Mom in back in the day. Photographic proof that for at least one second in the 1960s, two people weren't drinking bourbon and smoking.Yesterday, my roommates and I were hanging out around the house when they realized they needed to do some Mother’s Day shopping – cards, flowers, the whole nine yards. They asked if I wanted to come along with them, and I said sure, because I had nothing else going on. As we strolled out to the car, the following exchange occurred:
Roommate 1: “I think there’s a florist out in West Eugene that’s pretty cheap.”
Roommate 2: “Yeah, plus it’s really close to that titty bar, so we can go there right after!”
Roommate 1: “Yes! We’ve got to take Truman to a strip club - he’s never been!”
Me: “We’ve been through this before, guys – I’m not going to a strip club. Much less one in West fucking Eugene. They’re disgusting.”
Roommate 2: “How can you say that if you’ve never even been to one?”
Roommate 1: “You’re like a 5 year old who says he hates vegetables just because he’s never tried them!”
Maybe this little debate is more telling about my roommates, that in their minds thought processes like BUY STUFF FOR OUR MOMS and LOOK AT SOME TITS get put together one after another without any red flags. However, I think it also says something about how I am.
I love bars, and I’m generally pretty enthusiastic about women taking their clothes off, but I feel like strip clubs are yet another combination of two good things that, in my mind, do not make a great thing. If only all of life could be as simple as a Reese’s commercial, right?
For anybody even remotely familiar with me, it shouldn’t be hard to think of a list of problems I’d have with a strip club. Hygiene. Quality control. Musical selections. Creepy old townies with boners. I could list them all for comedy value, but I’ve got bigger things to talk about, so I’ll just say that if I really wanted that sort of experience I’d just buy a bottle of cheap scotch and a Playboy - I’d save myself some money and read a decent interview to boot.
But really, what bothers me the most about strip clubs is the nagging question, What, oh Lord, would my mother think if she saw me in here?*
*It’s more of a rhetorical question; don’t ask how I’d bump into my own mother in a strip club without being from Pullman.
In the 1970s my mother was, by her own admission, a ‘lipstick feminist’ – she wore makeup and refrained from burning any sort of underwear, but on an early date with my father she about pitched a fit when he tried to give her his jacket on a chilly walk through the park. The sentiment there, I believe, was something along the lines of, “What the fuck would I want with your coat, you Man - I can take care of myself!”
She was ever-so-briefly a member of a sorority at Whitman College, but quit after a couple of weeks when the sorority held a ‘slave sale’ as a fundraiser, in which all the sorority girls would stand up on a stage and fraternity guys would buy the ones they wanted, at which point the newly purchased girl would have to do whatever the guy asked. Keep it classy, Washington.
Mom left the sorority as soon as they announced the slave sale. When she left, she didn’t tell the sisters that she was offended by the fact that they were basically commoditizing and debasing themselves to men, but rather made up some excuse about how heavy her courseload was.
This, I think, exemplifies the sort of feminist that my mother was: She was principled enough to stand up for what she knew was right, but she did so in a polite, Miss Manners sort of way. Now that she’s old enough to not give a fuck what anybody thinks, Mom has said that she’s disappointed she didn’t royally bitch out the whole sorority for what they were doing. Thing is, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t the only one who had her doubts about the whole notion of, y’know, being labeled as a slave, but she was the only one who didn’t go with the flow. What I’m trying to say here is, I think there’s a lot of other women from Mom’s sorority who are even more disappointed because they did nothing at all. And willingly turned themselves into slaves.
And here, in 2011, I have to skip over the song ‘Area Codes’ whenever it comes up in my iTunes playlist.* I mean, it’s catchy as all hell, but whenever I listen to it I get scared that Mom is going to walk in. “Oh. So this sort of thing is okay now? Wonderful, Truman. Glad to see you appreciate what I fought for.”
*Mom, Dad, Uncle Dennis – it’s a song by this guy named Ludacris, and it’s just him listing the area codes of all the women he’s had sex with. And the song is almost four minutes long, so clearly he’s had sex with a lot of geographically disparate women. Just… Don’t listen to it. It’ll piss you off.
I think I should make it clear again that I don’t have any sort of moral objection to strip clubs or Luda’s musical career. This is a free country, and if women choose to get naked on a stage or have sex with Ludacris we shouldn’t look down on men for patronizing strip clubs or Ludacris for writing a song about it.
On a strictly personal level, though, I don’t want my Mom to think that that’s my deal. I feel like it’s any mother’s dearest wish to know that she’s imbued her son with enough guilt to deny himself something, and, well, this one is mine. Strip clubs. Also, most rap music.
So happy Mother’s Day, Mom – I didn’t get you anything and I’m not coming home to visit, but on the plus side, I didn’t go to a strip club last night. So, uh, thanks for putting me through college, I guess.
Truman Capps is an unapologetic mama’s boy, as if you hadn’t noticed.