All the Uses of This World

Finding life weary, stale, flat and unprofitable?  Your iPhone can help! Dig out those hot pictures taken five years ago when you worked as a stripper (you can say “exotic dancer” if you like that spin around the pole better) and sue some rich old fart for grabbing your butt after hiring you for the late-night party escort services you were willing to provide!

I'm shocked, shocked to find that  gambling is going on here!
I’m shocked, shocked to find that
gambling is going on here!

After all, you thought he wanted to discuss Hamlet. He paid you and those two other adult entertainment industry workers to do a close reading of Elizabethan drama. You suggested Act I, Scene II. Imagine your horror when he chose to act out scenes of his own devising! Imagine your dismay at being forced to take pictures of his passion play with other women!

Perhaps you felt slighted by being cast in the role of voyeur/photographer. It could have been you in those photos, head pressed against an old man’s crotch by a hand he tried to keep from trembling as he stood there in his ill-fitting power suit smelling of Gold Bond and trying to look virile or at least rich. It could have been you gazing lasciviously into the camera, eyes closed and mouth invitingly open, as he pawed at your breasts from behind, sending you into seeming ecstasies.

After all, you played the game right. You made eyes at the owner of that football franchise and said, “Oh, baby, you make me so hot,” and he believed you, the foolish old goat. You even touched his withered old wang when he told you to. The other girls did the work that night, but you had to waggle that thing around for a minute or two. The pay was not nearly enough.

The lawsuit reads like a low-budget garage porn script: Defendant JERRY JONES intentionally, knowingly, and forcibly rubbed and/or grabbed Plaintiff’s buttocks multiple times. Defendant JERRY JONES performed these acts without the consent of Plaintiff.

“Defendant Jerry Jones intentionally, knowingly, and forcibly rubbed and/or grabbed Plaintiff’s buttocks multiple times. Defendant Jerry Jones performed these acts without the consent of Plaintiff.”    This, BTW, is a picture of Plaintiff.

Or so you decide five years later, claiming that you suffered severe emotional distress and demanding more than $1 million in damages for sexual assault from the Dallas Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones.

This gives sexual assault a bad name.

Perhaps I should rephrase that. That was a “misrepresentation,” as are those graphic photos, according to Jones. How, though, can a picture misrepresent what it pictures? There you are, in front of God and everybody, hands planted firmly on that woman’s bosoms (my grandmother called them bosoms), giving the camera what you hope is a powerful leer.   You don’t deny that it’s you, and you don’t deny the occasion – yet you say the photo is a misrepresentation of what really happened. Right. You were playing Hamlet to the stripper’s Ophelia, and perhaps did some libidinous ad libbing.

I like a good, clean, explicit sexual assault, myself.

She hastens to add, “ . . . you know, where good is eminently good and evil is entirely evil and innocence is unsullied and guilt is permanently stained and there are white hats and black hats to help you keep everything straight.”

I had a coffee shop waitressing job when I was about 15 (and a very young and naïve 15 I was. I was earnest and plain and flat-chested and studious and shy and anxious to please. Haven’t changed much, come to think of it – but the passage of 40 years has added a pleasant protective cynicism to the mix, and shyness became boring long ago). I was a good and hard-working waitress. One morning, early in my career, a regular customer slapped me on the butt as I bent over a table to clean it. He chuckled in a jovial Hail Fellow Well Met fashion. I was mortified, which just made him chuckle more. I went to the woman who hired me for advice. “Oh,” said she, “the tips are better when you let them do that.”

An extra quarter was not worth it, even back in the early 1970s. I quit, and never told my parents why. In truth, it probably had more to do with the ugly uniform than with Butt Slapper; I had a hopeless crush on the coffee shop owner’s son, and sought to show myself to advantage.

That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.          R&J, Act 2, Scene 1
That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.    R&J, Act 2, Scene 1

Then there was Thigh Patter, for whom I babysat for the princely sum of 50 cents an hour. He was usually zonked out on Darvon that he washed down with vodka by the water glassful; I always dreaded his taking me home. One late night enroute to my house he said that he had something he had to discuss with me and drove to the parking lot down behind the building he worked in on Main Street. Not a soul was around. It was dark. He smelled of Gold Bond and booze. He shut the car off. He explained that it was a serious matter, and that he didn’t wish to have to tell my parents about it. He said that he was missing a lot of his prescription pain pills, and thought I might have taken them.   He said it was OK if I had, but that he needed to know. He then added that his wife was missing an opal ring, and he wondered if I might have taken that, too, “by mistake.” Shocked, I protested my innocence, whereupon he patted my thigh and told me what a lovely young thing I was becoming. I said, “I WANT TO GO HOME RIGHT NOW,” and something in my tone must have penetrated his opiate alcoholic stupor, because he started the car and took me there without further ado. I believe that that “something” was, “My father will rip your lungs out if he ever gets wind of this.”

I never told my parents why I quit that job, either. And now it doesn’t matter – Thigh Patter died a long unpleasant death years ago, so my father is spared the need to defend my honor now (he wouldn’t have stopped at the lungs, either). Really, it was just a half-assed grope by a drunk and clammy hand at a thigh securely encased in denim. But time hovered for a moment on the edge of something unpleasant, there in that parking lot. For all my innocence, I knew that it was very wrong and somehow shameful. For him, rather than me.

–because I was not “asking for it” in either instance. I was a kid in an ugly uniform wearing white Top Siders and ankle socks and a training bra. I was an exhausted underpaid babysitter just wanting to go home, knowing that the lousy $3.00 check I’d been paid with was bound to bounce like the rest of them.

So innocent, and yet not.
When smut was good clean fun.

Were I a professional stripper hired as a high-priced party escort for the evening, the “asking for it” question becomes more difficult to answer.  Am I allowed, five years later, to claim assault for the general pawing  and prodding that comes with strip-tease territory? Have I any right to complain that I get groped after taking off my clothes for money and displaying my goodies with a giggle? Where does that leave the scores of women who actually are assaulted, who suffer real harm but have no  lawyers ready and willing to prostitute themselves for publicity and profit?

Don’t tell me that this woman is an assault victim. She’s the victim of greed and ignorance and some swarmy lawyer, who in turn is victimizing the owner of the football franchise – who of course deserves all he gets and more.   We should give them all guns and let them shoot it out like a cleansing old Western, perhaps at the Cowboys stadium, during half time. The Dallas Cheerleaders wear white hats, after all, and can play the good guys.

Thanks for reading! Missy
Thanks for reading!
Missy