So, I guess an explanation is required.
I spent almost a week in Ottawa recently, and while I made sure to spend the lion’s share of my available time with family & friends, I did take a few hours to reacquaint myself with the city and a few specific places that have special meaning and significance to me.
Hence the strip club, don’tcha know.
In 1997 I was bored, aimless, and unmotivated. School wasn’t working, and I didn’t enjoy the thought of the mind-numbing Joe-jobs that I was qualified to do. “Hey,” I thought, “the Army! What could possibly go wrong?”
Quite a bit, as it turns out. Long story short, I ended up a full-time Reservist at 763 Communications Regiment. Short story even shorter, I wasn’t the best soldier ever- mostly due to all the alcohol I was pouring down my neck. I wasn’t the worst soldier either though, and made friends and influenced people. At least until I enlisted in the Navy and isn’t that worth its own post.
After boot camp I had a Troop Sergeant at 763, whose job it was to teach my troop how to drive military vehicles, provide advanced army training, and generally make sure that when we moved from place to place we wouldn’t knock into each other. His name was (and I’m guessing still is) Bill Sagle, and man, for a while did I have the biggest crush on him? Yup.
Bill was a smart guy with two eyes, so despite my best efforts he clued in pretty quick when we were out drinking one night that I was making puppy eyes at him. Plus, I told him I thought he was handsome. And I think I went “rawr” at him. I was pretty drunk.
Friggin’ James Bond I was not.
Bill took it well and said we were buddies and I was smart enough to let it go at that- and smart enough to know that it wasn’t in my best interests to go “rawr” at people I worked with in the future. That’s just good advice for life, people.
So enough with that or the Sexual Harassment Panda is gonna come out and talking about your private areas, and nobody wants that.
Bill and I hung out fairly regularly during my time at 763, and he loved to give me an elbow in the ribs and tease me- “Hey, look at that guy there, naw, he’s too cute for you, you like ‘em all burly, eh? Har har!” I’m not even close to exaggerating. It was great not having to worry about what I said around Bill, compared to work where I had a complete(ly fictional) sexual history with ladies that got trotted out whenever the lads and I started drinking in the mess.
The only time Bill ever questioned me about who I was, was in late 1998. We’d gone to the Byward Market to one of the pubs and got right snockered, and decided it’d be a good idea to get some air. Cut to the two of us staggering around the Market and ending up under the classy, classy sign you can see at the top of this post.
Bill threw his arm around my shoulders and crowed about having a great idea. He then steered me into the Bare Fax Gentlemen’s Club. The italics are part of the name- y’know, because that makes it classy. So we went in and Bill paid the guy and sat me down in front of a truly scary naked lady.
Now, I’m not a prude, or horrified by the unclothed female form. In fact, I can find a naked woman very aesthetically pleasing. Let’s say though that situation did not occur in the Bare Fax Gentlemen’s Club.
She was skinny to the point of ribs showing, with a few scars, and giant hair with a few cans’ worth of AquaNet holding it all together. She looked kind of …grim. I won’t pretend to remember her name but I do remember she started her show, or act, or plea for help (take your pick) while wearing six-inch lucite stiletto heels and a see-through nightie.
Bill sat down next to me and ordered a couple of twelve-dollar beers, and asked me something along the lines of “Huh? Am I right?” he then spent a minute looking up at the woman and sounded a little more sober when he asked me what I thought of when I looked at the walking disappointment to her parents swinging around on the pole.
“You know what I’m thinking right now? That her shoes look really uncomfortable,” I said, or something to that effect. Bill laughed and said he was thinking the same thing, and I know what this means, right?
A blank, still pretty drunk look and a shrug from me. But I’ll always remember his words of wisdom:
“That I’m married with a daughter and you are a total pole-smoker. Let’s go find cheaper beers.” and we staggered out of the Bare Fax Gentlemen’s Club in search of cheaper beers.
Last week, thirteen years later I stood under that sign and thought of Bill and wondered how he’s doing, and does he still befriend occasional young guys who turn out to like guys, and take them to a peelers, and get them to look at strange hootchies? And if so, are those hoochies’ shoes as uncomfortable as “my” hootchie’s shoes undoubtedly were? And why do strip clubs charge twelve dollars for a beer?
These are the questions that keep me up at night.
At least, they did until I moved out to BC and like they say, out of sight, out of mind. As that applies to the pubs and taverns of my misspent youth, mostly. I’ll always remember Bill though- he could call me tomorrow and ask me to help him move a couch and I’d get on a plane.
As long as he doesn’t afterwards steer me back into the Bare Fax Gentlemen’s Club.