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Anna Undercover: Forgiving a Jerk
If you go to any strip club/bar/store on a regular basis, you develop a kind of relationship with the people who work there.
After several months, it might feel more like a friendship, and you can get pretty close.
But if a customer and friend suddenly completely freaks you out and disrespects you by breaking a rule, as a certain man did to me back in December, it's a real betrayal, and it hurts.
This is what happened between me and a man we'll call 'Jake.'
It was June 2009, and a customer at my then-bar, the Paradise Saloon in North Lawrence, wanted my phone number.
"No," I said to the man whose name I'd already forgot. "If I give you my phone number, I'll get in trouble."
Dammit! What was his name?
I smiled and tried to force the conversation back to the business at hand.
"Are you sure you don't want a lap dance?" I asked sweetly, giving him my best raised-eyebrow and flirty smile.
"No thanks," he said. "You're great. I just don't like lap dances." He stood up halfway and reached for his wallet.
"Here," he said. "I just want you to sit here and be a cute young thing in my lap."
He handed me a fifty. I accepted it and tucked it into the purse I used to take shopping at boutiques and malls in Boston. Sigh.
"OK," I said, plopping into his lap. "Thank you, sweetheart!"
I put my arms around him and we chatted for quite some time. He turned out to be really nice and very respectful, like the majority of my customers seemed to be at Paradise Saloon.
After our whole conversation, I still couldn't remember the poor guy's name.
"Since I can't have your number," the man said. "How about I'll give you mine?"
"Let me ask the manager if that's OK," I said, feeling dorky.
The manager had already told me the rules about phone numbers a hundred times, but a moderately severe learning disability makes it extremely hard for me to remember verbal instructions.
For this reason, I've always taken copious notes. On everything. A notebook or a laptop was always in my hands. Even if I was out. My entire life is probably available in hard copy in boxes at my parents' house.
I can't walk around with a notepad at a strip club, so I suffer accordingly.
"Can you tell me again if we're allowed to take customers' phone numbers?" I asked the manager, cringing at my idiocy. It's embarrassing and it's obnoxious to everyone around me. I expected him to yell at me.
"Just don't make a big show of it," he said, folding his arms. "It's not something we encourage because of the risk of prostitution."
"OK. Thanks," I said, glad he didn't yell. I trotted back to my customer. I smiled as I made my way to his seat.
Dammit! What the hell is his name?
I kicked myself for forgetting it. I am great at sales, but I feel my disability holds me back.
Jake! Jake was his name.
"Hi Jake," I said smiling and sitting in his lap. "It turns out that I can take your phone number."
He wrote his number on a napkin and made a few jokes suggesting that I might not call.
"I'll call," I promised.
"I hate strip clubs, but you're a cool girl," he said to me.
"I'll call you next time I'm in," I said, smiling. I liked him.
Over the next several months, I called him every so often, and he would come. He always gave me $50, bought me my favorite drink, and had something interesting to say. He never broke a single rule.
His easy-going nature and disinterest in flirting with me quickly earned my trust, and I looked forward to seeing him.
We grew close, trading a lot of personal stories. I even told him about my learning disability, which is a source of extreme embarrassment and self-consciousness for me.
We began to chat on the phone occasionally even when I wasn't at work. He knew about my day-life and my night job.
I told him my real name.
When I moved from the Paradise Saloon to the Outhouse (where dancers are not allowed to exchange contact information with customers) in October, he was unenthusiastic about visiting me.
"It's crazy in there," he said. "It's loud." He hated it for the reasons I love it.
"I guess I have to come by at some point," he eventually said in a phone conversation. "I'm getting you an Android for Christmas."
"Jake, I don't want an Android," I lied. "I don't want anything. I have everything. In triplicate." It's true.
He visited me anyway.
For once, he did want a dance.
I gave him one, as I told you in this entry, he put his mouth on my boob.
"What the hell!" I'd said. "I thought you said you'd follow the rules!"
He didn't apologize.
I saw red, but said nothing further about what he did. I was too pissed.
I finished the dance, took his $300, and stiffly bid him good bye.
In an unusual move, I did not even confront him the next day. I stopped answering his calls. I was livid.
Two weeks later, around Christmas or so, I was calm enough to tell him why I was ignoring him.
"I am too angry to see you because you broke a rule," I typed in a text message. "I need space. I'll contact you another time."
"You are disgusted by me!" he responded. "Forget it, [Anna]."
My heart raced as I looked at his message on the screen. He wasn't taking responsibility for what he did. He had never acted like this. I didn't know what to do with this behavior, so I just stood there and got mad.
I didn't want to see those sentences there. I didn't want to see his name in my phone. I didn't want to see him ever again.
Red-faced, I deleted his text message, punching the keypad hard.
"Ugh!" I thought. I wanted to scream. "You are smart enough to know which one of us is in the right!"
He called a few times. I didn't pick up. He finally left me a voice mail, which I erased.
I didn't hear from him for several weeks.
"It's hard to find good friends, [Anna]," he texted me out of the blue in January. I didn't respond.
He sent another text a few days later. "I'm really sorry and I want to patch things up," he typed (roughly).
"I want to forgive you, but I'm still mad," I texted back. "I need space. I'll get in touch with you next month."
I didn't. I kind of wanted to, but thinking about what happened still made me so mad.
He sent another text message toward the end of February.
"When you look back in life, I want you to remember me as a good guy," he wrote.
I kind of wanted to forgive him, but I didn't respond. [At least, I don't think I did. Not sure].
March came, and I still felt betrayed.
He sent me another message, much like his last.
"I want you to look back and say 'that was a good guy,'" he wrote.
I gave in.
"I am not ready for things to go back to normal, but I want you to know that I forgive you," I said to his voice mail, hesitating to continue. "Talk to you later."
We haven't talked yet. I still don't know if or how we'll ever re-connect.
Moral of the story:
Don't be a jerk. It ruins everything.