May This essay is derived from a guest lecture at Harvard, which incorporated an earlier talk at Northeastern.
Whatsapp I walked past the stage and sat down at the bar, the neon lights illuminating my pink teddy, shadowed eyes, and crimson lips. I ordered my first drink of the night and took inventory of the club. There were a few listless customers scattered around, hunching over bar stools, and a dancer circling the pole.
I waved over a colleague, a transplant from Manchester with hair extensions that kissed her velvet garter belt. We grumbled about how slow business was until I spotted a paunchy man at the bar.
He was short, with a tuft of gray hair and a slight smile that crinkled his eyes. He was also more animated than the others. I started off light, asking about his day and his job. His smile widened across his face as my eyes met his.
I silently counted to 10 and reminded myself to look away for a second — best not to terrify him.
I switched my gaze to the top of his nose to put a boundary between us. It was time to either close the sale or walk away. After two years in the industry, I knew which customers were worth investing in — not this guy. So, I led him into the corner, which opened up to the club like the bow of a ship, public and safe, for one quick dance.
I processed events after the fact with tenuous evaluation, like peeling off layers of old wallpaper. At the time, it was not something I had words to explain, so I turned the blame on myself. Whenever I struggled to understand if someone was angry or bored, I went home and berated myself for being lazy, ditzy, and dumb as I obsessively evaluated the night.
I just needed to try harder to be more present, I told myself. One time, I went to a dinner party my sister hosted. A few of her colleagues and friends sat around her table while we snacked on hummus and bread, and someone asked about my recent trip to Europe.
I rambled incessantly, illustrating the nightclubs, the hostels I stayed in, even how I bled through my powder-blue dress because I forgot to change my tampon.
I can see their faces now, wide-eyed and uncomfortable, but at the time they coalesced into one indistinguishable figure, Dave Matthews playing in the background taking precedent. So, I meticulously designed a persona who nodded at the right time, rehearsed lines, smiled when appropriate, monitored personal space, spoke quietly.
Before going out, I crafted notecards, scribbling how long to talk about acceptable topics and which to stay clear of altogether, like my period, in small talk.
The persona was a mask that helped me appear to interact in the moment, but in reality I crept by, three paces behind everyone else. I settled temporarily in a bustling beach town at the edge of Melbourne and needed money to pay off my student debt.
I considered a bar job, but decided to try stripping simply because it meant fewer hours. When I walked into a club to ask for a job, to my surprise, I realized it was just a bar with the usual roles reversed: I was intrigued, but confused — how did they convince customers to spend money off-stage?
The manager looked at my petite frame and nervous smile, pointed her manicured hand to the dressing room and listed the rules: You get one free drink. No drugs on the floor. Hundreds of customers came and went during the hour shift, sitting on plush couches and crowding around the bar.
All but one dismissed me. I sat at the bar to observe, sipping my free champagne. One dancer particularly stood out with her naturally frizzy curls and tattered black bra. From the bar, I saw her sitting alone on one of the upholstered couches that lined the back of the club. I took a deep breath and approached her, brushing aside the fringe curtain separating the lap dance room from the bar.
It was getting late, two hours before closing, and I was exhausted and frustrated. I thought about packing up and never coming back, but I needed this to work out. She stared at me with a bored expression, so I got right to it. Make them pay big bucks if they want to dump their shit on you.
You sound like a child. She saw right through my mask.The Statement of Purpose is probably one of the most misunderstood aspects of graduate applications. Most students pass it off like it is just another essay about themselves, and naturally, write monotonous stuff that doesn’t stand out.
The Statement of Purpose is probably one of the most misunderstood aspects of graduate applications. Most students pass it off like it is just another essay about themselves, and naturally, write monotonous stuff that doesn’t stand out. 🔥Citing and more! Add citations directly into your paper, Check for unintentional plagiarism and check for writing mistakes.
Hi Erin, Thank you for your essay. I am so sorry for your loss and the loss that it represents to your discipline. In large part, I attribute the endless cycle of adjunct appointments that my partner went through (and is currently going through – going on 6 years) to the .
May (This essay is derived from a guest lecture at Harvard, which incorporated an earlier talk at Northeastern.) When I finished grad school in computer science I went to art school to study painting.
Salome Jens Salome Jens has appeared in lead roles on Broadway in Far Country, Night Life, The Disenchanted, Patriot For Me, A Lie of the Mind.