The Kindness of Strangers

There’s something to be said for the kindness of strangers.

Earlier in the year I found myself dealing with the consequences of a 10 week encounter with a narcissist. I cannot claim faith to accuracy and call it a relationship but the aftermath can be likened to wading through a quagmire of tepid feces. It was that good. On top of this, my dog fell suddenly ill with auto immune disease. The process of tests, financial draining, her fast deterioration into an ongoing illness, watching the light in her eyes dim, the energy in her limbs fail, pushed me beyond the brink of any sadness I had experienced up to this point. This is surely my year to learn some lessons, as two days before my birthday, I found out I was pregnant. To the narcissist. Bleh. Just when I thought my basket was full.

I spent my 35th birthday at work. Thankfully a place that has a few precious stars who blink at me through the darkness, let me share their radiant light, and hold my shoulders to help me get me off the floor, look me in the eyes and tell me that I’m strong when I had forgotten this was ever a word that I could apply to myself. One of these wonderful girlfriend’s of mine introduced me to her regular customer and he took a shining to me. He’s a tricky one to be booked with for an extended period of time. In general conversation he begins on a subject but doesn’t wait for a reply, barrels over the top of you, completing 32 segways and 33 subject changes by the time he takes a breath for air. He is a sweet soul but somewhat disconnected. Literal. Confused by the patchwork of social mores, the tones and rhythms of conversation. My girlfriend left the room to go and do her 20 minutes on the stage and I was alone with him. He made the observation that I looked sad and asked me why. I told him about my dog who is the closest person I have to me. I told him that nobody in the whole wide world, loves me the way she does. That she is the only person I have who would put me first. Take a bullet for me. Lay starving next to me, rather than eat my arm to save herself. That I don’t know how I would face a day, in the current climate of my world, if she were to die. That this is what I truly believed. That is how I truly felt. I’ve never been so terrified of the possibilities of my own action unto myself, should her heart stop beating.

In this moment, for just a few minutes, the customer changed. He suddenly became a friend. He engaged with me in a way many of my close friends hadn’t been able to. They once made jokes as I sat with tears running down my face, squawking about how big my tits were now. How amazing! What a coup! What a silver lining! I couldn’t even keep company with most of my own girlfriends during this time. They meant well, but I could not laugh at the situation I was in. I did not know what choice to make. I felt like an anchor of sorrow attached to a decrepit dingy, that had already been dredging the bottom of a stupid shitty pond for 7 weeks since I found out my dog was sick. How could people not be tired of my tears? I avoided dinners and celebrations. It was all too loud and overwhelming, enhancing my already hormonally enhanced anxiety. I was alone no matter where I was.

In a small room, at my place of work, this stranger looked at me, and spoke to me with such genuine love and kindness. With the innocence and well wishes of a child who understands the feeling of sadness, but doesn’t understand why it has to be a part of life. He did not seize the opportunity to overstep the mark and touch me. He did not try to take what he could get, while the getting was good. Nor did he condescend to me, or raise himself above me to give sage, unsolicited advice. His human heart spoke to mine with such compassion and truth. The likes of which I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered from a stranger before. We are pen pals now. He never fails to surprise me with the words he wraps me up in. The most comforting embrace. The most gentle tendrils of kindness permeating my every cell, to make me feel the ‘ok’ is in there somewhere. This man has been a gift to me. He is special. If someone had suggested that the kindness of a stranger whom I met at work, while I was pregnant and naked and feeling so very alone in my heart, would be the thing that would resonate with me, I would have broken at the suggestion. But he appeared. And thankfully my heart was still open enough to accept his love.

He writes to me,

‘Hang with the ones that are positive and positively reinforce you and your ideas, the ones that make you feel free… Be amazed and bedazzled by all the cool aspects of life, interact with truth and the beauty of all your skills and entirety of your shining being will beam out.

Billie the Legend can do anything and everything by looking after herself and her pals and embracing intelligence, empathy, and day after day braveness

And as I said in an earlier screed:

“take care,

sleep well…

remember to think of those that love and care for you when you lie in bed,

feel comforted in their embrace…

and you will sleep….

plus talk when you need to,

to the ones that will really listen (and not judge),

the ones that really do support you 100%”

All the best and thanks for your email esteemed buddy.”’

It’s these encounters that make me wonder “How lucky am I?” and to know that I would rather reveal myself in both sorrow and joy, than to stay hidden and let these people pass me by.

There are not enough words to give thanks to the strangers and friends, work mates and  birds flying overhead, fleeting moments of beauty, acts of kindness, that have supported me through this year. Coming out at the other end with a smile on my face is a testament to all of those people and little things that were there for me the whole time. Even when I wasn’t ready to open my eyes and see them.

  

 
* Thanks for the tattoo D.Ferguson, another kind stranger. Two words that always help me from an old friend from across the sea C.Lambert

* Image of “Big Bird Alone Under Lamplight in Central Park” by another angel of mine A.Rovedo

LOLITA

  

One of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen or could hope to see in real life. The actual unicorn of mine, and many other’s dancing careers.

I remember the very first time I saw Lolita in the locker room. Accompanied by the first of her string of egotistical, maniacal, narcissistic BFF’s. She was awkward at only 19 and I remember detesting her hair. It framed her face like a big boofy triangle, the contained frizz creating waves like a logo for a product designed specifically to control this issue that could really ruin a girl’s day. She didn’t say much but annoyed me just through her association with the mad queen who had the most shatteringly loud voice, laugh and presence in the room. The Queen of Hearts once tried to behead a friend and me for a transgression that existed in her crown alone. As the Queen flounced loudly from the Red Room, Lolly slipped us a shy smile and for about a millisecond her beautiful soul made contact with mine before she lowered the lids of her blue eyes and was swallowed up in the charged crimson wake of the Queen.

A couple of years later we became friends and 4 months after that I watched her marry her man in the country. A small affair of around 30 people. It was a blast. Their family and friends were an incredible testament to them. Funny, wild, intelligent. Drunk as fuck. Still intelligent. Drunker as fucker. Less intelligible.

Together we speak the same dialects of ridiculousness. Her skills are unsurpassed, well framed but never contained within the knowledge of a couple of languages and a library of literature who’s pages have been thumbed and folded in rapturous flips and turns.

Exhibit A

Billie: My petit bon oui citron chi chi. So sorree for tres over slumber incident. Was tres bien to google you bon bon shakie bon bon xX

Lolly: Spankyou muchlies le bonbon! C’est not un problem for le sleep-in, I like to catch le rays in my le car. Und sankyou for de presents in de bag, you are such an un le rockstar rock le roll schnazzle le dazzle******* X

Exhibit B

Billie: For the love of SERGIO!

Lolly: He doesn’t like George Michael…BOOOOOOOO!!!!

Billie: He is above the law.

Lolly: He is ALL man…he is like the perfect love child of Don Juan and Jesus…

Billie: …and a little bit of Johnny Depp for good measure. A measure I treasure. A sax in his dax. A song in the schlong?

Lolly: …a careless whisper in my hairless crisper…

Billie: …heart beat skipples, skyward thy nipples.

At first she may appear as quiet and awkward as she is beautiful but the layers go further and further to reveal something worth waiting for. It’s like holding a beautiful wilting ballerina peonie in your hands. So you peel off the outer layers of the wilted petals, with each layer the petals become more f-f-fresh. When you finally gain access to the heart of the flower you find a gigantic cartoon cock and hairy balls with confetti spoofing out of it right into your face. When Lolly is drunk the layers are dispensed of. She’s not shy or quiet when she’s tipsed. And in the case of full retard drunk, the gigantic cartoon cock with all of its confetti spoof goodness spritzes away indiscriminately like one of those hard core sprinklers on a high school oval.

Lolita is a professional. She rarely lets life outside the office get in the way of her paperwork. It’s rare to see her effected by negativity, or to witness her reacting aggressively to any one of the million awful things people say to us. She is die hard loyal to the club. She is die hard loyal to her friends. I once walked out the backstage door and saw her holding a friend of ours as her chest heaved with tears. Lolita had both her arms draped around the girl’s shoulders, her face downturned to the crown of the sobbing mop of hair as she gently said, “Don’t cry Sandy…. Please don’t cry.” The simplicity and sweetness of her was enough to melt anyone’s heart. She was like a child pleading with the mother and a mother comforting her child all rolled up into one big ball of love and compassion.

Recently our home club changed its rules as a non-touching club. A meeting was held on the Monday, to announce the new rules would commence on Thursday of the same week. I didn’t have the heart to attend the meeting. I was barely working anymore and I couldn’t match the outrage of my friends. It felt fucked up and awful but at the end of the day a business decision for an evolving industry that, as one of my dancer friends put so well, will probably be nothing but a burlesque feature show in 20 years time. I was just so sad to see a solid group of strong women break. I’m glad I didn’t go. Lolly was so upset. I was told that her tears poured out of her and that seeing her lose it “was like watching a unicorn cry.” A lot of girls quit. They felt violated and betrayed. Because it’s not just where we work, it’s our home. And these girls that we work with are our Ya Ya StripperHood. They give us the acceptance that some of us haven’t received from our families and a few of our friends. Together we giggle at how the narrow world beyond our magical kingdom would misconstrue our experiences. How much fun and laughter they miss out on just because they have a hive of bees in their bonnets about things they will never understand, at how they miss so much because the bees buzz too loud for them to hear the songs we sing. The tears of our unicorn seemed to mark the end of an era of enchantment. The golden years for the golden girls. Everything seemed altered. But our unicorn is still there, glimmering brightly in the darkness, heart still in tact and laugh still carrying over the bass of shit ass techno.