The Literary Girlfriend: The Designated Driver, Part 2
Maybe most guys would have been proud to have a topless dancer as a girlfriend, and in a way I was, but Daniella and I had put a lot of effort into hiding what her job was from my/our friends. Whenever she was out in public with me, she wore thick black glasses and carried a copy of a Jane Austen book with her. She told my friends that she was a paralegal. Now my friends were going to the topless club where she worked for New Year’s Eve, and I needed to warn her. Kirk, Jerome, and the others would be there in about 15 minutes. That didn’t give me much time.
The first phone booth (this was in the early 1990s) was on a street corner about five minutes away. Even though a rough looking guy was talking, I parked my car and got out. The rough looking guy saw me and turned his back on me while continuing his conversation. I knew what that meant. I got back into my car, found another phone booth a few minutes away, but a guy was standing nearby at the bus stop looking at me while playing with his zipper. I didn’t like the looks of that either, so I got back into my car. The next phone booth was occupied by three teenagers eyeballing everybody who drove by. The next phone booth was… never mind. It had already been almost 15 minutes since the other guys took off. They’d almost be to Nero’s. Any phone call I’d make would be too late. I took a deep breath and drove home.
It was past ten. The football games were over. The cheesy New Year’s Eve countdown shows had begun. I wasn’t in a festive mood.
I didn’t know what to expect. Would Kirk and the guys recognize Daniella? If she saw them first, would she stick around or leave? Would she pretend she wasn’t Daniella if they saw her? Would Kirk and the guys tell me if they saw Daniella? How would they break it to me, that my shit-talking librarian girlfriend was a stripper? If that happened, would I act shocked, or would I confess that I knew? Would Daniella be pissed at me for not warning her, or wouldn’t she care? I was sometimes surprised by what pissed her off and what she could blow off.
Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long. Daniella stormed into the apartment about 30 minutes later, caked in makeup, hair down, wearing her badass leather jacket and extra tight jeans. Daniella looked great as a badass. I would have loved to have gone out with her in public as a badass, except when I wore a badass leather jacket and rough jeans, I just looked like a nerdy guy dressing up as a badass. The badass outfits accentuated our physical mismatch, so she usually went out with me in librarian mode. But I liked looking at her when she was a badass.
Daniella stood frozen by the door and grinned. “Shit, that was close,” she said.
Daniella told me that she had spotted Jerome as soon as he’d walked into Nero’s. He was a tall guy with a distinct chin, and Kirk had almost gotten them all thrown out right away by grabbing a dancer without paying for a lap dance first. Jerome had had to throw down some cash before they could be seated, but the disturbance had given Daniella a chance to bail out, to act like she wasn’t feeling well and head to the back of the club. That was the short version, which was all I really wanted. The less I knew about Nero’s, the better.
“I tried to warn you,” I said. “I promise. I just couldn’t get to a phone in time.”
“They wouldn’t have given me a message,” Daniella said, still standing over me instead of sitting down. “I know a dancer, her kid was in the emergency room, and they didn’t tell her until after the shift was over. Fuckers.”
She paced around while she talked. “I was lucky I wasn’t on stage when they came in. When you’re on stage, you’re screwed if somebody you know walks in. Shit, I lost a lot of money over this. I was with a guy who works for an oil company and I…”
Then her grin disappeared. “Shit, I’m sorry. You don’t want to hear this.”
“It’s okay,” I said. “I know it’s too late to tell you now, but you didn’t have to hide. I guess I don’t mind if people know you’re a dancer.”
“I do,” Daniella said. “I like our friends thinking I’m a paralegal.”
Daniella brushed her hair out of her face. She still smelled like smoke. “If they find out I’m a dancer, they’ll think… things… about me. I hate that.”
Daniella finally sat down next to me. “I like having friends that think I’m… normal… for once. I like what we have going.”
I nodded thoughtfully (at least I hoped it looked thoughtful). Even though my friends thought highly of Daniella, “normal” wasn’t a word any of them had used, but I decided to keep that to myself.
“This worked out good for you,” Daniella said, her grin returning. “You said you wanted to spend New Year’s Eve together, and you got your wish.”
“That’s true.” I hadn’t thought of that.
“How do I know you didn’t plan this?” she asked. I couldn’t tell if she was serious.
“I’m not that devious,” I said.
“People think that,” she said slowly. “Your friends think you’re a nice guy, but I know you, I know how freaky you really are. You could plan something like this. You could have… told… your friends to go to Nero’s.” She got so close that my mind got muddled (in a good way), even in her smoky dried-sweaty condition, and I thought she was going to do something seductive, but she was simply looking me in the eye. “Tell me you didn’t plan this,” she said.
“I didn’t plan this.” I hadn’t, so that was easy.
“Hmmmm,” she said. “You might be telling me the truth, but I’m going to punish you anyway.”
Punish? This was getting good after all.
“You’re going to take me downtown, and we’re going to go…” and she listed a bunch of bars and night clubs where the drinks would be overpriced. “And you’re going to let me drink, and you’re going to dance with me.”
This really was turning into punishment, but she didn’t know it. Any guy would have been glad to be her bar-hopping date on New Year’s, but all I could think of was the money, my cash that was running out. One thing about Daniella, she was always an expensive date.
“But… I can’t dance,” I said. It was a lame excuse, but I was desperate, and I’ve never been a quick thinker.
“Then you can stand there and pretend with a drink in your hand, and I’m going to dance, and nobody will even notice you, and you’re going to act like you like it.”
Watching her dance crazy wasn’t a bad way to spend time, but the money issue still gnawed at me. “Some of those places have long lines,” I said desperately. “We’ll never get in.”
“They’ll let me in,” she said.
“But they’ll make me stand outside.”
“I can get you in.”
“It’s getting late.”
“They’ll just be getting started.”
I groaned. This was more impossible than trying to talk my mom out of going to church on Christmas Eve. At least with church, I only had to throw a few bucks into the offering plate. I had no idea how much money Daniella could make me spend at the bars on New Year’s Eve, but I knew it was going to be a lot. I cursed my brother and his wife at that moment. I should have said no to them. I should have been enjoying this moment. Daniella was going to get me into some trendy bars and dance crazy in front of me and probably do something really affectionate at midnight, and all I could think about was the money. The money. The stupid money.
To be continued in… The Literary Girlfriend: Identity Crisis .
If you want to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning (it’s getting kind of long), start here.