When it comes to strip clubs, I am the Non-Boner Champion.
At what age are men “supposed” to make their first strip club visit? My guess is that it falls somewhere around 12:01 a.m. on their 18th birthdays. Or it could be on their 21st birthdays. I don’t know. I’m not sure how old you have to be to get into a strip club because I’ve never had any interest in going to one.
It’s not that I don’t love boobs. I do. Big time. A quick glance at my computer’s browser history will prove that. It’s not even that I have a moral objection to strip clubs. I say, if ladies can make good livings off the horniness of gullible men, more power to them. I guess I’ve just never been interested in paying to see boobs in a dark, smoke-filled room. I’ve always figured that if I spent that same sum of money on taking a woman out to a nice dinner, where I could ask her questions about herself and learn interesting things about the type of person she is, she might be kind enough to voluntarily show me her boobs in the privacy of my own home.
But this year, my lifelong strip clublessness streak ended, just a few weeks short of my 30th birthday. I got roped into going as part of a friend’s bachelor party, one of only two acceptable reasons to visit a strip club. (The other is being a sad, lonely person.) Having now spent a long evening at one, I can confirm that I hate strip clubs. The main thing I hate about them is that they are incredibly boring. After the first five minutes of being surrounded by boobs, the novelty quickly wears off and there’s nothing left to do but sit there and look around aimlessly.
For 14-year-old boys, strip clubs would be more wondrous than a hundred Disneylands. But for grown men who have theoretically seen boobs before, there’s not much excitement in watching them jiggle around as a primary source of entertainment. With all due respect to the strippers, it’s not like they’re putting on some Juilliard-trained performance art piece. They’re pretty much just grinding against a pole. You can tell it’s boring in strip clubs because there are TVs everywhere showing Sportscenter. Would a place that’s confident in the entertainment it provides need a million TVs just in case you get bored for 5 seconds? The Metropolitan Opera doesn’t plaster a bunch of flatscreens next to their stage because they know you’re not thinking, “This La Boheme is OK but how are the Knicks doing?” For the record, I’ve never been to the Metropolitan Opera or the Juilliard School, but they are both sophisticated places I’ve heard of.
Besides being boring, strip clubs are also supremely creepy. Much like casinos, they are evil geniuses at manipulating your primal instincts in order to get your money. Strip clubs clearly understand that men’s IQs plummet by approximately 4,000 points if they come within 200 yards of a naked woman. Add alcohol to that and you’ve got a small horde of drunken men stumbling about in boob-induced comas, literally dumping their money out like it’s on fire. It’s kind of hard to enjoy the eroticism of naked ladies when it feels like you’re in the middle of a scene from Dawn of the Dead.
In their zombified hazes, these guys are dumb enough to fall for the most cliché trick in the strip club business: The belief that strippers really do like them and they’re more than just customers. Strip clubs are full of these dummies. Do these guys go to a Waffle House afterwards and think the waitress likes serving them scrambled eggs so much that she’d do it even if she wasn’t getting tipped? I’m gullible enough to have purchased several items from infomercials in my lifetime, but even I’m smart enough to recognize when I’m being fake-hit on. One of the strippers squeezed my pec and whispered, “Hey, sexy.” Since no strange woman has ever squeezed my pec for non-medical purposes, I immediately identified this as a forced flirt. So I just smiled, awkwardly gave her a thumbs up, and responded with the only thing I could think of: “Thank you, ma’am!” If you’d like to see a look of utter bewilderment on a stripper’s face, call her “ma’am” and give her a thumbs up.
Strip clubs aren’t even particularly sexy, which is weird because many of them have giant neon signs with the word “sexy” on them right on the side of the building. I played a game with myself on my strip club visit called How Long Will It Take Dan To Get A Boner? I won that game. I did not get a boner. I am the Non-Boner Champion. Wait, that doesn’t sound very prestigious. Let me explain. Even though I found some of the ladies attractive, it was hard to get any arousal out of seeing their glittery ladyparts. This had something to do with the fact that I was sandwiched between a bunch of shady dudes and I don’t even like anyone standing next to me while I’m at the urinal.
But it was mainly because I kept imagining what it must be like for the strippers to come to this depressing place every night and punch in like any old job. While they were bent over, doing hypnotic ass-claps, I wondered what they were thinking about. Maybe they were calculating exactly how many ass-claps it takes to make one rent payment. It made me feel bad, like I was enabling this sad industry. Then I remembered that strippers probably make 10 times what I do and felt less sorry for them.
Occasionally, the strippers would catch me looking at them while I was pondering their personal finances and we’d make eye contact. My instinctual reaction to this was to look away because any time a woman catches me checking her out, I’ll pretend like I was looking at something behind her so as not to come off like a total creeper. But obviously, in a strip club, I’m supposed to be checking the women out. It is literally their job to get checked out. So I remedied this by deliberately staring at them. Then I realized I was staring so hard, I’d gone almost five minutes without blinking. Then I started counting five Mississippis in between blinks. Then I realized I was mouthing the counting. Eventually it morphed into this weird half-eye-flutter-thing. Most of the strippers left me alone. I’d become that man muttering in a corner, seemingly having a stroke.
I say I’ll never go back to a strip club, but I know damn well that I will. As long as there are bachelor parties, they will be the lazy man’s go-to form of entertainment. And that’s fine. I’m a good friend, I’ll go. I’ll even do a really convincing job of pretending I’m having a good time. Because while strip clubs are boring and sketchy and sort of gross, on the upside: boobs.