Shawn sent me a message yesterday that he’ll be in Malibu tomorrow for a week. I have off Thursday, so obviously, we’re hanging out.
Shawn was my boss at the Gloucester County Times. I consider this the only “real” job I ever had (at least my parents and other older family members probably think so). Real defined by two things: salary and benefits. Actually, Shawn’s the reason I was hired. I had interned at Comcast 8 the summer before my senior year of college. Shawn worked there so I saw him a lot. Then after I graduated, I went back and freelanced for them – doing mostly camera at high school sporting events and graduations. He was great; always joking around, always making me feel part of the group – but still not hesitating to tell me what to do. One day, he asked me a question. “Linds, can you write?” I was a little thrown off. Yea, I can write. All I could think was that English was my favorite subject and I always enjoyed writing essays. He proceeded to tell me that a girl at the paper who covered sports was leaving for another job. She had the field hockey beat, and they needed a replacement. Shawn knew I knew field hockey. He knew I loved it. But can you write?
I was basically put to the test and sent out to cover some kind of team sport. Instead of going back to the office after the game, I went back to my house and hand wrote it, then went back to the office to type it up (it took me a while to write directly into the computer). I got the job. I can write, and I like sports, and they needed someone who knew field hockey.
And so began my year and a half with the sports crew at the GCTimes. Shawn, Matt, Bill, Chappie, Kaiser, Rob, Paws, Tim Hawk, and Deuce (since you’re probably reading). I didn’t get paid that great, but for a girl just out of college and living at home with her parents, it was a sweet deal. The actual sports department was really just six attached cubicles – three facing each other. You really get to know each other in such tight quarters. I don’t think there was ever a night that I didn’t laugh. We got the job done, but we had fun doing it.
I didn’t get out much in those days – maybe Saturday night if I was lucky. But every Thursday night, the boys and I would head over to Cap’n Cats, a local bar. Throwdown Thursday we liked to call it during work hours. Basically, you were free to make fun of people and say whatever the hell you wanted – throw it down. After hours, it became Thirsty Thursday. Now we’re all friends again, drinking and having a good time (probably still making fun of each other). Cap’n Cats was the best. Carol was hopefully our bartender, because she could put up with all of us and still seem to enjoy our company. A key element was the oyster crackers. Instead of your typical pretzels and nuts out (which most places don’t do anymore), there were containers of oyster crackers – big and little. I was partial to the small ones. The perfect salty snack to go with our drinks (blue moon or red wine for me). And to top it all off was the jukebox. We had full reign because on a Thursday night at midnight, we might be the only people in the bar. I don’t know how it happened, or when it happened, but one night I played a Gin Blossoms song on the jukebox. I guess I played them a lot, because Shawn made a comment about it. Not just a comment – he never does that. He goes on to explain what goes on at the Stetson household, that we grew up listening to Gin Blossoms and whenever we get together we have Gin Blossoms parties and jam out and sing along. Sarah may or may not have been there for this first revelation (she worked at Cap’n Cats, so some nights she’d stay and hang out), but she, like me, loves the Gin Blossoms, so we just played along. The Gin Blossoms are a Stetson household favorite.
To date, Shawn is the best boss I ever had. He managed to be my boss and my friend at the same time. We had a lot of heart-to-hearts, and still check in on each other from time to time. Thursday is the first time seeing him in I don’t know how many years. If I’m going out with Shawn, I know I’m going to have fun.
I drive over to his friend “Zeke’s” house in Malibu (they went to high school together at Clearview). Zeke is in quotation marks because he asked that I not use his real name. I told him I don’t use last names (usually), but that wasn’t enough to convince him. So “Zeke” has a sick place right on the beach, and only less than 10 miles from my apartment. We hang out for a couple hours, catching up and drinking some beers. Shawn is the same as always; completely engaged in a conversation while also thinking about four other things. “You know what the problem is?” What’s that, Shawn? “I’m addicted to fun.” Yes, I know. So where are we going tonight?
“Zeke” says we’re meeting their other friend and also a Clearview graduate, “Louis,” at a bar called Plan B. Great name. Every time I say it out loud I’m just like, man, that is a great name. When I confirm that I’m going, “Zeke” does a little backtracking. “Well we can just meet him there and then go somewhere else if you want, because it’s a strip club.” Ohhhhhh. Right. Well. I’ve never been to a strip club. Yea, I’ll go. (Anything for the blog!)
I drive us over to Plan B in Santa Monica. I’m not going to lie. I’m a little excited. We’re carded at the door and then have to walk through a turnstile before entering through an enormous black curtain. Oh wow, are we going on a ride? This is so cool. Once inside, we grab a small table in the middle of the room. The place is dark, except for these little old fashioned looking lamps on our table. For some reason it reminds me of Goodfellas. There’s only two girls dancing at once – one on the main stage and one on a smaller, higher, side stage. I always thought these places would be massive, with black walls and girls dancing all over the place. But it’s small, and intimate, and actually nice. Technically, this isn’t a strip club because the girls don’t get naked. Most of them are pretty much in bras and thongs. I’m completely fascinated by it all. I find myself staring at the girls while the guys have their own conversation without even noticing them. “Zeke” asks me to use my “young eyes” to pick out the pretty ones. It’s really dark, so it’s hard to tell – have to catch them in a certain light. Most of them aren’t like, super pretty, but they do have really nice bodies. And I could never do what they do – walk around in barely anything and dance on stage in front of a bunch of strangers. They must have a lot of guts. I’m so impressed. Not to mention their dancing skills, or really, their pole skills. I have no idea how they get into some of those positions.
Shawn gives me one of his life lessons, as he so often does. It’s one of his rules. “I never touch a girl until she touches me first.” “Zeke” disagrees, saying that some girls are waiting for the guy to touch her first. I have to agree with Shawn. It’s genius actually, because if you can make a girl want to touch you first, then you actually have a good shot. “Louis” arrives (another one who wants to remain anonymous), looking a little too comfortable in his surroundings, like this is his Friday night spot. I ask them if we’re allowed to take pictures and they all look at me like I’m insane. “Yea, if you want to get arrested.” Damn, I really wanted to get a picture in here.
They ask if Mike will care that I’m here. I’ve already texted Mike a bunch of times and he hasn’t answered – he worked an early shift at American Idol and fell asleep at 6:30. He’s probably still passed out, but no, I don’t think he will care. There’s no reason for a guy to get mad a girl for going to a strip club. I’m looking at a bunch of girls. Shawn offers some more of his wisdom. “Actually, a strip club is the safest place for a guy to be (if he has a girlfriend). You’re not allowed to touch girls here, and it’s not like you’re having a real conversation with any of them. They just want your money.” I never thought of it like that, but it makes total sense.
It’s about 12:30 and I’m driving so I say bye to the boys. Shawn walks me out while we wait for the valet to bring around my car. The bouncer starts talking to us and I’m still excited about the whole experience and decide to tell him. Guess what? “What?” This is my first time at a strip club. “Well, technically it’s a bikini bar. They don’t get naked.” Oh. So they get completely naked at a strip club? “Are you serious? Did you really just say that? Can you say that again and record it?” OK, OK. I get it. I’m a little naive when it comes to all this. Cut me a break, it’s my first time.