I have been driving for more than seven hours straight when I saw that billboard sign that read “WE BARE IT ALL”. Early morning traffic can drive a man insane. That may have been the reason why I chose to pull over and stop in for a beer. What a place to end up in on a Tuesday morning, I thought to myself. About ten minutes south of the serene college town of Gainesville Florida, Café Risqué is a peculiar blend somewhere in between a local Denny’s restaurant and a sullied southern strip join. Stale white bread toast and worn down lettuce perfectly complimented those worn out bodies of beaten down women who were embracing those silver stage polls like the children of a neglectful mother. Small town America was always told the very same stories that most of us would rather ignore.
I ordered a light beer and a black coffee with no sugar. Despite Layla’s offer, I passed up on the all you can eat breakfast buffet that was situated not too far from those purple sofas were a man could get a lap dance for twenty dollars. Twenty dollars seemed excessive for this hole in the wall nudy bar diner but Sunshine later reassured me of the fact that anytime before six am and noon, the dances went for a mere ten.
I pulled a chair next to Randy.
Alloy wheel is what I sell. He told me. I get paid seventy-five dollars every time I fix one of them sons of bitches. But that is the price I charge the dealerships. If the man off the street hires my services, I charge that son of a bitch a cool hundred. The guy was on his fourth beer and already took Channel for two lap dances in the past twenty five minutes alone. That son of a bitch has a great pair of tits I tell you, I don’t mind that they are silicones, that makes the bounce that much more immediate. He lit up a cigarette and offered me one. I had to decline. I gave up smoking more than a month ago. Well, thirty-three days to be exact. Thirty three days and counting.
Men who hung out in titty bars before lunch time were always a unique bunch. I was just surprised to find my way in their midst These men shared a camaraderie that was not that much different from those of men who went off to war together, men who lost it all in the stock market or men who rooted for the New York Jets football team. We all shared a common sense of desperation that brought us closer together.
Randy had a thick southern accent. He drove his truck all the way from the Florida-Georgia state line. I was a Jew and did my best to blend in. There were not too many of us around these parts. None that I knew off in this resturant/bar. Jewish tradition failed to recognize the unique splendor of these cheap dives that were filled with cheap beer and genuine folks who lived their lives from one day to the next. When he asked me where I was from, I tried to change the subject. There was no way to rationalize how a university professor from New York city ended up in a southern truck stop nudy bar on such a strange Tuesday morning.
Let me guess, you are originally from Europe, am I right or am I right? You are right I told him. What are you Czechoslovakian? Russian? Italian? German? I nodded my head and looked for a way out. Luckily Naomi came around with those pointy nipples that one could sharpen an orange peel on. They extended beyond her white tank top as they offered me refuge. I pulled a ten dollar bill out of my pocket and gazed into the eyes of our nation’s first secretary of the treasury. Would Mr. Hamilton approve of Naomi’s profession? Would he approve of these bad choices that I kept on pursuing on a consistent basis?
She extended her reassuring hand and I collapsed my foolish fingers into her comfort. Her touch reminded me of Joanna’s familiar console in those days before she changed her mind. Don’t worry honey, Naomi told me, I promise not to bite, that is unless you want me to. She must have been about nineteen years of age. Poor white trash that wore a rich friendly smile.
What would ever posses a woman to bounce her breasts in the slippery mouths of perverted truck drivers, alloy wheel salesmen and university professors for a mere ten dollars a pop? She had the kind of a body that any man could only dream about knowing. A woman of her caliber could have had her choice of top sirloin cuts instead of picking from the bottom.
If she really wanted my opinion, if she seeked my advice, I would suggest that Naomi would drive up to the University of Florida’s law library were enterprising future tax attorneys and court room litigators spent lonely hours at the time. Any of these men would provide a brighter future than did Café Risque’s regular clients. Naomi must have not known about the lonely schmucks up at the university. She must have not realized just how difficult it was for many of them to find a woman, any woman and most of all a good looking woman with a tight young body and pointy nipples to go along.
How else would you explain her choice of careers?
When I came back to the table, Randy was all smiles. OOOOWEEEEEE he proclaimed. That fine little thing must have flossed your gums and in between your teeth with them pointy things.
I shook my head and ordered us both another round of drinks.
It was getting late, almost Eight o’clock when I finally walked into the Beth Israel synagogue. There was not a seat to be found. With my formal black suite on and my hair combed to the left, I placed an unsoiled yamaka on my head and located one of the few prayer books that were left on the wooden display.
I looked about the faces of my people who were celebrating the Rosh Hashanah holidy. Families sat together in an embrace of the high holidays. There was a real sense of spirituality in the air. When the Rabi told us to rise, I lowered my eyes towards the ancient Hebrew texts and said a silent prayor for my newly found friends Randy and Naomi. In their loneliness, I affirmed my own.