Guys You Meet at the Bellagio Buffet

cabbage

I was alone and it was Friday; didn’t seem like good enough reasons to go hungry. I headed down to the buffet a little early; beat the crowd. But, beating the crowd in Vegas has a definition all its own, so I sat down with a man in a vest. I hadn’t sat down next to someone in a vest since my brother’s wedding, but it happens.

“What do you do?” he asked me, nameless.

I finished my bite of lamb-chops, swallowed. “I’m a researcher, studying gambling addiction,” I told him, not wanting to make a conversation of it. “You?” I added.

“Club owner,” he said through a mouth of shrimp.

I nodded, glad to have solved the mystery of the vest. He passed me a card.

“You should check it out.”

I looked down at the card. I frowned.

“What the hell is an anti-strip club?” I asked. “Sorry,” I said, noting his look, “I just haven’t ever heard of that before.”

He smiled, then laughed. “That’s because I invented it.”

“Cool.” He looked too proud for me to not praise it, though I hadn’t yet heard what it was. He got up to get more food. I examined the card more, trying to glean some clues as to what it might mean. I got nothing. It was plain white, egg shelled, an address, a number, a name; Mel’s Anti-Strip Club.

He came back with a plate of gravy-drowned prime rib.

“So, you’re Mel?” I asked.

He laughed and some gravy got onto his lip. He didn’t wipe it off. “I’m John, but John’s Anti-Strip Club didn’t have a ring to it, so–there you have it.”

I smiled, pocketed the card. Too embarrassed to ask more, I finished my meal and left. I was in my room for an hour before curiosity got the better of me. I took a taxi. It was off the strip a bit. The sign was modern, a video screen. John was on it; one thumb, one finger gun.

I went in. I don’t know what I expected. It was like any strip club I’d been in; drunks, perverts, cat calls, men looking in dark corners for the glory of younger days. I sat down anyways. It wasn’t long before music came on, something 80s. The woman came out. She was young–younger than me but not young enough to be my daughter; so that was something, at least. It took me a minute to realize what was odd; she was completely naked.

She began to dance. She danced in the way a piece of asparagus falls on the ground, but sexier.

The men hollered and started throwing things. At first I thought it was money. But I soon realized, to my surprise; it was clothing. The girl on stage caught some in mid-air. Others, she picked up as she danced.

Then, piece by piece, she started putting it on; a few pairs of panties, some boxers, a skirt, two pairs of pants, a jean and leather jacket, and finally, two different camouflage hats. The crowd roared as she danced–stumbled her way off the stage.

The song ended and everyone cheered. I turned to the man beside me. He was clapping along with the rest. Beside him was a rucksack full of what I then realized was various articles of clothing.

He saw me looking, patted me on the shoulder.

“Beats the hell outta’ Salvation Army eh?”

I tried to nod, but only managed to find myself walking toward the door muttering something about Vegas.

24 comments

  1. What’s this? hahaha, I’m sorry, that I always have to laugh. It is just always so incredibly crazy at first sight .
    Very good with many profound sentences and / or funny phrases. What a brilliant invention this anti-strip club. Who likes to go to a strip club? But an anti-strip club is a good thing. Get rid of the old image and a new one ….. yes healing arms … we even help, but keep the most important thing, the naked woman, just twisted order ….. twisted like!
    I have to ponder my favorite saying of Pippi Longstocking “I make the world, as I like it” I believe…. once again go through the head.
    She danced in the way a piece of asparagus falls on the ground, but sexier …. we had something similar in an older story … she danced like a brick as falling in a boat … or something like that ….

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha thank you. Honestly I only ever read his forward to infinite jest then, honestly didn’t get all the way through infinite jest. But from the forward I did but one of his books but I haven’t been home since. If you’d recommend him I’ll see if I can find a copy of something of his here in russia. Or maybe online.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve only read the expert from A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, but what I read was just….bliss: great black humor, brutal sadness, complicated relationships… You can find the excerpt online.
        Also, who the hell *could* get through DFW masturbatory (as my mother described it)Infinite Jest?? Loved all his essays, though, especially Trip to the Fair (in the Atlantic, I think) and his essay on tennis great Federer. Glorious.

        Liked by 1 person

      • haha yeah I have read and enjoyed a couple of his essays and shorter works. I haven’t read trip to the fair though. I will find it and I will look for some Eggers. An excerpt if I can’t find a full book.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Superb. Great concept, great writing and just a cool story. The line “She danced in the way a piece of asparagus falls on the ground, but sexier” could be the funniest and most-weirdly-perfect line I’ve ever read!!

    Liked by 1 person

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