I’m Too Sexy
“I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred pumped through the speakers, DJ Slick signaling my turn on stage. With eager anticipation, I paced in the dressing room as I heard my introduction.
“This unknown crusader of justice is coming to you long, strong, and curved slightly to the left. Ladies, if you’re loud enough, he just might whip out his sword. Give it up for the macho assmaster himself Deee-Ay-Gooooo!”
When I stepped out in my Zorro mask and heard the women screaming in wild excitement, I knew the crowd was mine. They were animals caged in the dim light of downtown Philly’s Hunktopia. Helicoptered bras were flung at my feet while I posed. Tan skin oiled, face flushed, curling one bicep, followed by the other, then kissing each flexed muscle in turn. Catcalls and a couple of pairs of panties as the buttons popped off my black button-down shirt like bb’s shooting into the dark club.
Their faces blend in a wave of frothing mouths, wagging tongues, and flailing hands. The music thumped through the scratchy speakers. I’m too sexy for my body, too sexy for my body, the way I’m disco dancing. My pants are so tight you can see my pulse, and their damp desire is so thick in the air that I can taste its solidity with every breath. These housewives squealed like teenage girls and seethed like heated cats, ready to lick every drop of hot sweat off my lean, twenty-five-year-old body if I let them. And maybe for the right price, I would. My fingertips brush against my washboard abs, manipulating their fantasies about me like I’m playing a fine-tuned guitar.
Stroking their excitement, I grind my hips, lower my hands, and tease my waistband. This move always makes them crazy because they know what happens next. I bend forward and grasp the material on my muscular thighs and pull upward, the snaps give way, and I mean all the way.
I drop to the floor, square off my form and execute the slowest, most seductive push-up the world has ever seen. The females’ press closer, so hypnotized by my thrusting into the air that I see them digging into their purses, dumping out their pocketbooks. After tonight, I’ll probably have enough to put that down payment on a ninja sleek bike. Maybe I can make a little extra on the side by charging for rides on my new crotch rocket.
Bare-chested and in nothing but a silver-studded thong, the first brave lady comes up, licking her lips and shoving money down my jock. I waggle my junk into her pinched face, and she grabs my bulge like a fish on bait. I firmly cover her hand with mine to let her know my I’m packing and lean so close she can feel my lips touch her ear as I whisper, “No Viagra here, baby, this is all you!” Her eyebrows shoot up so high they just about disappear into her hairline with her big moony eyes nearly goggling out of her head.
She doesn’t know my identity, but she’ll tell all her friends that it’s graded a tube steak. The frumpy group she’s with is already rubbernecking my way. I’m the only one at Hunktopia that was smart enough to hide my identity. In the dressing room, we’ve all heard the stories. Aggressive cougars all hungry for a big slice of man meat, these women won’t hesitate to cyberstalk or even show up at your house once they get the scent.
“Your turn Joanie!” she shouts to her thick knot of friends. I beckon with a finger, but the woman freezes an arm’s reach away. The spotlight searches through the audience and when it lands on her face, my legs turn to lead as I recognize my mother. Another friend eggs her on, “C’mon, watcha waiting for? Make him swing it!”
The song is not over meaning I can’t run. The realization that he’s playing the extended club mix dumps over me like an unwelcome ice cube shower. I slowly back up feeling my mouth move around words that never fully form. And all that I can think of is how mom said she was playing bridge tonight. What kind of example was this to set for her child?
My mind rebels as my blood stops cold in my veins and despite the rubber band around my shaft, my erection begins to sag. For the first time, I actually feel naked and the colored lights are suffocating me. My breathing sounds so loud that it buries the music under strangled gasps and somewhere in the back of my mind I think this is what it feels like to drown.
It was hard for me to decide which was worse, learning that my mother was a sexualized woman or that she might recognize me. I don’t know how long I stood there unmoving, but the women were beginning to turn. Drunken laughter ripples through the crowd and in my paranoid mind, I know it’s directed at me.
My mother’s body hugs the stage, money in hand she’s stretching toward me, waving the handful of bills eagerly in my face. As I shy away, she’s climbing up to get me, a frisky smile on her face that is widening with each terrible step. With my jaw limp in disbelief I’m in full retreat. I fumble back into the velvet curtain shading the exit. The plush material sticks to the fear-laced sweat on my back like a bloodied cape. My mom has me cornered and I feel a girlish scream clawing up my throat. She’s visibly salivating and I’m working overtime to suppress the hysterical laughter as my mind starts to break. Thank god for security, who have their hands on her shoulders and lead her off before she can pounce.
“If you don’t want to dance anymore, then take it off!” I see the words spill from my mother’s greedy mouth as she tries to shake free from the two uniformed men. Unconsciously my hand drifts upward touching the only thing separating me from total humiliation.
“Take it off! Take it off! Take it off!” The contagious chant spreads from sneering mouth to sneering mouth. Rising like a fervid battle cry. I hold my mask while my body somehow ekes out some wooden dance moves not seen since before the invention of electricity. DJ Slick saves the day by announcing Cockzilla as he fades down my music. Leroy still shrugging into his dinosaur costume comes stomping out on stage. I fled.
The dirty bills shoved down my front comes to nine dollars. It occurs to me only after I’m in the dressing room that the “Take it off” probably meant my thong. I pull the mask over my head and throw it to the floor. It lies there dangerous, empty eyeholes staring back at me like a cobra about to strike. Dressing quicker than ever, I march out not bothering to finish out my shift.
Not even the brisk night welcomes me. I tug my leather jacket closer and for the first time, I’m grateful that I never got that tattoo or an ear piercing or anything that she might pinpoint. I don’t feel like going home. Instead, I catch my usual bus from Philly to Reading and let it pass the stop for home before I pull the cord to get off. I spend the next three hours on autopilot nursing a beer at Jimmie Kramer’s Peanut Bar. The joint was mainly empty except for a handful of regulars.
As I methodically cracked the peanuts, tossing their empty husks on the shell carpeted floor, the disaster of the evening spun in my head like a nightmarish carousel. The women’s faces seemed so ugly now, vicious. And I’m out of a job. A queasy feeling pitted my stomach. Why did she have to show up? Given the way she was acting, it obviously wasn’t her first time. Is this what she really did in of all those bridge and book clubs she had joined over the years? Which would explain why she never brought home any pottery three summers ago after supposedly signing up for that class.
The hot beer tasted like it curdled in the bottle. I couldn’t go home and now couldn’t even afford to move. I called my friend Brandon aka Tarzan who only picked up after dialing him three times. From the pounding bass in the background, I knew he was still at Hunktopia and knowing him since it was close to midnight, probably blasted out of his mind on something or other.
“Hey man, can I crash at your place?” None of the guys know that I live with my mother not even Brandon. It’s not that I’m embarrassed, which I am, but we all keep our private lives just that. Not major dysfunctions like our female counterparts but I’ve heard rumors of unpaid child support or swinging from both sides of the plate.
“Why? You got some crazy poo-bah wanting more than a one and done?”
I ground a peanut to dust beneath my teeth and attempted a cool laugh. “Yeah, you know how it is.” I think of my mother still out with her rowdy friends, fanning out ones and licking her lips. I shudder involuntarily knowing I can’t be home when she arrives.
“Sorry, Bud. One of these Milfs offered me five large for a private dance. Want me to ask if she wants a double dickle?” The phone muffled and I heard his voice say something unrecognizable and a woman’s voice responded. I hung up before Brandon returned. Imagining my mom as his conquest and turning into another locker room story was too much to bear. Slumping in my chair, I fished out all the crumpled bills I made that night and tossed them on the table. Barely enough to cover my one beer and tip.
Defeated, I reluctantly walked home. By this time, Penn street was almost deserted. Building lights flicked off and somewhere nearby, an engine turned over, its exhaust cutting through the night. I kicked away fast-food wrappers like dead leaves as my dragging footsteps echoed over the Schuykill footbridge.
Why shouldn’t she have fun? Her life so far as I knew only consisted of work and home until I got to high school and she began broadening her horizons. I’m not saying she lived the life of a nun but whatever romances or longings my mother had, she kept far away from me. Wherever and whoever my father was, she made me feel like we never needed him.
We were poor but she never let me know it. Mom clipped coupons, turned off lights if no one was in the room, and never let any leftovers go to waste scooping out the last teaspoon of enchiladas to microwave instead of throwing it down the drain. There were stockings at Christmas and cakes at birthdays despite never letting me forget that she was the one that stayed. But whenever she was angry over unwashed dishes or unfolded laundry, mom compared me to that man I never met, whose presence forever lurked like a misplaced shadow just beyond my shoulder.
I rounded the corner from Main to Cherry. Her car wasn’t in the drive but that didn’t mean anything. All but the porch lights were off, and I listened before turning the key in the lock. After tugging the t-shirt over my head, I turned the shower on hot. Hot enough to sterilize operating instruments.
Scrubbing off the baby oil with a furious lather, I mulled over how she seldom pried but she also seldom guided, reminding me in half-jests and hard laughs that there were no hidden trust funds, leaving me to fumble my way to college alone. “Stay here,” she insisted, “Cheaper than living on campus. Less loans to pay off in the end.” She was right, but that didn’t make it any better. I made the decision not to leave her alone but how could I be a man when I slept in the same room that I did when I was a kid?
An uncomfortable thought wriggled through my mind as I recalled all the moments when she paused her heavy gaze on my face with a sad smile telling me how much I looked like him. Was that all I represented? By keeping me here perhaps she finally had the ability to make my father stay. I pushed the notion away as quickly as it formed. It was almost too incomprehensible to digest.
I could go back. Why should I let her ruin a good thing? It wasn’t just about the money, I needed the high from the jet-fueled confidence that powered me through the nights. Thinking back, I know she didn’t recognize me, and given that we were both there, how could she judge me for stripping? Harmless fun. A mere variety show, of sorts. Even mom was young once; my being alive attests to that.
We’re both adults, I thought as I toweled off. I don’t owe her an explanation; she owes me one! Still, my cheeks burned with the embarrassing knowledge of what that truly meant, and I imagined a thousand different ways Oedipus pertained. In truth, I didn’t know how I would face her. We might need therapy after this. I stared at the ceiling until she snuck in around one in the morning.
The clock said ten as I woke to a clammy tangle of sheets, the scent of percolating coffee, and shafts of merciless sunlight.
“Come on, lazybones!” she yelled from the kitchen, “Up, up, up!” Her voice sounded too cheery, and I wanted to hurl up all the hounding regret. Thoughts of Brandon flashed through my mind, and I prayed to any god that could hear me that I hoped Tarzan was never her thing.
I intentionally took too long to dress hoping she would be gone to church to redeem her multitude of sins. Instead, she was munching on bacon and warming up the maple syrup just how I liked it. My eyes refused to meet hers as I sat down to my buttered short stack of emasculating happy face pancakes. The blueberries grinned up at me with their unblinking eyes.
“How was the gig last night?”
My face paled, I could feel it. Paled then probably turn green. I worked part-time for a caterer which helped explain my hours.
“Fine,” I choked out. Where was this leading? My mind searched for answers before it settled down to the obvious. Nowhere. It’s small talk. Don’t ask about her night-don’t ask about her night-DONTASKABOUTHERNIGHT!
“Did you win?” My voice cracked like I was hitting puberty all over again, or at least it sounded that way to my ears.
“We never ended up playing; instead, we went to a cheesy strip club. You think you know someone. But you never really do until you bring them to a place like that.”
My jaw fell to the floor. I peeked up at her, trying hard to look square in the face at this stranger sitting across from me.
She continued offhandedly. “By the way, you forgot about that birthmark on the back of your left thigh.” My mom regarded me with a level stare after taking a sip. I could feel her judging eyes, measuring and weighing, wondering what does she see? “Nice moves, though. You get your rhythm from me.”