Below is an excerpt from my book — a mostly true story about my days as a strip club bartender in Austin, Texas where I mostly broke shit, drank a ton of booze, sometimes poured drinks, and always hit on my favorite manager.
“Can we go to McDonald’s?” I turned to Thomas.
“No.” There was not even the slightest hint of hesitation in his voice.
“I miss Ernie and, for some reason, part of me misses Norma too,” I pleaded.
“We don’t have time.”
“God damn it, Norma!” I rolled my eyes.
“Don’t you ‘Norma’ me.” He cracked a smile.
“I’m gonna bring a shit ton of cheese to work and have James melt it for me and then drink it from a straw in front of you.”
“And then I’m gonna bring my water gun back to work and shoot cheese out of it at you.”
Thomas then turned up the volume on the radio and stared straight ahead for the rest of the drive to work.
When we arrived at the titty palace, there were a few cars leftover in the parking lot from the night before. A dancer hopped out of one of the cars as soon as Thomas parked. By the look of it, she had slept in the car.
“I left my phone here last night,” she explained to us as Thomas unlocked the door to the club.
“Did you sleep in your car?” I asked her and Thomas shot me a look. I wasn’t trying to be an asshole and tell her she looked rough, I genuinely wanted to know.
“Yeah. I live out my car now.” She shrugged. A part of me felt bad for her but the other part of me knew dancers made plenty of money to be able to afford a place to live. Clearly, she needed to sort out her priorities. I knew it was none of my business but I pushed the subject further.
“Why?” I pressed.
“I got kicked out of the motel I was living in for prostitution,” she didn’t hesitate to elaborate. “Hey, can I work day shift?” She turned to Thomas expectantly.
“No.” Thomas looked at her like she was a fucking lunatic.
Back in the kitchen, Thomas helped me grab beers from the walk-in cooler.
“What if we got trapped in here and froze to death?”
“That would suck,” Thomas said flatly.
“What if we got trapped in here and got severe frostbite? Do you think the club would pay for our medical bills?”
“What if I got stuck in here and I froze into a giant ice block but once I thawed out, I was okay. Would you still have sex with me?” He cracked a smile but didn’t answer my question.
“At least he didn’t say no,” Stella said to me later when I told her about the magical moment I shared with Thomas. The two of us clinked glasses and took our first shot of the day.
“What are you guys talking about?” Thomas wandered over and took a seat at the bar next to Stella.
“Your butt cheeks.” I smiled at him and he ignored me.