Turn Off Your Mind, And Go Back With Me To A Better Time
The best relationships begin unexpectedly. I am guessing that I first met Daphne at the end of 2013 or early 2014. Honestly, I don’t remember. I had electroconvulsive therapy (“ECT”) in 2015 for treatment of depression. For many people, ECT damages your memory, particularly for periods right before the procedure is undertaken. This was the case for me. Daphne was a dancer, a “stripper” at a place I just started to go to during a separation from my now ex-wife. I hope that just because she was a stripper that this whole idea of my Memoir and our time together are not automatically dismissed by one saying, “that explains everything.” Daphne has since told me that we met when she just started working at this club and that I was one of the first customers she got to know. She said we would talk about her varied experiences starting out as a dancer there.
For me, I first went to a strip club when I was about 22. At that visit, a stripper told me and my friend to smile because we looked miserable and that we could be at a worse place. I was not amused at the whole strip club concept and wondered what was the purpose of it all. I did not go to another strip club until I was 40, eighteen years later, when I was lonely and bored due to my separation. At that point, I had been married six years, had a child, and found myself moving out of our home and living alone again. After the six years, I woke up to a social world that was unfamiliar to me. My friends had their own families and didn’t go out anymore, I was too old to go out to the places I used to go to, and everyone was using dating apps to find relationships. Without many options in my mind, I started going out where many middle-aged single men end up. It felt gross to me, but I had no idea where else to go.
Like I said, I don’t remember the first time we met. But since that first time, I saw Daphne several times in those early years. Every time I ran into her, I knew instantly who it was by the depth of her eyes and her sheer beauty. She had blonde hair at the time. From a physical perspective, she was everything I desired. But it was more than that. She had a gift of bringing me out of my shell and opening up to her. During my times there, I talked to many dancers and they did not have that same ability. We would sit at the bar and just talk for long periods. She was also very candid with me about her “real” life outside the club. Daphne came from California and was going to college at a major university here. She apparently came from a relatively affluent family, was very intelligent, and well spoken. This is what immediately made her distinct from the other strippers. Quite frankly she didn’t belong there but seemed to be dancing as a form of rebellion and to amass a sense of control in her life – perhaps as a slight power trip.
At some point, I got Daphne’s phone number, but not her actual real name (until years later). However, we never did anything outside of the club. Despite my drunken boldness at the strip club, I did feel somewhat guilty about talking with her and of meeting up outside the club, as I was separated, not divorced. I did make little promises in a desperate attempt in my mind to keep her interested. For her birthday, I once promised her I’d buy her some expensive sunglasses – like $300 Burberry ones I think. I would have done it, but I think I was broke at the time. These are the things you do when you are a regular customer at a strip club. It’s all a pathetic effort to keep them engaged and talking to you. Don’t get it confused with anything more.
This is the unspoken game played – the customer knows it and the dancer knows it. Daphne was no different in that respect. Rather than her previous “complimentary” conversations with me, she started asking me to buy her off the list. That means you pay a girl a fixed fee to just sit, drink, and hang out with you. At this particular club, at least, it is not a lap dance, private dance, champagne room, or whatever else it might be somewhere else. One simply sits at a table near the bar with the girl and hangs out. This is a time when one could say she was a stereotypical dancer. Daphne would ask me to buy her off the list. I would say I don’t have enough money for it. She would say, “how much do you have – how about $300 (on slow nights)?” I was always a sucker for her and caved in and gave her the $300.
While I loved her appearance, her personal conversations with me, and her relatively impressive background, I really didn’t think too much of our interactions. Don’t get me wrong, she melted me with her eyes and her charm was undeniable. She was definitely unforgettable. Despite all of this, I knew at the time she was increasingly just trying to “make a buck” off of me like the rest. Her skills were impressive – at least with me. However, I was not stupid enough to think I had a chance with her at the time, as I only got to know her so much. So I saw Daphne several times over this period, but really thought of her much like the other strippers. She was special because of her background and our conversations, but it became an afterthought for me.
Going to the strip club became a regular weekend event for me. My friends were either married or moved and I was still separated, so I had no where else to go. The club was close to my house and the staff knew me. They have a separate bar area away from the stages where I would just go to hang out. It was like my Cheers. Most of the time, I didn’t even go near the stages. But after the girls were done dancing on stage, they would come to the bar area and drink. I would talk to a lot of them and Daphne was eventually just one amongst many.
Daphne has heaven in her eyes, but I eventually began to think of her as a fallen angel. She didn’t belong at a strip club, but it started to suck her in. About two years ago, I once saw Daphne and this time she more aggressively started hitting me up for money. She seemed less innocent, more into her role. She asked me to buy her off the list and of course I did. The buy-off is supposed to be for an hour. She talked to me for a few minutes then said she had to leave but would be right back. She never came back and completely left me hanging despite my payment to her. I considered telling the staff what happened, but I let it go. I consider this the first time Daphne worked me over, failed me, ditched me, or whatever you want to call it. I know it was in a completely different time and context, but I felt that way even though she was a dancer who is supposed to behave that way. While we were only acquaintances at the time, I was pissed and I told myself I’d never talk to her again. That was the last time I saw Daphne for about two years, until nearly a year ago.
Of course, I will be told that those actions should have been one of my many clues, that I should have learned my lesson, that I deserve my current distress based on her chosen profession and history. Needless to say, I did not. There was something about her that always brought me back.
That is the initial history between Daphne and I. Even know I felt there was something different about her, that time was neither particularly eventful or special. When she disappeared for those two years, I never thought about her and certainly there was nothing to write about or brood over. When she disappeared, that seemingly was the end of the story for me.
From this point, the blog entries will begin, as it has been nearly a year from our re-encounter and the story does indeed continue. My forthcoming posts will generally come on the one-year anniversary of any event that subsequently occurred between Daphne and I.