Thursday, September 11, 2008

Why I Love the Internet

I have a spam filter. It is supposed to be effective and protects me---I assume--from former Nigerian Prime Ministers with millions in their portfolios, slick Malaysians dealing in stolen Ferraris, and purveyors of ciala berry drinks.

This being said, when I first check my email in the morning, there are generally close to a hundred messages. This particular morn, Goober Gary wants to sell me Cialis and Lulu Pino promises success with women if I buy a knock-off Rolex. Edwina Ebenezer says with the product she is selling, I will have sex more than ten times tonight, but she does not say with who (whom?)

I particularly enjoy the fact that the net does not discriminate. There is no ageism or sexism, no racism or religious intolerance. Both Martin Schwartz and Beatrice Lumumba guarantee that I can increase the size and length of my manhood with a month's supply of their rather costly product. I wonder who told them about the issue I have with size and girth. Are Martin and Patrice friends, and if so, where did they meet?

Ashlee Judd states "the science behind our products! Is setting a new standard for healthy and effective enlargement and is the most powerful formula on the market today!" I have forwarded Ashlee's announcement to both Martin and Patrice. These people should know each other.

Marguerite Cassidy does not believe in mincing words. "Get Bigger Pennis." Marguerite believes spelling it with two n's will automatically make it bigger.

Freddie Morton, on the other hand, likes to go scientific: "More sexual partners. More orgasms. More pleasure. Choosing your p oxq eni gc s enl qnp arge mdi ment method you should remember that some widely advertised methods are either ineffective or dangerous. Some advertisements are based on lies, lack of m fq edi gcv cal knowledge or are just frauds. Choose XXX pe tqy ni oz s enl eae arge rzt ment device to achieve pe vsl ni ef s si rv ze you dream of in a safe and m xbx edic hmx ally approved way." Since the only Freddie I know owns a gay bar in Virginia--and I'm pretty sure he wasn't the Freddie sending me the email--I have doubts about these promises.

And lest I forget, for about a year I received all sorts of ads to make my breasts bigger, fuller, rounder, more satisfying to the touch. I think those came from Steve Martin who once said that if he had breasts, he'd spend all his time playing with them.

Here's installment 44 of Wasted Miracles.

The next day Colin waited until eleven then called Pete’s Place. A woman answered and he asked if Mollie was dancing there today. The woman said, “Holdasec,” let the phone drop, returned in a moment. “No Mollie here, but come on down anyway, all the girls are real good dancers. You want a reservation? We need one for lunch.”
Colin made sure the woman could hear his disappointment. “Just my luck, I must have gotten her name wrong last week. Thought she said Mollie Catfish? She told me she’d be there.”
“You mean Cat? Why didn’t you say so. Yeah, lemme see, she’ll be here at two, gets the tail end of the lunch trade. C’mon over. I’m sure she’ll be glad to see you.”
Pete’s Place was a pale brick three-story brownstone that had once been a home, then a rooming house, then a store and finally a restaurant. There was an awning over a window painted flat white and a Budweiser banner announcing a dance contest. The building was wedged between a Chinese take-out and a PMI parking lot full of pickup trucks, new and expensive foreign imports and older American cars. A half a dozen Harleys were lined up with military precision in front.
It was just after two when he got there and he paid five dollars to get in. He let his eyes adjust to the dim light. Inside, Bose speakers hanging from the ceiling poured out music so loud it seemed to go into and through him, vibrating his bones. It amazed him that such a place could thrive even during the day, he wondered how the people who worked there could stand it, then noticed the bouncer wore bright yellow ear plugs.
There was a small dance floor ringed by diminutive tables. Colin found an empty one, sat. The blue-jeaned waitress had ear plugs too. She stared at his lips when he ordered a Coke and a cup of coffee, nodded, ran a hand through lank blonde hair. “You gonna eat?” Her voice somehow reached under the music. Colin shook his head. The waitress shrugged. “One Coke, one coffee. Seven dollars.” He handed her a ten. “Change?” Colin mouthed, “No.” She took the ten, smiled briefly.
The owners had tried for a show of style, lots of brass accents and a long polished bar on the farthest side. There were three large rooms painted different colors. Against a wall in each area was a raised dais backed with a mirror and what looked like a fireman’s pole running from floor to ceiling. On each dais was a dancer. The three women, two brunettes and a blonde, were totally nude save for one garter. The blonde had her pubes shaved. All had surgically enhanced breasts attached to hard, thin bodies.
The dancer nearest Colin, a brunette with a wealth of permed hair that cascaded to her hips, flashed him a bright smile and blew him a kiss. When he didn’t respond, her eyes snaked past him to another man seated two tables away, a bureaucrat, Colin thought. The man had a well-fed look, his face was pink and florid in places. His hair was combed carefully over his bald spot but the heat of the moment had caused a few strands to slip and expose flaking scalp. Colin saw that as soon as the man looked up, the girl began dancing more suggestively, coiling long legs around the fire pole, pelvis thrusting to the beat of the music. Then she spun around, bent over and, head turned so as not to lose eye contact with the customer, did a split that exposed everything. Colin blinked. The bureaucrat made an O with his mouth, clapped silently, his tongue ran pink all the way around his lips. He took a five dollar bill from his wallet, held it up for the girl to see, spun an index finger in the air. Do it again. The girl repeated the movement, letting her legs splay wide with agonizing slowness. Colin, like the other customer, was mesmerized. The girl noticed, shot him another smile. He tried to focus on her face but his eyes had a will of their own, resting first on her breasts then lower. The girl rammed her hips in his direction and winked. Colin felt his face redden, turned away confused by his own embarrassment.
The music ended and the dancer’s movement slowed and stopped like a clock winding down. She pulled a translucent camisole over head, jumped from the dais to the floor. Colin found two single dollar bills and handed them to her as she walked past his table. She glanced at the money, took it from his hand and put the bills in her garter belt, gave him the briefest of grins, moved on to the customer who now held up two fives. He stood as she neared, pulled a chair out but she shook her head. No lap dancing or socializing with the customers. Colin saw the man fumble for his wallet and hand her a card. The girl smiled, palmed it, walked toward a door that said Employees Only.
Five minutes later the waitress reappeared. “Refill, hon?”
Colin nodded. While the waitress poured the coffee, he asked, “Has Cat been around?”
She gave him an odd look, reached into her apron and dropped two white containers of Half and Half in his saucer.
“You know Cat?”
Colin shook his head. “No. Friend of a friend.”
The waitress lost interest. “Well, you just missed her.” She pointed her chin toward the dais. “Anything else you want? My shift’s ending.”
Colin found two tens. “Keep it.”
The waitress understood. “Want me to see if Cat is still here? I think her shift ended. She’s been here since ten. They do 40 on, 20 off.” The money made her talkative. “But I think you’re wastin your time. Cat dances. That’s all she does, nothin more. She’s a nice girl.” She rearranged the salt and pepper shakers, moved the French’s Mustard an inch to the left. “You want somethin else, talk to Marylin or Sandrah,” her eyes moved to the second dais where a tall redhead with perfect teeth was gyrating. “Cat doesn’t date the customers.”
Colin wondered if that was true, said, “Can you just give her a message? Ask if she can come by?”
The waitress shrugged. “Sure thing. But I wouldn’t expect much if I were you.”
She walked to the Employees Only door, was gone less than a minute. “She’s changin. Wants to know who the friend is.”
Colin made another ten appear. “Josie. Tell her I’m a friend of Josie’s.”
The waitress sighed, tired of playing messenger, took the money. “It’s your nickel.”
When she reappeared the second time, she said, “Cat’ll be out in a minute.” She glanced at her wristwatch, took her apron off, balled it. “I’m outta here. Have a nice day.”
Colin sipped his Coke. The ice had melted and the drink had almost no flavor left. He thought about who he knew in AA, tried to recall another nude dancer. He couldn’t remember one, though in meetings the damnedest assortment of people kept cropping up. The sword swallower who’d showed up drunk for a show and had the tools of her trade confiscated by an angry nightclub owner was about as exotic as he could remember.
“You seen Josie?”
She was standing behind him, he hadn’t heard her coming.
“Mollie, right? Or Cat?”
“Either one, I don’t really care. Cat’s the name I use here. You know Josie?”
Colin turned to face the woman. Off the dais she looked smaller. She was wearing silver sandals and a Hawaiian print shift that hid her figure. Her face was pocked by childhood chickenpox and up close Colin could see her hair wasn’t her own.
As if reading his thought, she said, “We look a lot less glamorous without the music.” She glanced around the room, “Look, I don’t have a lot of time. This is my quitting time, and I’d like to get off my feet. What about Josie?”
Colin said, “I’m a friend of Bill’s.” Bill W., the founder of AA.
The woman’s expression didn’t change. “Good for you. I’m duly impressed. But Bill has about a million friend so you’re not exactly special.” For a moment she looked thoughtful then her eyes narrowed. “Are you a cop? Has something happened to Josie? Is that why you’re here?” She took a step back, drew away. “Cause I haven’t seen her in a couple of weeks. So if this is some sort of bullshit cop stuff, gimme a break, OK? I really don’t need this kinda crap, you know? You guys tried to bust my ass a month ago, and enough’s enough.”
Her voice rose, hovered between anger and fright. “Look. I’m tellin’ you the truth, I haven’t seen her, and I’m goin’ now.”
Colin held up a hand. “I’m not a cop. Really.”
The bouncer had moved from the door, was eyeing them. “Can we go someplace to talk? Please. It’s important. Josie’s missing. I’m trying to find her.”
She seemed to think about it. The bouncer was 10 feet away and coming closer. He moved on his toes like a boxer. “Cat? You being bothered?”
She glanced down at Colin who was still sitting, made up her mind. “It’s OK, Benny. It’s cool.”
The bouncer stopped. “You sure?”
She nodded. “Yeah, Benny. Thanks. Just a little misunderstanding.”
The bouncer retreated to his station by the door. She said, “Benny’s a friend of Bill W too. Takes all kinds, doesn’t it.”
Colin stood, was about to give the dancer a bill when he thought better of it. The music had started again and a different girl was on the dais. He said, “There’s a coffee place on the corner. Can we meet there?”
She thought about that too. “Yeah. OK. You go there, I’ll meet you in fifteen minutes. I’ve gotta clean up, and I don’t want anybody to see me leaving with a customer. They’ll get the wrong idea.” She turned to leave. “You sure you’re not a cop? Cause if you are, I’m gonna really be pissed off.”

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