writing exercise #35

PROMPT: “It’s that kinda town,” he said.

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“It’s that kinda town,” she overheard him say as he giggled his way through the door. “What kind of town is that?” she asked. They’d converged on the doorway, so she’d felt it was fair to ask. He held the door open, this broad-chested fellow in a too-tight T-shirt that boasted the name of, she thought, some rugby team or another.

“Oh,” he stammered, “They want to go to a strip club.”

She raised her eyebrows and slipped past him. Not that the idea offended her, but neither was she compelled to divulge that yes, in fact, a strip club existed, just outside city limits. Let them work for it, at least a little.

For several months she’d booked pedicures at an upscale salon where, she’d learned quickly and despite her ambivalence about knowing such things, which is why she always scooped up a gossip magazine on the way in, all the better to lose oneself in, murmuring, “Mmmmhmmm,” when asked anything, that the young woman doing her pedicure was also a stripper, sorry, exotic dancer, at the one strip club in town.

“So, anyway,” Monica (stage name: Cherry) would say, “this has been a really busy week! It’s great to have the regulars, but always good when the tourists come in.”

She was never sure how to respond. The curious writer part of her wanted to ask a shit ton of questions: Do the tourists tip more? Do the regulars expect more? How did you get into this line of work? Do you have an alternative plan for the future? How much time do you spend planning out your routine? How do you decide what to wear? What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened? Is it weird to have sex after everyone has already seen your lady junk on display?

But she was raised to be polite, so what she actually said was, “That’s great. Always helpful to have some extra funds on hand.” And then she’d hand over the polish she’d chosen, usually something blue or green, a bold color for such a conservative gal. Having someone else wash and scrub her feet, clip her toenails for Jesus’s sake, all that made her antsy. She didn’t understand how having a pedicure was supposed to be relaxing, she was tense the whole time. If it wasn’t the white stripper girls, it was the racist overtones involved in going to the Vietnamese place. Well, she thought they were Vietnamese. Maybe they were Korean. Fuck. She really was a clueless, privileged white chick. She didn’t mean to be. It’s just, well, there weren’t a lot of people of color. And she’d grown up here. It was that kinda town.

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