At last weekend’s bachelor party, I went yet again to a strip club. Since I’m gay, it always comes as a surprise to people when they learn just how many times I’ve been to girlie strip clubs. The tale is far from lurid, though. In fact, it’s kind of sad. It all goes waaaay back to my first year in Ottawa.
In 1990, I moved to Ottawa to go to university. But because my grandmother already lived in town, I didn’t stay in residence. Hers was the obvious choice of a place to live, but that was probably a mistake in that I really didn’t make any university friends. Moreover, she lived a good 40-minute bus ride from campus. People say university is the best time of your life, but quite honestly, I really don’t remember much about my time there. I was too shy and too distant to be be social. In fact, I remember standing on campus one day thinking about how very far away I was from my high school chums (cue sappy music).
No, I was isolated, so that first year was kind of lonely. (And no, I didn’t turn to peeler bars to drown my sorrows – I wasn’t out of the closet yet, but I at least knew what I liked!)
As luck would have it, about halfway through that first year, one of my high school buddies moved to Ottawa with his family. Brad was a nice guy, and we knew each other well (or as well as I let anyone know me, anyway). So I had a built-in friend in town. Granted he lived way out in Barrhaven, but that was close enough. I had no car, so he would drive his truck into town every weekend to pick me and we’d hang out… at strip bars.
Brad had a thing for strip bars. I’ve lost contact with him, so I don’t know if he ever got over it, but he sure liked them when we were hanging out together. Every Friday and Saturday night we’d go out and watch the girls. We would go to a bar in Gatineau called (I think) Club 61, or we’d go to Cheeks (which is closed, but used to be a real dive near Lansdowne Park), or we’d go to Fanny’ s Cabaret (which is closed but used to be a more upscale spot on Bank around Somerset). And I would sit there, watching the dancers, nursing a black label beer, and pretending to enjoy myself. And Brad would watch for a while and then usually go get a private dance or two. Thankfully I never felt pressured enough to get a private dance, but Brad loved it. And when our high school friends visited us from NB, guess where we took them. Très classy, no?
Eventually, Brad and I drifted apart, but we did this on a regular basis for more than a year. You can imagine just how much time and money I wasted simply because I was too scared to say anything that might have outed me.