“Having trouble getting married? Maybe you aren’t doing enough pole dancing in your living room.”
Wall Street Journal, “In Japan, ‘Marriage Hunting’ May Require the Right Lair.”
Back in my bachelor days I sometimes despaired that I’d ever meet that special someone who’d make my life complete. When you work long hours as a legal beagle you don’t get out much, and hitting on the secretaries was generally considered a source of liability rather than a promising mating strategy.
And so it came to pass that I was singing the single guy blues one night as I sat around my apartment with my friend Gino.
Perhaps “friend” is going too far. Gino is a world-class horn dog, what a less sensitive person than myself might call an “Italian Stallion.” He had little conversation beyond tales of his amorous adventures and sports trivia, but unlike me he’d never had a problem finding the “right girl.” In fact, he was so good at it he’d found three before he was thirty, and then disposed of them thoughtfully, as it says on the side of the natural juice containers. My only consolation was that he was out-of-pocket for the cost of all those rings.
As I recited my tales of woe, Gino looked at me through heavy-lidded eyes as I recalled my romantic miscues; how I’d started to chat up a woman in a bar just as her fiancé arrived, and persuaded the check-out girl at the local gourmet food shoppe to have a drink with me, only to find out when she ordered a Shirley Temple that she was younger than I thought.
And then there was the time I had a pleasant game of pick-up squash with a slender spaghetti-headed young woman, sorta like Barbra Streisand in her “No More Tears (Enough is Enough)” phase. Afterwards she asked if I wanted to go to a concert with her–I said sure, and offered to pay for the tickets. Okay, she said, but you can only buy them at one place, a little bookstore up a flight of stairs on Winter Street in downtown Boston. No problem, I said, but when I went to buy them, the rather butch-looking woman behind the counter gave me a dubious look and said “You realize . . . this is an all-lesbian concert, don’t you?”
“Of course I knew that!” I replied, giving her my best look of offended hermaphroditic dignity. “I go to all-lesbian concerts all the time–sheesh!” We did go, but I was the only male in the place except for the stage hands.
“You know what your problem is?” Gino asked when he tired of my whining.
“You ain’t doing enough pole dancing in your living room.”
To say that I was taken aback would be an understatement. Go ahead–say it. See? Didn’t even faze me.
“I didn’t know that my mating prospects were tied to . . . in-home pole dancing.”
“Shows how much you know,” he spat out contemptuously. “What you need is a pole, right there,” he said, as he threw a pork rind down in the center of my lime green shag rug. I’ve always loved that color, and ever since “Broadway” Joe Namath famously decorated his bachelor pad with a shag rug, that form of floor covering has been de rigueur for swinging single guys on the make–and is there any other kind?
“So . . . what, exactly, would I do with a . . . pole in the middle of my living room.”
Gino gave me a wild surmise, like the men of Cortez in On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer by Keats. “Didn’t you never watch Denny Terio of The Solid Gold Dancers?” he asked incredulously.
“Well, sure, who didn’t watch Solid Gold?” I said sheepishly.
“Some watched it closer than others,” he said as he stood up, pulled his black polyester shirt over his head, revealing his perennially-tanned body and a set of gold chains that is referred to in Boston’s Jewelry District as a “Mr. T. Starter Set.”
Keats: “What, pray tell, am I doing in this post?”
“Pay attention, you mook,” he said, as he grabbed the galvanized metal jack post–also known as a “lally column”–next to my breakfast nook that supported the sagging floors of the unit above me. “This here is a perfectly suitable stripper pole, if you know how to use it.”
Like this one.
What followed was a display of tacky terpsichorean skill that recalled nothing so much as a strip club in an alternative universe; where women lined the bars and men menned the poles, shaking their thangs for dollar bills stuffed into thong BVDs. Not sure where all this dubious talent came from, but I was duly impressed.
“That was really . . . terrific,” I said somewhat tentatively when he’d finished, his body now glistening with hard-earned sweat. “But are you sure that’s the right approach–for me?”
He looked me up and down. What he saw was the man who the child was the father of, if I remembered my aphorism correctly; shy, reticent, haunted by the memory of being kicked off his–I mean my–7th grade basketball team in Catholic grade school for hosting a boy-girl party before Vatican II opened the floodgates to pre-teen “feel-up” sessions.
“Well, maybe youse is not cut out for pole-dancing,” he said finally, then fell silent.
“So–what can I do to win the heart and other body parts of a young lady I persuade to come up and see my etchings?”
Gino considered the question for a moment. I could tell he was struggling to come up with an answer.
“You might . . .” he began finally.
He gulped. Uncharacteristically, he was having trouble putting his feelings into words.
“Start out slow at first, with sumpin’ like The Bunny Hop.”