I see you judging me. I know what you’re thinking. She has to be a slut; she works at a strip club and takes off her clothes for money. Yes! I work at a strip club, and you may think I’m a whore for showing off my body, but this is a talent that has been forced down my throat since I was a young child. Look pretty and smile. I put on a show for those who choose to watch. However long I’m on stage, I’m not even me. It’s what I imagine an out-of-body experience would be like—a performance, nothing more, nothing less. The people watching make assumptions about who they think I am or cook up a story in their heads of who they want me to be. I’m just another beautiful face.
Beautiful. I hate that f**king word. Who gives a crap if someone is attractive on the outside if they are dying inside? My whole life has been about what I look like. I swear, the only reason my mother kept me was to have a real-life, living, breathing doll she could dress up and control, which is the exact reason why I got as far away from her special brand of crazy as I could as soon as I became eighteen. That’s also why I don’t date. The first thing guys do is look at me and see a pretty face, a nice body, and an empty space where my brain’s supposed to be. They have no interest in getting to know the person I am on the inside. They don’t care that I volunteer my spare time, and they couldn’t care less that I’m going to school to be an RN. They don’t ask about my hopes, my dreams, or about where I see my life in twenty years. They don’t care about me at all.
They just want someone pretty to follow them around and tell them how handsome they are, how special they are, while agreeing with everything they say. Fuck that! I did that for too many years. That’s why I live inside books. At least there I can choose where I want to be—from the highlands of Scotland to a king’s bed in a faraway land—and even if it’s pretend, sometimes that’s a lot better than reality.
Leaving On A Jet Plane
I look out the plane window, my finger going to the glass, feeling the cold on my fingertips as I look down at the land moving quickly below me. It’s funny how, from up here, everything looks so small. I’ve never traveled in a plane before today. The idea of being trapped inside a tin can while flying at six hundred miles per hour never appealed to me. I take a breath and look at the TV monitor that’s in the seat in front of me. The small, animated plane on the screen shows that we’re over halfway to Tennessee.
“Are you traveling for business or pleasure?”
I turn my head and look at the guy sitting next to me. He’s slightly overweight and balding, but he also has wrinkles around his eyes, giving him the appearance of someone who smiles often.
I debate with myself on whether or not to answer before replying, “Business.”
His eyes drop to my mouth then to my chest as I fight the urge to punch him in the throat. I hate when men go from nice to creepy. I shake my head, turning away from him. I don’t know why I even try.
I feel a hand on my bare leg and my head swings around quickly. “Touch me again and I will rip off your balls and feed them to you,” I tell him in a soft tone, trying not to bring attention to us.
He quickly removes his hand, swallowing hard. “I…I’m sorry.”
I shake my head before turning my body away from his. I feel tears stinging my nose, but I fight them back. No way am I going to cry now—not when, just six hours ago, my whole world exploded and I didn’t shed one single tear. I lay my forehead to the glass, closing my eyes. I still can’t believe how fast my life changed…
I got up yesterday morning and went to the hospital like I always do. I work at one of the busiest ERs in Vegas. I’ve been working there since I finished school and was required to get my clinical hours for my RN. As soon as I walked into the building, I was loaded down with work. Weekends are always crazy in Sin City, but yesterday seemed worse than normal—two drug overdoses, three stomach pumps, and one gunshot victim. Later, I left the hospital exhausted, only to head to my real job—well, the one that pays me the money I need to live.
“Hey, Sid.” I gave him a half smile as I walked into The Lion’s Den, the gentlemen’s club I work at.
Do I like working at a strip club? No. Does it pay my bills? Yes. The second I walk in the door at the club, I’m no longer me. My brain shuts off and my body takes over, the same way it used to when I was growing up and my mom forced me into pageants. I’m accustomed to being on display and used for my appearance. I wish life were different, but it is what it is.
Some people complain about being overweight or having acne; I hate being beautiful. I know it sounds stupid. I mean, why would anyone complain about being attractive, right? Here’s why: Men see me as an object and women see me as competition. No one is ever willing to give me a chance. They all judge me by what’s on the outside, never taking a second to find out even the smallest detail about who I am.
I know I’m a walking cliché. I hate being beautiful, yet I work in a business where I put myself front and center to be viewed and judged.
The difference? For the first time in my life, when I get on stage, it’s my choice; no one is forcing me to do it. I get up there to earn the money so I can change my life in order to never be objectified again.
“Tired?” Sid questioned, following me. I have worked for Sid for the last three years. He is a friend of sorts; he’s also my boss.
“Yeah. I can’t wait until my clinical hours are over and I can start working at the hospital full time instead of having two jobs.”
“I don’t like that I won’t see your face all the time, but I know you need to move on,” he conceded.
“Some other girl will come in and you will forget all about me.”
“Never, Angel.” His eyes moved over my face and he shook his head. “You’re working VIP tonight.” He followed me down the hall towards the dressing rooms.
“Sure,” I agreed, already exhausted. I needed a shower and a bed, but I knew I was going to be there for at least eight hours, so I might as well suck it up.
“The guys coming in are important, so you need to make sure they’re happy the whole time they’re here.”
“I have done this before,” I reminded him, stopping outside the dressing room door to frown at him.
“Normally, I wouldn’t say anything—you know that. But I gotta go get on a plane, so I won’t be here to check on them.”