“So you do things. It’s not just, you know, the dancing and the lap dances. Things go on in the Champagne Room, don’t they? Things go on.”
We were on my sofa, Lynn and I, drinking a second bottle of wine, talking our way through an unfolding evening. I already knew that we had no future, she of the animé hair, the vagina-cam performance pieces, and the exotic dancing. I wasn’t 25 anymore. I couldn’t afford to attach myself to these lovable eccentrics. But sometimes I wondered if I had any choice.
Lynn put her hand on my knee. On her face, a look of exaggerated interest. She was performing her nighttime performance for me.
“I listen to them; they tell me about their jobs.”
She rubbed my thigh lightly; her eyes had the dead intensity of a reptile.
“Like that?” I said.
“Yeah, like that,” she said.
“Wait, are you naked?”
“And a wig!”
It was as though she — and the women she worked with and all the women in that peculiar industry — perfectly understood the congenital weaknesses and pathetically infantile needs of men. There was no judgment as such, but definitely a kind of resignation at how ridiculous we finally are.
“What else?” I said.
“Sometimes I make out with them if they’re cute; sometimes they suck on my nipples a little bit.”
“Wow. Jeez.” I felt like a little boy hearing the truth about the world for the first time.
“But only if I already think they’re all right, or if they’re cute.”
“And me? Am I cute enough?”
“You’d see if you read my diary, but I don’t let people read my diary.”
We were quiet for a moment. Then Lynn leaned back on the couch.
“Listen, thanks for dinner.”
“Sure. You liked it?”
“It was good. It was really good. Listen, I gotta come clean with you.”
“What do you mean?”
“I have to tell you something.”
Oh no, I thought. I’m going to have to call doctors now. I’m going to have to make appointments.
“Oh no. What is it? Is it bad? What is it?”
“Wait, first I need to — hey, you like blow?”
“Blow? You mean cocaine?”
“No, not really.”
Lynn rummaged in her purse.
“I need a bump first.”
“A bump? You really use the lingo.”
She laughed, nodding. “I get it from the clients.”
“The Champagne Room?”
“Yeah, sometimes they’ll take it out and share.”
“This Champagne Room.”
A small vial of cocaine appeared and Lynn did her bump.
“So what I wanted to tell you is this. Remember I was telling you about this guy I was with for a few months before I met you, and then I broke up with him? So he called me last week. He really wants us to get back together. I saw him last night. I just wanted to tell you.”
“You’re telling me now? After I cooked you dinner?”
“He knows I’m here. And I’m going to his place tonight so actually I can’t stay.”
I laughed, relieved. Lynn had given me an out. Still, she deserved a bit of reprobation before she left my life forever.
“You couldn’t have called earlier and met me for a drink to tell me?” I said, still laughing. Lynn looked embarrassed. “I mean, I spent half the day cooking you dinner.” A lie, but still. I could tell that Lynn thought my laughter was from nerves, hysterical and indignant.
“Sorry,” she said. “I wanted to spend some time with you. I like you. I canceled two other dates after we met, you know?”
“Well, that’s something,” I said, a bit flattered.
Lynn lifted her shirt. “You want to make out?”
We finished the wine, chatting a bit about her performance art and the traveling circus she used to work for. After a half hour of this, Lynn stood up.
“Well, I have to go now. He’s waiting.”
“Yes, don’t be late; he might get jealous.”
I walked Lynn to the door, opened it. She started to leave, then she turned.
“Thanks for the dinner.”