Stripper Shoes for Larry
Intimacy between Courtney and her husband Larry had become less and less frequent. Larry spent his time in strip clubs or looking at Internet porn. Courtney no longer seemed to excite him. She still managed to capture the attention of her male coworkers, but her husband seemed only interested in strippers and porn stars.
Tonight Larry wanted to be with her, and it was business as usual; he wanted her to pretend she was someone else. That seemed to be the only way she could get him aroused these days.
He presented her with a shoe box. She opened it, and found a pair of bright red stripper shoes inside. They were the gaudiest things Courtney had ever seen. The pumps had the highest heels she’d ever seen, and they had leg straps.
“I want you to pretend you're a stripper,” said Larry.
She agreed to wear the shoes. “Let me go upstairs and put them on just for you.”
She went upstairs, went to the closet, and pulled out a suitcase. She started grabbing all of the clothes she had hanging in the closet, and stuffed them into the bag. She heard him coming up the stairs behind her, so she closed the door.
“I can’t wait to see you in those stripper shoes,” he said.
“Give me five minutes, Larry.”
She continued packing the suitcase with her undergarments, pants, shirts, and skirts. She was fed up with this lie she was living. If he wanted strippers and porn stars so badly, she’d let him have them. But he wouldn’t have her. Not anymore. She was still fairly young at 35 and she would find a man who appreciated her for who she really was. Never again would she pretend to be someone else so her loser hubby could fantasize about other women with her permission.
She felt warm tears on her face now, but wasn’t sure if they were tears of sadness or tears of joy. Probably joy, she thought. She felt free for the first time in a decade. Her mother and friends had been right; Larry was no good. He was a loser, and he’d always been one. How had she been so blind? How had she missed all of the signs?
“Are you wearing the stripper shoes?” he asked.
“I’m almost ready, baby.”
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I’ve got a big surprise for you.”
“What is it?”
She smiled. “You’ll see.”
Now she sat down on the bed and took her shoes off. She slipped the gaudy red stripper shoes on her feet, finding them to be fairly comfortable. She tied the straps around her calves.
If Larry wanted to see the stripper shoes, he would see them – as they walked out of his life forever.
She put on her coat, lifted the suitcase, and opened the door.
As she walked past him, she asked, “How do you like ‘em baby?”
Then she walked down the stairs, out of the house, and out of his life.
Stripper Shoes? Not on MY Daughter!
Connie and her mother argued almost every day. Most days it wasn’t about much – not putting the jelly away, leaving the faucet running – but this argument, this was the big one. It had gone on for almost a week now and it started and stopped, ebbing and flowing like the tide. Connie’s mother called them Connie’s stripper shoes, and Connie disagreed.
“They’re stillettos, Mother!” Connie would scream from across the table, her voice rising and pinching higher with each syllable.
“They’re stripper shoes. Hookers wear those trashy things,” her mother would yell back. It didn’t help that her mother had whisky in her morning coffee.
“Then why wouldn’t they be hooker shoes?” Connie would ask sarcastically. “Geez!”
“Don’t talk to your mother like that. They’re stripper shoes. And if you want to wear them, you might as well go down to the Kitty Kat Klub and apply to be one of their B-Squad girls.”
“What, you don’t even think I’m good enough for the top line? What is wrong with you, mother?”
There was a lot wrong with her, but Connie’s mother didn’t tell her any of it.
Connie was eighteen, working on her GED and spending her days behind a register at Walmart. She didn’t need to know about the cancer, she didn’t need to know that in a couple of months she’d probably have to move into a one-bedroom apartment on the run-down side of town. Connie would have to give up everything she knew, but she didn’t need to know all of that yet.
“You can think what you want, but you’re not wearing those stripper shoes out in public. I’ve raised you better than that.”
Connie’s mother got up and poured more coffee into her mug. She couldn’t put more whiskey in while Connie was there staring at the back of her head, but as soon as Connie left she would.
What did she care? She was dying. The doctors had told her not to drink, but why listen to them? They weren’t dying.
“Oh screw it!,” Connie said, throwing her arms in the air before slamming them onto the vinyl-topped table. “Whatever. I don’t care anymore. I’m done with this.”
Connie got up and huffed audibly as she stormed out of the room. Connie’s mother sat watching her daughter leave. She wouldn’t be around much longer, but in the time she had left, she wasn’t going to let her daughter wear those stripper shoes and look like a slut. Connie may not have had the greatest parents in the world but that didn’t mean she could do whatever she wanted. Hardly.
Connie’s mother heard her daughter stomp her way upstairs and slam her bedroom door. A moment later techno music started blasting through the ceiling. It was safe now, Connie wouldn’t come down for at least half an hour.
Connie’s mother got up and walked to the cabinet, pushed aside the cereal, the box of instant rice, the long-forgotten grits, and pulled out the bottle of Old Crow. She let a smile fall across her face for a brief moment before she unscrewed the cap, poured two more shots into her cooling coffee, and recapped the bottle. She put it back, closed the cabinet and sat down.
Staring at the cup, Connie’s mother closed her eyes and listened to the music.