I went to a dinner with some old-timers a few weeks ago. Real innocent stuff: some blue steak, a little scotch, cigars. Oh, yeah, and strippers. But these strippers kept their clothes on. They were hired for nothing more than to wear some suggestive clothing and flirt a little harder than a waitress ever would. It was cheeky fun, like a ’50s pinup cheesecake photo, all come-hither looks and fingers gently pressed to lips. Except, there was this one guy with a wedding band who got handsy, and I mean HANDSY. He was a slobbering moron and the stripper, for her part, knew an easy mark when she saw one. “A fool and his money” and all, but it felt deeper than that. The night wasn’t ruined for me, but it was affected, and I’ve since carried a bit of frustration with me. There was something about this guy’s inability to separate fantasy from reality that seemed pathetic, the wedding band magnifying the shame in it all. He would have slept with that stripper if she let him, and for those fifteen minutes he would be relieved of the burden of being the common man his wife knows so well to become something else entirely. My issue isn’t that this guy potentially lies to his wife, it’s that he so desperately lies to himself.
You see, I have a rule. I don’t get into relationships with girls who are against strip clubs. And that’s not to say that I love going to strip clubs. Other than the occasional Thanksgiving visit, I don’t really have that trip on any agenda. It’s just the stupidity of such a hard line rule from anyone who says that they trust you. I mean, if I really wanted to cheat on someone, the last place I’m going is a strip club. I’d have to pay to get in. Figure out which girl is the street-smart one who just wants to be a nurse. Get lap dances from her, and only her. Keep spending money. Make aversions to meeting in the bathroom. Hope that doesn’t get me kicked out. Agree with her that the bathroom isn’t that smart because it could get her fired. Keep spending money. Stay the whole night. Figure out if she’s into me or the money. Tell her you guys should go out when she gets off. Then wait outside the club like a fan looking for an autograph from a quarterback walking to his car in the player’s lot. Then spend a whole car ride hoping she doesn’t kill me. That’s a lot of work. That’s not even fun. I could have just gone to a bar and spoken to a woman whose job wasn’t to make me think she thinks I’m hot.
Both the girl who gets mad about strippers and the married guy who tries a little too hard to get with strippers are living in their own fantasy world. He’s ignoring the truth that he’s a little too old, too fat, too grandpa smelling, and too out of shape. The girlfriend getting angry is ignoring the logistics (a fisherman can’t fish at the aquarium) but more importantly, the hard truth about desires. That any guy she’s dating is looking at every girl and wondering what it would be like to see her naked. And yes, there’s always the one percent chance something can happen. But for the man to pursue his desires and for the woman to pursue on her anger is to ignore the ninety nine percent chance that this stripper just wants to pay her rent and this guy you’re dating just isn’t an ass.
So there it is. The issue with strippers isn’t the strippers themselves. One could blur a line between internet smut and a lap dance. Should a girlfriend or wife try and shield a man from strippers, or, God forbid, pornography, I’d argue the issue isn’t corporal. It’s an inherent distrust of either the man or one’s own relationship with sexuality. I once dated a girl that absolutely forbid strippers; her reasoning amounted to her sticking her fingers in her ears and saying “lalalala I can’t hear you.” But, should you deny the inherent sexuality in all people, you open yourself up to a far more devastating truth; that someday — maybe not today, but someday — someone is going to hide something from you. If your significant other doesn’t feel comfortable to discuss fears or needs with you, they’ll find another outlet. That isn’t to relieve the man with the wedding band of his responsibility to his promises. He is a scummy weirdo to be sure, guilty of the cowardice to have an honest conversation. But I’d wager dollars to donuts he was enabled by someone who either ignored who he was or what he wanted. A stripper is never the problem. The relationship is the problem..