Lap dances make me feel funny.
When I say “funny,” I’m not talking about a tingling in my groin, the onset of a tent. Nor do I mean that having a beautiful woman, naked and nubile, gyrate on my lap and press her breasts against my face awakens an urge to break into a canned stand-up routine—”So a man walks into a bar holding a frog … .”
By “funny,” I mean awkward, as in I’m not exactly sure how to behave when a strange woman straddles me for cash.
For some guys, their primal instincts take over. They relax and look the dancer in the eyes with a boozy, mildly-retarded stare. They place their cupped and clammy hands centimeters from the dancer’s ass, hoping for an incidental and indecent brush with flesh, a swipe that eludes the hawkish glare of the bouncer. Some guys may even try monosyllabic forms of communication between staccato breaths—“Yeah, babe. Work it. Shake that shit.”
I, on the other hand, morph into a paralytic pile of anxiety and embarrassment when getting a lap dance. I’m humiliated by the fact that this woman is being paid to feign interest in me—if they even bother to feign it—only for the duration of Aerosmith’s “Angel.”
I also become hyper-conscious of the power dynamic at work. On one hand, the dancer is being paid for a service, which makes her in some way indentured to the man. And there’s always the arguable point that it objectifies and denigrates the woman, thus giving the man the upper hand.
However, like an actress, the dancer only has to play the role of temptress for a limited amount of time. And while the male is clearly attracted to her and contriving absurd scenarios where the dancer might actually sleep with him, the female is dividing numbers in her head—“Forty dollars for four minutes is ten bucks a minute, which makes six cents a second to sit on this chump’s lap.”
The whole act of getting a lap dance reminds me of a time in college, when I’d spend entire nights hanging out at the campus watering holes, trying to gather the beer-fueled courage to approach a pretty coed. And when I’d finally gather the gumption to approach a girl, my friend Pee Wee would routinely say to me: “Don’t bother, dude. That girl wouldn’t stop to piss on your head if your hair was on fire.”
So whenever a stripper hops on my lap, I hear Pee Wee’s voice, rising above the electric guitars of yet-another Motley Crue song, resounding like a mantra, again and again and again.
As the night wore on, Todd’s Best Man began buying lap dances for all of us. Initially, I tried to duck away, ashamed to explain my weird anxiety about lap dances and the “funny” that it provoked. But, eventually, I ran out places to hide, and The best man, a short Italian guy who had graduated from The Tony Soprano School of Male Etiquette, found me.
“Pick a girl, any one,” The best man said, draping a heavy arm around my shoulder. “It’s on me.”
Rather than risk being rude—and possibly whacked—I pointed to a petite brunette in a sexy black sequined gown.
“Done and done,” The best man said, then disappeared.
After ten minutes of trying to fortify myself with tequila shots, I felt a tap on my shoulder. When I turned around, the brunette in the black gown was standing in front of me. Without a word, she took my hand and led me to a plush couch.
While I can’t remember the song that was playing, I remember pathetically trying to play psychologist with her. “So what are you thinking?” I asked as the girl shed the gown and disrobed down to her g-string.
Then I remember her taking pity on me. “You’re not enjoying this, are you?” she said with an intonation that suggested I didn’t “enjoy” women.
“No, no,” I said, defensively, “it’s just that, you know, I feel … funny.”
“What do you mean?” she asked, slowing undulating on my lap.
“If my hair was on fire, would you stop to piss on my head?”
The dancer smiled—as if she’d heard this all before—and for the first—and likely the last time—I received a lap dance, I relaxed. “Yes,” she said. “I would piss on your head, and I might even run for a bucket of water.”
“Thank you,” I said, unburdened and giving her my boozy, mildly-retarded stare. “Now work it, babe.”
Image credit: 2Stef27/Flickr