At the Acropolis, as per usual. S. is dancing a private dance for me. She’s amazingly beautiful, long brunette hair, lean body but not hard and muscular. The word “lithe” was invented for women like her. If dark eyes can flash, then that’s what her eyes do.
And then she gives me a silly-sexy look, and I mug back at her, giving her an Austin-Powers-esque double-take, and she laughs and out comes a snort and it only makes her laugh more, and me, too.
“I can’t hide it,” she admits to me. “I’m just a big dork.”
“I think that’s why we get along so well,” I say, hoping it’s true.
“We laugh a lot,” she says. “I dig that.”
Me, too. It’s why I like spending time with her.
After the private dance, she asks me if I’m going to stick around. I say yes, of course, and she tells me that she’s got some funny pictures to show me. When she sees me again she brings up a pile of 5 by 7s. I look through them. They’re of several Hispanic men in flannel shirts and slacks and wearing bandanas. They’re stone-faced. One, in close-up, sneers and has a teardrop tattooed coming from one eye.
Oh shit. “Is this… you?” I ask.
She nods and giggles. “Yes!” She explains she went to a club in town that had Drag Night. “We went as Mexican gangsters! It was so funny!” She says she even came to the Acrop still dressed up, sat at the rack and wasn’t recognized until she gave herself away.
Later, out in the club, I look at the other dancers and wonder if they, too, are big dorks. A., probably, but with her body-builder physique and ink-covered skin and dozens of piercings most might not see it. T., definitely; she plays the airhead role well enough but she also has a fun energy. Most of the other dancers tonight are hard-body types – bolt-on boobies, hours spent in the gym and the tanning booth, they’ve built their looks up to the point of being plastic.
And then there’s L. Hollywood looks and a petite, soft but slender body. Perfect nose. Brilliant blue eyes. And although I’ll likely never know for sure, I get the sense that the whole package is natural. No scalpel has marred her skin.
The last conversation I had with her I was babbling about being in New York last Christmas and not taking the chance to go to Harlem to see James Brown’s body at the Apollo. I remember ending that conversation and leaving her with the impression of me being morbidly obsessed with death. The details are foggy. But since then she’s seen me at the club, having fun, and seeing the other girls treat me like a mascot, and maybe that previous impression has worn off, or never sunk in in the first place.
I sat at her stage for a set, and tip, and smile, and mugged a little to see if I can get her to smile. It’s stifling hot in the bar, has been all night, and after her second or third song, while she’s going around scooping up the money from the rail and from the floor, she looks at me, and scrunches up her face. “Ugh” she says. “It’s hot in here.”
I take my fedora off and fan her with it. She laughs.
Then it was S.’s turn again.
The next time L. was up was on the main stage. It was getting later, and the club, once filled with party people, was starting to empty out. I could actually sit at the main rack and have almost an entire section to myself. I sat there and watched L. dance and spin on the pole. I watch the other customers’ reactions to her, and they all look like they’re thinking the same thing I do: wow, she is seriously beautiful. Ethereal. Somehow above this dive-y bar with its smoke and its beer and whiskey and the sticky floors and dirty everything – she’s somehow untouched by it all. “You’re so beautiful,” they say to her: the tough bald biker guys, the smartass frat boys, the geeky emo boys. Even the girl patrons admire her in a way that’s very different from the more carnal appreciation the other dancers get.
Second or third song, again, and she laid on the bar in front of me, tits up. She smiles her angelic smile at me from her cloud of platinum-blonde hair (OK, so not everything is natural) and arches her back.
I lean in, close enough to be heard over the thumping music but not close enough to alarm. Thinking of my earlier conversation with S., I say, “I’ll bet, secretly, deep down… you’re a big dork.”
Her smile freezes, just for a second. She slides off the bar, completing the motion she began before I spoke up, turns to face me and leans over.
“What?” she asks.
I know that if I want this to come out correctly, I need to suppress any hint of apology. I’m just speaking of what I see, even if I’m wrong. “I’ll bet that most of the time, you’re a dork. Silly.”
She leans back, her smile gone as she processes what I’m saying. “I don’t know how to take that,” she admits, slowly. Her song is ending and she’s starting to move back towards the bar in the middle of the stage. She turns back to me, her smile returning. “But you’re right.”
I laugh. “I knew it! I like being right.” She laughs with me, but it’s an uneasy one, as if she’s afraid of being exposed and not just naked.
Another song, and she dances. I smile when she dances for me, and I thank her when she thanks me for the tip. Another song, and the same, except I turn when S. walks past me to get a hot cocoa from the bar (she doesn’t drink anymore) and chat with her.
After L. has collected all her money from the floor and the bar, and has put her panties and bra back on, and is in that in-between mode, waiting for the next girl to take over, she walks over to me where I’m still sitting at the bar.
“Why did you say that about me?”
I didn’t know what to say. Honestly, I said it because I wanted it to be true. I said it because, out of all the girls here tonight, L. was the one who seemed least likely to be… human. Except for S., of course. But most of the dancers had an edge to them, or showed their insecurities in little ways, or would vent and get angry. But L. seemed perfect, and therefore not quite Earthly. So I thought it would be great if she had a goofy side. I thought that somewhere, there’s someone who makes her laugh so hard she farts.
“I don’t… I just thought… I could see… It’s just second nature…” I stammer out, still smiling and trying to summon the confidence I had had just two songs ago. “I just think you’ve got a funny side you don’t show very often.”
“Well… thanks. You’re right.” And she turned her perfect naked ass and walked up the stairs.
Damn. Did I really pick up on something she thinks about? Or did I just demonstrate the Forer Effect by stating a complimentary generality that anyone would find flattering and therefore hard to deny?
Whatever I did, I rather like the effect.
New rule: Inside many beautiful women is a big dork waiting to be noticed.