Tag Archives: observations

a return of sorts

Last year, I wrote a story about a strip club off a highway in rural Missouri. It was dark and grimy, the only building for miles.

As a five-foot-tall woman in her twenties, it probably wasn’t the wisest idea to go alone at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night. But I wanted the story. So I went anyway.

There were two men who did business at the place, and two women who danced. They were suspicious of me. The second time I visited, the bartender asked me if I wanted to strip down and dance for the customers sitting just below the stage, all of them men, gawking at the dancer as if they were a single unit, a single man in his dirty jeans with a collective pair of eyes. But of course, they weren’t one man, but three different individuals, each who had driven to this club on his own, each watching the dancer on his own, and I both resented them and felt sorry for their loneliness.

The bartender’s question — when he asked whether I wanted to go onstage and have my turn at the pole — was a joke. I think. But I was already uncomfortable, and my hands began to sweat after he asked. I tried to hide how scared I was, so I smiled and declined and laughed it off.

When I left, the bartender walked me out to my car.

“It’s not safe for a girl like you to be out in the middle of nowhere,” he told me.

I wanted to tell him that I only felt unsafe around him, but I didn’t say anything.

“I did some research on you,” he said just before I opened my car door, and I think every muscle in my body froze when he did.

“Oh yeah? What did you find?” I said.

“You’ve written about some… pretty controversial stuff,” he said.

“I like writing the tough stories,” I said.

“Your family is from all over the world,” he said, and after a pause: “Your grandmother died last year.”

And that’s when I discovered that he’d found my personal blog. It terrified me to know that this potentially dangerous stranger knew so much about my private life. And I knew the bartender’s words were a subtle threat.

Since then, except for little essays on Instagram, I haven’t shared much of my personal writing online.

The stakes are higher now that I’m working as a professional journalist. I don’t want to give too much of myself away. But I want to write, and I want to share what I write. So I’m going to try to blog this summer, but it’s a struggle to mark a line between my public and private persona — a line that I suspect doesn’t actually exist — and try not to cross it.

The goal is to publish at least seven blog posts this summer. Hold me accountable, internet.

(I drove off after that conversation, by the way, and I wrote the story, which you an read here.)

Until next time, xoxo from South Carolina.

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the line outside of roxy’s, february 26, 2015

10:58 p.m.

A group of four friends lines up outside the club. It’s a long line, but they can still hear the beat of the music matching the rhythm of the lights—red, yellow, green—that flash from the windows of the second floor.

The young man has a diamond earring in each ear, and he wears a heavy black coat. His companions are girls, wearing leggings and light cardigans. One of these young ladies isn’t wearing a sweater at all. Instead she wears a crop top that shows off a sliver of her belly, right above the black and white striped leggings that she almost certainly stole from the set of Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice.

It’s nine degrees Fahrenheit. Snow sits partially banked on the grass across the street.

Beetlejuice and her buddies remain at the back of the line when another girl struts by, crown atop her curled hair and a sash that glitters “I’m 21!” across her teal tank top. She trips, but her two companions catch her before she eats the pavement. The trio bursts into giggles and then walks into the club.

“I don’t get it,” says Diamond Earrings. “They get to go in so quick, but we’re standing here. Why does it take so damn long to let people in?”

“Five dollar bottomless drinks,” Beetlejuice reminds him.

11:10 p.m.

The group has moved forward a few feet. They are standing beside the entrance to Jimmy John’s, but they are no longer holding up the end of the line. Now two girls stand behind them. One has a lollipop in her mouth, and her metallic miniskirt can’t cover the goose bumps on her otherwise bare legs. Her friend tries to avoid this fate by wearing socks that reach her knees. She, too, is wearing a miniskirt.

“My ears are freezing,” says Lollipop, covering her ears with her hands.

“My nose is freezing,” says Knee-High Socks.

In front of her, Beetlejuice sways back and forth.

“I can’t feel my toes.”

11:13 p.m.

A truck stops on the opposite side of Broadway, holding up traffic.

“Drew!” shout the four men who are stuffed in the front seat of the truck.

“Drew!” shout the three men who are sitting in the bed of the truck.

Drew, who is now at the back of the Roxy’s line, holds the door of Jimmy John’s halfway open.

“Ten seconds!” he shouts back.

“Drew, you have got to be fucking kidding!”

Drew leans back in frustration, and then bounds across the street. He jumps into the bed of the truck and joins his friends.

Beetlejuice and Cardigan Girls have barely moved, but now they’ve all assumed the same position: arms crossed, legs rocking back and forth. They watch as the truck speeds away, a sandwichless Drew along with it.

11:20 p.m.

A girl from the front of the line leaves, stomping down the sidewalk. She’s wearing a peplum tank top with nothing to cover her arms, and she’s angry.

“He said we should probably go to another bar,” she informs the rest of the line. “The bouncer did. They’re, like, full or something.”

Some follow her lead and give up on Roxy’s. Beetlejuice, Diamond Earrings and Cardigan Girls take advantage of the thinning line and move forward.

11:24 p.m.

Lollipop turns to Knee-High Socks.

“If I am not inside in ten minutes, we are leaving. Deal? Deal,” she says, having the courtesy to answer for her friend.

Approximately thirty seconds later, Lollipop and Knee-High Socks cross Broadway in the middle of the road, just missing a car that whizzes by. The girls are a whole twenty feet from the crosswalk, after all.

Beetlejuice and her girl friends are now hunched over in full Quasimodo form. Diamond Earrings doesn’t seem quite as bothered, although he’s now put his hands in the pockets of his heavy coat.

11:33 p.m.

Diamond Earrings, Beetlejuice and Cardigan Girls are at the front of the line. They’re shivering, and their teeth chatter. But finally, the Holy Grail: five dollar bottomless drinks.