And now I’m here. Walking in this town in Kansas. Walking away from a sad, ugly strip club thinking of the strip club Fred brought me to in Omaha.
Fred had just gotten the job as head of security at Brandeis Department Store. To celebrate, he arranged a babysitter for the kids and took me and Maria “out on the town”. I guess “out on the town” in Omaha for Fred meant going to strip clubs with his girlfriend and nineteen-year-old housemate.
Of course, my adult self has all kinds of ideas about Fred’s possible motivation for this. He may have been looking to show his girlfriend and this naive white boy from Minnesota what he, the cool Fred Berdine could do now that he was in the city. The city he’d manipulated me and Maria into getting him to.
Fred could also have been casing these places. Checking them out for some kind of scam. We could have been unwitting actors in a setup. Some new con, or even one he’d been planning all along, since before we all got to Omaha. He certainly looked as if he’d been here before.
Who knows? Perhaps Fred was honestly just out for a good time and thought it would be entertaining to see how Maria and I (but especially me) would react. The whole evening, his demeanor was of a man trying to impress everybody. It could have been a ruse, or just part of his personality. Fred may have simply been honestly comfortable for the first time since I’d known him.
Um… I doubt that last bit. I chuckle now at the thought. Even using the word “honestly” in anyway regarding that lying SOB Fred… heh. NOT!
Whatever his plan was for us being there, Maria and I were the only customers who were not black in every club Fred took us to that night. Maria was a particularly light-skinned Mexican and I of course was whiter than white. And Fred made that fact very clear at every opportunity.
He was constantly commenting on my whiteness and how much I stood out in these black clubs. But if Fred was hoping to enjoy watching me be scared by that, he was waisting his time. I never felt threatened at all. If this was part of a setup, the plan couldn’t have had anything to do with that.
At the last club we went to, Fred suddenly did something completely different from what was becoming almost routine by then. Previously, he took the lead from the moment we entered each place and insisted on doing all the talking. In those other clubs, he’d also always had Maria sit closest to me, as if she was my date. Fred would then flirt with the waitresses and strippers. Looking at us and winking. Showing us how cool he was.
The cool Fred Berdine.
This time however, Fred took Maria by the arm and kept her close. He gestured for me to enter first and once inside, sat between me and his girlfriend. Fred then just sat there quietly, looking at me as if he was waiting for me to speak.
So I ordered a drink for myself and asked Maria and Fred what they wanted.
Fred seemed disappointed by the way I was conducting myself. After several minutes of watching me in this place, watching me NOT flirt with the waitress (other than being the polite young man I was) and not even once talk to the strippers, Fred suddenly went back to his previous manner. When I failed to pay much attention to the one white stripper in the place, he was visibly annoyed and took over. “For me.” (Fred actually said “let me take over for you” or some such thing). Only now, he began treating me with an almost contemptuous regard.
My adult self now is speculating that in those other clubs, Fred had been modeling the behavior he was hoping to see me follow. Once he indicated it was my turn to do so, I was to show him how cool I could be. As if I was supposed to have known all along that this was “cool guy in a strip club 101”.
I guess I failed the class. I was not a “cool guy” and it was becoming clear that I was not going to be a “cool guy”. I think I had stopped seeing Fred as cool back in Norfolk when it became pretty clear (and now in Omaha it was certain) that he was not going to follow through with his promise of us going on the road with his rock band.
Since I no longer saw Fred as cool, there was no way I was going to act the way he did. I think now he must have seen that. Still, he must have decided that I should get one more lesson on how it’s done.
Fred called the one white stripper in the place to our table, indicated that she was to be with me and started chatting her up.
Her name was “Candy”. Oh that was perfect! Fred immediately followed with the most obvious of lines. How sweet she looked and “Couldn’t you just eat this sweet thing right up Brian?” Fred nearly laughed out loud at Candy’s cute little voice and insisted I touch her bleached white hair. He wasn’t going for subtle now. I’m sure Fred no longer thought I could handle anything in this world (his world) and was now doing this for his enjoyment only.
So he quickly asked Candy how much to fuck me and when she said “a hundred and seven dollars”… (yea, that’s right) Fred then did laugh out loud. He made a broad gesture to wipe his face and looked at me. “Well Brian, your call. Is eating this Candy worth one hundred and seven bucks?”
I said nothing and we all then got up and left.