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Feb 29, 2020

General

Déjà vu: That’s what the strip club next to my office building was called. I discovered on a Tuesday, in addition to busty babes, they also serve a delicious shrimp cocktail. During my lunch break, I hid my face with big sunglasses so no one from work would see me go in but most were too preoccupied ordering at the food trucks. So I walked into the windowless building because I wasn’t in the habit of my elementary years of packing a lunch. All the interior was black. The ceiling and floor, although black as well, glittered like stars. I stuffed a napkin around my neck so I wouldn’t get red cocktail sauce on my purple blouse. I was at a stage in my life where I only ate appetizers and drank out of cans, preferably a beer but more likely a diet soda with a straw. A disembodied voice announced the girls for the lunch crowd. The dancers’ names, I felt, were a little too on the nose. Chastity came out first and she was saving herself for marriage which made all the men go wild. Then it was Ginger who came close enough to me, intrigued at the only woman at the club that wasn’t dancing, for me to know that she actually smelled spicy like ginger and drove all the men’s noses to the buffet. I sipped on my Diet Coke as I watched the loud men become quiet again between performances. My lunch break was almost over but I figured I had time for one more girl. She was beautiful. Like an angel but not those Victoria Secret angels but like Cupid if Cupid was sexy. The voice announced her name was Lovey. She had hearts on her cheeks and on her sleeves. The heels she wore, at least seven inches tall, were clear and thick enough to hold a goldfish and some water, I thought. Lovey was shiny like a mannequin but she climbed and danced against the pole like she’d never stood still in her life. The song that accompanied her routine was “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane. And on the last note, she slammed her clear seven-inch heel on the edge of the stage, right in front of my face as the guitar faded out. There was something about the placement of her ankle, the shine of the shoe, and the simultaneous dim and glitter that made me believe I had seen this exact image before at this exact time in this exact place. Like a scene in a movie I couldn’t scrub from my mind. But I had never been here before, I had never even been to a strip club before today. Lovey gave me a wink before stretching back to her normal height. I make sense of it by saying that it doesn’t make sense. Maybe that’s why they call it Déjà Vu. An ex-boyfriend once told me that those moments were flashbacks of your past self coming to the surface. It was stuff like that that, even if I didn’t believe him, made me kiss his lips and then stop to hear what else he had to say. I forgot to give her money before she waltzed out so I left the only cash in my wallet, a two-dollar bill, on the side of the stage hoping she’d find it.


Jamais vu: It was a phrase I didn’t know and wouldn’t see on a flashing neon sign anytime soon. Next to my office building nonetheless. Where Dave, in the cubicle next to mine, talks to Richmond about his two twin girls who both decided to dye their hair at the same time. His whole bathroom was pink. Gwen talks to Gwendolyn and Bunny about her trip to Vegas last weekend. She and her girlfriend didn’t gamble but saw Celine Dion and drank from one hotel to the next. The weather was perfect. Travis sneaks up behind me to say there’s a birthday surprise in the break room for me. I’m turning the number that freezes water, I think to myself as that’s the only significance I can find for thirty-two. I’m only getting warmer. Christina has taken it upon herself to make a birthday cake for me from scratch. It slops to the side when knifed from the rest, unlike those store-bought cakes that seem held together by glue. I taste a bit of the raspberry filling with my finger; Christina has outdone herself. I tell her this as I take a piece home to my boyfriend who apparently forgot my birthday anyway. We’ve been together for eight years and, while he said no to my proposal, still wants to date me. To make it up to me, he rubs my feet. I beg him to dance with me when the CD I put on plays my favorite song. Please, please, please, please, please, I sound like a child. He doesn’t relent and the word starts to lose meaning. Just like when we’re making love and I say “I love you” over and over again like a chant so he remembers I’m not some stripper he’s fucking but his girlfriend. It starts to lose meaning the more I say it but I hold on to it in fistfuls like the bedsheets. He finally gets off the couch and takes my hand. And he holds my hand out in the air and rubs my back with the other, our necks fitting together like puzzle pieces. The song is a bit fast for a waltz but I can feel my heartbeat this way and its attempts to match tempo with his. His fingers are sticky from the cake he refused to eat with a fork. And just like the words please and I love you, with my face away from my boyfriend, I don’t recognize him in that moment. I let the song end before pulling away to make sure. 


Déjà vu: That’s what the strip club next to my office building was called. I discovered on a Tuesday, in addition to busty babes, they also serve a delicious shrimp cocktail. During my lunch break, I hid my face with big sunglasses so no one from work would see me go in but most were too preoccupied ordering at the food trucks. So I walked into the windowless building because I wasn’t in the habit of my elementary years of packing a lunch. All the interior was black. The ceiling and floor, although black as well, glittered like stars. I stuffed a napkin around my neck so I wouldn’t get red cocktail sauce on my purple blouse. I was at a stage in my life where I only ate appetizers and drank out of cans, preferably a beer but more likely a diet soda with a straw. A disembodied voice announced the girls for the lunch crowd.

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