Freudian Strip

My brother, Steven is perhaps the oddest person I know. A kind way to refer to him would be an eccentric. A more accurate term might be deadbeat. But I, dear reader, as you have no doubt figured out by now, strive to be kind. Steve truly tests that desire to its limits.

My brother is a dancer. No, actually he's an exotic dancer. Well, okay…he's a stripper. Hey! somebody's got to do it. Anyway, this form of work, coupled with his rather quirky personality combine to produce no end of anecdotal material. My parents don't exactly approve of his chosen profession. They would like to see him involved in a job that had a little more security, and medical benefits would be nice as well. Steve doesn't want to do anything that involves receiving a steady paycheck, or would require him to stay in one place for too long.

As you can guess, this little difference of opinion is a source of great friction between Steve and my parents. Thus, my brother will disappear for months or years at a stretch. And each visit becomes a topic of conversation for months afterward. One part of every encounter is devoted to hearing the latest version of The Plan. The details of The Plan change on a daily basis, but the end result remains constant: It is my brothers wish, to make his first million dollars by his thirtieth birthday (at last count, he has two years and about $999,000 to go). Every other moment of the encounter involves subjecting yourself to his philosophy. If you have ever spotted a U.F.O, sighted Bigfoot, or spied the Loch Ness Monster, you would know the stunned, unnerving, brain-twisting feeling that grips you after a few hours listening to Steve's philosophy. But I digress.

Steven's latest appearance came as a bit of a shock. It was several months early. My parents were brought up to speed on the plan. He told them that he and his "group" were doing a show at some bar in a nearby suburb. He actually named the cross streets where this bar was located, but neglected to name the bar. My mother is very innovative. She drove to the intersection, found the only bar there, and verified that they employ male dancers on Friday nights. Mom has always tried to be supportive of Steve, and so, when Friday night rolled around, my mother, her best friend and my aunt all decided it was time to catch his act. Now bear in mind, Mom had no idea what is involved in these shows beyond what Steve had related to us all. Based on his descriptions, she expected an 'R' rated show: Some well-dressed guys come out on stage, do some suggestive gyrations while they pull off their shirts, and by the end, they prance off stage wearing only speedos.

The ladies, desiring to be discreet, selected a table well back from the stage, near the exit. The house lights went off. The music began with a heavy bass beat. The stage lights came on…well mostly. By a bizarre twist of fate, the spot-light system in the bar was on the fritz, and so there were no blinding spotlights keeping the dancers from seeing the people in the room. So the five guys came strutting out onto the stage, and as expected, they were all in full costume. The MC introduces each of the dancers in turn. As their stage names are called, they come forward and do a little preening. Now there were perhaps two, or three places on stage where someone could get a clear line-of-sight to the back tables where the ladies sat. Leave it to Steve to pick one of those places to plant himself. It took him about one and a half gyrations to spot Mom sitting in the crowd.

His jaw dropped, his eyes widened in horror and he missed a couple of beats. Now, he began maneuvering himself on stage, trying to see the other people at the table. I think we can all safely assume, that Steve wasn't giving his best performance at that moment. When the introductory segment ends, the guys are supposed to go into the crowd and try to get the chicks in the bar involved. For some strange reason, Steve chose this moment to hide in the kitchen. Eventually, the show began in earnest. Each of the guys has an act, in which they are the featured performer. Usually while the performer is on stage, the others are working the crowd for tips. Also, some of the acts require…audience participation. To accomplish this, the guys working the crowd will select at random, a "victim" from the crowd. He grabs the woman's hand, and ignoring any protests or struggling, pulls her onto the stage, where she sits in a chair for an up-close and personal view of the act.

Eventually it was time for Steve's act. The victim was selected from the crowd, and she was handcuffed to the chair on stage. The MC announced it was time for an interrogation, and Steve came out, dressed in his police uniform. I have often commented on the subject of God's sense of humor. Maybe it was the prankster in the Almighty, maybe it was the random hand of fate. Call it what you will, but with odds of nearly one-hundred and fifty-to one against, Steven came strutting out on stage to find his own mother handcuffed to the chair in front of him.

With all due respect to Sigmund Freud and his followers, there is probably a list of a dozen or so women that Steve would rather die than strip in front of. Our mother is understandably, pretty high on that list. So there's Mom, sitting on stage, trying for all the world to apologize with her eyes. And there's Steve, brain-locked on stage, doing a very good imitation of a surly police detective who suddenly realizes he doesn't like his job. And then there's the MC announcing a play-by-play of what's supposed to be happening, and getting increasingly annoyed that none of it is. Oh yeah, and let's not forget a bar full of screaming drunk women, who are also wondering why the stripper isn't…stripping.

Well, with the situation accelerating rapidly downhill, the MC starts asking Steve what's wrong, and Steve's trying to discreetly wave his arms and mouth the words "That's my Mother!". Which, isn't anything like what the MC was expecting Steve to say, so naturally, he didn't get the message. Finally, realizing he was lost in a no-win situation, Steven…consummate professional that he is…turned Mom's chair so she faced the crowd. Then he stood several feet behind her and did his entire act without benefit of the victim.

Ironically, she was the only person in the bar who missed Steve's act. Oddly enough, she has expressed no desire to learn any more about his job…

Copyright © 1997 by Mike Marchi