The Drug Trafficker
To be fair, the drug trafficker has cleaned up his act. He no longer trafficks drugs. No, he’s on the straight and narrow—he works for an international arms dealer.
Logistics is his thing. Want to ensure your drone makes an important member of Ansar-al-Sharia very dead in southern Yemen? The drug trafficker is your man. Feeling the need to lay waste to what’s left of Kandahar? Just think of him as your trusty travel agent for daisy cutters and flame throwers.
The drug trafficker is black, average height, quietly and impeccably dressed, softly spoken and cover boy handsome. His manners would shame Emily Post. He has a scar on his face, which hints at the rogue I suspect that he actually is.
The drug trafficker is only 41 and yet has been married three times. Three times. I cannot even conceive of that kind of optimism.
The reason I know he used to be a drug trafficker is that I asked him why he’d been married three times, and he said; “My wives didn’t like the fact that we had a lot of money in our bank account and however much they spent, it didn’t go down.”
He liked the money that drugs brought in, but I get the feeling he liked the game better. We’re talking international borders here, stuff that requires audacity and ingenuity. The drug trafficker is smart, no question. But he’s very lucky to have the luxury of retiring outside of a penal institution, and he knows it.
He’s the straightest looking person I’ve ever met. It was integral to his criminal success. He really liked fooling people and he liked fooling them in the politest way possible, all sweaters-and-chinos and never a dropped please or thank you.
I often run into him around the neighborhood and we have a drink and a chat. He’s become my unofficial guide to the sexual politics of 21st century Gotham.
For instance, the drug trafficker sincerely believes that men are at a disadvantage when picking women up. He says women hold all the cards. I have to assume from this that he does not own a mirror, or if he does that he never looks in it. I cannot imagine any circumstance in which a woman in possession of her faculties would say no to him. But, modest soul that he is, he seems to think it’s a Sisyphusian slog.
The drug trafficker also believes that my age, 51, is “just a number” and that any single man is fair game, provided he’s legal. And as much as I would like to live in a world where that is true, I simply do not.
“There’s a story going around, you’ve probably heard it,” I said one day. “The story goes that all black men are incredibly well hung.”
He’s heard that story.
“The equivalent story for middle-aged white women is Mrs Robinson,” I said. “We can’t escape her.”
The drug trafficker thinks Mrs Robinson has been overtaken by cougars and their less dainty subset, MILFs. Women taking charge, all that. I’m not sure. The fact that there is no male equivalent of cougar is probably the same reason fish have no word for water.
Which brings me to last weekend.
If I’m going to take the drug trafficker’s advice and give myself a pass on acting my age, I’ve decided I might as well floor that particular gas pedal.
Fortunately, the Spaniard’s brother is getting married, to a sparky and beautiful woman. To celebrate, her friends have arranged the traditional festivities–the pole dancing bachelorette party.
Normally, I would respond to such an invitation by staying home and cowering under my duvet, shaking like a juvenile aspen. But I decide not to on this occasion. Because, what the hell, the drug trafficker says 51 is just a number.
The Spaniard tells me to bring a pair of hotpants, perhaps not realizing that they’re illegal for anybody within shouting distance of my age.
I’ve never even been to a bachelorette party, much less one that involves hotpants and poles and dancing, and am sadly unprepared. I didn’t know I was supposed to bring a gift, preferably something from the spanglier section of Victoria’s Secret.
I didn’t know I’d have to use a paper whistle with tiny penises on it and I blurt out, stupidly; “This only works if you blow really hard.”
It was a cheap laugh, no question, but in my defense, unintentional.
Way out of my depth. Indisputably.
It’s a jolly crowd. A fun crowd. A clever, laughing crowd. The Spaniard tells a couple of funny stories to get us warmed up. She’s really good at that. Her stories make you laugh for days. You tell her stories to other people, and they laugh hard. Her stories are that good.
We’ve booked a studio. A nice, private pole dancing studio. The Spaniard has brought a bottle of Maker’s Mark and there’s stiff competition to get a grip on it. I guess I’m not the only one thinking; “trespassed way past my comfort zone.”
But a couple of women are old hands.
“We were going to take a strip class, but it looked too intimidating, so we did the pole dance class instead,” one said airily.
“When in doubt, just hump the floor,” said another to me, in a reassuring manner.
The lights are dim. Frank Ocean is bleeding out of the sound system. We’re Maker’s Marked up to a tolerable, toasty degree. I’ve rolled my yoga pants above my knees—more lukewarm than hot pants. We step up to the poles.
Pole dancing has choreography. The choreography is basic, but I don’t think we can handle anything more. The instructor warms us up and takes us through the moves.
The pole is your friend. Obvious, but true. It keeps you upright while you slither yourself across and around it and it helps you get down to the floor in a backbend, an otherwise extremely unwise move for somebody with my surgical history.
The rolling around on the floor part is silly fun. Naturally indolent, I embrace any opportunity to lie down, even if it involves feeling about as ridiculous as I ever have. Scissoring my legs in the air? Check. Humping the floor? When in doubt, and all that.
When in doubt.
My future has been very recently unwritten, so it is undeniable that I’m in doubt. I’m in doubt a lot. One day follows another, and each day I have to remind myself that this day is all I have. Chopping time up into its most discrete amounts is the only way to cope with doubt.
So I’m in doubt. And I’m humping the floor. And feeling like an idiot. And that’s enough for this particular day.