Trust me; you spend a little extra time picking out a bra when you know you are not going to be wearing a shirt at work. My stomach turned as I fumbled through my underwear drawer, getting ready for my first night at the new job. I ultimately chose a padded leopard print bra from Victoria’s Secret that my ex-boyfriend Marty called my “Dolly Parton Bra” because it made my boobs look twice as big as they actually are.
I put on my cutest skinny jeans and the only trashy looking pair of black high heels that I owned. I splashed on a little perfume and took a long look at myself in the bathroom mirror wearing nothing but a push-up bra from the waist up. Could I really go through with this? As a girl who had waitressed hundreds of shifts at a dive bar, I had noticed countless guys staring shamelessly at my cleavage as I poured their drinks. This, however, would be something different.
I heard a car horn beep loudly and looked out the window to see Lauren waiting for me in the same beat-up Plymouth Reliant that her grandma gave her when we were 16. I buttoned up a white dress shirt a button higher than I would have, even on a normal night out, before I walked past my dad in the living room. He was stretched across the couch watching the Pistons with a cigarette hanging from his lip and a can of Budweiser in his hand.
“I’m going over Lauren’s to watch a movie, Dad. I’ll probably stay over there or come home late, so don’t wait up.”
“OK sweetie,” he replied, barely looking away from the game.
I opened the door to Lauren’s Reliant and noticed a box of Thin Mints cookies along with a Girl Scout’s skirt and vest resting on the passenger’s seat. The badges I remembered earning with her when we were kids were still sewn to the vest.
“You can throw that stuff in the back,” Lauren said as she looked in her rear view mirror to apply lipstick.
“Please tell me you are not going to strip in your old Girl Scout uniform?” I asked.
“Yeaaaaah baby I am. I bet the guys go crazy for it too. I know it sounds creepy, but I got the idea the other day when one of the neighborhood girls came by selling cookies. I’m like the same height as when I was at 14 so it still fits.”
“You are crazy!”
“What about you, Carly Q? Are you ready for your first night?”
“Um not really. I’m so nervous I feel like I’m going to throw up.”
“Don’t worry baby, you’ll be fine. Most of the girls are actually really sweet, the bouncers are great, they won’t let anyone out of line, and you’ll make way more than you have been at dead-ass Murphy’s.”
The girls walking around the dressing room were all at various stages of naked while I did my makeup in front of a mirror, still wearing an Abercrombie dress shirt buttoned way too high. Not long after I finally worked up the nerve to take my shirt off a familiar voice said, “Carly, you pretty little thing… I don’t remember you having a rack like that. Are those puppies real?”
“Hey Melody. Yeah, they are all me, with a little help from the bra of course.”
“Lauren told me you were going to start bartending tonight, but you can’t waste a body like that behind the bar, you’d make ten times as much dancing.”
We used to hang out with Melody a lot when we were young. She was the first girl I knew to start stripping and the one who got Lauren the job. Melody was only two years ahead of us in high school, but looked much older now. It was sad to see. Melody was the prettiest girl in school. All the boys loved her, but now she was too thin and her eyes were sunk in and wrinkled.
“Do you remember when we used to party around the corner at St. Andrews?”
“Of course I remember. You could get us in before we were even 21 because you were hooking up with one of the DJs”
The first hour of my shift was surprisingly normal despite the lack of a shirt. I opened beers and mixed drinks. I made small talk and tolerated some harmless flirting. It almost felt like another shift at Murphy’s until I heard the DJ announce, “Gentlemen I hope you brought some extra cookie money because taking the stage now is Detroit’s sexiest Girl Scout, Cherrrrrry Goooooold!”
Lauren had recently died red streaks in her dark brown hair began dancing under the name Cherry Gold. She skipped onto the stage as the DJ played Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” The decade old skirt and vest barely covered any of her essential parts. Lauren opened the box of Thin Mints and took a bite out of a cookie before feeding one to a fat construction worker in a dusty Carhartt jacket, leaning eagerly up against the stage.
She dropped the box and stripped the vest off before swinging herself aggressively around the pole. It was tough to watch her, but I couldn’t look away. Lauren has always had a reputation for being a bit on the slutty side, so over the years I’d seen her display some less than modest sexual behavior. I had never, before that night, seen a man old enough to be her father rub his fingers slowly along the inside of her upper thigh as he shoved a dollar bill under the strap of her thong.
Lauren’s dance thankfully only lasted four or five minutes, but it would prove not to be the last uncomfortable moment of my evening. My biggest concern was that someone I knew would be at the club and see me working. Halfway across the room I noticed Tommy Jenkins sitting in a booth with a couple other guys. I had a bunch of classes with Tommy in high school and he used to have a massive crush on me. He was a nice enough guy, but I wasn’t really attracted to him. He just wasn’t my type. Tommy was one of those kind of dorky guys who played a ton of video games and was way too into hockey. I can’t tell you how many times I had to make up an excuse why I couldn’t go to a Redwings game with him.
Running into Tommy Jenkins wasn’t the worst-case scenario that I had imagined when I agreed to work that shift. I was much more afraid of being seen by one of my Dad’s friends. Still, I was desperately hoping that Tommy didn’t notice me. I didn’t have any such luck. Tommy’s jaw nearly hit the floor when he spotted me his way to the bathroom.
“Oh my God, Carly Quinn! I haven’t seen you since like high school. How have you been? Are you stripping now?”
“No, I’ve been waitressing at Murphy’s, but we’ve been really slow, so I decided to try picking up a few bartending shifts here. What have you been up to?” I asked, trying to change the subject.
“My dad got me a job doing demolition for the city… you know just taking down vacant buildings. It’s hard work, but it’s union so it pays pretty well. Yo, it’s like really good to see you. We should get a drink sometime.”
“Ummmm… I’m kind of dating someone right now,” I told him in a complete lie, “but it was really good to see you too.”
Tommy took one last disappointed look at my boobs as he stumbled off to the bathroom.
It was cold in Lauren’s car as I waited for her in the parking lot, but I was happy just to have a shirt on again.
“So, how did your first night go?” Lauren asked as she sat down in the driver’s seat.
“I still can’t believe I did it. Aside from running into Tommy Jenkins from high school, it was pretty good I guess.”
“I see guys we went to school with in here all the time. It was awkward at first, but you get used to it. How much did you make?”
“I made $98 which isn’t bad considering I think I cleared $12.50 after a 5 hour shift at Murphy’s on Tuesday. How about you? Did the Girl Scout outfit do the trick?”
“Did it fucking ever!!! Guys are such pervs. I made 340 bucks. It was my best shift ever. You should dust off your old Girl Scout uniform and join me onstage. You would make a killing.”
“I could never… I mean I was a nervous wreck just bartending in a bra.”
“Never say never,” Lauren said, holding up the thick roll of cash that she made that evening. “You’d be surprised what you’re willing to do when the money get big enough.”