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

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The Big O

  
People often feel a little guilty about objectifying us girls when they visit a strip club. I guess that’s one thing to feel bad about if you’re an asshole about it. But it’s also condescending to think of strippers as victims of objectification. I mean really, no one seems to feel sorry for the 14 year old Kate Moss in that Calvin Klein campaign. It’s the very thought that turns it from an appreciation to an objectification.

It’s what a lot of women like to think so they can feel sorry for us and be safe because obviously we are all fucked in the head, which therefore makes us less appealing, and therefore less likely to steal the husbands or boyfriends of theirs that we have absolutely no interest in stealing. These concerned girlfriends and wives obviously haven’t heard that thing about how crazy girls are the best fucks in the forest because if they had they’d be increasing their benzodiazepine intake to allay their fears of members of orthodox or born again church groups; women living in isolation on self sustaining farms in bum-fuck-no-town-no-where bunking on mattresses stuffed with sustainably farmed organic straw in shipping crates collecting the hair shed from their bodies to reverently stuff the pillow of their long haired guru; and of course girls in mental hospitals who can be unpredictable and on all kinds of meds. And they certainly would not see the correlation between the benzo use of themselves and the latter. No need to worry so much about the strippers or the crazies. The kind of bitch who will go after your hapless man, powerless like a deer in tit lights, will not be contained to just one industry. That kind of bitch, is that kind of bitch, no matter how she makes her money.

It’s what a lot of men like to think so they can feel like nice guys when they ask you “What are you doing in a place like this? Doing a job like this? You’re such a nice girl. Funny. Smart. Beautiful. Sweet…” As though they are really, no I mean really seeing us as humans. As if you can’t be all of those things and take your clothes off for money. As if you can only be all those things if you star in Disney kids shows (ja cause Britney and Lindsay are such awesome idols for your children), or work with special needs kids, or work behind the counter at Baker’s Delight getting paid $12 an hour and stuffing your face with samples of sundried tomato pull apart bread all day long – I only say this because that’s what I’d be doing…. No offence intended for anyone who actually does work at Baker’s Delight. OMG and shit quality custard tarts!!! I would smash those all day every day til I was sweating sweet gooey custard that I could collect from my arm pits and scrape back into empty pie shells I bought from Woollies on a Saturday morning, refrigerate and then eat all over again in the afternoon.

On the nights that my humour is still in tact and guys ask me what I really do for a living, what income in a respectable trade I need to subsidise, I often tell them I work with people with special needs. People who dribble and sometimes even vomit on themselves, don’t understand social etiquette, have addiction issues, anger management problems, mental retardation coupled with sexual perversions, autistics from across the entire spectrum and people with Aspergers disease who don’t understand emotions and how their words and actions effect others.

“Wow! Really?? That’s so saaaaad. Those poor people. How long have you been doing that for?” Sometimes they get it. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I let them in on the joke. Sometimes I don’t.

“Yes, I really do work in community services…..in a way. Yes, sometimes it really does bring me down. It can be pretty intense. Yeaaaaaah.”

Sometimes nasty ladies of the 9-5 circuit come in and objectify us too. They sit at our podiums specifically to snarl and snigger at us and talk about our cellulite, or how their bff 4 eva sitting next to them is waaaaaay hotter than that girl on the stage, or how she has been going to Pole Divas for nearly 2 years now and is totally so much better at that descending angel inversion than that girl is…oh, and waaaaay hotter too. I imagine this last type of girl actually ends up demonstrating this inversion on a pole at 1 Oak in New York’s west side, or any which one of Melbourne CBD’s unsuspecting sign posts in the wee drunken hours of her “later that night” montage. Unashamedly displaying her g-banger and the half of her butt cheeks that drew the short straw and didn’t get to hang out the bottom of her skirt that night. This epidemic of pole rape is sweeping its way across many nations like wildfire. And it’s not due to globalization or climate change. I hope it never stops because it’s insanely entertaining and hopefully therapeutic cause these girls obviously have something they need to express that isn’t seeing the light of day or the dark of night frequently enough.

On the flip side of that female market there are also many feminists out there defending our rights as real people with real feelings and to them I’d like to say thanks for the sentiment of care but without delving into a muff that I don’t know that much about having never done that myself, us kids are alright! And if we aren’t, it’s not due to being objectified by strangers. If this were the case I’m pretty sure every girl who walks the street out there in pretty much every country, fat or thin, short or tall, would also be in a high risk category and worthy of an armed defence force and pamphlet literature containing A LOT OF UPPER CASE BOLD text.

To be honest, sometimes it’s a relief to be the object of my own heart’s desire. To just be a shell of a girl. Shiny and bright. Under lights that erase the imperfections of my body that I notice daily. Languid limbs dancing slowly to my own song on a pole in the middle of a snow globe. Suspended in time with glitter falling all around until the floor is covered in a life that seems brighter than the shit day you just had, the Aunty you visited in a hospice last week who’s skull is the most prominent feature of a face that once had a sparkle you’ll never forget. It can be your 20 minutes of peace that set, or your one accumulated one hour of happiness that day. Unless they play top 40 Katy Perry, Skrillex or any one of the empowering Pink ballads on the system. In which case your day is still fucked and the soundtrack to your nightmares has been decided for you by the DJ who is too busy getting a blowjob in the booth to care what kind of ear violation he is subjecting you to.

Objectification is in the eye of the beholder. Hold onto it, or let it go but please don’t spoof into my sparkle globe with your condescending cunt or cock confetti.