Sunday, November 29, 2009

I’m letting it roll – The reasons I Stayed

A lot of people have asked why I stayed working at the strip bar after my first night on the job. I thought it might be fun to just keep posting from The Wailings (my book in progress) to sort of introduce everyone to life in the 70’s for a gal whose living had suddenly been ripped from under her feet by her own parents. I had to do – something- to keep a roof over my head and with waitressing experience I turned to this. Now back to the story.


As she stepped out onto the sidewalk she marvelled at the number of men who were hanging around outside the entranceway. She noted there weren’t any women present in the group by the doorway, but every time the door opened, she became aware of the blaring music that accompanied it. She hadn’t even noticed the music coming from the nightclub as she had walked down the hallway, even though it overpowered everything outside the building. The men eyed her surreptitiously as she stepped out into the night, and she gathered her coat around her and started off home.

Her mouth fell open when she passed a music store a little further along the street that was open and blaring its own music out into the night air. The place was swarming with customers as they browsed through the albums and posters. She shook her head and wondered why she had never even noticed this store before. It was almost directly behind where the fur store had been, and yet she had never stepped foot inside it.

Her tips burned a hole in her pocket but she thought of the rent and all the expenses she had to pay in-between then and now. Instead she set her feet for homeward and let her mind wander over the events of the evening. It was almost 12:30am when she unlocked her front door and threw her keys wearily on the kitchen table. Putting the kettle on for a quiet cup of tea, she pulled up a chair and spread her tips out on the table and straightened the bills while she aligned the change. Counting it once more she came up with $44.70. She had already paid Ed $4.00 for her 1% of her sales and the fact that she had made almost $50.00 on her first night amazed her.

While the kettle grunted and groaned as it warmed up, she got her calendar off the wall and went into the bedroom and found an empty shoebox that she had saved. She wrote her take home tips on the calendar and put her tips into the shoebox. She knew if she kept them in her purse that she would stop into that music store on her way home and spend it all. This way she would have something to show at the end of the month.

When the tea was ready, she got into bed and plumped her pillows. As she sipped the hot liquid, she watched the images of the naked women she had seen tonight as they played out on the wall in front of her. Her cheeks burned when she thought of them doing their ‘floor show’ and of her reaction to their nakedness.

With an effort, she dragged her mind away and tried instead to calculate the money she might make for the rest of the month. The thought of losing her apartment haunted her and she was worried that after her nest-egg was gone she would be out in the street. As the tea did its trick, she slumped lower in the bed while she massaged her left arm. Some of the trays had been heavy and it ached.

By the time her eyelids were almost closed, her mind had wandered back to the naked women and the sight of their nipples. Biting her lip, her fingers strayed from her aching arm and down to her own nipples. With the memory of Black Magic firmly before her, she let her fingers circle and pinch until her nipples were rock hard. Moaning softly she ground her hips as she tweaked each one, working herself into a feverish state. Unable to satisfy herself, she flipped onto her stomach and gasped as the sheets rubbed against her erect nipples. With a groan she pulled the pillow over her head until the feelings subsided and she slipped off to sleep.

The next night was busier, and Ani bustled around nonstop as the men flocked into the bar to see the star of the week. This time she didn’t stare when the women started stripping, but she could feel herself blushing furiously every time the music started up. The men were more boisterous than on Thursday night, and some were impatient with her as she tried desperately to remember everything that Ed had taught her.

The room was still packed when 11pm rolled around, and no one even mentioned letting her leave early. It wasn’t until midnight when Syd walked into the room and glanced at the clock and at her section that he gave her the thumb motion to get out of there.

Gratefully she cleaned her section one last time so Hank wouldn’t have to do it before she gave her key to Ed and waited for him to cash her out. Her sales were higher than the previous night and she handed Ed $5.00 right away. However, when she counted her left-over change she was disappointed to find that she had made less in tips than she had on her first night. When she walked into her kitchen that night she morosely penciled in $41.35 on her calendar before she tucked the tips away in the shoe box. Crawling into bed that night she started her calculations once more, but her exhaustion caught up to her before she could figure her life out.


TSannie said...

I understand why you do what you have to do to survive.

More please.

Melanie said...

I don't think this was an easy stage in your life. What a compromise from the way you were brought up. I wonder if there was also an aspect of "they brought me up one way and turned their backs on me, so I'll make as much money as I can, however I can, to give me the security they took away."

Maggie May said...

Shortage of money can make you put up with anything.
This is addictive.

Nuts in May

Leatherdykeuk said...

Was there a basic wage or were you working just for tips?

aims said...

My starting wage back then was $1.90 per hour. When I left - almost 15 years later - I was making $2.75/hr

Akelamalu said...

You did what you had to do. x

Leslie: said...

I'm wondering if I went into the wrong profession - teaching!

Toni said...

I was in a similar situation, I was sixteen when I found myself alone in London. Men, obviously have far less opportunities to make easy money than women do, but we all make compromises and we all lose our innocence in some way. Few people in the west know what it is like to be homeless and destitute so they are often disdainful to poor people that they see. I was lucky and got a job that now would have been impossible to get without further education but there are still parts of my past that I don't really like to think about.

Dr.John said...

Okay but there must have been some other job you might have found. You had experience. You had run a business. Surely those were salable talents.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

When you have had the upbringing you had and your livelihood is threatened then work is work and better paid work is even more attractive. Moral indignation is not something you can afford when your survival is paramount. you must have learnt so much about life - or at least one part of it - by working there. Good stuff!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Have to agree, those tips were good for back then and I can understand your enthusiasm at needing the work.

CJ xx

aims said...

Dr. John -

I had been into the nightclub that was also located in this hotel and watched the 'tips' being handed to the waitresses as they served the alcohol. I saw the possibilities of working in a bar instead of a restaurant. I saw it as a daily challenge. To outdo the tips from one day to the next.

When I applied for the job - any job - I wasn't expecting to work in the strip club. I didn't even know it existed.

However - I was very cute when I was young and the owner thought I'd be an added attraction in that bar. He was right.

Once I got used to the strippers, I realized they were just trying to make money too - and that is what it all came down to. Me trying to make a living.

And I made an incredible living for a single girl in the 70's and 80's.

I didn't want to work as a salesperson on minimum wage in a store where there was no hope of getting more than minimum wage no matter what I sold.

I also didn't want to work for the other furrier in town no matter how much knowledge I had. They were 'the competition'.

My parents never spoke about me to anyone during the time I worked in that hotel. That is almost 15 years of denying you have a daughter.

It still worked out as some kind of abuse - didn't it? I'd say - mental.

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