I find myself alone and temporarily without a ride home in a nearly empty Vegas strip club. I order a twelve dollar Bud Light and find a seat on a bench about thirty feet to the side of the main stage. I’m not into it. The place is like an after-hours ghost town; it’s how I imagine the Playboy mansion once the jumpsuited cleanup crew shows up.
I figure I can get through this without incident. I just want to nurse my beer, wait for my friends and get back to my favorite bank of video poker machines in front of the Venetian’s sportsbook.
But then two of the strippers approach from the darkness and sandwich me. They’re both sporting plexiglas heels, neon lipstick and the powerful and perennial perfume that has driven more than a few married men to deposit that night’s outerwear into a hotel dumpster. Still, I’m not in the mood for twenty dollar romance or two cents of small talk. I give that vibe. Clearly. It’s my usual vibe in social situations. I’m not interested. I don’t want to chat. And even if I did, I really can’t think of anything to say, especially when it comes to questions like, where are you from, what do you like to do for fun, and have you ever been with two girls?
I answer the last question with another: You mean in real life or at a strip club?
Aside from a few details I stole from Don Draper’s secret life, it was my first complete sentence of the evening. My one-word answers and lack of enthusiasm were intended to be a way of saying that while I wish them well, I’m just not feeling it.
I excuse myself to use the restroom — it was my first fake bathroom trip since I was in Mr. Callahan’s seventh grade math class. The second I peek out of the men’s room door, they wave to me to come back over. Foiled.
Then comes the kind of conversation I dread. How come you’re so quiet? Maybe you need another drink. One says to the other, he never says anything. Aren’t you into having a good time? You’re making us feel bad. Come on, say something. Talk.
Disaster. This is, frankly, a reaction I often get in my real life. But such an interrogation seems off-limits in a place where I am paying double-digit dollars for a single-digit brew. I get frustrated and uncomfortable. Thinking of responses becomes even more strained. Am I really being harangued for not being interesting and talkative enough for the employees of a low-grade strip joint?
As I nervously grip the iPhone in my pocket, it hits me. I need to bring the conversation back to my turf. I then pull a line out of my repertoire that might have sounded dated even if I had said it a decade and a half ago.
“So, you girls use the internet?”
Jackpot. Over the next fifteen minutes, I own the conversation. I lecture on the pros and cons of the realtime web, suggest ways it could be used as a marketing tool for someone in their profession, give a demonstration on blogging from an iPhone and advise one of the dancers on the most effective way to remove a person or application from her Facebook stream. At one point, I’m on such a roll that I almost invite the two ladies to the back room for a private lesson in retweeting.
I don’t know why I didn’t think of talking about this stuff earlier. With combined user numbers pushing a billion people, Facebook and Twitter have become the new universal language.
The strippers are so enthusiastic about the hardcore user knowledge I was dropping on them, I half expect them to slide me a few twenties. I had to settle for another Bud Light on the house.
I hope I’m not breaking any strip club rules by sharing this story with you. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But everyone knows that when it comes to the internet, the opposite is true.