Chapter 6 – The Morality of Hiring Strippers for the Mentally Handicapped
Since when I break long stints of sobriety it’s never done so by a single drunken fuck-up but a series of them, the two weekends following Dusty’s and my trip to the Cleveland Organ Grinder’s Ball were marred by similar alcoholic blunders.
The first of these subsequent booze-fueled boners had taken place amid a popular strip of bars on Lee Street in suburban Cleveland Heights. After pounding a hundred bucks worth of double Jameson’s on the rocks and getting cut off at every establishment to which my quest for more had led me, I staggered into some late night gyro restaurant, sat down at a table full of thirty-something-year-old black women who all had big hair and long nails and began helping myself to whatever happened to be on their plates.
As you might imagine, strangers sticking their hands in your food is not something most people take lightly and The Real Housewives of Cleveland had been no exception to this rule. It’d only taken about two minutes of my unwarranted plundering before I found myself being dragged out of the establishment by employees whom I’d been threatening to kill. I was subsequently picked up by police and, after calmly displaying a high level of competence in spite of being soused, I was deemed non-threatening and given a free ride home.
The next time out, I’d gotten trashed on whiskey and made my roommate Kevin drive me to some strip club I’d heard about while listening, on the radio, to one of Cleveland’s hip-hop and R&B stations. Sure, I was horny, but I don’t know why I went to the strip club. Strip clubs don’t do anything for me. I can’t really enjoy myself at strip clubs because I feel that people who frequent them for pussy are incapable of getting it under normal circumstances and the thought of me not being able to get pussy from being who I am is tantamount to castration.
So, even though the idea of getting pussy is why I made this poor bastard drive me all the way to the titty bar, I had a bad attitude the whole time I was there and wouldn’t give in to my primal urges. I acted like I was better than everyone around me who’d been – to some pitiful extent – enjoying themselves and decided to play hard to get with employees. Each time when offered a lap dance, I’d decline, say that I preferred to talk and would try to ask these strippers out on dates which, admittedly, was a pretty fucking pathetic display. After having gotten shot down a few times because, after all, I was just another loser at a strip club, I resorted to being an asshole to spare my fragile feelings from being hurt.
“Hey sweetie,” some chick in lingerie said as she began straddling one of my legs, “do you want a dance?”
“Yeah, sure. But only if you tell me the funniest place you’ve ever taken a shit. Like, you ever diarrhea through your thong on some dude when giving him a lap dance or some shit like that?”
“That’s like, a really personal question,” she responded. “Wouldn’t you rather just have a dance?”
“No, I honestly wouldn’t. I’d rather hear the funniest place you’ve ever taken a shit.”
The chick not-surprisingly walked away and I went on to do the same thing to the next one and the next one until we’d finally decided to make our exit from that jizz-stained nightmare.
Just because I feel so negatively about hookers and strippers and strip clubs as well as the men who frequent them – myself especially included – that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel as if there are exceptions which make that sort of thing acceptable. I think it’s okay to pay for lovin’ if your chances of getting it on your own are slim to none.
For example, it’s pretty well-known that acclaimed genius Stephen Hawking is a regular at the booty clubs. And, to me, that’s cool. I like to imagine his old busted ass in that wheelchair typing phrases like “Oh yeah, gimme some more” and “Clap that ass like hands” on his robotronic-sounding communication device while some fly honey backs her thang up right in his grill. I mean, why not, right? That sort of thing would never happen for that guy if sex couldn’t be bought with money. Maybe I’ve been hangin’ out with the wrong chicks, but I haven’t met any thus far who – with no prospect of monetary retribution on the horizon – are a.) sexy enough for a man to want her to stick her ass in his face, b.) slutty enough to do it, c.) so not-shallow that they could overlook Stephen Hawking’s putrid physical appearance and d.) intelligent and nerdy enough to appreciate and actually be turned on by some crippled dude who spends all his time theorizing about complex universal processes.
I don’t know, maybe some people don’t agree with me. Or maybe some people do agree with me here and say that it’s okay for physically handicapped guys to enjoy strippers but it’s not cool for mentally handicapped guys to enjoy them because some bleeding hearts take it upon themselves to decide that “they don’t know better” or “it’s confusing for them.”
I bring this up because there’d been a time in my life when I thought it’d be cool to hold a party where we hired a stripper for a friend who has Down syndrome. Zeedis is his name and he’s highly functional. In fact, he’s so functional that he writes songs on the reg and has sung the national anthem at major league baseball games. And unless I’m totally delusional, Zeedis loved every minute of the stripper party that we held for him over half-a-decade ago. Nevertheless, some people – one guy in particular actually – who was morally opposed to the party decided to show up anyway, got all pissed off and tried to ruin it for everybody else by chucking beers into the crowd, shoving people around and acting like a total asshole.
It was later brought to my attention that this angry individual had a family member who had Down syndrome and he felt like we were in some way exploiting Zeedis which hadn’t been the case at all. Sure, he was the center of attention. It was a party for him – the sign we hung at the front of the bar had even said “Zeedis Visit, Private Party.” But the point that was missed is that the whole thing was a celebration of who Zeedis is. In no way was it a “let’s get a couple hundred people together to point and laugh at a retard” type of party that this motherfucker had perceived it as and tried to make it out to be. If he would’ve taken one look at the smile on Zeedis’s face or, better yet, spoken to him over a beer, he would’ve seen just how fuckin’ wrong he was about the whole thing. But he refused to do so and instead threw a tantrum, making himself look like a huge jackass to everyone at the party.
When I first got to Marquette University, I shared a room with a random dude named Tommy. I lucked out. I could’ve ended up with some smelly kid or some chronic masturbator who’d always leave his beat-rags and crusty socks laying around, but I didn’t. I had Tommy and Tommy turned out to be one of the coolest dudes I’ve ever met.
Over the first couple months at school together, as Tommy and I had been getting to know one another, I noticed that he’d often spend his evenings video chatting with a Down syndrome dude. And after having spent a decent amount of time sharing the same cubicle of a living space together, I eventually felt comfortable enough to ask him about the interactions.
“Oh, that’s Zeedis,” he said. “He’s my buddy from back home.”
Through a little more elaboration, I learned that Tommy and Zeedis had met each other back in kindergarten. And since they’d gotten along so well, Zeedis’s parents – with Tommy’s permission, of course – requested that they be put in the same homeroom together every ensuing year until the end of high school.
Every Zeedis story that Tommy told me from their youth spent together was fucking hilarious. One of my favorites had been the time that Tommy let Zeedis pump the gas into his car…or maybe I should say “all over” his car. I suppose Tommy thought it would be okay and didn’t bother to pay attention until he could hear Zeedis calling for help with a terrified look on his face as he held the nozzle up in the air with the trigger clenched as gasoline sprayed in every direction. Thankfully no one lit up a cigarette as one of the male models had in Zoolander, prompting the unforgettable “freak gasoline fight accident.”
My roommate then played a song on his computer that Zeedis had written and recorded after their high school graduation when he knew Tommy would be going away to school and he wouldn’t. It’s called “Let’s Not Say Goodbye.” With the lyrics “Say so long, See you later, I wish you luck wherever life takes you” forming the chorus, “Let’s Not Say Goodbye” immediately struck me as one of the most god damn touching songs I’ve ever heard. And as I’d alluded to, Tommy never said goodbye. After going away to school, he continued video-chatting with the Zeed-Man on an almost nightly basis.
During one of these video conferences, Tom introduced me to his buddy back home and Zeedis didn’t like me right off the bat. He said that I was “a gay Nazi Jew with gay feet.” I didn’t mind his dislike for me. Basing my impression of him off all the things Tommy had told me, I still thought he was one of the most interesting characters I’d encountered in my young life. So, instead of directly communicating with Zeedis during the chats and getting called contradictory slurs that don’t apply to me, I’d often sit to the side and listen or play a background role in their conversations.
From what I could pick up on during these exchanges, Zeedis was quite the ladies’ man. He’d constantly be asking Tom about all the “college babes.” He’d ask about their “hot eggs” and their “hot V’s” – these being his terms for breasts and vaginas, respectively. And when Tommy would tell him just how awesome all the eggs and V’s were that he’d been getting, Zeedis would show his enthusiasm by giggling hysterically, clapping his hands and shouting out his catchphrase “Sick help!” which translates roughly to “sweet,” “tight” or “bitchin’.”
Above hot eggs and hot V’s, Zeedis valued one female body part more than any other. The kid was a sucker for “hot feet.” And one time Tommy and I had a little fun with his foot fetish while video chatting from our dorm room.
“Hey Zeedis,” Tommy said into his computer screen, “I got a babe in our room right now. She’s really hot too.”
“No way!” Zeedis exclaimed. “Aw, sick help!”
“Yeah man. And she’s got some of the hottest feet I’ve ever seen.”
“Aw, sick help!” he laughed. “Let me see Tom! Let me see her hot feet!”
“Alright, hold on. I gotta ask her first.” He looked over towards me. “Hey, my friend Zeedis wants to see your sexy feet. You think you could show him?” Without getting any real response, he looked back over to Zeedis who’d been eagerly anticipating the affirmative. “Yeah man. She said she’s gonna show you.”
He started laughing and clapping. Seconds later, from the side of the camera’s view, I stuck my bare foot up around Tommy’s shoulder and held it there for him to ogle.
“Oh my god! So hot Tom! Hot feet!” he again clapped and giggled as I pulled my foot away, ending the peep show.
I admit, we were having some fun at Zeedis’s expense, but no harm was done. We never told him it was a guy’s foot he’d been getting all hot and bothered about. And besides, we’d end up more than making it up to him during each of his annual visits to Marquette University.
Following some assuring of and coordination with Zeedis’s parents, Tommy picked our guest of honor up from Milwaukee’s Amtrak Station on what I believe had been a Saturday in February of 2007. The two of them spent most of the afternoon exploring the campus while I slept off a hangover in McCormick Hall. In the early evening, Tommy and Zeedis returned to the dorm room and for the first time, I met the man behind the computer face to face. Despite his making a comment about how gay I was – “gay lad” I believe was the term he used to describe what he’d thought of me – it was an honor to finally make his acquaintance.
Since Tommy was always on top of things, while they were out he’d already picked up a 24-case of Miller Lite and snuck it into the building via his backpack. The three of us then spent the first part of the low key evening enjoying what Zeedis referred to as “getting wasted and doing guy stuff” – ya know, eating pizza, drinking beer, playing poker, listening to Kenny Chesney and talking about hot babes. He was fuckin’ lovin’ it.
Around about nine o’clock or so, three or four of our jerk-off buddies came around to see what we were doing. In between slugs of Miller Lite, Zeedis informed them we were doing guy stuff. They immediately took a liking to Zeedis and decided that they too wanted to do guy stuff. Since we were nearly out of beer, the other guys didn’t have any of their own and Milwaukee stops selling take-out at nine o’clock, going to a bar seemed to be the only way to keep the party going. The only minor dilemma was that Zeedis didn’t have a fake ID and due to obvious liability reasons, most bars aren’t too eager to let underage Down syndrome guys get trashed at their establishments.
“Fuck it,” Tommy said, “let’s just go to O’Brady’s.”
O’Brady’s is a place that has appeared in many of my stories. It’s gone now, but when we were back in college it was a filthy shithole of a bar seemingly built into the living room of somebody’s house that had carpeted floors and would regularly host five-dollar all-you-can-drink, unlimited keg parties for those not old enough to booze legally. We were regulars at the place during our freshman year and when we arrived with Zeedis, Tommy explained our situation to the owner – the chain-smoking middle-aged woman who always sat at the front of the bar near the door – and she gladly welcomed him into her place of business.
In addition to the six or seven of us college kids, there’d been a handful of beat-down blue-collared locals posted up at the bar drowning their sorrows in bottles of Schlitz, Blatz and PBR. Once we’d gotten settled in, had a few more beers of our own and took control of the jukebox, Zeedis began galloping around the room with a bottle in his hand while singing along to some Kenny Chesney. His elation had been so contagious that all the working class barflies couldn’t help but crack a smile at his child-like giddiness. The Zeedster was the center of attention. He was a natural. The kid was a star.
As everyone in the bar clapped and cheered Zeedis on while he sang and danced for the crowd, some dude and his girlfriend or wife walked into the front door of O’Brady’s. They were locals and regulars and judging by the looks on their faces, they’d never before walked into the place to see the entire population of the pub mesmerized by the vocal performance of some drunk-ass Down syndrome dude. After about a minute, the woman who’d just walked in fell head over heels in love with the man of the hour.
“Oh my god,” she said, “he’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!”
I suppose I should’ve been able to tell from the tight black pants, the tight black see-thru top and the amount of make-up this thirty-something-year-old chick had been wearing, but it turns out that she was a stripper who’d just gotten off duty from a local club called Art’s Performing Center. After getting permission from her man and from Zeedis, she sat him down on one of the couches near the pool table in the back of the bar and started giving my man a lap dance. Never in my life have I seen a grin as shit-eating as the one that had overtaken Zeedis’s face when this woman began to rub her tits, ass and crotch all over it.
At one point in the dance, Zeedis looked over at us and said, “Tom, I have the biggest boner in the world right now!” We all laughed before he followed up with the somewhat confusing line, “Should I flick it – should I flick my boner?”
I turned to Tommy to ask if I’d heard him right.
“Did he just ask if he should flick his boner?”
“Yeah, he does that,” Tommy explained. “When he gets boners in public, he learned he can make ‘em go away by flicking his mushroom.”
My roommate left his buddy’s question unanswered but I noticed he decided on his own to go ahead and throw a few awkward flicks at the pants-ripping protuberance throughout the duration of the dance.
Zeedis’d had such a good time that night that when he got home, he wrote and recorded a song about the experience called “Raining in Milwaukee” which was really cool in spite of the fact that it hadn’t rained a drop during his visit – if anything, it probably snowed.
For almost an entire year, Zeedis would ask Tommy each and every time they video-chatted when he could visit next. After procrastinating the whole first half of our sophomore year, Tommy told Zeedis that he could come up and visit at the end of January 2008. In the weeks leading up to the big day, when the two besties would be communicating through their iMacs, Zeedis would demonstrate for Tom his application of as much Chapstick as humanly possible to get his perpetually cracked and bloody lips ready for kissing all the babes. Also during one of these chats, Zeedis declared that, “I want to have phone sex with myself.” Regardless of what that actually means or might entail, I took it as Zeedis’s way of telling us just how fucking pumped he was for Round 2 up at Marquette University.
With Zeedis Weekend impending, Tommy and I sat around and discussed what we could do for our bro that would top his visit the year before. After our free-flowing exchange of ideas, we decided to have a full-fledged five-dollar all-you-can-drink party for him at O’Brady’s. We also decided to get him a fake ID so he could get the satisfaction of personally being the one that bought the beer for our pregame. And of course, to ensure he got sufficient attention from at least one babe, using my debit card for the down payment, we decided to hire some two-hundred dollar stripper to get naked and shake it up for the benefit of The Zeed-Man.
After we picked Zeedis up from the train station on the big day, we went out to Chipotle for dinner and then over to a place in a Mexican part of town called National Liquor Mart. It was there in the parking lot that we presented Zeedis with his first and only fake ID. It was a Texas ID we’d happened to find on the floor of a bar one night while partying in downtown Milwaukee. It belonged to some forty-year-old dude named Donald who had a goatee and some serious gin blossoms all over his face. I swear he and Zeedis couldn’t have looked less alike if the guy in the photo had been a black dude with a 90s-ass flat top.
Nevertheless, Zeedis marched into that place where mariachi music had been blaring over the store’s speaker system, grabbed a twenty-four pack of Lites from the cooler and walked up to the counter with the confidence and swagger of a seasoned porn star veteran doing his fourth doggy-style scene of the day. Without evening being asked for it, he whipped out Donald’s Texas ID and handed it to the illegal Mexican behind the counter who’d probably have sold a carton of smokes to a ten-year-old girl scout without thinking twice about it. By the time he walked outta there with a case in hand, Zeedis had been so happy, I’m fairly certain he had a boner that was in need of a good flicking.
Following the great triumph, we went back to our room to start the party off. As he sat at my desk chugging beers, I let Zeedis watch some porn on my laptop. The same way he had when I stuck my foot into the side of the camera view and Tommy told him it belonged to a hot girl while video-chatting, he sat there in front of the screen laughing and clapping his hands while occasionally expressing his jubilation with lines such as, “God damn, this is so hawt!” and “Hohohohoho, fuck yeah!”
At some point during the pregame after we’d decided to turn off the porn – he liked it so much that we were worried he’d take home a new habit his parents wouldn’t be too fond of – my then-girlfriend Lauren walked into the room and sat down on the bed. Zeedis didn’t speak to her directly, but made a request of her through me.
“Tim, can you tell your girlfriend to show me her feet?”
And I did. And she took off her socks, flashed him all ten toes and he loved it. And soon after, we went to the packed-to-capacity party we threw at O’Brady’s just for him where he danced with and got kisses from babes of all shapes and sizes while drinking all the beer his little heart desired. And when the time came, one special babe took off her top for Zeedis and proceeded to rub her “hot eggs” and “hot V” all over him while he sat on the same couch as the year beforehand. He giggled and clapped – as did most everyone around him…that is, everyone except the aforementioned troublemaker who couldn’t see that we’d all been laughing with Zeedis and not at him.