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Where I write about strippers, and Spongebob, and free beer

by John on January 19th, 2012

Just before the full impact of the .com bust was realized, I got a fairly cushy job, for a recent-college graduate, developing web applications for an Internet startup. For a single guy, living in Baltimore1, it wasn’t too bad of a job.

At this job, my phone never rang, unless it was something bad. So, I had my “grumpy voice on” when Joe called – and he immediately started making fun of me. See, the previous day, he had asked what I was doing this weekend, and I had mentioned that I was, maybe, going to hang out at the aquarium3 and play computer games. Now, he was calling because he needed directions to my workplace.

I told them that I hadn’t driven into work – I had taken the Metro, and sober thoughts came about. They’d park their car at the Metro station that I used, take the train into Baltimore, meet up with me, and then head out for a drunken night. If we were still too drunk by the time the train dropped us off, it was only a two mile walk to my apartment, but there would also, likely, be cabs waiting at the station.

I next heard from Joe right around my quitting time — I was to report to Hooters.

We were seated at a booth, and two families of three were eating at an adjoining booth, with each family having a 4-5 year old boy. We ate our wings and drank our beer and tried to lay out the weekend plans . . . which would involve no small amount of wing eating and beer drinking.

During our planning, though, the two boys in the adjoining booth would look up from their perch, making faces at us. We would, of course, make faces right back. After a little while, Maf asked the boys what TV shows they liked, and they answered, in stereo, Spongebob Squarepants, which lead Joe & Maf to give an impromptu performance of the theme song on cue4.

This was followed by a significant discussion about favorite episodes and moments. I was a bit lost through all of it (I honestly, had not even heard for Spongebob until this moment), but the two couples were having adult conversations while we entertained their kids.

After a little while, though, we noticed that the waitress was bringing a steady stream of pitchers of beer. At first, I assumed that one of the other guys was ordering, just like they each thought it must be someone else. No, the two couples decided that pitchers of beer, delivered as fast as three random guys are drinking them, were cheaper than babysitting. Of course, when we finally said that we were going to get going, and then another pitcher arrived, we still drank, though that’s right about the time that we figured out their gig. Soon after, lots of thank-you’s were said, from us to the parents, and from the parents to us, and then we made our way to debauchery out for the night.

Being three, single guys, it didn’t take us very long to figure out where we were going. Well, we had to talk Joe out of swimming in the Baltimore harbor, but then the decision was easy. We worked our way to The Block.

Once inside a strip club, more drinking ensued. And, here’s the thing . . . I’m not a shy person. At all. Neither are either of these two guys. When you put us together, we’re just an extroverted crowd, especially if there is drink involved. Even with pretty, naked girls . . . we make conversation.

So, we’re drinking, and ogling, and talking, and winking, and having a good time. Soon enough, though, the last train for the night is about to leave the station, and we really don’t want to spend the money on a cab all of the way from Baltimore. We say goodbye to our new friends the strippers that we were chatting with when one mentions that she lives very close to the Metro station that we were heading to and could give us a ride back home.

“Fuck it, why not,” was the general consensus, and we all exchanged phone numbers, just in case the three of us ended up heading to another club (it was getting crowded in the one we were in). It turns out that this girl was, literally, a neighbor of mine.

We stayed at the that club, enjoying the parade of boobs the view, until closing, and Glitter5 drove us back to my apartment. Well, no. We had been drinking all night (us, not the stripper . . . she had very good reasons for not drinking) and now were hungry. And so was not-Glitter. So we went to Denny’s.

It wasn’t until about 5 in the morning that we finally made it back to my apartment, as we built a French-Toast fort in the nearly empty 24-hour diner, and even the waitresses were joining in attempts to knock it down with marshmallows.

The next day, we spent the day at the aquarium6, managed some fast food for dinner, and then went bar hopping. The day after, Joe & Maf left.

Monday, however, I came home from work to find a note on my door, from not-Glitter, saying that she said “hi.” Then, that night, just after 2am, my phone rang. Not-Glitter’s car wouldn’t start, and was there any way that I might be able to return her favor ride. So, I drove into Baltimore at 2:30 in the morning, and drove her home.

About once every other week, from that point forward, I’d get a phone call to pick up a girl from this same club (apparently, my number ended up on a bulletin board in the dressing room, saying “if you really need a ride, he’ll help you.”) . . . a stripper with car trouble, or a stripper who had too much to drink. I’d show up, smile on my face, and, simply, drive the person home. Seldom did I ever end up in the seedier parts of Baltimore while operating this no-pay taxi service (most actually lived in the suburbs), and for that I was thankful. While I never felt un-safe doing this . . . looking back, now, I can’t believe I did.

I remember driving one girl home, and asked her how much she made that night. She had made $900, which was about how much I took home every two weeks, and I had a college degree. I was a bit dumbfounded — she was stripping to pay for college, where she attended day classes (though she tried to never get an early morning class so that she could catch up on sleep). She was able to pay for her apartment, tuition, and lived pretty comfortably.

A little while later, I drove home a girl who was just as pretty, who was obviously not “well off.” When she left my car, I saw the needle marks in her arm.

I started to develop my circle of friends in Baltimore, and, one day, five of us walked into this very club. You know the lyrics to the Cheers theme song? “…where everybody knows your name?” Well, I walked into the place & everybody knew my name. There was some ribbing about “how often do you come here,” but that stopped when free drinks worked their way to me.

I found out a few things during these few months.

  • A stripper is, truly, an actress, and she’s “on” from the moment she leaves the dressing room.
  • As such, never call a stripper by her real name in the club, it’d be like Trinity calling out for Keanu in The Matrix.
  • Watching the “cat & mouse” game between a stripper who has decided that she’s going to get a guy to pay for a lap dance is quite entertaining . . . and even more fun to have recounted later.
  • There are a lot of drug addicts in Baltimore.
  • No matter what Chris Rock says, some strippers, desperate for money drugs, at least in Baltimore, will have sex in the champagne room7.
  • Walking and dancing in truly epic heels makes for sore legs.
  • Surgical enhancement has a very poor return on investment, if your reasons for the enhancement are, purely, to help you get more money in tips.
  • The “nice guys” who just want to “sit and chat” are always the ones who give out the most cash.

So, there you have it — how a weekend, with the guys, in Baltimore had me operating a late-night designated driver service for the women of Baltimore who take off their clothing for a living.

I’m so happy that my family reads this blog.

1 I graduated college, engaged, and I chose to live & find a job in Baltimore because that was very close to where her family was. Fortunately, we both realized that “getting hitched” wasn’t a good idea, far before the wedding.
2 Both of these guys are named Joe . . . for some of my friends, this Joe might be known as “hot tub Joe,” but that is a title that he won’t have for a few years – so I’ll stick with calling them “Joe” and “Maf,” because that’s what I called them at this time in my life.
3 My job was right across the street from the Baltimore aquarium. Whenever work really got the better of me, I’d spend my lunch just watching the sharks — it was very, very therapeutic. After the breakup with my fiancee, I’d spend a fair number of Saturday or Sunday mornings hanging out in the rainforest exhibit.
4 While I started working right after college, Maf was still in school, and it took Joe a little while to find some work. So, they’d watch Nickelodeon all day long. Spongebob was their favorite.
5 Not her real name.
6 Joe, while he has an accent that makes him sound like an extra on The Sopranos, held a biology degree and loves aquariums.
7 Remember, there was a reason why not-Glitter wasn’t drinking
  1. Hey, you never know where the valuable life information is going to come from. You know, like if you ever have reason to wear epic high heels…well, it could happen!

    • Very, very true . . . I’ve often considered moonlighting as a drag queen ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. They must be so proud. I just told about meeting my husband when he was hammered on his 21st birthday today. I’m sure he’s going to thank me later.

  3. Hilarious, but I will never understand why people take their children to Hooters. It would not occur to me to take my child to be served dinner by a half-naked woman.

    • I don’t get it, either . . . there’s a part of me that, kind-of, forgives the divorced dad who has the kid for the afternoon and doesn’t know what to do with him. But, for a family outing, I don’t get it. If the food were better, maybe…

      • That’s a valid point. I’ve never been there so I can’t speak for the food. But I live in Vegas and people bring their kids here all the time, even though it’s, in my opinion, the least kid-friendly city on the planet.

  4. Funny, the version of this story I have always heard began and ended at Hooters.

  5. I suspect it would not surprise you that my first trip to a strip club, in Vegas, I was asked if i was a stripper, by another stripper. When I said no, she said ‘you should be.’

    Something tells me if these gals were using you for a taxi service, Duffy has nothing to worry about.

    Also Hi John’s family! ….um, btw I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO BALTIMORE. just sayin.

    • No – that you were asked if you were a stripper does not surprise me, in the least. Nor does it surprise me that a stripper would think you’d make a great stripper.

      And my family says “hi”

  6. One of the best stories, ever. I love your footnotes. And this just proves what a nice guy you are.

  7. Wow, you really do write about boobs a lot. ๐Ÿ™‚

    As for Baltimore, I spent some time there myself and even at age 13 was a bit sketched out.

    Those hookers sure were lucky they found such a dependable car service.

    • Hey – any writer’s workshop will tell you to stick with writing about the things you love!

      I have a friend whose family moved from Baltimore when she was a girl because things were getting bad . . . there are areas that went from “kinda-suburbanish” to “rough” in very short amounts of time in the 80’s.

  8. I love your story. I feel like we were sharing beers and dishing about the “good old days.”

    But what I love most? Is your wife’s comment. Priceless.


    • Yeah, it was a pretty great comment from her.

      And, thank you for the conversational note — I like to think that I write as I talk, and, well, you just made me actually believe it ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. i have never been to a strip club. and for some reason? this fact surprises many, MANY people.

    I have been told it is impossible to leave without glitter and baby powder somewhere on your person.

    Is this true?

    Also? I love your stories.

    • Glitter, yes, is difficult to avoid in a strip club. Talking with the cops who would patrol the clubs at the end of the night, they’d love to “catch” certain guys by saying “and how, exactly, did the glitter get on your fingertips?”

  10. That’s a hell of a story. I too lived in the DC metro area in college. I was an intern at the FAA and lived in a pretty swanky highrise in Alexandria, VA. It was awesome. I know the drunken late-night Metro rides well.

    You totally reminded me of this one time I had a funny encounter with a Jamaican giant on the Metro. (That’s not a joke either. I’m pretty sure he was a real giant.) I’m surprised I haven’t blogged about it yet. You’ve inspired me. Stay tuned for the full story….

  11. This just confirms your awesomeness. On about a zillion levels.

  12. Pitchers of beer is definitely cheaper than babysitting. I wonder if I could find someone to entertain my kids for that. I am in love with the fried pickles and cheese fries at Hooters, but will not step foot inside the place. Apparently, I am a prude.

    Even though there was a rumor going on while I was teaching that I worked at Hooters at night. It was not me, but my doppelganger, apparently.

    I’m off on a Hooters tangent here.

    • But Shell, I thought you just hung out in your underwear all day long (yes, yes, I know that’s what your boys do, but I still can’t stop giggling when I think about that post).

      What age kids did you teach?

      • I’m trying to remember what grade it was when I was accused of being a Hooters waitress(I taught 3rd, 5th, 5th, 8th, and one year of K-6). I think it was when I was teaching 6th grade, but it was the high school soccer teams that my husband coached that were really talking about it.

  13. I wrote down everything you said about strippers….for research purposes, of course.

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