As I sat at the wedding for one of my oldest male friends last night, surrounded by old friends, and talking to a former exotic dancer, I realized all of the things that I’ve learned from strippers over the years. Which is probably not the weirdest thing that I’ve ever typed, but close.
I’ve been casual friends with a number of strippers for years. Before I was Your Aunt Becky, I was Student Nurse Becky, and as Student Nurse Becky, I had to pay the bills somehow. My chosen profession was serving food and slinging drinks, both professions that also have a high percentage of exotic dancers as employees as well.
Almost immediately after I’d popped Crotch Parasite Number One out of my vagina, I waddled back to work a single mother so that I could pay for diapers and assorted baby things and it was there that I met my first exotic dancer, who I will call Susie, because I think it was her name. Susie wasn’t an overly bright girl, but one of the first things she said to me after we’d met was that I should consider ditching the crappy pizza place where we both worked on weekends and coming to work with her over at the strip club down the road.
Now some of you may be nodding your heads vigorously and saying, ‘GOOD IDEA, SUSIE,’ but you have to remember that at this particular juncture, I looked approximately like the Michelin Man in both size and shape. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, because you live under a rock and haven’t seen the commercials of the Stay Puft Marshmallow tire guy, picture Grimace. Or an Oompa Loompa. I’d just birthed a baby, was a newly single mother and pregnancy doesn’t tend to leave me in a resplendent glowing state of post-partum beauty. I felt as attractive as a rancid sack of turkey giblets.
Plus, I’m the very same person who broke a door while carrying a Diet Coke (it WAS a 32 ouncer, but still) and a toe while making a sandwich, so the complex moves required to slide myself up and down a pole would leave me paralyzed for life. Hell, I couldn’t even participate in a step aerobics class without thoroughly embarrassing myself because I’m always the asshole in the back that’s at least thirty moves behind the rest of the class. Or still doing Jazzercize.
So the very notion that I could shake my wobbly, gibblity money-maker on a stage and not make people vomit or howl with laughter was something that brought me no end of amusement. But Susie was persistent, which endeared her to me tremendously. Every time her boss from the strip joint came in to visit her, she made a point to introduce me to him as, “this is the girl I was TELLING you about!” And every time I shook his hand and tried to indicate that I wasn’t interested, thank you very much, but thanks anyway, as he eyed me up and down, appraising my stripper value.
Soon, Susie quit or got fired for being a lousy waitress, but I never forgot her and her absolute certainty that at my grossest and heaviest I, too, could get men to pay me to take off my clothes. In a world that there really is a fetish for everything, that girl was probably right. Learning to be comfortable in our own skin is probably the most important lesson that any exotic dancer can teach the rest of us, and I’ll always be grateful for Susie for reminding me that even though I felt like a stuffed sausage, I was beautiful. Just as I was.
I should never forget that I am beautiful. We are all beautiful. Thank you, Susie. My therapist may even laughingly describe me as “brash” but in this I am being entirely honest: we should all remember that we are beautiful just as we are, not as we think we should be. I’m a master of saying to myself, “Oh, I’ll be happier with myself when I’m X amount of pounds thinner,” but really, Susie is right: we’re all beautiful just as we are. We should flaunt the shit out of it, hold our heads tall and proud and remember that. Strippers do. Why the hell don’t you?
Last night, at the wedding, over drinks, I met another exotic dancer whom I adored instantly. There’s a confidence about a stripper that’s always exuded because that’s part of having sex appeal: being completely confident. Walking confidently, acting confidently, and knowing that how you use your eyes to get what you want. You’re certainly not going to make any money by standing on the sidelines and letting all of the other girls do the work, and really, that’s the way life works, too. Opportunities don’t always just present themselves to you in a neatly wrapped package. Sometimes, you have to go out and hustle your ass off to make even the most marginal opportunity appear.
That’s another one of those lessons I picked up awhile ago. Confidence is beyond sexy. Even if you have to fake it until you make it, the dancers know that there’s something about a confidant sexy woman that gets your engine going every time. Because even when you start out faking it, eventually, you’ll start to feel it. Exuding confidence will get you everywhere in life.
I don’t see myself ever taking up Susie’s offer to become an exotic dancer anywhere. Not because I wouldn’t get a kick out of it for a week or two, but because I seriously doubt I’d ever be able to learn any of the moves. Or if I did, I’d end up in traction somewhere, and while I do love pain meds, I don’t particularly want to crap in a diaper for the rest of my life. But it’s a job that takes balls and confidence, and it’s a job that I respect. Thanks, Susie, wherever you are, for reminding me way back when that I was beautiful. I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear it until later.