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Such a mother 

All the bitches are taken

Michael says his friend can't go to strip clubs anymore because he keeps falling in love with the dancers. "He wants to bring them home and take care of them," Michael tells me.

And I know how his friend feels, because who wouldn't feel sorry for a girl who has to shave her pubic hair into a Hitler mustache to make a living? That has got to suck so bad that your heart just goes out to her.

"I'm sorry," I say to Michael, who has talked me into going to the Cheetah in the middle of the day, "I can't get past the Hitler mustache. It just seems so half-done, why don't they just shave it all off?"

Michael says something about how it makes for a good signal indicator, like a "landing strip," and he thinks it's sexy. But to me, it just looks like a caterpillar trying to crawl up the girl's tummy, and that just can't be comfortable.

Michael has lured me here, after three years of browbeating, to prove to me that the Cheetah is a nice place after all -- especially at this time of the day, when the slobbery happy-hour hogs are off somewhere still hammering away on the keyboards in their cubicles. And Michael's right. It's not bad here. I'm not uncomfortable in a room full of naked women, it's just that I think, as a matter of protocol, men should be uncomfortable in such a situation, you know? And of course, they're not. They act like it's as average as concrete, to be the minority among a crowd of beautiful nude girls.

It doesn't help that the girls are all so damn nice. Believe me, bitches don't end up like this for a living; naked and shaking their over-cropped poontangs in strangers' faces. Bitches end up married for a living; then their husbands have to come to the Cheetah to be treated nice. (I'm talking generally here, OK? God, I can already hear all the bitches freaking out.) Anyway, even a nice stripper would become a bitch if she had to be married for a living, because sometimes spouses just have a way of sucking all the sweetness out of each other.

Michael is not married, but he was once. So was I, and Michael likes to tell me that, since I am now a single mother, I am about as attractive as a bad case of psoriasis. "Seriously, if I didn't know you and I sidled up to you at the bar and started talking to you, the second you mention your kid, I'd be across the room."

I look at him like he's speaking a different language. "You really think it matters to me whether you consider me fuck-worthy?" I laugh, and I must laugh, because the alternatives are too lame.

But I mean it. Do some guys seriously think I shouldn't still be ecstatic over my child just because it might mean I'll get laid less from now on? "Christ, Michael, all you're saying is that my kid is an excellent tool for filtering assholes from my life, which is fine with me."

But Michael likes to try and freak me out, anyway. Take the time we realized we both had had the same vivid dream about a prophet who fell from a spaceship when we were teenagers. Michael tried to get me thinking we needed to start a cult, to find all the other people with the same "vision." But I wasn't interested because I knew Michael would get to be the head of the cult -- he's 6-foot-7-inches tall, and people tend to do what he says -- while I'd have been relegated to single-mom pudding maker and Nike polisher, probably.

Because even Michael admits he's kind of a Troglodyte in that area. Don't get him wrong; single women are fine. Single mothers, though, ought to have an island of their own. I'm reminded of my colleagues when I worked as a copy editor for a city magazine. I remember a fight we had one month when they insisted on giving a person featured in an article, who was a woman and a lawyer, the title of "female attorney."

"I don't believe this," I shrieked. "We don't call the other attorneys 'male attorneys' or 'hermaphro-fucking-dite attorneys' or whatever. Why do we qualify just the women?" But my ancient co-workers did nothing but light their 50th cigarette of the day and die a little more right before my eyes. And who can keep fighting in the face of that?

So I left. And here I am today, hanging out at the Cheetah with Michael, my friend the mental simian, who is trying to explain to me that fake boobs are bad but pubic hair shaved into a tiny topiary is just fine. "What makes you think some of these women don't have children?" I ask, indicating the nude beauties.

"No," he says, "they all take their money home to abusive boyfriends, who spend it on drugs."

"Maybe not all," I argue, and I make him give me lots of money to tip the undulating thing on stage. As I give her the money, I tell her, "Please take care of yourself."

"Oh, my, God," Michael barks at me when I get back to my seat. "You are such a mother."

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