The Diaries: Conversations from a Portland Strip Club
“I remember this group brought their mothers in for Mother’s Day.”
“What? To a titty bar?”
“Swear it’s the truth, they were sitting right there,” pointing indiscriminately at one of the tables.
We’ve spent the last three days in Portland. Redrik and I are sitting at the bar of the Acropolis. It’s getting close to noon.
Redrik has ordered a dish of fried shrimp. I’ve opted for the steak special. A mere six dollars for a supposedly edible steak plate.
A few paces away, a woman in her twenties is lying naked on the bar’s counter.
We came in to Portland on May 11th.
Spent the first night in the car. Next day visited, walked around Portland, enthused by the summer weather, crowds of hipsters and cheery youths taking to the multiple bars and café terraces.
That night, hung out with a friend’s older brother. Were expecting to perhaps spend the night at his place, but were informed late in the night (after and despite prior approval), that his girlfriend was uneasy with us staying – official reason: her friends are staying too and are uncomfortable being near two strangers.
I suppose the fact that I nearly passed from exhaustion out while squatting in the living room did not help to instill trust.
So another night in the car.
The naked woman is lying on her back, her legs cycling through the air.
Her clitoris is pointing towards us, unbeckoningly. Neither Redrik nor I dare make eye contact, fearful that we might be next in line, like underaged teens who dare not look at the aisles of the liquor store.
The man on the deep side of the counter hands over a certain number of singles, as mandated.
“My baby’s dad is like: have fun stripping on Mother’s Day.”
The bartender groans understandingly.
“I’m like, why you always gotta be a dick.”
The *. I’ve mentioned it multiple times. We first learned in Memphis that we might have been exposed to it prior to the trip, and infected. Since then we’ve trudged along, happily forgetting about it, content not to deal with it.
Memphis? It seems so long ago…
Redrik has informed me that we have, in fact, been contaminated. The first symptoms have appeared on him. And apparently they’re unpleasant, not only to the eye.
I have been spared so far. But in the close quarters we’ve been living in (namely, a car), contamination seems unavoidable.
He’s purchased a treatment, which costs a whopping fifty dollars. I put on the cream too, postpre-emptively.
The next day, tired, we resolve to meet with a friend, W, who could put us up for the night. He lives in company with an older man, a gay caretaker of sorts. We’re both slightly uncomfortable with the situation, unaware how it might turn out.
Matter of fact, W and his man greet us kindly.
Later, we go out, meet with one of W’s girlfriends, B. Have some beers at an outdoor barbecue place, buzzing with the liveliness brought about by the fine weather.
Head to a club, B takes a liking to R. Dance around.
“People have been getting ‘touchy’ lately. Was at a bachelor’s party and they were touching my boobs, spanking and all.”
“You have to let them know.”
“Yeah, but what am I gonna do, tell the bachelor?”
The next day Redrik has blacked out on the latter half of the night. He’s pleasantly surprised to hear that he might have had something going with B.
W insists that we stay over another night. It’s Saturday. We agree. Take a nap, spend the day working. Later that evening go out in downtown Portland, get some drinks here and there.
On Sunday morning we leave. We’re both grateful for our friends’ hospitality and a bit relieved. Which brings us to the Acropolis:
“I’m done going to jail. Having to fight for a roll of toilet paper and towel, being strapped face against the piss on the ground. I have more respect from the bottom up now.”
“The new me is less argumentative. I’m not looking to get into fights.”
The person speaking, an exotic dancer seated to my left, vents to the bartender. She’s a bit past her prime, but not as roughly as her monologue might convey. I’m actually surprised that the girls here are fairly good-looking, wasn’t expecting much of it. Especially considering it’s noon.
The other one has ended her private dance and is back on the stage, her slender body oozing in the dark red light.
We content ourselves watching the ball game on the monitors behind the bar. The steak tastes quite decent, properly cooked. The shrimp look good too. For both of us, this is a first.
“If I could be skinny as a crackhead I’d do it.” All the while she’s been sorting through crumpled wads of singles. She hands the bartender the owner’s share.
We leave Portland and head for, and down, the Oregon coast. Soon, we’ll be reaching California. It looks like we have it made.