Words by Steve Torres
Art by NEMO
I like skating curbs. I moved to LA from western Massachusetts so I could skate curbs year round. I still suck at slappies. I still suck at skating, as a matter of fact. I don't care. Skating is this thing that allows me to cope with not having that many friends by taking my mind off stuff. Also, when I do happen to skate with other people, I get to pretend I do have friends that share my interests for a while, so that's tight. This particular skate spot I go to a lot accommodates all forms of feeble, boardslide, and otherwise dipped slappy variations, but I still just do frontside slappies and practice nollie flips. By myself. Almost every night. My life is really fucking full. So I'm skating at my favorite well lit curb, alone, as is my style , and this dude pulls up in a slightly battered white honda. He rolls down the window, and I see a dude with frosted tips looking out at me past the battered dashboard and glovebox with a look of mystery.
"Hey man, what's up? Do you know where the strip club is?" he intones.
I peer at him, confused. I notice that he has Mapquest directions printed out and taped to his glovebox. I decide that it is reasonable to respond to this stranger, for some reason. What can I say? If you've never been lost trying to find a strip club, trust me when I tell you that there is a certain spice to that particular brand of desperation. I respect men who cook with spices. So I answer,
"Sorry, guy. I don't know of any strip joints out here."
He looks at me, confused.
"Is there like main street around here? Where do you think the club is? I'm supposed to meet some friends there, so..."
I wait for him to finish his sentence, and then realize that the sentence will never be completed. Here's this dude looking at me, clearly expecting directions from me, expecting a different answer than the definitive one I just gave him. Perhaps he is thinking that I was withholding the location of the secret local strip joint from him before, but know that I knew he actually had friends, my answer would change. I asked him what the strip club was called. He said he didn't know. What the hell was this guy doing? Again I told him as politely as the situation warranted,
"Sorry, I don't know of any strip clubs around here. We're actually on the main drag, so maybe just try driving down that way?"
I don't know what I expected at this point, but apparently that sentence was what forced my night into weirdness. The dude responded,
"Well I asked those guys over there, and they said you would know where the strip club was."
I looked over in the direction of "those guys" and saw no one. We were in the parking lot of a store that had closed hours ago. I thought to myself, "who the fuck hangs out in an empty parking lot at night? And who the fuck would think from looking at me that I would know where all the local strip clubs are?" And then I realized that I am the one who hangs out in the parking lot every night, late. By myself. Playing on curbs. My initial offense at the line of quesitoning turned into shame. Of course this guy was asking me where the strip club was. The only legitimate question was, why didn't I already know?
"Dude, I'm coming with you, I have GPS on my phone." I said, and without asking i hopped into the dude's passenger seat. The guy was stoked, and we ripped off into the night.
"So, what the fuck are you doing out here on a tuesday night trying to meet your friends at a strip club you've never been to?" I decided to just lay my cards on the table. This guy was weird and I was going to let him know that I knew. He looked at me sideways and took a deep breath.
"Well, it all began yesterday, when my girlfriend kicked me out. She took the dog and both of the cats, but I got to keep my car. I feel like a broken man. I've been staying with my cousin, and my friends are trying to help me take my mind off my girl. I really love her, man. I mean i really... I just.... I want to get her back. But first the strip club."
I took a moment to process this. I realized that the dude was blasting Celine Dion at an unreasonable volume. He wasn't even asking me for directions. We were blasting toward nowhere. He was in that special way where you need someone, anyone, to hear your story. He was in the position to kill us both now, and if I didn't find the strip club soon, I might end up listening to Celine Dion for longer than I ever intended. I asked him, "So, why did she kick you out man?"
"Well she said she was tired of me working all the time, I'm a salesman, I sell cars, and I work a lot, and she thinks I'm out there fucking other chicks, but I'm just working, you know?"
"That sucks man. What was the straw that broke the camel's back?" I asked him. I had no idea what to say to this guy. He was obviously crazy.
"Man I just WORK. I WORK. You work don't you?! I MAKE FUCKING MONEY!" I looked around the car. It didn't look like the car of someone who worked a lot. I asked him,
"Did you get this car from your dealership?" The dude just laughed.
He said, "No man, I stole this tonight. We're going to the strip club and I don't want there to be any evidence."
"Nice scoop dude. Take a right up here." I had led him to my favorite burlesque club, which is not a strip club, in that there is no actual stripping. Public nudity makes me uncomfortable. But the pole dancing is awesome. We roll in, and the dude just starts throwing money at the stage while looking at the ground, muttering to himself. It was weird. I just left him there and got an uber back to the skate spot.
When I got back to the slappy spot, no one was there, as usual. I skated around for a while, tried a couple backside flips, bailed em all, and sat down to process the night. What kind of weirdo goes with a stranger to a perfectly good burlesque club and then breaks out to hang out in a parking lot by themself?