I knew exactly who I’d write about, before I even finished reading the question. And because I wrote about it in a personal journal I kept before beginning to blog (can blog be used as a verb?), I think I’ll just type what I wrote then. It was all more fresh then.
Friday, 12-04-2009, 7:45 a.m.
Michael (The Guy from Ohio) left for good today. I didn’t realize how attached I’d become to him—as a…like a friend? He taught me magic tricks, and brought me McDonald’s without asking, and consoled me on bad nights. He shared his life-stuff with me, and I with him. We never did dances, but he always slipped me money. Tonight, he gave me a cheeseburger, $19, a hug, and then immediately turned around and left and wouldn’t turn back. I think he probably cried. I did. I can’t believe I’ll never see him again. He was familiar. Pleasant. Jovial. Somehow, loveable. And lonely, stuck in this godforsaken town for work.
I’ll never forget that guy. I was pretty much still a brand-new dancer when he first started coming in three or four days a week. It’s hard to explain just how much he meant to me.
In those first rough months, he was kind to me. He didn’t want anything but conversation from me. He listened as much as I did. He was consistency among the absolute chaos that often runs loose in the club, the chaos that I wasn’t yet used to and was still pretty afraid of. He wasn’t someone I had to hustle or work or lie to, and I was pretty lonely at that point in my own life. I’d just dumped my boyfriend, my only real friend was a heroin addict and I was still trying to stay away from drugs, absolutely none of my drinking buddies could understand my new worldview and I withdrew from them, and I’d long dropped out of school already.
He didn’t have the money, but somehow, I feel like he really did pay me in comfort. Perhaps more than I gave him in the amount of time I spent watching goofy magic tricks (which I honestly and secretly loved, despite other girls’ reaction as bored or indifferent).
I learned from Michael that it’s the one phone number or email address that I didn’t get that will still ache a little way down the road. I learned that sometimes I get what I need from patrons, too. The humanity of the customers I interact with came fully into light. I learned how reciprocal the relationship can be with customers.
I learned not to get that close to a customer, ever again. I developed a larger split (perhaps a split that didn’t fully exist before) between my Self and “Piper”, and especially developed a line not to cross in what I tell customers. Any customers. I became a little more callous, and much less open to letting the usual customer/dancer interaction slip into something less casual.
I did. I cried when I wrote this. It was a pretty big turning point in dancing for me, when one day, he was just gone. Forever. I’ll never see him again; I don’t know his last name, and only know that he works some sort of construction and lives in Columbus. And even so, it will never be exactly the same as those nights sitting on the smoking patio. It never could be.