Month: December 2012

An Exotic Dance Christmas, or Giving, Receiving, and Taking It All Off

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.

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Cocktailery: Spiced Rum, Merry!

Last week, on the W3 blog, I mentioned that this can be a tough season for single people. Truth is, the holidays and the start of a new year (or, depending on what you believe, the end of the world) can make this time of year hard for any sane person. In my favorite holiday movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold experiences an emotional breakdown of sorts before asking his father for advice about how to survive a “full-blown, four-alarm” family Christmas.

“How did you get through it?” Clark asks.

“I had a lot of help from Jack Daniels,” his father responds.

(Two quick observations: ABC Family is comfortable with Clark’s dad saying that Clark has “cocked up” Christmas but doesn’t want him to mention Jack Daniels. And this dialogue between Clark and his dad is a genuinely touching moment in this coarse, goofball comedy.)

Jack’s a good guy to have around, certainly. He never has any conflicting plans. He’s willing to do whatever you’re doing. Some of your relatives already know him. Jack’s a good bet.

I, however, prefer the company of the Captain. Blame my uniform fetish.

The little bottle of Captain Morgan – the one you can get into your purse or the inside pocket of your sports coat – that guy’s going to get you through the thick of the holidays. Keep the Captain close by, and he will smooth over all the rough spots this holiday season. You’ll smile and chuckle through the Annual Recitation of Grievances. You’ll shake off the Intrusive Holiday Questions. Unjustified Criticism will feel like just another conversation. A teensy bit of help from the Captain might not eliminate all those holiday tensions, but they will soften just enough around the edges.

Let the Captain join forces with these three merry mixers for a happier holiday!

Splash a little Captain Morgan into the bottom of your mug before pouring eggnog into it. The weight of the nog should mix it up nicely, and unless you used more than a little, the smell won’t give you away. You can try this with hot chocolate, too. If you’re using instant cocoa, you might be best off to let the Captain lower himself into your cup after stirring in the chocolate but before adding the marshmallow. For your heavier, milk-in-a-saucepan hot chocolate, proceed as you would with eggnog; the same principle applies. Finally, hot apple cider just loves the Captain. Cider is fragrant enough to effectively conceal the Captain’s distinctive scent, but it’s not terribly heavy, so there’s not much between you and the buzz.

Big plans for the holidays? Let the world know in the comments.

For The Gentlemen: What Should You Get Her?

Today’s post is for the men. I don’t know how many men just pop by here. It’s possible that you lady readers might have to point men to this post. I know that’s asking for something, but I think everyone will be happier in the end.

There is apparently some confusion about what to get ladies for the holidays. I’ve never understood why. Gentlemen, if you’re doing what you should, and getting to know what your woman wants, buying her a gift should be easy. Still, in the name of holiday romance, I want to kick in a couple of suggestions.

  1. You must actually purchase the gift. This is a two-part suggestion. It must be a gift – not a gift card. A gift card is an invitation for the recipient to buy her own gift. Similarly, you must be the one to buy it. If you take the recipient to pick out what she wants so that you can buy it, you’re basically giving the recipient the gift card without the actual gift card or the freedom to shop on her own time. Yes, choosing a gift is hard. A good woman respects a man who makes an effort.
  2. Don’t buy yourself something. This applies to things like lingerie. I would never tell you not to buy your woman lingerie or a sex toy or something intimate like that – sometimes the best gifts are the ones that are just between the two of you. I will tell you, though, that if you are buying something like this for her, you must be absolutely sure it suits her tastes perfectly. This is not the place to bring your own fantasies to life. Don’t buy her something she has no interest in, but which you think she’ll “get into” once she gives it a chance. Guys, you are buying something for HER. If she has to give it a chance or get into it, guess what? SHE DOESN’T WANT IT. It’s a gift. It is not an opportunity for her to do something for you.
  3. Don’t buckle under peer pressure. No one knows what to get your woman better than you do – if you’ve been paying attention. Don’t let commercials pull you off course. Let me illustrate with a heartwarming story about the best Christmas present a man’s ever given me. I met this man through newspaper personal ads; my ad referred to Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung (love me, love the opera). Our first Christmas together, that man gave me the graphic novel adaptations of the Ring Cycle. It came to about 18 beautifully drawn comics. I was really touched. As badly as that relationship went, I still take those books down, fifteen years later, and I remember how good things were, when they were good. His present was 50% How We Met Story and 50% What I Dig About You, with just a bit of Just Between Us on top. He could very easily have gone to [Insert Popular Jewelry Store Here] and gotten whatever the commercials said to get. Outsiders might tell you to get Something Chicks Like, but I ask you, sir: Are you trying to impress outsiders, or are you trying to do something good for her?
  4. When in doubt, have a talk. If you are totally at sea, or if you don’t really know each other that well yet, ask your woman for guidance. My heart goes out to people in new relationships, facing the inevitable questions of what to get or whether to get anything. A good conversation – “I want to get you something special” or “why don’t we do something together instead” – will get you farther than guessing every time. If you’re finding that she thinks you should “just know,” it’s better to find out about this now, rather than later. Don’t just ask what she wants – that’s like asking for answers to a test. Try to sort out what sort of person she is, and then you can figure out what that sort of person wants.
  5. Start planning now. Regardless of where you are in this relationship, it’s a good idea for you to make the most of the time between here and when you have to make with the presents. Do you need to do research? Are you working through alternatives? Still trying to figure out what she really wants? You’ll want to do the legwork early. Things have a way of selling out – even Ring Cycle comics – and starting early will keep this from turning into a stress-inducing ordeal.

Watching any loved one open the perfect gift is a magical experience, something you’ll both carry with you forever, even if the relationship doesn’t last that long. A little concentrated effort can really bear fruit! Further advice? Awesome gift stories? Seek out the comments.