Just about anyone would be familiar with the expression, “Oh no-do not be that guy.” It is the type of declaration one would be adamant to avoid. This is a little more than a pronoun game, but more like the mark of the stigmata. You can be accused of being that guy for any number of social faux-pas- but once the judgment has been pronounced, it is already too late.
The atmosphere in your typical strip club leaves little room for such gaffes. Yes, this is the type of place where men can be men. Here they can drink, smoke and ogle naked women until 5a.m. when the joint closes and they are forced back to their wives or jobs.
Your humble narrator found himself this past Saturday evening at the Catwalk in New Haven. It was a little after 1:30 in the morning when my Belarusian neighbor, Paul, burst into my apartment drunk and ready to go. “Come on,” he barks at me and my friend Kris, “we’re going to the club.” I put up a half-hearted protest and told him we were both broke. Money is not the problem, Paul assures me. He speaks only a score of English, but enough so that we understand each other and enough for me to know that tonight he was not taking no for an answer.
So a cab ride later and the three of us are at the Catwalk, enjoying an evening’s debauchery at our inebriated friend’s expense. Apparently Paul was once a regular at this club, which becomes more obvious when half the strippers know his name. And apparently he had gotten into a fight with his girlfriend, who now asleep, could not object to his late night sojourn into New Haven.
I knew the moment would be coming sooner later-Paul would treat me to a lap dance. There was no avoiding it. Paul is a prideful guy, and stubborn too-to turn down an offer like this would be an insult, although I tried. I fought him off for most of the night, but when the 2 for 1 option came over the loudspeakers, Paul forced a twenty and ten singles into my palm and there was simply no turning back.
Some strippers will collect their cash for private dances up front, kind of like pay before you pump at a gas station. But this girl was one of the others- maybe she found something in my face particularly trusting, but at any rate it was a grave mistake for us both. After our session was complete, I thanked her for her skills and handed her the cash. As she peeled off the bills, she unfolded the twenty and asked sternly, “What the **** is this?”
It was funny money. A fake twenty designed by a tailgate ticket company for parties. They had been all over the streets at the New Haven St. Patrick’s Day parade. I had picked up a few of them myself, but I was not stupid enough to keep them in my wallet. Paul had given me a counterfeit bill and I had unwittingly passed it off as legitimate payment, so now I found myself in a rather sticky situation. I protested my innocence, but I could understand how it would be tough for her to believe. There was no way I was getting out of this one-I was “that guy.”
I approached Paul and Kris, explained the situation and they both reached for their wallets. Between them they had maybe five dollars. Paul realized the huge error, and assuming responsibility, left the club to find the nearest ATM-which is somewhere down the Wharf. I knew I was in for a grueling twenty to thirty minutes as the stripper paced, the club waned in its closing hours and the bouncer eyeing me smugly.
Paul never made it back in time and I eventually remedied the problem by charging it and scurrying out with my tail between my legs under the watchful gaze of every disapproving employee left in the place. Once the transaction was complete, the girl thanked me and kissed me on the cheek. After all, you cannot embarrass the patron too much so that he will not return. It is only the money that matters.
This brings me, finally, to the point of this anecdote. Why do strip clubs not have ATM machines inside? Convenience stores do. So do casinos. If the general idea of the business is to suck as much money out of the customer as possible, why not have that access readily available? It is a simple solution and everyone is happy-the dancers get paid, the management bank rolls and the patron avoids humiliation of being “that guy.” The damage to the ego is irreversible.