Thursday, February 18, 2016
Crushing Doubt...On the Heels of Strippers
Here, in “Writers Crushing Doubt,” hosted by Positive Writers, I’ll share how I crushed an overwhelming doubt and inadvertently won an award from the Maine Press Association.
I’d taken part in a local fund-raiser. On-stage before 100 friends, I read portions of my manuscript titled, “No, I’m not Pregnant…I’m just Fat – But Thanks So Much for Asking!” The crowd hooted and clapped, loving the tidbits I shared from my book.
To my delight, the owner of a neighboring bar asked me to repeat my performance at her establishment. Riding high on the triumph of that first recital, I agreed. Of course I would! I was a rising star.
I was the Big Dip. I just didn’t know it yet.
The proprietor neglected to tell me that my ‘act’ directly followed another. I arrived at the Plaza, ready and rearing to go. The swinging doors to the pub were closed but emanating from within were the sounds of raucous laughter and fervent applause.
“Excellent!” I thought. “Someone is warming up the crowd for me!”
The bouncer invited me to sit on the lobby’s sofa to await my turn. I sat. There was nothing to read except the local telephone directory. So, I opened my manila folder and reviewed my manuscript…
The manuscript I’d written about being fat.
Suddenly, the doors to the bar swung open. A stampede of forty men poured through. Leading those men were two women. Two naked women.
I should be more precise. Those ladies most certainly were not naked. They were bedecked in g-strings, pasties and high heels.
Nope. Not naked, at all.
Now, I have nothing against nakedness. We rural Mainers run around naked all the time! But we would never be caught in the nude wearing high heels. Rubber boots when we’re swamping out stalls, sneakers when we’re mowing fields – but never heels!
I was immediately nervous. I looked at the wall behind me, spying the poster I’d overlooked. A bachelor party! These women were strippers! No wonder the crowd had sounded so enthusiastic.
Now that the show was over, the men weren’t content to let the ladies leave. They crowded round them, practically falling over my feet – and their own – as they tried to get the ladies' phone numbers, tried to book ‘private’ parties…It was all quite ridiculous, really.
All that commotion over high heels!
I was completely ignored. It didn't matter that I, too, was a woman. Those girls were in a league of their own. I couldn’t compete for that male attention. I wore sturdy combat boots, not stilettos! And while I wore a “C” cup, I would never fit into a size “G” string! The closest I’ve ever come to wearing pasties was the time I had a bout of atrial fibrillation and was hooked up to an EKG monitor. Somehow, wires sprouting from metal nodules slapped haphazardly under and around my mams hadn't evoked the same response as dangling tassels.
The girls were standing with their alphabetized floss directly at eye-level. As curious I was to know what good it did (and where exactly it disappeared to) I couldn’t stare. That would be rude.
I picked up the phone book and pretended to be engrossed in the Yellow Pages.
Never have I felt so idiotic. I smiled politely when one beefy, red-faced man tripped over my military boots and landed in my lap in his attempt to get near enough to a dancer to give her switch a toggle. I scuttled sideways as another gent realized I had the best view in the house, and he plopped his sweaty bum next to mine.
I was completely out of my element! Embarrassed, uncomfortable, at a loss with what to do or say. What kind of conversation could I hold? I couldn’t talk about the weather because it was cold – and I was not going there! And the scenery? My view consisted of an intricate shaving pattern – and a tiny mole – displayed candidly in front of my eyes.
I wanted my mommy!
Finally, I was rescued. The proprietor appeared at my shoulder. She invited me inside. The bouncer hustled the girls away, and the wild and woolly men were escorted back into the saloon. They forlornly watched the starlets glide away to their dressing room.
Suddenly, I was on! There I was – frumpy me – dressed in bulky sweater, jeans and thick-soled boots…and what was I doing? I was talking about the trials and tribulations of being FAT to forty sexually-charged men!
Nobody laughed. No-one clapped. When I got to the segments which had made my first audience scream, not one of those men cracked a smile.
They’d just been entertained by dancing, tasseled, stringed beauties in high heels who offered lap dances – and I was cracking jokes about being FAT!
I wanted to die. Was my writing that bad? Remaining on stage was agonizing. Excruciating. When I finally got out of there – when I reached the safety of my truck and slammed the door shut – I swore I would never write another word as long as I lived!
But, then…something wonderful happened. Before I’d even managed to pull my truck onto the road, I was laughing; crying, giggling, snorting with hilarity! Oh, my God! I could see myself from the perspective of those men. Who needs a cold shower when you have Karen Bessey Pease? Got a little sexual frustration? Just stick Karen in front of a mic. Instant deflation!
It was an hour’s drive home. I cackled every single mile, every single minute of it. By the time I reached my homestead, I was okay. More than okay…I was pumped! I knew that painful, horrendous experience had great value and potential. I envisioned readers laughing as they lived the evening vicariously through me. Sure, it was awful! But it was also funnier than hell.
Laughter. It’s a gift, a tonic, a life-saver. The best medicine in existence. Sharing laughter through writing is how I crush my doubt…and write again.