The Girls

My Friday night gig with Jen & The Generics is at the Black Hole in Cedar Point.

I guess if Cedar Point was big enough, it would have a rock club and a strip joint. But since it’s not, it has The Black Hole, strip joint by day, rock club by night.

“The girls” is how everybody refers to the performers. Except me. I can’t refer to a woman as a girl. Even if everybody else is.

I don’t call them “the strippers” either. I don’t know why, really, I just don’t. Around the club, I refer to them as “the dancers.” Sometimes to a customer, I might say “the ladies,” though I don’t have much opportunity to talk to the customers.

It doesn’t bother me to hear the customers or bartenders or others calling them, “the girls,” ’cause that’s the usual way in their line of work. The dancers even refer to each other as “the girls.” But I just don’t do it.

It does bother me if I hear it outside a strip club. Men calling women, “girls,” has always bothered me. It’s right up there with, “the wife.” One of my Dad’s friends used to say that. It would make my mother bristle. It’s a respect thing.

I remember watching my grandfather and how he treated my grandmother. Gramps is just an average guy, worked in a cannery most of his life. He just has a way that he treats people – men, women, young, old, whatever color or background, he just blows right past all that and zones right in on you, who you are inside, your soul, your essence. When you’re talking to him and he looks at you, it’s like he’s touching you, holding your hand or putting a hand on your shoulder, mentally I mean, or spiritually. He listens. And he hears. I don’t know anyone else like him.

Anyway, when I was young, I noticed how he treated Grams differently than my father treated my mother or than other men treated their wives. He treated all women differently than other men did. I was a child, noticing this. I didn’t understand what I was seeing nor can I say now why it caught my attention but it did. Maybe it was because the women around him all liked him, they connected with him in some way that stood out to me. There was something different going on. It was a nice difference, something special about it. It made me feel Gramps was a special person.

My grandfather wouldn’t call the performers at the Black Hole, “the girls” either. He calls them “the exotic dancers.” And when he says it, I always smile. I can’t help it.

People don’t realize how hard those dancers work.

They’re finished working long before my gig starts but I drop off some of my gear in the afternoon sometimes, so I know a few of them to say hi to. I run into some of them backstage, sometimes just as they come off the stage and they’re naked or just wrapping a towel or robe around themselves. It could be embarrassing but I try to treat it like normal contact with co-workers. I know it sounds funny but hey, that’s what it is!

If I did it any other way, I’d just be one more jerk they have to deal with while they’re working. They all seem to like me, they always say hi.

I’m not saying that close proximity to naked women isn’t a turn-on. I’m not saying that at all. If they’re on stage, I’ll watch. And yeah, sure, I might have a natural reaction, I mean hell, it’s sexy! But no off-stage gawking. No way.

Anyway, Patti would probably chop it off if I ever thought otherwise.

Ouch.

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