“Las cabezas las tienen basias,” my mom tells me as we were sitting at the stage. Loosely translated, she said my coworkers are morons. I took her to a strip club, to let her know what happened to me after moving to America, after the rug got pulled out from under me. She is visiting from my home country for about a week. It seems like a strange decision to take your mom to a strip club, but we have a strange relationship, mom and I. Let’s just say that 99 percent of our communication is passed through my brother. I refer to her as “your mother” when speaking to my brother, even though she birthed both of us. It’s a long story.
My mother is a 59-year-old, predominantly Latino woman from a Central American country. She is a practicing Catholic and is a bit conservative and quite a bit judgmental. It’s not surprising that she dislikes my job. I think that some of the most liberal parents would still have mixed feelings about seeing their daughters in this line of work, though.
She said the strip club looked like a “prostibulo,” or a whorehouse. “How do you know what a whorehouse looks like?” I asked her. She says she can imagine. Perhaps her imagination isn’t far off. I think, however, that Nevada whorehouses are a bit more trailer park and less nightclub.
I showed her the stage show. I showed her the collection of the $1 dollar bill in the G-string. She didn’t pass moral judgment on the nakedly immodest gyrations, but was definitely making comments about the appearance of individual strippers. Too thin. Too fake. Actually, I think she was amused by the dancing. She asked me if I took a class to learn to dance that way.
I took her to the lap-dancing area. There was a long couch with a row of men sitting on it. Most of them had glittering, half naked women grinding on them in the dim light. “That’s how I make money, Mom.” She cringes. “In the back room, sometimes there is sex,” I add. Though I’ve never actually seen it happen, I’m pretty sure it does happen and I’m pretty sure the idea would pique my mom’s interest. It did. She stood in front of the VIP room, staring into its erotic abyss guarded by an enormous man in a black suit. She actually doesn’t mind the place so much except that there is too much smoke.
Naturally, she wants me to quit stripping. She is now fairly certain I am at least partially a prostitute. About men she says, “They use your body for an orgasm and then they don’t want you.” She thinks I should find someone rich to marry if I’m going to be giving up my body. I say gold diggers and whores are only separated by volume.
I hadn’t seen my mother in years until she came to visit last week. It worries me when I see her. I notice personality traits that we have in common. Paranoia and excessive anxiety. Shyness and social discomfort. Passive aggressive behavior. Her inability to confront her ex, for example, might be something I could see myself doing. She came out of her bedroom gripping a clear plastic bag full of tools. She held a pair of pliers in the other hand. She stole them from her ex. “He was stealing my stuff.” I look at the screwdrivers with their red and yellow plastic handles. “What are you going to do with those?” I knew the answer as soon as I asked. She was going to keep them in a quiet act of war. He didn’t even know she had them.
Though I might be doomed to the same genetic personality imperfections, I’m really happy that at her age, she has barely any wrinkles and no cellulite. And from popping out four kids, she doesn’t have stretch marks. I’m going to be hot and senile and things could be worse than that. I’ve seen many strippers who were decades younger and had way more damage. Maybe stripping could be a long-term thing for me?