I felt just like Gucci Mane, only white and not under house arrest.
If you told me a year ago that I'd be ringing in my 33rd birthday in the front row of a strip club in rural Pennsylvania I would have been deeply skeptical.
But just before the stroke of midnight turned me one year older, I was standing up as a sexy stripper wrapped her arms around me and removed my bra beneath my t-shirt to the raucous amusement of everyone present.
We'd spent the first day of our weekend getaway enjoying the hotel pool and visiting the historic section downtown where a man in colonial garb showed us how a blacksmith of yore made nails.
The sun was setting when my dude looked at me with a wicked glint in his eye.
"I have a bad thought," he said, which is how we wound up in the back seat of an Uber driven by a woman identical to my mother in both age and comportment.
"Where are you headed?" She chirped. Buddy, knowing it was my actual greatest fear to have to speak to a middle-aged straight white woman politely about a strip club jaunt, did his best to help.
"We're meeting my friend at this address," he said. I hoped it would be enough for her to let it lie. It wasn't.
"You aren't going to the STRIP CLUB are you?!" She was appalled. I felt like apologizing and offering to ground myself.
Buddy stood firm. "I don't know what the address is," he said, "I guess it's a bar."
As the strip mall where the club was located came into view, it seemed like we might be able to pull one over on her. There was a bar at the other end of the sports plaza. "That's where we're meeting his friend Mike and his wife," I almost-bellowed. "Remember? They've got great Italian subs," I added inexplicably and mortifyingly in my shame.
I think I picked subs because they were the least sexy food I could imagine.
Our driver wasn't having it. She shook her head. "There's a sports bar here and strip club, and I sure as heck hope you're going to the sports bar."
The bottom of the car did not open up to swallow us whole, so instead I smiled and said thank you and made Buddy stand on the sidewalk for easily 20 minutes until I was sure our driver was gone.
Inside the club, it became clear that we were fish out of water.
There weren't any other couples that I could see, and the dancers were paraded on and off stage in thirty second intervals as the MC screamed unintelligibly from a PA overhead.
Buddy is a strip club pro and was eager to show off his skills to me. He became baffled when his usual strip club etiquette was met with indifference by the strippers.
I chugged a Scotch as he chatted with the dancers trying to figure out how things were done. It was like going to a strip club with teacher's pet.
At this point a man arrived, puffing cigars, with an entourage of five women in tow. It looked like his wife and her friends if I had to make a snap judgment (and I did because I always do just that).
The women aggressively mocked and shuddered as the strippers plied their trade.
It didn't seem fair. In fact it seemed rude. I was reminded of rowdy bachelorette parties I'd witnessed at drag bars and thought the saw thing I thought when I saw straight women groping drag queens: This isn't your place, you are a guest here, behave.
"I LOVE YOUR SHIRT"
That was Buddy. A stripper in a red-black wig had taken the stage. She was wearing glasses and a slave's collar and a Deadpool tee-shirt.
It was pure catnip to my very nerdy boyfriend and he was not alone, I was equally entranced.
She was sexy and had a killer sense of humor, whipping my bra off and wrapping it around Buddy's head with aplomb.
We struck up an rapport after her dance and agreed to kick it back to a champagne room where men's in-pants boners are dry humped and a bottle of sparkling wine costs $200 because there is a sparkler attached to it.
I headed to the bathroom before our antics began with our affable stripper. She knew I was nervous and took my arm in hers, gabbing to me like a girlfriend as we made our way to the toilet.
Once inside she let me try on her mammoth lucite heels and I decided that given the right music (clearly Ginuwine's Pony though R Kelly's Bump N' Grind is also acceptable) I would be a damn good stripper.
Our bonding moment was broken a moment later when one of the woman from the cigar smoker's entourage came into the bathroom in tears. She spotted the stripper.
"This club is PERVERTED. You all are PERVERTED."
It turned out her husband was having a little bit too much fun. The stripper wasn't phased. "We're no more or less perverted than any other strip club. If you can't handle your husband being here, you shouldn't have made him believe that you can."
I trembled in my stripper shoes. Was I about to be in slap fight in a strip club bathroom in Pennsylvania?
Before anything else could happen, the stripper helped me out of her shoes, put them back on and marched me back to the champagne room.
"That's why people were ignoring you guys before," she said as we walked. "We always get these couples and then the woman goes ballistic."
She smiled and told me her real name. I know it was probably a thing she did to get close to clients, but it worked, I felt better.
Back in the champagne room kiosk, I wondered if this is what ever day was like for Derek Jeter or perhaps, Gucci Mane. Then the woman bringing over the champagne tripped and the fancy bucket went everywhere and I thought — as the stripper began to bounce her tits off either side of my face — probably not.