Quarters With The Chippendales

Quarters With the Chippendales

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I see the Chippendales dancers are doing a tour this year, including in my home town. I guess we have “Magic Mike” to thank for dredging back up the franchise; I thought they were defunct for a while.

I have a Chippendales story.

My first job out of college, I worked in Manhattan as a researcher with a major entertainment company. It was a lousy, entry-level job that only sounded exciting. There was one definite perk, though:  I constantly received postcards from city venues advertising special pricing and parties and such.

My buddy Sharon worked across the hall from me in the file room.  She lived in Jackson Heights, right over the 59th Street Bridge, and she owned a little Jeep. And oh yeah—Sharon was gorgeous, and boy-crazy, and never said no to anything. Like I explained in the story about the bass player, since going out in the city was a complex and often dangerous undertaking for young women, we had a pact:  Whenever one of us wanted to go somewhere, the other would agree to do it with them. It was the buddy system.

We were symbiotic:  I shared my special-event invitations; Sharon provided transportation home and let me stay the night at her house. I provided the classy Long Island college girl vibe; she delivered the Queens there’s-nothing-I-won’t-try bravado.

A postcard arrived on my desk for special admission to the Chippendales show.quarters 1

We got there early and claimed a decent table by the show floor. A shirtless guy in a bow tie, white cuffs, and black spandex pants introduced himself as Steven Our Waiter. He had Italian looking hair and nice cheek bones, but was kind of boyish compared to the dancers advertised on the billboards, and was not much taller than me. Sharon was immediately smitten, and started ordering glasses of wine like crazy.

Steven appeared and disappeared at our table throughout the show, as various dancers did their schticks, sometimes backed by a chorus of other guys. One guy was the fireman, one was the cowboy, one was the businessman, one was a cop… it was like the Village People on Broadway. There were about six different acts from individual guys, leading up to the Finale Guy, who slid all over a motorcycle seat in a g-string while colored lights splashed on him like an AC/DC concert.

Once the show was finished, the women were let loose on the floor to dance off their energies for another hour. The male dancers stayed around to take photos with the patrons; the line was an hour long. Sharon and I skipped the photograph, but did our share of dancing and drinking and hollering.

Late in the night, she took me aside. Steven Our Waiter stood behind her.

“Steven’s done with his shift,” she said to me. “We’re gonna take a walk.”
“A walk?” I said. “It’s 2:00 a.m.”
“Then maybe we’ll drive around.”

It did not escape me why she was going off with Steven. She had a habit of showing up somewhere with one person and leaving with another, never to return.

“Sharon, in your Jeep?” She didn’t have one of those big Jeeps with storage capacity and sturdy sides and such. She had a Suzuki Samurai, a two-seater with zip-up plastic sides. It was almost a golf cart.

“You’re leaving me here?” I said. “By myself?”

“We won’t be long.”

I knew there was no stopping Sharon when she wanted to … take a walk. There’s no way she was going to pass up the opportunity to get with a guy from Chippendales.

“I swear to God, you better come back,” I said. Although she lived right over the bridge, I didn’t. I lived at the outer edge of Queens, one of the very last numbered streets in the borough. 262nd Street in Floral Park. It was a distance no cab would travel from Manhattan. If you could even find one at that hour.

Half an hour, I promise,” she said. Shirtless Steven loomed in the background.

Then they were gone.

I downed another couple of drinks at our table and listened to the music. An hour went by, me looking rather pathetic at a table by myself, watching a bunch of screaming, jazzed-up women decimate the dance floor.

The line to take photos with the dancers started to wane. An MC announced they were closing. Sharon was still nowhere to be seen. In an era before cell phones, this was a problem.

Never has a woman felt so awkward as to find herself alone at a table in the middle of the Chippendales Club at 3:00 a.m. When almost everyone else in the place has cleared out. And you have no way home.

A couple of dancers paced by, giving me suspicious looks. Finally I flagged down one of the more sympathetic-looking guys, who had obviously been wondering what my problem was. He was not one of the headline dancers, but I recognized him from the show.

“I’m looking for a waiter named Steven,” I said. “He took off with my friend, and she’s my ride home. Does anybody know how to track him down?”

Close-up, the dancer guy seemed much older than I originally thought, maybe in his thirties, which when I was 22 seemed like a much more functional adult than I would ever be. Still, he was hardly wearing clothing.

“That’s so Steven,” he said. He sounded like any old Joe I might meet at work. I don’t know why I expected him to have some deep resounding voice, or a Mediterranean accent.

“Yeah, and that’s so Sharon,” I said. They were meant for each other. “I’m a little worried. I live practically on Long Island, so I don’t know what I’m gonna do if they don’t come back.”

“Wait here,” the guy said. “I’ll see if anyone knows how to find him.”

I thanked him profusely. He disappeared into some backstage area. Dancers and waiters had been milling in and out, some of them back into jeans and regular shirts. Once the guys determined I wasn’t a stalker, several of them stopped to say they were sorry to hear I got stranded at their club. By one of their waiters, yet.

The original guy—let’s call him Dan—came back out and sat with me. He had changed into street wear.

“Steven’s clothes and his keys are still in his locker, so he’ll probably be back here tonight,” said Dan.

“God, I hope so.”

“He’s going to get an earful when he does,” Dan said. “But don’t worry. We’ll stay here with you until those two show up. We don’t want you hanging around alone on the street at this hour.”

“You guys don’t know how much I appreciate this,” I said. “You’re much nicer than I would have guessed.”

“What were you expecting?” Dan laughed. “We’re pretty ordinary. Half these guys are a mess. See Charlie over there, with the long hair?”
“Yeah.” Charlie’s hair was rather lovely.
Plugs,” Dan said.

I laughed. “You’re kidding.”

“Not at all. He’s a huge drama boy.”

“Really?”

“Absolutely. And Tom who did the routine with the fire hose?”

“Yeah?”

“He’s forty-six.”

“No way!”

“Yeah. Married with four kids.”

“Anything else I should know?”

“Can you keep your mouth shut?” He leaned in. “Did you see Mark, with the motorcycle?”

“You couldn’t miss Mark with the motorcycle,” I said.

“Did you notice that scar across his glute?”

“I don’t like to stare …” I said.

Dan whispered… “His girlfriend cut him.”

“Holy shit, really?”

“You better not breathe a word of this to anyone,” he said. “I’ll probably get fired if you do.”

I crossed my heart.  “Not a word. As long as you don’t toss me out on the street.”quarters 1

After another ten minutes with no Steven or Sharon, I had a whole table of Chippendales drinking a round of shift beers with me. The lights went up in the place, which then looked like a banal warehouse, with lunch tables and a railed-off wooden floor in the middle.

When Sharon finally strolled in, she found me and the guys in the middle of a rousing game of quarters, hooting and hollering. Just me and the Chippendales, 45 minutes after closing the place down.

I was so effing pissed at her.

 

 

 

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If 50 is the New 40, Is 25 the New 15?

Here’s my first blog appearing in the Huffington Post/Post50 Section.  Somebody had to say it!

Anyone who’d like to read it directly online, click here.

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Suzanne Grieco Mattaboni Blogger, fiction writer, PR professional and over-sharer on www.copywritelife.com, @suzmattaboni

Posted: 11/30/2015 8:00 am EST Updated: 11/30/2015 8:00 am EST

Years ago, I dreamed of a woman who stood at the end of a road. Low-dropping sun backlit her hair. She waved. She had pretty much knocked out all the hard stuff. When she smiled, a knot in the pit of my stomach dissolved.

She was me, after completing 20 years of life tasks.

At 51, I’ve finally caught up with that woman. Both my children have charged out the door to college, my husband and I still like each other, and my public relations consulting career is at a pinnacle.

Sure, I miss having accurate vision, a near-photographic memory and an unfairly rapid metabolism. I miss not having to dye-out my graylights every month. But more or less, I wonder what everyone has been crying about.

Being over 50 is a blast.

I’m just going to say it: Menopause is a blast.

I dare anyone to look back on their life and not have something — or if you’re myself, 10 somethings — you wish you could have done in an alternate life. Even we Wonder Women of the ’80s and ’90s, who coined the phrase “Have It All,” likely had to prioritize our outrageous ambitions to focus on the things that demanded our greater attention. Now we can do those other things.

And here’s the kicker, ladies: Not only do we get to pursue these secondary goals without our beloved offspring drooling on our shoulders, we can do so without tampons. Or cramps. We can do these things without ridiculous food cravings and handfuls of aspirin and heating pads and birth control pills. Best of all (cue impressive kettle drum-roll, building to a cymbal crash):

We can do them without PMS.

When I turned 21, my body evolved, like a mutant X-person. I thanked my Maker for finally bestowing me with boobs. But I noticed a strange, cyclical phenomenon akin to someone whispering a mantra in my ear all day: Everything is wrong, all the time! Everything!

I’d been lucky enough to live 20 years as a stable and consistent person, I thought, but that was over. And so it proceeded each month for 30 years. Those hormones were in force for decades, for the privilege of popping out two children.

When I turned 50 and the spigot began to toggle off, so to speak, I was sad. I had no further genetic material to offer the world, unless I chose to be cloned.

Then the happiness set in. And stayed.

It hit me: I AM FREE from hormonal bondage.

So here I am: not the skinny, laser-focused nymph I was, by far. But thanks to years of aerobics and substantial servings of vegetables, I’m strong. Thanks to decades of professional diligence, I have more money in my pocket than I imagined for myself. And I am no longer subject to bloating, mood swings, pharmaceutical side effects, or drug store products that I’m embarrassed to hand the cashier.

It’s like being a man.

I’ve thought about launching a platform on the topic. I’d call it Continuation Nation©. If I have to publicly admit I am in this age bracket, I might as well celebrate it and establish a brand.

Except I feel guilty about one thing: We tail-end baby boomers (including men) have better nutrition and moisturizers and work-out regimens, better cancer therapies and prevention programs and replacement joints than any generation before us. We’ve developed technologies that allow us to work from our cushy dens. Meanwhile, the Social Security system is wheezing to a halt, and the tradition of pensions is becoming a dim memory.

So we keep working.

And we wonder why our sons and daughters can’t find employment. We are a big reason why. We are the waning end of the largest population spike in modern history, and we refuse to step down, either in the marketplace or in the greater cultural consciousness. We early-50-somethings consider ourselves far too essential to pass the torch. And financially, we’re not even sure we can afford to, long-term.

Keep in mind: If 50 is the new 40, then 25 becomes the new 15.

This could be why our post-college kids continue to inhabit their childhood bedrooms.

Although I’m confronting middle age with verve, I worry if I’m doing so at the expense of the very peer group we post-primers birthed and raised.

All I can hope is that there will be room for all of us in the professional and culturrear viewal landscape going forward. And that by maintaining vital pursuits, I can transfer my expertise and connections to my children, to help further their own objectives. This is something the secretarial, mid-century generation before us did not have the opportunity to provide, no matter how giving they were otherwise.

There is yin and yang to everything. Even being fabulous at 50.