Ready for a Christmas secret?
Everyone’s heard that it’s better to give than to receive. A lot of us have heard it from someone who wanted something. That’s not the secret.
The secret is that giving and receiving are holding hands. Don’t tell anyone. The whole world doesn’t need to know that when you make yourself available – when you give of your time, your spirit, whatever – you put yourself in line to receive some stuff.
Let me tell you a heartwarming Christmas story to illustrate this point.
‘Twas ten days before Christmas when I went to the local strip club to see the male revue. I was supposed to go with friends, but … well, of my circle of friends, I am the most likely to assign top priority to a trip to see male dancers. So I made my way alone to the club, whistling Christmas carols with a fistful of singles in the pockets of my jeans. Talk about your holiday cheer, right?
I figured the upper room that was home to the male revue would be crowded with other women ready to celebrate the male form. Kind of surprising, then, to find the place empty.
Seriously. Completely empty. This was where the cycle of giving and receiving started.
I figured that whatever happened at this point was going to be interesting. Certainly more interesting than whatever else I might have planned, which was probably reruns or something like that. At the very least, I’d get a good story for my friends. I made myself available to receive whatever opportunity presented itself in that empty upstairs room.
I walked all the way around the room, trying to figure out where the best seat actually was. Here, equidistant from the pole and the bar? Here, within reach of the stage? Decisions, decisions. I was about to try out the spot near the stage when one of my hosts emerged from behind a door near the curtain. He wasn’t much taller than I am, but I could tell he had a nice build underneath the track jacket he wore. He stopped short when he saw me, the way any good host would if he saw a guest unattended in his sitting room.
“Oh,” he said. He hurried over to the corner of the room to turn on some music. “Didn’t know anyone was here.”
“It’s okay,” I said. “I’m just getting here.”
He offered me a drink and then hustled out to get the bartender. Within just a few minutes, I was sitting in my own personal strip club, with my own personal bartender (himself a former dancer). While I’m hanging out, enjoying the view and looking forward to having the room all to myself, another of the dancers comes from the magical doorway near the curtain. I grinned at him and waved. He gave me a delighted smile, as if I were a good friend, and came over to join us at the bar.
As it happened, this was his very first night on the job. I asked if he was nervous.
“Nah,” he said. “Maybe a little. That’s normal, right?”
Baby Dancer was very young. He was lean but muscular, in a T-shirt that glowed under the black light. He seemed to have an awful lot of tattoos for someone who made money with his shirt off, but that was more of a curiosity to me than anything else.
“Totally normal. I’d be more worried if you weren’t nervous.”
I told Baby Dancer that I’m a dance instructor, and we were discussing the benefits of nervousness when still another dancer came through the doorway. This one was tall and very powerful looking, and wherever he goes, people likely presume he either is or could be a stripper. When he came over to the three of us at the bar, he looked me right in the eye, and for the first time, I felt as if I was being evaluated.
I evaluated him right back. Not bad at all. This has turned out to be an excellent evening already, and no one was even dancing yet. Baby Dancer explained that the man sizing me up was his mentor.
“This is his first time,” said the Mentor. The smile hid the very slight protective edge to his voice. I grinned back at him. I really was just happy to be here, literally surrounded by strippers, receptive to whatever happened next, but I thought it was cute that this hot, imposing person apparently believed I was going to do something to his protégé.
“That’s what I hear. He says he’s nervous,” I said.
The Mentor glanced over at Baby Dancer. Evidently he was not supposed to disclose that he was not completely in control of the room.
“Some first night, huh?” said Baby Dancer, and I was reminded that I was the only woman in the room, which was maybe not as good for them as it was for me.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe it’s good. Sometimes it’s better to try out new technique for a smaller crowd than take chances with a full room.”
I had the Mentor’s attention again. “That’s a good idea,” he said. “Do you want to be a guinea pig?”
I promise I’m not making this up. This is the sort of thing that can happen when you’re open to offering what you can and receiving whatever awesome surprises come your way.
“Sure,” I said. “Happy to help.”
Remember how I was looking for the best seat a little while ago? The Mentor pulled a chair out toward the center of the room, right in front of the pole. That, neighbors, was the best seat in the house.
“See, this is good,” said the Mentor, as the two of us watched Baby Dancer work that pole. “Usually, we just have the empty chair to practice with. Tough to demonstrate lap dances with no one in the chair.”
“I will sit right here in this chair,” I said, “for as long as you need me to do that.” I really meant that, too. I was just happy to have the opportunity to be of service.
That’s really how I ended up in the best seat in the house, with an experienced dancer, a former dancer and a new dancer, demonstrating lap dance techniques on me for … gosh, how long was it? I think I became a little overstimulated at some point and lost track of time, right around the lesson about whispering in my ear. I got to that magical place (in the chair, get your minds out of the gutter) by expecting nothing, offering something, and being open to everything.
A month ago, when I was in this mindset, I ran across a group of firefighters hanging out on the sidewalk, all as friendly as they were handsome. Around Thanksgiving – again, while I was in this state of mind – the Charlotte airport was crowded with good-looking fellows. If this is woo-woo, it’s my kind of woo-woo. Giving and receiving and receiving and giving – it’s all mixed up in a wonderful, wonderful circle made of male strippers.
Who knows what will follow that?
Actually, I do kind of know. Four days after this, I sold my first book, ILLICIT IMPULSE, to Ellora’s Cave. That’s pretty much the best thing I could ask for right now. So what comes after that?
I’m certainly open to finding out.