Saturday, December 06, 2008

Prostitute Removal

Note, 12/6: I have now gotten to the point in the Photographic Tale of the Upper Peninsula at which we arrive back in Houghton. This means that I get to rewrite "Prostitute Removal," about one of the locals whom we met during our stay. Enjoy.

EXTREME CONTENT WARNING! Don't read this if it will hurt you. Scroll down to the post about the alcoholic fishermen.

I could tell something was wrong when she walked into the bar and sat down next to us.

It was our unplanned second night in Houghton, Michigan, a nice little college town at the base of the desolate Keweenaw Peninsula. The Keweenaw is the northernmost finger of the Upper Peninsula, dotted with abandoned copper mines and almost-ghost towns. We had driven and shot photos all day and were completely exhausted. So we returned to Houghton's straight-from-the-1960s Downtowner Motel and checked back into the same little two-bed room where we had slept the night before. After escaping the very kind owner and his allergy-inducing cats, we stopped back into the bar at the foot of the bridge for a nightcap.

The scene was quieter than the night before--no softball teams this time, just several small groups of friends. We didn't even order a pitcher. We'd have a pint of Oberon, go to bed, get up early.

And then she walked in. She was about our age, wearing a gigantic Adidas sweatshirt and black dress pants, and was actually kind of cute. She had pretty, insane brown eyes. She asked if the seat next to us was taken and then she started talking.

First, she worked in the Best Western up the block but it stressed her out when she had to talk to people so she was trying to quit. Before that she had gone to Michigan State, "looking to get knocked up by some fine-ass f***ing n****r." Continuing her oration on being obsessed with males of African descent, she claimed she was waiting to party with a Guyanese grad student from Michigan Tech whom she had met the night before at the very bar at which we sat. When it became clear that she was being stood up, she began exchanging angry text messages with her would-be beau:

Stripper/Prostitute: u must be f**king some chick
Dude: f**king some chick wtf?!
[repeat, many times]

As the night wore on, she revealed her true occupation: she had stripped all over Michigan. Flint had the best strip clubs in all of Downstate, and I think that was the city where she had been sleeping with the club owner(s). She related the infectious dangers of grinding on people all day, but pointed out that in most clubs, you could let a man finish on or with your chest for an extra $25. This was a way to make "good money on the side," but the men had to wear prophylactics, which sent her home "smelling like condoms" much of the time. The conversation became particularly inaudible here, due to an influx of patrons, but I think I got the gist of it.

As Dan and I attempted to ignore Angel, which is what she called herself most frequently, the minute hand on the bar's big wallclock revolved again and again. Our dreams of rest and of an early start the next day vanished over the next two hours as we listened to tales of gradually worsening depravity.

After she asked us if we were dating each other--because our pint glasses were, she said, unusually close to each other--it was time to play the "Guess how many abortions I've had!" game, introduced by Angel herself. I guessed five. Dan guessed three. I was "warmer;" the answer was seven. I secretly wished I could hand her a pamphlet about the Jesus and leave. Yet something was so uncomfortable and wrong about the situation that we couldn't just walk out, yet.

Suddenly Angel decided to sleep with Dan. I know this because she turned to me and said, "I'm going to f**k your friend now." She climbed on top of Dan, who was facing away from the bar on his stool, backwards. She lay on top of him and refused to remove herself. Dan's eyes were a picture of paralyzing panic. I could see his mind working to disprove the theory that viruses could be transferred through clothing.

"Your girlfriend is not going to like this," I said very loudly.

"You have a girlfriend?!" the stripper asked. "I bet she's the kind of girl who wears ninety-dollar patterned dresses, picks flowers, and doesn't like sucking dick."

Dan neither agreed nor disagreed. (Side note: that is an exact quote.)

Dan stared into the distance uncomfortably and he did not speak. At some point, Angel got off of him. He later revealed that he wasn't sure if I had been hitting on the stripper (Dan, I still want to punch you in the stomach for that). Around closing time, which is later in Houghton, Michigan than it is in Boston, we just walked out of the bar. The lonely stripper followed us to our hotel room. "Can I watch your HBO?" No. "Can I piss in your bowl?" Fine. When she emerged from the bathroom she seemed more messed up than before.

"I KNOW you guys are FUCKING with me. I know I've met you both before. TELL ME where you met me. What are you, like secret agents or something?" We said nothing and looked at the carpet. She pulled someone's prescription bottle from her purse. "You guys want some Xannies?" she asked. She took a few. Then she looked at my photographic equipment, and said very soberly, "Don't forget to charge your camera battery for tomorrow." I had forgotten. I thanked her.

A staring contest started and continued for a few minutes--with Dan between the beds, the UProstitute in the doorway, and yours truly in between and providing the aggression. "We really need to sleep," I said.

"You guys are no fun," she said, and finally walked out the screen door and across the street to her car, a full three hours after she sat down next to us. An engine began to purr out on the street and then receded in the direction of the bridge. Dan and I double locked the door and drifted off into a pleasant, hard-earned, and STD-free slumber.

Originally posted 6/28/08 at 12:09 a.m.

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Blogger Meghan Byrnes said...

oh shit... that was both hilarious and yet (taken from your perspective) a tad disturbing, but also hilarious.

more stories please sir. you amuse us so. we never go anywhere or do anything exciting now that we're in our eighties.

p.s. yer blog should be more popular. i think you might scare people away from commenting. perhaps you should write a friendly post about fluffy animals and create a "which is the cutest? poll" to break the tension.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

aww, thanks! glad you enjoyed this post. i have a lot more like it in draft stage that i never seem to finish or publish.

i would be amenable to the fluffy animal contest if you would be willing to sketch the fluffy animals. whattaya say?

3:55 PM  
Blogger The Pirate said...

Dude. I think I know that chick. There just aren't that many strippers, and especially hookers in the whole UP, let alone Houghton. I should know-lived in the area going on 21 years. Glad to see people coming up and having such memorable encounters;) The dredge was pretty cool, eh? Should've taken the underground Quincy mine tour, there are a couple of great photo ops in there.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Oh, we took the Quincy Mine tour alright! Can't wait to post tales and photos from the UP once I've gotten through blogging my NC roadtrip.

12:25 AM  
Blogger cwkemmerer said...

I would have made her flash me for 5 dollars.

3:21 PM  

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