out at the first suggestion of oysters, heading off in search of a very different kind of briny valve...) onto Gansevoort Street. "We're going to spend our night in the fucking Meatpacking District?"

"No," Ariel called calmly, ignoring my distain as I stumbled (literally...WHY are the streets cobblestone in a stretch of city that heavily trafficked by stilettos??) behind her. "We are going to spend our 'fucking' night with really good oysters."

Just then, my phone rang. James was on the line.

James is a blue-eyed, dark-haired professional modern dancer who happens to be my sister's ex-boyfriend. Having amicably parted from sis several years ago (actually she broke up with him in a not so savvy way--I told her she was crazy, then made it clear I was still hanging out with him whether she liked it or not), and having carefully sculpted himself a body ready for the pages of Why Wear Clothes At All? magazine, this laid-back Adonis was recently snatched up by a high-profile celebrity trainer. He now travels the globe shaping the bodies of blockbuster action heroes and willowy indie-ingenues, occasionally landing in NYC (though not nearly enough).

[Fun Fact: James drinks a gallon of whole milk every 1-3 days. He needs an extra-large refridgerator to support his crippling dairy addiction, which I find hilarious since his clients usually end up on strict "no sugar, no dairy" diets. Meanwhile, their Personal Jane Fonda's secretly got a cow's udder running teat-juice intravenously into his heart-stoppingly chiseled biceps. I digress...]

James got into NYC that night just in time to inform me that A) he was looking for a good time, B) it was his BIRTHDAY and C) he was hoping I was free, because his birthdays "always suck" and he needed a wingman. After emphasizing to Ariel his epic existential sulk about a shit string of birthdays, she agreed to make our duo a trio. 

"He's pretty," she also commented, off-handedly, when he met us shortly thereafter.
"And a giver, according to my sister."
"I didn't mean it like that," Ariel, ever-stoic and emotionless, said. "Too young. Too pretty." A pregnant pause. "Oysters."

Not to get all Proustian and shit...but Proust wrote, upon tasting his first madeline: ..."a shudder rain through me, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that had happened to me. An exquisite pleasure invaded my sense, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin."

That's what that first oyster was like.

Before Ariel paraded us into that French brasserie, I'd never had an oyster. Despite growing up on the shore, and maybe because of the year I once spent shucking be-shelled tongue-surfers for a clientele of frat boys and local businessmen at a local Hooters, I'd managed to go 26 years without tasting one. I know...not a big deal.

But for some reason--be it the company, the three carafes of red wine consumed, the gentle reminder I've seen and experienced so little that even nights begun at a faux-80s prom can be righted--when that first salty, squirming nubbin of satin protein swam down my throat in a flourish of brine and lemon, an unjaded piece of me stirred. It was like The Awakening (only instead of walking into the ocean like a suicidal bitch at the end I sucked down bougie shellfish...but you get the point).

The combination of oysters and wine slammed into my brain like a bag of Columbian narcotics.

"Dancing!" I declared. "We must dance! We must drink! We must drink from the cup of life!"

"You must stop talking like that," Ariel said, wearily, from across a mound of empty shells. 

"No, she's right. We should dance," James chimed in, eyeing Ariel. "It's my birthday." 

Having blown a week's worth of responsibly budgeted cash on bivalves and wine, we had to do continue the night on the cheap...which meant hiking across the city to the one bar where we could dance, and drink, for free because Ariel knows the bartender. A schizophrenic half lounge/half sports bar boozehole in Murray Hill isn't really our scene, but if you want to shake your hips with a strong drink in hand for free at 2:30am, anyplace will do.

Especially if you roll in with a gorgeous professional dancer on your arm, one who commandingly twirled, spun, lifted, arched and salsa-ed (alternately and, more impressively, simultaneously) with Ariel and I while pounding back birthday beverages. 

Until three large, bejeweled, slightly terrifying hoodrats interrupted us. 

"Hey, yo, my man," the leader, a 6' thug with a flat-brimmed BROOKLYN cap and a Puerto Rican flag jersey on, said to James. He was rubbing one hand suggestively around his chest, that creepy motion which signals heartburn more than sexual prowess if you're anyone but LL Cool J circa "Doin' It." "You bein' greedy, my man. You can't keep both these beautiful girls to yourself. Bro's gotta share."  His wingmen nodded in agreement.

"Well, bro, it actually looks like I can?" James answered without hesitation, drawing both Ariel and myself into his hips. "Because you're the guys with no one to dance with."

I fell mildly in love with him at that moment.  

But I also saw the exit strategy, the move that left me capably in my element--manipulating social retards--while Wingman One and Wingman Two, intoxicated and by now flirting shamelessly despite Ariel's "too young, too pretty" mantra, were left as a pair. You're takin' one for the team, so your friend can live the dre-ee-eam....

"Papi," I said to Alpha Male Interloper, extending my elbow and leading him away from the pack. "I like your hat. See, I need a little Brooklyn help? I just moved into the 'hood and am pretty sure my white ass is going to get shot..."

Half an hour later, my new friend "JoJo" had called his dogs off James and Ariel, bought me a drink, taught me how to properly haggle with empanada vendors in Bushwick (3 for $5 is standard) and given me the number of his weed dealer. (Uh, thanks Jojo.) More importantly, my wingmen had been dancing.  With their hips very close. Without Ariel coming over once to tap out. I eventually thanked Jojo, gave him a kiss on the cheek, took his number (deleted it the next day) and headed to the dance floor to approach my duo.

"Guys, I'm sooooooo drunk," I (half) lied. "We have to get out of here."

"'kay, you'll shtay with me, right?" Ariel slurred, subtly, to me.

"Only if you help me convince Birthday Boy to come back with us."

Her eyes narrowed.

"I know what yerrr doing," Ariel hissed in my ear as we started staggering out of the bar, James a few steps behind.

"Doing? What do you mean?"

"He's too young. And pretty. I don't do young and pretty," she protested. 

Right. Cuz chiseled virile reciprocating oral-sexers are such a bad idea. 

"I know." I hailed a cab.

"No, but for really. Heeees sleeping on the futon with you," Ariel declared.

"Sure. Hey, Birthday Boy! Get your ass in this cab..."

It took precisely seven minutes for both of them to disappear into her bedroom when we arrived in Queens. It doesn't matter who shut the door.

I myself pulled out the futon, my Queensian home away from home, poured myself a trough of water and turned on the television, peeling off my tights and dress while Planet Earth annointed the Midngith Oysters with a vibrant array of sea creatures (including an octopus that could run on two of its eight legs, which is fucking awesome). All the while I was smugly thinking: I wingmanned my wingman my wingman. Mission, even if done so lazily, accomplished.

The next day, back in Brooklyn, vowing to lay off the expensive socializing until I jump into the next tax bracket, I mused on The Chronicles. What, exactly, had been the point? Originally it had been to re-socialize myself after five years of sequestered nesting in suburbia, but...honestly, on some level I knew it was all shallow, booze-soaked behavior that meant nothing in the scope of the universe. 

Then, later that day, two texts came in: 

JAMES: Best. Birthday. Ever. Missed you. Miss you.

ARIEL: Well played, Wingman. Welcome back.

Ah, there it was.

The point.

Good to be back. 

Friday, October 30, 2009

EPIC FAIL: The Wingman Chronicles Part IIII, or, EMMY AWARD Winning Loss of Dignity

Occasionally, even the best wingman missions go awry. Generally, this leads to public embarrassment and, sometimes, blue balls.

Or, it you're wingmanning with Ariel and I, it can turn into a belligerent shit show that ends with a slightly immature scavenger hunt through an Emmy Award winning actor's apartment.

A few Mondays ago, Ariel and I hit wingman turbulence. Short version: Ariel got blacked-out drunk in a midtown bar, told me she was going to the bathroom and disappeared. For an hour. Midway through her evaporation, I abandoned my drink and went tearing through the craphole, three-level bar we'd landed in to find her, accidentally stumbling upon an authentic freak show (no, seriously...bearded lady, burlesque dancers, the works) getting ready for their 1am performance in the process. Taking the bearded lady as a bad omen, I called Ariel's roommate--who calmly informed me that Ariel was already HOME, slurring drunk, and wearing MY coat. In QUEENS. Ariel did not find anything odd about this.

Soon I was standing on the streets of Times Square, around 1:30am, drunk and without outerwear. Naturally, because life is a sitcom, it began to rain. I did not have enough money for a cab to Brooklyn, and my Metrocard was in the pocket of the jacket Ariel was curled fetally upon, like a tiny, drunk, Irish puppy in a whelping box. A whelping box in Queens. Then, my phone hummed a text:

Mr. EMMY: Up to anything this rainy night?

Mr. EMMY is an older, unreasonably friendly, single and exceptionally talented actor we've affectionately nicknamed for the honor bestowed up him during one of those televised awards shows. We all met through mutual friends, resulting in his randomly joining Ariel and I for a platonic concert and meal one night. Whenever we catch him on TV, or whenever he's not off being successful and is bored, we occasionally like to verbally spar via text-message, because I am a smart-ass and he went to Harvard and bizarrely finds gauche smart-assedness amusing.

POLLY: I am wet, cold, stranded. May whore myself for cab money to the Lil' Wayne wanna-be giving me the eye.

Mr. EMMY: Only worth it if he's ACTUALLY Lil' Wayne. Do you need to crash here?

Which is how I woke up in Mr. EMMY's freaking beautiful apartment because Ariel went all fucking kamikaze on me. NO, there was no illicit behavior between Mr. EMMY and I. (This isn't US Magazine.) We kept conversation to the basics (Him: "I just finished shooting with Salma Hayek." Me: "I farted next to Howard Stern once. Everyone thought it was him.") until I eventually sobered up enough to sprawl on his couch. (It's a really nice couch.)

The following is a true-life transcript of the string of texts that were exchanged between Ariel and I after I woke up, alone, in said apartment. Mr. EMMY had left at some earlier time to do whatever it is successful actors do after 9AM, leaving me his spare keys to let myself out whenever I was not quite so pathetic again:

**ARIEL'S PRELUDE: "I think this text log is funnier when you include YOUR belligerent texting of me before you made it to Mr. EMMY's, you Hot Mess." 

She's right, so I'm including it.

Also, on THE VERY OFF CHANCE "Mr. Emmy" ever read this himself, I hope he'd understand we love and adore his hospitality, and him, and hold his privacy in high regard (and have hence changed many details in this post to protect his identity)--but when broke and 26 just don't have the maturity NOT to be fascinated by things like Emmy Awards and really nice apartments in mainland Manhattan**

POLLY (12:45am): Where are you??? We are looking.
POLLY(1:30am): I blame you.
POLLY(4:55am): Goddamn you Ariel. Let's play Polly Ended Up ___________________.

POLLY(4:57am): And do you really have my jacket, or is that lost forever in some scum hole in Midtown? 

(Polly wakes, hungover. Polly DID NOT have sex with the owner of said apartment, but is in his pajamas anyway. Her phone lights up.)

ARIEL: Based on these drunken musings......Shit! You're at MR. EMMY's, aren't you?
ARIEL: And I really do have your jacket.
ARIEL: You're totally spooning next to THE EMMY right now....... Amaaaaaahhhhhhzing. 

(Polly finally acknowledges phone. Is thrown into blind, stubborn, but bemused rage by Ariel's texts, which are coming from Ariel's desk in corporate America.)

POLLY: Oh, fuck you. You don't know me! 
ARIEL: He took you in his big drama major arms........Bwahahahahahahahahaha.
POLLY: I. Hate.You. I do. I. Hate. you.
ARIEL: Sooooooooo not true.
ARIEL: But points for punctuation on what must be a rough-like-mcduff morning.
POLLY: Also, big, beautiful picture of Mr. EMMY and [show he's famed for] in the foyer....

ARIEL: He has a foyer..... I hate him. 
POLLY: You were sooooooo not supposed to take my jacket, withOUT me in it, back to Astoria. Wtf am I doing in Flatiron??
ARIEL: Making out with an EMMY.... duh.


(Polly sees she's alone in the apt. Begins exploring apartment while holding phone.)

POLLY: Oh my God. He left me a towel, a wash cloth, and a spare set of keys stacked in the bathroom.

ARIEL: KEYS! Danger Will Robinson. Tread lightly. But make a latte first. He so has an espresso machine.
ARIEL: He has amazing skin products too, doesn't he? FML. 

(Polly looks in bathroom.)
POLLY: Holy shit. Full Origin's men's care line. Like, every product. Are you hiding in this apartment with me?? 

(Polly pauses, peeks back at the pile of towells and the keys. She begins to text her hungover idiot wingman again.) 

POLLY: Keys? Fuck. Keys.............................................Fuck. [Note: Keys are scary, because they must be returned. Which means you'll have to face the person you drunkenly appeared on the doorstep of. And admit to being a Hot Mess. In their home. And then apologize. Fun, right?] 
ARIEL: It's going to be okay......
POLLY: I brought this tragicness upon myself.
ARIEL: Oh, it's so hard being 26 and pretty with a brain and sharp wit. 

(Ariel gauges exactly how fucking hungover she is in the middle of corporate America and remembers she and Polly have to see a violent indie-film starring Willem Dafoe and Willem Dafoe's penis later that very same night.) 

ARIEL: Also? Tell me we are rescheduling Willem Dafoe's screening? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease??
POLLY: Oh we are so not even a little bit going to that fucking film.
ARIEL: Holla......... 

(Polly passes by the bedroom. Looks around, then flops onto empty bed.)

POLLY: Oh, these pillows of his though. Thread count is HIGH. So*buries face in pillow*
ARIEL: **slams head on desk** 

(Peels herself out of bed. Continues exploration.)

POLLY: Hmm. Dipolma from HARVARD, huh?
ARIEL: Oh cool. He's crazy smart too...I feel smaller and more unimportant by the second.
POLLY: Floor to ceiling vinyl. Complete Bob Dylan next to Gorillaz Demon Days next to Fleet Foxes. ALL VINYL.
ARIEL: Omg. I want to make out with him...
POLLY: I look for The EMMY?
ARIEL: FIND IT AND TAKE A PICTURE! Then text it to me immediately. 

(Looks around at walls, shelves and desks. No luck.)

(After a few more moments of wandering, amazed, through eclectic, Not-A-Rich-Douche apartment, Polly notices framed item on the wall. It's a picture, with a note hand written on it. She takes picture, sends it to Ariel.)

POLLY: No EMMY. But this. The signature: "With awe, love always, STEVE." As in SPIELBERG.
ARIEL: "With Awe"....Right, me too. 


ARIEL: Already done. Duh.
POLLY: So many humidifiers here. And dehumidifiers. And other nifty---oh, look, a Fender guitar.
ARIEL: I love that people let us stay alone in their homes...Fools.
POLLY: Fuck. What am I going to wear to work?
ARIEL: ideas. Buy something?
ARIEL: Cool shirt of his? 
POLLY: Dammit. All he has is man hats. I cannot make yesterday's outfit, sans coat, sans make-up, work with an Indiana Jones hat...
ARIEL: Own it.
POLLY: I'm stealing his Harvard hoodie...............I mean borrowing.........
POLLY: What? I need a coat.
ARIEL: Sorry about your coat. I have no idea what the thought process was on that. But there was one...somewhere.
POLLY: Ur cute.
(Hot Mess Walk of Shame Polly leaves note for Mr. Emmy apologizing, explaining about the hoodie and confessing she went through his record collection. She begs forgiveness. She then emerges from apartment wearing last night's heels, jeans, a Harvard hoodie and smeared, black eye liner.)
POLLY (texting Bromeo, she and Ariel's gay, male wingman): Just stumbled into midtown morning in last night's clothes and MR. EMMY's Harvard hoodie. Um......right.
BROMEO: Bwhahahahaahahhaahahahahha.
POLLY: I blame Ariel.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

#11: Wingman Chronicles Part III: Lap Dances and Emmy Award Nominated Accidental Wingmen

Oprah calls it secreting. Religious types call it praying. Psychologists call it delusional and put you on meds. I call it common sense: ask and ye shall receive.

Wingman Red, she of blues-singing sexual dalliances, casually mentioned a few months ago that she'd never been to a strip club and would like to go, unknowingly sending that request into the universe on an Oprah-shaped comet in the process. Fortunately, I was standing close enough when she did this it to be included in the return.

A personal note on strip clubs:

1.) I love 'em. I've never denied my significant other the right to go and ogle some boobies, with our without me there. Though I will say they have more fun when I'm there, because girls have more fun at strip clubs than guys. Period. Guys, if you don't believe me, bring your two most fun-loving, sexually secure wingwomen to the club next time and see how different the experience is. We're like a vagina-ed bridge between you and your fantasy, because no good female wingman will let her male counterpart be a creepy customer while she's around, and strippers know it. They will flock like sequined moths to an Alabamian bug-zapper in mid-July.

2.) I, personally, can't get behind the feminist argument that ALL strippers are being degraded. And I'm not getting into that argument here, so moving on...

3.) I may or may not have brought Alex to the strip club for his birthday several years ago and ended up onstage with a bottle of champagne giving him a special birthday dance with the help a stripper named Violet who I kind-of-sort-of-maybe-hooked-up with in the bathroom for half and hour while Alex swigged beer and watched. May. Or may not have. Done that. 

Alex may or may not have called it the best night of his life. This is all hypothetical.

4.) As a former Hooters girl, one who never felt degraded by her job (except the scrunchy-socks part of the uniform--any adornment that gives even the leggiest women cankles should be illegal), I'd be a hypocrite to turn and bash anyone whose sex appeal has contributed to a paycheck.

Personal note on strippers over.

Red and I met up at an innocuous Irish pub for a low key evening--minimal primping, no expectations. Beer, girl-talk and bar banter. We were about two drinks deep when QB walked in.

Now. What to say about QB? QB is a very well-known and lusted after TV actor. We call him QB because he's a chiseled hunk of Quarterback-looking manflesh grown in the woods of Maine, topped with a Ken-doll style head manufactured at The Hot Professional Athlete Manufacturing Firm of America (affectionately known as HPAMFA, which is coincidentally the sound many women make when QB walks into a room). At some point this tall, square-jawed piece of magazine-worthy Americana decided life as an athletic all-star didn't offer nearly enough immediate fawning gratification--so he switched to acting. Successfully. He is very pretty, very loaded and very unfortunately has a tattoo of a jungle cat on his shoulder.

He is also very much not my type, which is why we hit if off on a non-fuck-me level after working together on a freelance gig, settling instead into the kind of random dude-banter that tends to be my base form of communication with any guy I am not trying to bed. He is very fun to get drunk with, if you happen to run into him--which you will not, knowingly, because I'm not stupid enough to tell you what TV show he's on.

I gave him an appropriately obnoxious "Whatssup, playa playa!!" from our corner of the bar (yes, I'm a real lady), signaling he should come sit with us. QB smiled, then tripped over the two bridge-and-tunnel-bimbos who were already trying to suck his dick.

Soon our quartet (he had a wingman too) were having many brews while he sucked down many vodka-sodas. Red kept giving me the well-concealed but still entirely hilarious "OMG WE'RE GETTING DRUNK WITH _________ FROM THAT SHOW ________!" look. And I was shooting her "Don't get too excited" looks back, because QB is married.

QB is wedded to one of those scorchingly hot antelope-women with three miles of leg and Sahara-flat torso, one that has no right being as legitimately talented as she is when she's already been given other assets for social leverage. (She's also a TV actress, because that's what you do when God makes you an antelope-woman with no visible pores.) To the best of my knowledge, they both have industry-standard marital vows, which means they occasionally cheat with their co-stars but genuinely love each other. And have really photogenic make-up sex.

NO, this is not the post where I check "sleeping with a married man off my list," so untwist your panties and keep reading.

Anyway, we're all drinking. QB's wingman ducks out to go home to his wife, but QB is a "bachelor for the weekend," all by his lonesome while honeypie is out of town filming. So we all keep drinking. The conversation goes the only place it could foreseeably go: Canada.

Canada is known for its waterfalls, that song from the South Park movie, syrup...and strippers. Why strippers? I dunno. Probably because the native tundra-like temperatures mean the stripper's nipples are always more alert and appealing than that of their southern, American-grown counterparts.

As a connoisseur of strip clubs, I get off on a stripper tangent with QB ("I once sliced my cornea on a rogue piece of body glitter." "Yeah? Well I hooked up with the stripper at my ex-boyfriend's birthday." pause. "And he didn't marry you?" "Well, see...."). Finally, Red looks at QB with subtle but palpable feminine wiles armed.

"I've never been to a strip club. Ever," she says, casually stirring the foam on the pint glass rim with one finger.

God I love this woman.

"Really?" QB replies, hooked. "What, you're some kind of feminist?"

"No, not at all. I'm a grad student. I can't afford a train ticket home, let alone a strip club," she laughs, Irish eyes smiling. Grinning even. I pick up the slack.

"Yeah, it's true. She's never been. God, isn't it so sad this pale, pink, porcelain skin has never been baptized by the cleavage sweat of a Ukrainian undergrad in a pink thong," I sigh, placing my head against her bosom for effect.

"Yeah. This is sad." QB's eyes are distant, thoughtful. And he is not pondering the economic implications of the proposed Obama health care plan.

"Well, c'est la vie! Another round?" I ask, waiting to see if he'll take the bait.

"We should go," QB says, eyes on us again.

"Go where?" Coy. Play coy.

"The strip club. We should go. Red, we should pop your cherry."

"QB, you are a married man," I say, resisting. "You'll get in trouble."

"I am a bachelor for the weekend, my wife is trashed in some bar in Houston with a bunch of production assistants trying to sleep with her and she loves strip clubs," he replies before swigging the last of his drink and placing the glass decisively on the bar. "We're going. Red, get your game face on."

We plan a totally pointless, semi-elaborate ruse where Red and I pay and exit first, meeting QB a few minutes later at the side door of a conveniently located strip joint so no random photogs snag shots of QB leaving a bar (or entering a strip joint) with two random girls who are not his wife. The VIP bouncer, clearly fresh off his win from the Ving Rhames Look-a-Like Contest, ushers us in covertly, whisking past the red velvet rope and into the thumping, subterranean lair of sin and glass surfaces below.

We're led around the carpeted manse, eventually escorted to a dimly lit banquet near one of the stages, where a smiley blonde with black-light reactive white panties is showing everyone how firemen get from Point A to Point B when the elevators are down. Only she's doing it with her back arched like a Slinky down stairs, both hands free to wave at two drooling Neanderthals at the base of the stage.

After a brief visual sweep of the floor, which is littered with black leather lilypad-like risers topped with gyrating lap-dance blossoms, we pick our preliminary favorites and proceed to kick it classy:

12 bottles of Coors Light and $300 worth of lap dances.

What? I said he was from Maine. He was paying, so it was his choice.

Two hours, many, many slurred words, and the lifestory of a girl named Zora later (she, of course, took a shine to Red, bonding over their shared love of Chekov no doubt), it was time to go. We were crossing into that drunken no-mans-land where hormones and alcohol bring parties invloved dangerously close to sleeping with people they shouldn't. Though I was far more interested in leaving with Anya, the pixie-brunette who kept putting her strawberry lipgloss all over my neck, than I was with QB, just to set the record straight.

We thanked QB profusely, sprung for his next lapdance, and left him there with what I am convinced is a totally average boner. (Sorry, but God just doesn't give that much pretty a massive wang too. Djimon Hounsou is the exception to this rule.)

"What just happened??" Red asked as we made it outside, sudden gust of wind blowing her mane of red hair around and making every guy, and even me, stop and stare. "I mean, like. WHAT. JUST. HAPPENED?" Her eyes were wide and incredulous and glazed with lust and cheap beer.

"You just had your virgin strip club experience, loved it, may marry Zora, and that guy from that show you love treated you to it." I lit her cigarette, and we started hand in hand down the Avenue, Brooklyn-bound.

"This stuff doesn't happen in real life," she said on the exhale.

"It does if you have the right wingman."