When I wake up on Decatur steet first thing I do is open large french windows and get into the balcony in my panties and tank top with a cup of luke warm water with lemon. I don’t know what is it about the South air but it smells different. It smells Big Easy, moist and carefree, moisturizing human scars, perpetual small and big headaches of every day life. I watch the sun lit streets and people and a young dude who lives across from me. The dude and I wake up at the same time. He often shows up at in the balcony in his undies with a cup of coffee and a cigarette, showing off his lean torso. We play games staring at each other continuously. My nearsighted impression makes a good picture of him, his looks. The upside of being nearsighted is that you appreciate and fall for things that aren’t even real.
I couldn’t stop thinking about a Bill Murray Man. He had my number. Looking back at Pussy Cat Cabaret, when I was trying dancing for the first time, I went out with a few guys from the club. It rarely happened. I remember I had a crush on this guy Cliff. The only reason, it came thru was pure convenience. We’d lived a few blocks from each other. Cliff lived on Cliff street which was a few short blocks from Fulton street. He’d take his dog out and text me right before bed time and we’d walk around South Sea Port, smoke a joint and talk. I even went to his birthday party. We never clicked tho. He was a typical thirty-something successful New Yorker with good looks, good steady income in the medical field and a shit ton of vanity.
“Look hun, I’ve got bad news and good news. I know it’s last minute, but we’ll have to cancel the Gala event at the Plaza Hotel. I know you were looking forward to it but I’m just too tired tonite. The good news is that you can still come over to my place later and we can watch the movie and stuff. Right hun?”
I concealed my frustration that I couldn’t put on that hot dress and show off my dancer legs and mingle in circles they write about in Porter Magazine. I wasn’t that into him to come over to his place and give him a head or let him go into my pants. Instead, I’d preferred foodmaking and lovemaking with my young on-and-off young boyfriend artist.
“Hey, Alex, go tawk to dat Customer over dere. He says he likes white girls.” Says Kiera, taking out a skinny joint from her shiny purse. I roll my eyes and find her face at the mirror.
“Did he say that straight into your face? Dam, I’m sorry, he’d be a toast on the East Coast and kicked out from the club.” I say
“Yea, he did, but it’s okay. I held my breath. I exhaled deeply and walked away.” She said sipping slowly from her fifth glass of wine.
Kiera’s body looks like a perfectly rolled skinny joint. Not a single, wrinkle, stretch mark, or fat muscle. You can almost see her delicate see-thru ribs covered by smooth hazelnut skin. She says she’s 31. A black mama wolf wearing an 18-year old body. When she goes on stage she gives a Cirque du Soleil Performance, working the pole so adeptly like it’s an extension of her body. Just a few easy push ups and she lifts her entire body up in the air like an acrobat and does her magic.
“Kiera, teach me a few tricks”.
“No girl, don’t even bother asking Kiera to teach you a few tricks.” Sugar, puts her arm around my neck.
‘Last time a white gal asked Kiera to show her pole tricks, she wound up going to the hospital with muscles strained and ligament sprain, twisted wrists. Kiera is crazy. She’s lightweight so pole tricks come easy. Plus she drinks so much that when she climbs pole she thinks she’s in space. She doesn’t give a shit for safety.” Sugar is another black mama with tight body, with big and tight beautiful milk boobs, friendly and real and upbeat.
“Look gal, I’ll teach you a few tricks, slowly, get up on stage now!” I follow her and repeat her moves awkwardly and sheepishly and bruise my ankles and legs and finally make a small progress. Gals put on a great show here even if a customer throws a dollar or two. I can’t believe what tricks real dancers do, going upside down and all, risking their lives, after consuming a couple drinks and then still hustling to get table dances and champagne rooms.
At the end of the shift we all go to the dressing room. I barely make a hundred.
“What’s up with that sour puss face?” Kiera turns her tipsy eyes to me
” I made too little.”
“Kiera opens up her shiny purse, gets a twenty dollar bill and hands it to me.”
“What for? Why?” I roll my eyes at her
“It’s okay. I made enough. I like you. You can actually listen to me. Besides, I don’t have to hustle too much. I got a rich boyfriend at home. I come here because I am bored.
“Are you sure?”
“Yea, dam, take it please!”
When I walk out I can barely hold back my tears. Such a generosity from a stripper is raw and genuine and touching. I turn to Royal Street again and see the Old Monk Guy wrapping off, taking off his ugly old man’s face mask. Intrigued I come closer. A short moment of suspense. I feel sorry for the old man. But in a surprising twist, the old man turns out to me a young handsome guy.
“Whoa!” I say in excitement and give him a five dollar bill.
“Thank you, haha, you are not the first one. I get this all the time…” His voice is pleasant and soft. “I work in Vegas, but NOLA is my favorite town. Vegas has no soul, no character, no personality.”
The next morning I open up huge french windows, heavy grey fog is hovering above the Crescent city skyline. I finish my lemon water swiftly, put on sneakers, yoga pants and hoody and walk outside. I walk fast past Frenchmen street, still sleeping after pulling another all-nighter, I walk thru Washington Square Park, cross the street and turn into cozy green tree-lined streets of the Marigny. I stop to get my long shot of espresso at Orange Couch, and start running slowly towards Bywater, passing by the old magnificent and mysterious Marigny Opera House and old rail road. I increase my pace once I get closer to the arched bridge which leads into the Crescent City park with a unique panorama, spreading out like peanut- butter-jelly on whole wheat toast. I am in love and hungry.