Jack Sprat Could Eat No Fat (The Bastard!)

I bet you thought this one was about domestic felicity, or some such – a metaphor celebrating those couples whose quirks just complement each other so perfectly that between them there’s never any waste.  One more reason to believe in true love.

Right.

Here’s what the poem actually says:

Jack Sprat could eat no fat.

His wife could eat no lean.

And so between them both, you see,

 

They licked the platter clean.

The first two lines should make any sensible reader suspicious.  A man named Jack Sprat avoiding fat might be a quirky-rhymey charming ditty, but what kind of medical condition have you ever heard of that has a problem with lean meat only?  These disorders are too weirdly specific and complementary to be organic.

Come to think of it, the rhyme doesn’t say it is a medical condition that restricts the diets of either Sprat.  And it doesn’t say they don’t like this or that part of the roast – it says they could not eat it.  What’s stopping them?

Then we come to the last line.  They licked.  The platter.  Clean.

Was it dirty when it came to them?  Where they given utensils?  Why the one platter, for the two people?  Even without utensils, why didn’t they use their hands?  Why didn’t this poem ever bother us as kids?  They licked.  The platter.  Clean.

The image we are left with is that of two grown people slobbering face-first, like dogs, over a dirty plate of meat.  Despite having apparently no tools or hands at their disposal, they adhere to their weirdly specific dietary restrictions.  They have to, according to the poem.

Left to our conjecture is the why of it all.  What could bring two people to such a bizarre humiliation?  We can only rationally conclude that what happened to the Sprats is intended to serve as warning to all the world’s unruly diners.  The filet wasn’t good enough for them.  No, because Jack Sprat can’t have fat, and his plate has a little tiny bit of fat on the corner – you see?  His wife, an even bigger asshole, can have no lean, and as you can see the fat content of her steak isn’t nearly high enough.  Well, this one night it seems they sent their plates back one too many times, and the wait-staff finally cracked, tied the couple up and watched them lick leftovers off a platter for their own deranged amusement.

Case regretfully closed.

Crazy B – Episode # 6

I’d never been sued before.  All I got from the attorney was that my dog had been reported to such and such an agency and I should prepare myself for civil court.  I stared at the package of legal papers at one end of my dining room table for maybe twenty minutes before googling up a lawyer.

The guy I talked to on the phone sounded like he thought it was a bullshit case after I’d gone after the details with him a few times, which made me feel a lot better, until he asked if Martha had ever bit anyone before.  That’s when I told him I’d just adopted her recently and had no idea and his breath made a funny sound.  He said I should call the shelter where I’d gotten her and animal control and find out.

I spent all day and half of the next morning trying to figure it out.  The shelter told me no, after a ridiculous amount of time on the phone with them.  The people at animal control had never had a problem with any dogs named Martha.  But, they had had issues with a stray who’d bit a number of joggers on the butt over the years, and the description that they had, of a large, vaguely-colored maybe-female could have applied to my dog!  She could have been a stray from that same litter.  Or, her unassuming alias might be a cover for a long run as an outlaw.

When a phone call I ran to answer from the bathroom turned out to be Sensei, I let loose a good strong stream of angry bad words on his ass.  He said he was having problems processing my debit card from last month’s dojo fees, and that I’d have to go in in-person to fix it.  I wondered briefly if he was going to try and extort me for more fighting.  But then, he was the one with something to hide; maybe he wanted me to take a bribe.

I went.  Lawyers ain’t cheap.

“Hey,” I said, trying to sound tough when I’d walked through the dojo doors.  Sensei nodded; he was in the middle of a children’s class.  The kids yelled in unison when Sensei told them all to practice and came to meet me by his desk against the rear wall.

“Hey,” I said toughly again, in case he’d missed it the first time.

“Hi,” said Sensei briefly, and started fumbling in his desk.  He came up with a handful of receipts and a smart phone.  “Look at this,” he told me, and put the phone in my hand.

It was a video he’d taken at the tournament.  I watched myself step into the ring, and I could hear the smirking of the crowd again, and its disappointed snorts when my rival joined me.  He was so awkward-looking it was gross.  I didn’t look bad.  Then the fight started and…fuck!  The thing that happened to me there, was fucking hot.  I’d have bought a copy if they’d sold the video, even it was two strangers I was watching.  I made that milkdud snap alive.  I made the whole snorting crowd turn into howling animals, we made spasms of pain and elation go through the people when our arms, our fists, our shins and heels made contact in the air.  And none of it after a point was awkward – our movements sharpened, and grew powerful, exhilarating.  I was, objectively, ravishing, and the guy I’d had to fight was looking actually fucking hot once I got him going.  The whole place in the background swayed and breathed on our command, and we didn’t know any of it but the power in the middle.  The shudder that went through me when my body took a real good hit, that left me gasping and somehow seeming more alive than the second before that, was a memory I’d thought lost and buried in shame.

And there I was, standing with a video in my hand, getting all hot and bothered again.  I swallowed.

Sensei was watching my face carefully.  “You’re good, you know.”

“So what?”  I snapped, acting not-turned-on.

“You know what.”  Sensei grunted.  “Lookit this.  Look at what we made.  This is you.  Who showed you this is how you do it, huh?  Who showed you how to be this?”

“I don’t owe you jack, buddy.”

“That’s not what I’m saying.  You want to leave my dojo, go right ahead.  Just remember everything that you’ll be leaving.”

A kid across the room was trying something fancy with his foot in the air.  He’d bust his ass any second now.   Sensei still watched my face, but not as carefully.  His lips were wry.

“You knew,” I said, almost not out loud.  He’d seen me for the horny, pulsing, craving freak I am the second I set foot on his floor, and he’d decided to keep me because addiction works out to more than the liability of strangeness on a spreadsheet.

“Yeah.”  He grunted.  I knew that we weren’t fighting anymore.

“Was I at least the one you were betting on?”

Sensei nodded.  “I bet on you.  I bet on Sam.  I didn’t bet on Than.”

“You bet against your own student?”  I hissed.  “See, this is why you’re not a good sensei.

“He lost, before you showed up.”  He touched the screen of his phone a few times, and a video of Than popped up.  Than had to fight a good-looking guy with a glass jaw.  I’d have bet on Than, if it was me.  Sensei was right though – Than lost, but good.  He took a power-house kick in the chest that laid him out flat, and before he could stand the pretty boy had jerked him off the mat and walloped him another time in the side of the face.  The refs called it nonchalantly in that guy’s favor.”

“What’d you do,” I snorted,  “Tell Than to throw his match?”

“That wasn’t baseball you just watched,” Sensei laughed.  “You couldn’t pay a guy to take a hit like that.  And if you did, he’d forget it the second he got out there.”

“Are you paying Than?”  I gasped.

“He’s paying me.”

“Oh, I’m not paying you!”  I shouted.  “Not ever again.”  Three of the kids stopped what they were doing and stared at me.  I decided it would be immature to stare back, and turned my body so I could only see the Sensei.  He was busy flattening out the crumpled receipts in his hand.

“I’ve already refunded your last month’s fees.  See?”

“I could join another dojo, you know.”

“No you couldn’t.”  Sensei shook his head, cocksure.  “Not the way we do it here.  Not the way you did it yesterday.  You go someplace else, they’ll stop you before you get like this.  You go to their competitions, the refs will stand in your way and block you.  You don’t want a sport.  No one will give you that but me. You got to places like this with me, and I guarantee you what you’re after.  You can stand in the ring and spar and there won’t be anyone pulling you to safety when you get in over your head – just you, just your instincts, dealing with it like you need to.”

I thought about Martha, and the way she might have been living in the woods before she met me.  I wondered what kind of people she’d lived with before.

“You’re making money.  I want money.”

Sensei looked around with a grimace.  “I don’t make a lot of money on the fighting.  It subsidizes kids and people who can’t afford lessons.”

“I don’t have healthcare.  I can’t fight without healthcare.  Give me four-hundred a month, I’ll stay.”

“You can’t find a cheaper plan than that?!”

I looked Sensei in the eyes, and he grumbled.

“Fine.”

“Then I’ll see you tonight.”

Crazy B – Installment #5

I almost didn’t go to the karate competition.  It was the day after Martha bit Greg’s butt, and I didn’t honestly feel up to it.  But Sensei kept calling and leaving messages on my machine expressing concern, and on the last message he was so near to begging that I picked up and told him, yeah, yeah, I’ll go, all right, see you there.  So then I had to shave my legs and put on clothes and kiss my dog goodbye to drive an hour to where the tournament was going on.

Sensei was waiting there with Thom and two other students.  He looked relieved to see me, which was kind of surprising because I thought if he was serious into tournaments like he said he was he wouldn’t sweat a little dinky local competition.  Thom nudged my shoulder and I stood by him, watching the sparring that was going on already.  It was Sam, that fucking firecracker, just demolishing a bear-shaped man whose strategy seemed to be to wait and brace against her attacks for the moment when she’d tire and make a mistake.  I wondered at first whether this was going to be one of those embarrassing PR fights where they put a woman against a man and just all the managers or his manly pride encourage him to lose and the female audience members act like they don’t notice and cheer like crazy for the woman to win.  A few of her kicks bounced off with shallow slapping sounds, but then she got in a jab that ended in a crack.

The big man wobbled and his sensei screamed at him across the ring, words I couldn’t make out because the rest of the crowd was also growing louder, and the whole time Sam kept striking.  The big man let out hisses, then lunged, finally, losing patience with himself.  That was stupid, because Sam was quick and sharp and tripped him without any effort really.  He stumbled out of the ring, so I thought the match was over.  But Sam followed him out, and launched herself at him through the air, kicking his shoulder and knocking him down.  My jaw dropped, and I looked sideways at Sensei.  He just stood there nodding quietly as Sam acted like she was going to continue beating the crap out of the big guy on the ground, until the referee, chuckling, called the match in Sam’s favor.  Sensei prodded me smugly as Sam returned to us, all hot breath and triumph.

“That’s…intense,” I murmured to Thom.  He didn’t answer – he was watching the entrance of the next two solemnly, and tilting his head just the tiniest bit in sync with the metal-pumping music they had on.  I suspected he was turning every match into some epic montage with his feelings.  Maybe he wasn’t the only one; there was a hyper-brilliance to the crowd, as if everyone in the room was taking this seriously but me.  Well, me and probably the ref.  He made fun of people sitting in the lowest tier of bleachers in-between matches.

Over the course of the next match, I felt the energy creep in despite myself.  There was a tall, lithe blonde lady battling a short, stubby girl with brown hair.  The stubby chick was kicking ass, and there was heartbreak and fury in the faces watching them at times.  At one point, the graceful blonde attacked with an arching scissor-kick; the stubby girl seized her calf and pulled, her eyes all crazy, and actually shook her opponent in the air before dropping her.  Watching it all seemed, to me, somehow perverse – like watching porn.  There was a cheap thrill ringing down my abdomen and toward my silken lady-place.  I’d rather be making the thrill myself.

The next match wasn’t nearly as interesting – a couple of big guys who spent most of the time, it looked like, hugging each other.  It was during that match that I noticed Carlos, my neighbor, sitting halfway up a set up bleachers on the other side of the arena.  He smiled, maybe at me – it was hard to tell across the room.  It looked like he winked, but I might have been mistaken.

There were two more matches after that, and then, they were announcing me over the loudspeaker.  I stepped into the ring with my fingertips tingling adventure and waited for my match.  They’d pitted me against somebody named Dave, and I could feel the crowd cool off and begin to squirm when he showed himself – a scrawny thing with nothing but weasel teeth to show beneath his nervous lips.  He was sloppy, even, in the way he moved – shuffling his feet towards me unevenly.  It disgusted me to watch him – made me want to beat the snot right out of his gross milkdrinker face.

The bell sounded, and Dave stumbled in toward me.  I cut him off at a very sharp angle with one leg and waited, the air of his surprise moving past me as his arms drew back, seeking balance.  It was then, for the first time, I found pleasure in his eyes.  Not his pleasure, mind you – mine.  The sense of falling gripped him, and moved like a light through his face.  I pushed, my foot against his chest, and watched his mouth pop open in one flickering moment’s scream – a silent one, but one my body heard.  I hooked my foot around him suddenly, heel jabbing very near but not quite on his spine and he straightened, flailing like a willow, though still with his face lit up.  I was moving, not to beat now, but all around this boy as if to kindle his horror, replanting fear in his stance with the slice of a forearm and jab of a palm.  He didn’t fall, but thought he might, and that feeling was a brightness coming out.  Before it melted away, I slid back and crack-slapped the half of his face that included some temple and an eye, some of his lips and his cheek, then ripped my hand away and watched, with distance between us, the shock well and ebb and the rage replace it and flood his eyes with natural, gushing force.  Now there was a fight.

The crowd on all sides swelled – you felt it – and the craving of my body made sweat like putty drip between my knees.  I laughed, dizzy when he came at me again – straight and strong this time, his dirty leaking nervous energy all sucked inside and springing only where he hit.  I blocked, but not in time; his palm met my ribs and pushed through, intent on breaking into me.  I gasped, body taut, then bending as a little stream rushed out of me in a burst of good feeling and down the one straight leg that bore my weight.  The other leg was coiled just above the ground. The small part of my arm that was blocking already had slammed his aside, turning his body on an invisible axis.  I snorted, finding balance enough in the time it took David to pivot and come back at me that I was able to high-kick the kid right in the jaw.  David stood too straight; the blow landed just beneath his chin and shot up, and you could almost see tremors ripple down through his tissue when his board-stiff figure fell.  TKfuckingO is what just happened.

The crowd around the ring was out of control; I felt the noise like drums against my skin, rough and vigorous.  All my nerves were stretching tensely in me, like the surface of a trampoline; everything my skin could feel fired through my neurons, unbearably acute.  The flapping of my ghee against my arm made me twitch three or four times in a row as I bowed at David and the medic tending to him.

All my pleasure had been running from my panties down the one leg most of my weight was on, and soaking into my sock.  The pants were loose enough I didn’t think anyone could see, but even if they did, I was covered in sweat.  No one would know what had happed.  For a second while I waited, twitching, for the announcement to come that I had won, the medic looked at me.  I had a flash of panic, thinking maybe he’d see this as some kind of seizure, insist on a full medical exam, and who knows what those medics would find?  Would they walk over to my Sensei, shaking their heads and saying, “We regret to inform you, sir, that your star fighter is actually a big horny freak who was only using this tournament as an excuse to get off”?

The moment passed, and I hurried from the fighting floor back to my group, where everyone gave me pats on the back and said what a great job I did.  Thom looked a little shocked; Sam suspicious.  Sensei had a wry sense of appreciation about his congratulations.  Maybe they couldn’t put it into words, but I was under the impression they’d sensed something sexual at work.

“That was a good match,” Thom said, after a speechless few minutes had already gone by.

*          *          *

Carlos came by a little later to congratulate me.  I wasn’t thrilled to see him – by then my adrenaline was gone and I could feel the bruises on my ribs whenever I breathed too big.  There was a tenderness in one of my arms, too, though it didn’t look any different.

“Are you going to be fighting soon?”  I asked.

“Already did – you didn’t see me?”

“I came in late.”

“So, evil!”

“Yeah!”  I snorted.  “Did you win your fight?  I won my fight.”

“I saw!”  Carlos’s eyebrows raised when he said this, as though he, too, had picked up on the sexiness and was both judging and impressed.

“Did you win your fight?”  I pressed.

“Lady, when you get to my level you don’t even keep track of single fights.  The average is all that’s important.  My average is way, way high.  As you can see, my belt is brown, making me uncontestably your superior.  This is why we’ll never fight, incidentally.”  He winked.  That bastard.

“That move you did at the end,” Carlos went on, “That wasn’t karate.  What was that? Where you stood with one leg completely straight and wiggled your foot while kicking?  It looked so dangerous.”

“What can I say?  I’m an innovator.  It’s a new move I invented – call it Crouching Bitch.”

“I will never call a lady such a thing.”

“Oh my God, I meant bitch like the animal bitch, because they’re sleek and powerful, not like the slang term for woman.  You really are a sexist, wow!”

Carlos grunted, looking past me.  I glanced at Sensei, who was returning to our group after a walk around the room.  “I didn’t know you were with his group,” Carlos muttered, close to my ear.

I laughed, although it hurt my bones.  “You take tribalism too seriously, like most men.  This will be your downfa –”

“No, I mean – seriously.  This is not a good dojo.”

“Yeah, they all told me to Sweep the Leg or I wasn’t their friend when I went out there, but I didn’t listen.”

Carlos looked at me quickly, then with a hand on my shoulder whispered for me to come with him and steered me back behind the bleachers when I moved my feet.  I thought I was going to get a chance to make fun of him for taking the first move despite his prior protests and for being so stereotypically high-school about it, but as soon as Carlos stopped walking he pointed through the gaps in the bleachers and said matter-of-factly, “Your guy’s mafia.  He’s making money on your ass.”

I looked through the gap in the bleachers and, sure enough, there was Sensei, folding up a wad of money and shoving it into his pants.  Probably his underwear, actually – his pants were too loose to contain money.

“Noo,” I said, laughing.  It all made sense, suddenly.  The extreme energy of the crowd, the strange amount of personal contact allowed by the ref, Sensei’s nervousness when I showed up late.  There must be bets out on all the fighters.

“Yes,” said Carlos.  “I’d never go to a tournament like this under a guy like that.  He’s making money on your ass, and if you get hurt you’re the one who’s going to have to pay for it.”

“Huh,” I said.

I went back to my group and nodded at Sensei.  “Can I talk to you about your lack of ethics?”

We stepped aside.  “What lack of ethics?”  Sensei was looking nervous again.

“I saw you collecting money that you got from making bets on m–”

“Shhhh!”  Sensei put his hands up, looking around.  He turned back to me with his eyes scrunched up.  “How do you think we’re keeping the dojo lights on?”

“Um, by charging money for those classes you teach?”

“I don’t charge half of what I should, and the students that can’t afford it don’t pay that much.”

“So you’re a good Samaritan just doing this out of kindness?”  Sensei looked away wryly.  I leaned in.  “I quit!”

I made for the parking lot, where I was just in time to see the tail end of a fistfight break out between a group of four guys who I was pretty sure had been losing money most of the day.  I blasted my music all the way home, and then when I got there I stopped in the driveway, staring at the porch.  A man in a suit was standing with a package in his hand, knocking on my door.  He ended up being a lawyer – Greg’s lawyer –  here to serve me up a lawsuit.  It seemed Greg was still mad at having teethmarks in his butt, and wanted compensation, in the form of my Martha being put to sleep.

So You Want to Be a Stripper…2

Last time, I gave you a list of things you shouldn’t do if you’re a first-time stripper. This time, I’m going to give you a more positive list, of things that will help you do your job with the best of them.  Some of them don’t really apply to male strippers. Sorry.

1. An Accountant  

If you have any plans for saving money, you’ll want to find yourself an accountant you can trust to be discreet.  Although there’s nothing at all illegal about stripping so long as you pay your taxes, you’ll probably want to get creative with the job title you report to the IRS.   Auditors have a certain amount of autonomy in deciding who gets screwed requires evaluation, and as people are more often interested in meeting an exotic dancer than, say, a freelance sociology consultant or a recreational investment coach.  Strip clubs get audited all the time by horny auditors who’s confidentiality clauses conveniently prevent their mention of it to spouses.

2. Stage Props

Your first time onstage will likely be a terrible show. Performing an unchoreographed dance while naked to a crowd you may not be able to see is pretty much THE quintessential human nightmare, that everyone dreams about and no one ever has to do. No one will remember this who looks at you. They will all assume you’re some superhuman impervious to stage fright, and will make demands for tricks that are far out of your league, or more intimidatingly call for you to “surprise” them, “show us something we’ve never seen before,” as though the wiles you’ve mastered over weeks are no big deal at all. Your adrenaline will probably fool you into thinking more time has passed than really has, and you’ll find yourself running out of things to do by the end of your last song.

A creative solution to many of these problems is to bring a prop or two onstage with you. Most clubs don’t restrict your use of creative elements on- or off-stage, so there’s plenty of room to invent. You might take a burlesque edge and bring fans, or glow-sticks, but be wary of bringing too many things that are easy to lose track of when you’re offstage and entertaining. In my experience, the best props are the ones you can easily incorporate into your costume.

Once, I made a costume out of six pinwheels on a string and cheekily demanded that the strangers sitting stage-side “blow me.”  The more you include the viewer in the show, the more enthusiasm you’ll create, and the less they’ll care what your level of expertise is on the pole. I’ve seen scarves and miniature hoops used effectively, but by far the most effective, basic prop in my experience is long hair that you can whip around to the beat of 80’s stripper music.

Whipping hair and other props create the illusion that you’re moving much more than you are, which is handy, because you get out of breath faster than you realize. When the adrenaline of living out a universal human nightmare runs out, you’ll be surprised by how thirsty, sweaty and tired you are if you’ve been moving a lot. Sometimes no one will sit by the stage, and at those moments you can toy with a flashy prop, expending no energy, until someone notices you.

3. Conversation Pieces

A lot of people don’t realize how important talking is in the world of stripping. You may be on stage once in four hours for three songs. The rest of the time you’ll be striking up conversations with strangers of all ages, nationalities and socio-economic statuses, one right after the other. Some of the best props onstage also can serve as great ice-breakers and conversation pieces later. Bubbles, for example, are the best. I and a friend made a few necklaces out of 35-cent cylindrical bubble dispensers that I painted metallic colors with nail polish and hot-glued onto chains. The tube-part of the necklaces were about the size of a pinky or thumb, but the odd shape caught peoples’ attention; guys couldn’t help asking, suspiciously, what I had around my neck.

“It’s a toy,” I’d always tell them. “Want to see me play with it?”

They’d respond, haltingly, “…Yes?” And be baffled when I blew bubbles over their shoulders instead of getting kinky.

My signature conversation piece for a long time was a miniature roll-away chess set that I kept in a black bag tied up by a drawstring. I’d never tell people what was in the long black bag swaying at my side unless the night was very slow, or someone had agreed to an hour in VIP. Then I’d un-swaddle the best and most stimulating of all the toys ever and set it up at the bar or footstool nearest. You’ve never played chess until you’ve played it with a naked, lovely stranger and a bottle of champagne.

4. The Right Kind of Shoes

Stripper shoes have heels that are at least six inches long.  This is an industry standard.  Don’t bother looking for “comfortable” shoes – there aren’t any, and anyway the job doesn’t call for much walking.  Champagne rooms are sitting, and dancing onstage is mainly climbing.  To that end, you’ll want shoes with a strip of leather, plastic or pleather across the top – something that can grip a steel pole.  All-fabric stilettos aren’t for strippers.  New people might want to look for knee-high or higher stripper boots, because the extra padding helps prevent bruises that you will get because you’re new and suck at climbing.

Also, boots can be unexpectedly useful, as I learned at one club where a fight between four dancers broke out on stage.  This started with an argument between a pair of entertainers who had just finished a set of dances and a pair of entertainers who were just entering the stage.  Their feud was long-standing, and the argument quickly turned into a lunging scuffle as security swarmed the platform.  The head of security was just lifting the feistiest dancer off of her victim when across the stage one of the young women involved dropped to the floor and started convulsing, compliments of a Taser her nemesis had deployed against her.

“Bitch, you’re naked!”  Screamed security.  “Where’d that Taser come from??”

Where, indeed.  Turns out, in fact, she was naked except for her thigh-high pleather stripper boots, and had been dancing all night with an electroshock device therein concealed.

This Old Man…and what makes him sick

This old man, he played one

He played knick-knack on my thumb

Knick-knack paddy whack

Give the dog the bone

This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played two

He played knick-knack on my shoe

Knick-knack paddy whack

Give the dog the bone

This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played three

He played knick-knack on my knee

Knick-knack paddy whack

Give the dog the bone

This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played four

He played knick-knack on my door

Knick-knack paddy whack

Give the dog the bone

This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played five

He played knick-knack on my hive

Knick-knack paddy whack

Give the dog the bone

This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played six

He played knick-knack with some sticks

Knick-knack paddy whack

Give the dog the bone

This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played seven

He played knick-knack up to

Heaven Knick-knack paddy whack

Give the dog the bone

This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played eight

He played knick-knack on my gate

Knick-knack paddy whack

Give the dog the bone

This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played nine

He played knick-knack on my spine

Knick-knack paddy whack

Give the dog the bone

This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played ten

He played knick-knack once again

Knick-knack paddy whack

Give the dog the bone

This old man came rolling home.

What kind of sick game is this knick-knack, you may wonder, snickering immaturely to yourself.  What kind of game can you play on someone’s thumb, and shoe, and knee, and door, and hive, and spine?  There must be some kind of innuendo there!  In fact, that’s all in your dirty mind.  I did actual research, with the internet, and found out that “knick knack” was what you called it when you beat out a particular rhythm with spoons.  The old man isn’t playing a game – he’s playing music.  Poorly.  According to our narrator, his first attempt is a count of one – a steady metronome carried out on the poor witness’s thumb.  The last line asserts the old man will later “come rolling home”, implying the narrator is a member of his immediate family.  Most likely, it’s the spoon-musician’s kid referring to him as the “old man.”

The old guy’s main characteristics so far are annoyingness.  Then comes the ominous, “Knick knack paddy wack” –and you get the sense that the old man’s knick-knacking has gotten out of control.  He’s taken his act far from the home – to a paddy, which dictionary.com assures me is basically a bog where you grow rice.  The knick-knacking ends abruptly here, with a “wack” – immediately followed by his dog receiving a bone.  Wading through the high paddy waters, it’s possible he accidentally wacked some small animal to death with his out-of-control spoon-music, and then goes home.

But it happens again the next day.  He starts out, again, annoyingly, smacking out a two-beat rhythm on his kid’s shoe.  Then finds himself again in the paddy, and again – wack!  And his dog gets a bone.  It’s not that easy to accidentally hit small animals with spoons.  Maybe he’s doing it on purpose.  Or – maybe we should be using the other definition of “wack”…the one that refers to the kills of crime rings.  The old man seems to have stumbled into the boggy dumping ground of some criminal element.  Rather than being disturbed or concerned, however, the gross old spoon-musician starts wrenching up decaying limbs to feed his dog.

Then he starts knick-knacking again the next day, to a count of three, continuing an increasingly ritualistic-looking pattern, where he spoon-bangs weird parts of his kid’s body, varying architectural crevices of symbolic importance and elements of the natural world then scurrying off to the paddy to gorge his hound on dead people.  Then he rolls around through the paddy until he finds his way home.  Apparently, he lives very near the paddy.  The paddy may even be his own land, and the rice growing there his own produce.  The young narrator does not venture a guess as to how the bodies came to be in his rice paddy; in his innocence, in fact, the horrifying tenor of what he’s describing seems to be taken light-heartedly as some funny, playful quirks of his father.  Perhaps the stringing-together in song of all the oddities he’s observed indicate a child at the very brink of discovering the grotesque darkness underlying every element of his little world.

Strippernomics

I know how to fix the economy, because I’m a stripper. What qualifies me, a lowly bejeweled naked person, to dictate the economic future of America, you may ask? Shut up, you, I’d respond. It so happens that my work environment is the last bastion of free market economics in America – the last ordinary place where supply and demand exist as actual driving forces removed from the hazards of management. Oh, you’re gonna get freaked out on me now, and go looking confused, right, because I say that management’s a fiscal hazard? You bet you will, since the odds of you having worked in an environment with zero management are about zero themselves, just like the odds of you being taught that the way to achieve financial success is not to go to school and train yourself to contain the skills some company or agency already in existence says it needs for you to have in order to fill a vacancy.

Or you, people at the top with all the money, think that you have made it and escaped all that, think that running a ship or owning one is proof that you know where we’re going? You believe it, don’t you, that the market speaks sweet nothings in your ear, and that the things you do are not bureaucracy? Pssh! It’s bull, my wealthy friends (whom I will likely see this Friday). It’s bull, because you know all about the law of averages, and you know it doesn’t matter what you sell as long as you advertise, and that contradicts everything they think about supply and demand – you create demand, because you can, and your supply is anything you want to have, cause you can pay for it. The old rules are your legends now. And you saw Wolf of Wall Street, too, and knew all about it beforehand anyway – how the economy pumps out wealth and the game that people at the top play is just to find the ways to harvest fruits that fall, as much as you can, as fast as you can. Your job is to manage wealth, not create it, to surf the crests of our economy and find the grooves most shallow to linger in when our crashes shake the waters down below. The economy comes from – God knows where – people existing? Population? It just happens, and the biggest and strongest and smartest and fastest take what exists for themselves because they can, and because Darwin spoke of competition as our surest glory, where in the market all the big and strong and smart and fast you have makes you the best and anyone can rise to the top who is as good as you, and anyone else might grab ahold of your enterprise and also rise – not as much, but as much as they are bigger and stronger and faster and smarter than others underneath them.

I do not belong to either of your groups. I exist at the bottom of the economy – the very pits of it, where no one looks, and everything happens. I am your invisible hand. Go to a strip club – any club, and ask for a lap dance. Ask for an hour in VIP. An entertainer can sit you down and, without showing you anything you haven’t seen in a million unrated documentaries, without touching or being touched, fill you with a force of pleasure worth a twenty or two or three. Sit by the stage and watch the dollars pour out in honor of this presence – a veritable Stone Soup of wealth happening before your eyes, where castaway capital multiplies and becomes meaningful again. Look at that entertainer – who, however fat or thin, old or young, scarred or smooth, is a master of experience. Your stripper knows how to create value out of thin air. And he does it, consistently. She employs others with her earnings – paying out to the doormen, the dj, the establishment’s overseer. And leaves with cash – cash! – the all-but-forgotten currency which alone directly translates the magic of your experiences into tangible haves.

This is the magical dream to which Republicans and Libertarians refer when appealing to the rest of the country on behalf of a free market – the dream of a land where you are only as limited as you allow yourself to be, and where there is no sin in pursuit of glory or desire, because your each and every indulgence supports the works of others. And this, great land, has been remanded to the grotesque realm of symbol, danced around and spoken of in tones of worship, fallen in love with, and never believed in.

You can measure, physically, the shame of a pure-hearted capitalist by the feet of bureaucratic exile constraining strip clubs to municipal nethers and peripheries. You can hear it in references to “exotic” entertainment – as though the nude and sexual were unusual forces, other to the human psyche. As though the shame that greets an out-of-the-closet creative who prefers to draw in the park or write in the basement or drive around touring in a band or looking for work as an actor than get a **real** job is a shame of a different nature. Collectively, what our society has done is agree to pretend that entertainment and creativity are not real forces that impact our economy. Collectively, we prefer to allow these scary things to exist as ideological aberrations, unexplained, unexamined, stamped out where possible and just happening elsewhere. No one responsible would feed them.

So it is that when economists speak of fiscal reality, what they’ll reference nine times out of ten is a system like a rocket ship – one of finite resource. Growth exists not in terms of idea, but in terms of population – the more bodies fueling the systems that we already created, the bigger the systems will get. This form of growth is but a loophole, of course, to stay the accursed sensation of standing completely still. The alternatives to practical stasis are, to management, carts gone off the track. Ideas are dangerous – surprising geysers, knocking some systems sideways, always disruptive, never very easy to predict. It should surprise no one to consider that management has a vested interest in maintaining, which comes at odds with novelty. Nor that ownership, itself, is a thing of management. No one managed can afford to talk about job creation in its own context – that of industry creation. No one dares breathe a word about such impossible dreams, for fear of being laughed out of the world of hard mathematical reality, on account of no one seems to know or dare to ask where the systems we have now all came from. And risk, perhaps, knowing that the base and savior of wealth is not thing, but notion.

The world as it is will not suffer creation to grease its wheels, and hence it snags, too often. Good luck finding anyone to invest in a new idea. Oh, you want to start a Laotian restaurant? People out here have never heard of Laos –make it Thai food and we’ll see what we can do. Oh, you want to run for office as an independent? That won’t work – we’ll tell people you belong to this party and have this other politician standing next to you at each event to show everyone you think just like she does. Newness has no track record, no statistical data to prove it is good; it cannot be run through your number machine. Its worth is still subjective, meaning the responsibility for ascribing value to it has not been owned. Who, in the publishing industry, would dare to read a manuscript by some no-name author, and perhaps enjoy it, only to have no one else in the world agree? Don’t you dare tell anyone who calls your office what you really thought about the quality of your last employee’s work – just confirm the dates she worked there and move on. Opinions are ideas, and ideas are out of control. Old ideas are fairy-tales and newness can lose money. Only in strip clubs is that ok – only where the music’s loud and the lights are dim and the alcohol gives you excuses for being swept away by forces apart from calculation. More than most might care to admit, ideas are a liability, and that makes them guilty pleasures you really can’t afford.

This is a problem. The prospect of saving our economy is hopeless if you’re looking at it as a collection of finite systems, where the whole economy boils down to one great pyramid scheme. Surge and burst, surge and burst, and at first it’s a bunch of calamities, but then you buy into what everybody’s saying about it being the natural cycle of things and then it becomes inevitable that one day the basis of your economy will collapse underneath you and everybody’s racing to the top with a grave calm explained only by the fact that no one allows themselves the luxury of imagining what it would be like if the economy did, in fact, collapse.

Thankfully, I’m a stripper. You’re welcome. I’ve adopted other, better models, based on the wildly impossible premise that is my birthright as a bad girl. I look at wheat, once worthless, and smile, thinking of the freaks like me who first tried to boil and eat it. Then it became food, and wealth, rampant wealth, growing under everybody’s feet. Go back further than that, to the first genesis of who we are as people, when fire was a force as alien and scary as the lightning, sweeping through the forest, eating up our value. One crazy asshole decided not to run away, and came back with a branch of it. One crazy fuck decided not to let the others in the tribe stomp it out, and kept it burning, finding what it liked to eat and feeding it, a terrible pet and luxury.

How long do you think it took for us to come to grips with having that around? How long before we wanted it, to have forever – such that when it died, we went looking through the trees for its source? One day, someone with a pair of sticks kept banging them together, making too much noise and wasting too much time, and feeling at his fingers a heat he couldn’t explain. One ordinary day, some lucky weirdo learned how to draw a spark from dead, dry wood – the spark of what might have seemed the force of God itself, power of life and death, heat to cook and heat to keep the house while we moved from hot savannah into cold unknowns.

Everything changed with that spark, and everybody changed, and that’s who we are, now – ordinary animals, except for our magic. Except for we figure out sometimes how to make things appear where nothing was before. That’s how we made God’s lightning go running through lines in the ground, and it’s how we got under the ocean and into the sky and past the sky to other worlds. The stories are wrong that tell us our fire was stolen from some other people and some other place. It wasn’t stolen – we made it. We are the gods. Though only the bad girl may say it.

Economy is not who can own what that already is, and the longer we believe this myth, the longer we will suffer. They’ll tell you investment is, you give me 2 today and I’ll give you three tomorrow. That’s wrong. Investment is, I’ll sit here rubbing sticks with nothing to show you for hours, and you fight off the foxes while I work. Neither of us knows what will come of it, but something drives me to discover, and something in you makes you want to trust my vision, though no known math can prove my vision’s worth.

Think about the ways your economic sense is capped by the thought that wealth is finite, that there is only so much to go around. You’re all worried about distribution, when what you should be worried about is creation, like, as a thing, that you take serious. I don’t give a shit how rich you are. Make as much as you want, and more power to you. But are you worried that if you value full-time employees in proportion to what was valued in the 50’s, when the 40-hour-work-week for one person was able to support a large family, that there won’t be as much wealth left over for you to have? Have you failed as a result to factor employees’ time in full as part of the cost of doing business, supposing their leisure a luxury that has no effect on you? Have you watched the burgeoning of a new business jealously, certain that people spending money there won’t be spending money here? Have you been afraid to grant yourself time to fuck around, because it’s selfish to spend money or time on things that others don’t understand? Or have you kept your wildest ideas a secret for fear they’d be stolen or disowned?

When people believe it a human right to fuck around, things will start to change. When the delusions of finality are gone, and new businesses springing up are neither seeking nor supposed to be in competition with those that already exist, there will be more businesses. There will be more leisure time, when leisure time is valued as a cost of living, and not an excess. There will be more ideas, when we accept that there are new ideas to be had, and someone claiming to have a good idea is not expected to disguise it as something established and proven already. New money will come, when we make it.

Crazy B – Installment 4

Greg followed so closely on his motorcycle I was afraid he’d bump into my car at every stop.  I thought of the dog, and whether she’d be cool with having a stranger in the house.  Then I told myself to shut up because my dog wasn’t the one in charge.

Greg waited on his bike for me to shut off my car and re-apply some lip balm when we’d pulled into my driveway, then seemed to realize suddenly that he’d be able to further impress on me the perfectness of his manhood if he opened my door before I did.  He saw me reaching for the handle; I saw him seeing me (though I’m sure he didn’t see me seeing him seeing me), and so I knew that when he tripped over himself and darted to my side of the car, it was only in the semi-conscious vein of a marathon runner glimpsing a runaway pinwheel – any stunning turning thing was reason enough to hurry.  Of course he was too late, but that didn’t stop him from extending his hand to help me walk around the open door and then slamming it shut.  He fell into step behind me after that, as I jangled my keys snarkily against my outer thigh.

My living room came first, through the front door.  The kitchen was beyond it; rooms were wings on either side.  I turned to face Greg, steps inside the doorway, and he shut the door, then moved toward me – remembering my instructions, to his credit, and not wasting my time with pretense.  It was a similar rush to the one I’d had at the bar when it was Walt storming toward me with the wild aroma of ice and cayenne pepper rising in a cloud against his bristled skin.  Greg’s arms went around me, steady and strong, and his eyes bore down into mine with less rage but no less intensity.  He also had feelings there in his face – tender ones of love and honesty.  I slapped his face so he’d get the point that that’s not what this was about, and he moved me against the wall, grunting through his nose, but not feeling bad.  He even let his eyes close when he leaned forward, pressing his nose to my neck and inhaling – and inhaling.  His mouth opened up on my neck, but still he was only breathing in, and his tongue in his mouth made a sound like he was tasting me just from the scent.  I wanted to scream for impatience – this breathy touch was giving me unsteady longing.  I could feel through his jaw the movement of his tongue, reaching out just too, too slowly.  All the air in the cave of my breath would be satiated by his temperature and his vapor and in the instant before his tongue was there my skin forgot it didn’t belong to his mouth.  There was his mouth then, closing around me, his tongue hungry and his teeth clamping down, and all I wanted was for him to finish the job and swallow the part of my neck where I felt my heart throb.  His hands on my back had found their way under my shirt, and unhooking my bra from behind had just stayed, feeling my skin.  I couldn’t comprehend why he should leave my bra hanging loose in front and neglected, and the mystery of what he wanted had me shuddering forward into his chest.  His palms were rough but moved as if to savor.  Incomprehensible, why calloused skin like his should linger and feel and whatever he felt he was loving and feeling again – a space between my shoulder blades and down to the plain, normal space of my back that no one ever had told anyone before was sexy, hands on either side of my spine not squeezing, just holding.  That’s when my first, gushing wave of pleasure made its way into my panties, and I let out my moan.

“You like that?”  Greg grunted in my ears, and dropped his hands, excited.  He went to his knees and dove under my skirt, abruptly bringing down my under-linen.  He was too excited to wait another second – his mouth went seeking out my clit, his tongue smothering – warm, but boring.  In his excitement, he’d totally lost his handle on the slow, devastating sensuality I’d instructed him to have and thought for a second he did.  I heard my own groan of disgruntlement, which Greg might almost certainly have taken for pleasure, but a skeptical snort surprised me.  It turned out to only be Martha, head on her paws in the kitchen as she judgmentally watched.

“Ha!”  I said, and Greg stopped.

“What?”

“It tickles.”

“Oh.  Sorry.  Want me to – ”

“Carry me into the bedroom now.”

He grinned and stood, flipping me into his arms, which was fun and which I wished he would do now over and over and not even bother with sex anymore.  He pushed open the door to my bedroom when I pointed it out and, ignoring the piles of paper strewn over my floor, laid me down on the bed.

“God, you’re beautiful,” Greg whispered.  I slapped his face to get that stupid look out of his eyes, but it was too late –he was acting all in love.  He moaned against the sting of my palm, his lips working upward and tenderness blaring all over his face, but then seemed to register the feeling as a command to hurry up and not have foreplay.  He pulled off my skirt, my wet panties, and tried to get my blouse off by himself but I smacked his hand away before he could yank off any of those little buttons and undid them, one by one, myself.  When my shirt was off he shoved aside my floppy bra and leaned in, catching a nipple with his teeth and sucking air past it, slapping with the wet side of his tongue, then backed his mouth away.  Then he set his whole mouth like a hoover down around that buoyant tit and sucked, and kept sucking while he pulled a crinkled condom out of his pocket and yanked off his pants and his boxers.  He stopped the mouthwork for long enough to squint as if confused at the condom in his hand, then peel it out of the wrapper and roll it down over his dong.  He pushed his dick in without further ado, and I sighed away what remained of those first high expectations.  I could feel that he had a plan to impress me, consisting mainly of going too fast and having loud celebratory grunts, and some bored part of me considered using my hips to flip the man over to do the work myself.  I hypothesized his face would shift from excited focus to bewildered apprehension.

Greg caught his breath, suddenly, picking up my sarcastic inner dialogue by the smile I’d let slip.  I pressed my lips against his and torqued open his mouth to let my tongue slither in.  That made him forget that I was thinking things.  Greg went back to thrusting way too fast, and I focused my body around his, waiting on his every pulsing plunge, swelling with pleasure at my brain’s command in reward of pattern recognition.  Some snatch of song went through my mind, some fleeting impression of crushing fun chaos.  Then, Greg stopped.  I could feel by the place in my throat that normally breathed the beat of my heart caught in the middle, and in my vagina the dashing of already-meagre expectation.  Greg started again, slower than before, and I gave up my breath to the air, feeling around his shoving in the hope of finding some sustainable rhythm.  No such luck, and Greg stopped again, for no reason.

“What’s wrong?”  I hissed.  The condom was beginning to stick.

“Nothing,” he said, trying to stroke my forehead, as if that would make me forget.

“Never mind!”  I snarled, jerking my head away from his hand.  “Do your job!”

“What?”  Greg gasped, trying not to laugh.

I smiled, privately calculating how many times I’d be able to slap him before it became offensive.  “Hurry, up!”  I pushed my pelvis into his.  That seemed to catch him off-guard, as I’d suspected.  Greg pushed into me, deeply again, and I tried to pull him in by his butt, but it was a saggy butt and I couldn’t gain much leverage.  I remembered the pounding-rubbing karate exercises, and found a spark of my own pleasure to work with.  I could feel myself getting ready to come.  We went on about ten minutes like that, with Greg stopping suddenly for no reason no matter what I tried to get him acting properly.  My powers of self-persuasion were no match for his suckiness; every time he stopped I’d have to convince my body to gear up for a new rhythm, and every time he broke the rhythm the pleasure was harder to draw out.   I’m better at sex than this.  I can come waterfalls with any mediocre partner.  Now all my fluid seemed to have retracted back into deep, buried wells, never more to burble up in the presence of this doof.  Greg moaned suddenly, and paused; I stifled a disgruntled huff and took his hips in my hand, intent on pulling him in and keeping what little momentum I’d managed to build up to that point, but at the apex of my tug, Greg came.

It wasn’t the way that normal men come; he yelped out loud and his eyes bulged out of his head.  I only knew he’d come because of the way I could feel his heart beating in the head of his cock inside of me; if it weren’t for that, his reaction might have made me think he’d had some type of heart attack.  It wasn’t until I heard the snort that I peeked over Greg’s shoulder and understood; his scream was because of Martha.  She was leaning on the bed, her forepaws resting on Greg’s thighs and her great teeth buried in his ass.

“Martha!”  I gasped.  She cocked her head innocently to the side, still with her teeth in Greg, which just struck me as really terribly funny.  Greg let out a terrified whimper, and I went to comfort him, but then his popping eyes and open mouth of horror got to me and I couldn’t keep myself from laughing.  I couldn’t hide it, either, because we were naked and our bodies were pressed together, including his dick being still inside of me – then my body responded to the titters and the bizarity by suddenly letting loose my pent-up come, and I paused in the laughter to pleasantly moan.  Greg saw that I was not as concerned as he was about my growling dog with her teeth in his butt, and so he made a high-pitched whine and started trying to wiggle himself free of her grasp, his shrinking cock flopping gingerly inside its condom pocket.  That tickled; I laughed again.

“Stop,” I tried to say three times.  “Your squirming tickles me!”

Greg didn’t talk, just kept wiggling with his eyes all wide and his mouth making shrieky sounds while I started one of those giggling fits where trying to stop only makes it worse.  It didn’t help that his dick was flaccid as a pollywog and making the latex skim over my juicy nerves as gingerly as ribbons in the wind.

“Fucking…”

Greg at last managed to free himself from Martha’s grasp, his withered dick dropping coldly out of my body, and rolled out of me and out of bed onto the crumpled up drafts of my latest fantasy against the wall.  His eyes kept welling with betrayal and apprehension and the condom no longer swaddled his cock but was chocking half his shaft, with flesh muffining over the rim, and halfway to falling off, the seamen-weighted end swaying to and fro as he positioned his body one way and another, unsure of where to step with the dog on the bed looking down at him and his clothes on the other side of the room.

I put my arms around Martha’s neck to give Greg a chance to escape, but I could tell by the shock in his eyes that he’d misunderstood my intention – maybe because I still had a smile and was laughing just a bit.  He stomped to where his clothes were across the floor and went out of the room, slamming my bedroom door and holding it shut (it sounded like) while he put his clothes back on.

“Please, Greg – don’t be sad,” I called through the door.  “We can try it again, all right?”

There were angry inarticulate noises in response.  I became a bit indignant, because it was my house and he was holding the door and he didn’t even consider the fact that my vagina was chaffed from having bad sex.  “You did come, you know!”  I reminded him.  Then he shouted some things that were rude and could have been referring to me or to my dog, and because Martha knew sass when she heard it she bounded across the room and wound up with her front paws on the door, barking a deep thundering bark at Greg, who stopped making noises and probably ran away.  In a minute I heard his motorcycle kick into life outside and then hum away down the street.

Martha looked at me when we heard that and wagged her tail, evidently expecting a treat.  I gave it to her.  I didn’t know how she got the idea that when a man is bad in bed it’s good to bite him in the butt, but I was sure her intentions were pure.  I wondered if it had something to do with the day I’d tried to teach her to attack people on command.  Maybe Greg or me had used one of the safewords I’d forgotten.