trimming fat…

this is a rough draft of an excised short from the burnsizzlebleed book…

How often are you the only black man in the room?

I’m sitting in my chair at the end of the bar and the conversation I’m having with the school teacher just got interesting. This is the first time another black person asks me a direct question about one of the major drawbacks to living in Denver. By the looks of her, dredlocks, athletic build, intelligent eyes, I want to take this question seriously. We’re no longer a man and a woman flirting in a bar, we just became two human beings.

I tell her how I grew up in an all black suburban neighborhood. I tell her that everyone on my block was living the Cosby dream. This is not entirely true. There were whites, asians and hispanics in the the neighborhood too, and while there were some upper middle class families on our block, it was mostly working class.

The actual facts aren’t important right now. I’m trying to paint her a picture, a picture where each word is a small stroke on the canvas. Each word is meant to evoke a certain emotion and color her thoughts with memories of a shared culture. There is no room for truth in the art of conversation.

Besides, I’m trying to make a point. As i make my point, I notice Cassie’s blonde head weaving in my direction through the crowd. Shit.

Hello Joe, waddya know?

And she’s drunk.

I made the appropriate introductions and ordered Cassie a drink. She wasn’t any more successful at getting the teacher to talk about herself and when the conversation lulled, Cassie dropped the bomb.

Let’s go to a strip club.

I had no idea what Cassie was thinking, and didn’t even know she was interested in such things. I was settled for a long slow drunken evening culminating with me passing out on my couch while some movie looped endlessly in the DVD player. There was no question that I was up for this little adventure, and neither of the women bothered looking to me for a response. This seemed to be between the two of them. The school teacher reacted with disbelief, not so much that this is the kind of thing that happens around me, but that she would be included in it. Once Cassie convinced her that it would be her first time as well, the school teacher seemed to actually consider the proposition.

I offered to pay for the whole evening, covering the costs of lap dances if necessary, and the school teacher bowed out. She didn’t mind getting a little twisted, but couldn’t stomach the idea that it would be on someone else’s dime. It didn’t matter to me, the simple suggestion was enough, I was ready to go with or without either of them. Cassie and I left after saying our goodbyes, and the school teacher made me promise to call her.

A quick stop at an ATM secured our funds and we were on our way.

In the car I asked Cassie what made her think of going to see strippers, and she told me she couldn’t imagine seeing strippers without me. Once again, confirmation that women see me as depraved but safe. I have no clue how that happens.

We entered the place and it was like walking into a nightclub. There were nearly as many women watching the dancers as there were men. I bought us two beers and we made our way to a side stage.

The dancer was finishing her set and the stage was littered with singles. She was pretty, smooth skinned, with breasts that could be described as pert, and a small white scarf tied around her neck. I wasn’t surprised at the first thing Cassie said to me.

Her tits are too small, aren’t they?

Cassie was obviously missing the point, because the dancer had a deliciously ripe looking ass.

You don’t have to have implants to be a stripper.

She looked around to make sure.

The voice of the dj boomed over the club.

All riiight…give the ladies a hand…on stage one lovely Heather gets things hot, on stage two, Britt will break your heart…Jenny and Athena are steaming up the shower in the VIP room…and on the main stage, we have Diamond…

The girl on the stage scooped up her money and costume, and went off to the dressing room. A garter and fishnet fitted waitress bent down between us and took our drink order. I was busy looking down at the waitress’ tits while Cassie was chatting with her when our new dancer, Britt, stomped her clear plexiglas high heel on the stage announcing, no, demanding, that our attention was now needed.

Mr James Todd’s instructions on how to move something blasted from the club’s speakers and the dancers dutifully obeyed. Britt was a petite brunette, and she moved with the same kind of knowing confidence as a ballplayer stepping into the batter’s box. Her hair was straight and short, showing off her delicate neck. Her outfit was the school girl themed. The obligatory white oxford shirt was tied off just above the deep cleft of her belly button, and the tartan skirt was appropriately two sizes too small in order flash her round athletic ass with the slightest twirl.

I laid out three folded dollar bills in front Cassie and Britt made her way over. She stepped to the edge of the stage and jutted her hips out over us. She lifted the skirt and gave us a peek. She bent at the waist, placed her hands on Cassie’s shoulders, and slowly dropped to her knees.

it devolves from here…culminating not with sex…but a conversation…

Joe, let’s go back to the strip club.

You really enjoyed that lap dance, huh?

I’m all hot and bothered.

You know what you’re paying for when you go to these places right?

What?

It’s not about sex Cassie, it’s about attention.

so…why have i cut it…besides the confusing shift in tenses…ive been reading a lot of recent cultural critique lately…books, theatre, movies, music…and the crux of a lot of it seems to hinge on…style vs substance…personally i don’t see the dichotomy…i think it’s false…its possible to have style…and…substance…

a writer shouldn’t have to chose between the two…and that’s the hard part…and that’s whty this bit got cut…dear reader…too much style in service to such simple minded substance…

Johnny Cash Loves You!

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