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Porn's Half Acre - 02.17.03

<b>Porn's Half Acre</b> - 02.17.03

A lot of people I know have a problem with the concocted empathy of manufactured holidays; they feel that arbitrary days set aside to remind you to do something are insulting to the intelligence (I'd go all out and say, "insulting to the old intelligence" but "old intelligence" sounds like "Microwave ovens make you sterile.")

(They don't, by the way, unless you cook your ovaries in them.)

Today, for example, is Presidents' Day. While this one I can forgive, I maintain that you can think of the deeds of Abraham Lincoln (invented soap) or Theodore Roosevelt (the Millennium Falcon) any day and love them no less.

It's times like Valentine's Day I have a problem with.

Valentine's Day is like kissing the aunt whose skin always adheres to your lips even as you back away, horrified; propriety demands you do it. When I was single, the pageant of desperate singlehood was never so apparent as on Valentine's Day; every tarted up 30-ish sad sack donned pearls and cologne to wade into the waters of the coupled world, looking as obvious as a tourist in Grand Central Station or the mainstream film crew on a porn set (at 3 p.m., they're the only ones with erections). Anyway, I say that a great society shouldn't remind its people of their own misery or other things they should know or have a grasp on already.

You cant manufacture empathy.

I learned a little about empathy on Valentine's Day, this past Friday. My girlfriend, R., and I went bowling with several people in Santa Monica and then the two of us headed to a strip club in the Valley.

I can't explain to you the simple, Quaker joys of having a girlfriend who likes strippers. It's not even about dangerous behavior; once you cross the border of Looking at Boobies as a guilty pleasure and enter the realm of See How A Significant Portion of This Neighborhood Makes Its Living, you can substitute the thrill of how taboo it once seemed with the greater thrill of blowing your paycheck on six-dollar ginger ales and lap dances.

So, for the record, she suggested we go. Not that it couldn't have happened just as easily the other way (though I'd be hesitant to attend a Chippendales function with her and own up to the double standard), but it comes up later.

We got in, two for the price of one - or she got in free and I had to pay - and got a seat by the runway. It was a Valentine's Day crowd at the Valley Ball, meaning a few members of the Yakuza and my mailman were there, and the two of us walked in like we had descended from the mothership to meet Roy Neary and congratulate him on his mashed potatoes. Either that or like Bob Seger in "Turn the Page". In other words, we stood out.

Or should I say, she stood out. I haven't felt so invisible since I didn't have my AVN business cards at the Adult Expo and people thought I was just any other pervert. Though we were sitting nearly on top of one another, R. attracted strippers like my tax return invites scrutiny. They were all over her and I didn't exist.

In fact, the only acknowledgment I ever received was when a dancer came over to her and asked, "Did he drag you here for Valentine's Day?" as if I'd given her a tool set or taken her to my prostate exam for a Christmas present. God bless her, she assured the stripper that it had been the other way around.

Dancer after dancer approached the two of us and, paying no attention to me, got all up in R.'s mix and covered her with Universal Stripper Smell (melon body spray). It wasn't like she had more dollars on the bar or that she was leaning forward any farther, it was just that she was a girl, and the dancers were aflutter with the idea that they held no fascination for her. If I had held up a plexiglass riot shield in front of her, much like the ones employed by the L.A.P.D. at this weekend's peace rally, the dancers would have beaten themselves to death on it, trying to get at her.

We both wanted a lap dance, so I got to choose. Manuella was a little older, a little more voluptuous, than the others. She was also the only one who'd recognized my right to exist. But even she paid barely token attention to me.

There we were, sitting in the booth, and R. got away with fucking murder. She could've given that stripper a pap smear. She had strippernipples in her eye. R. got to put her hands everywhere. I had to sit on mine.

Since there was nothing to prevent me from walking out gracefully, we left after two dances, and as R. moved through the room to the exit they followed her with their eyes. They looked at her like a green room deli platter.

I've never eaten chopped liver, but I could empathize what it was like to be it.

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