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.