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My morning with a stripper

By Terry Haller

It’s Sunday morning and I just got seated in first class on a plane at Idlewild. I’m a 22-year-old hotshot with a hardly-used MBA. I’ve just had my first trip to New York City. I’m feeling very pleased with myself because yesterday I ordered a martini without getting carded.

The plane loads slowly. There still are lots of empty seats. I’ve got a window seat so I can see the Statue of Liberty. The aisle seat beside me is empty. I pull out a fresh copy of Time magazine and turn to the movie reviews. The flight to Toronto is only an hour, so there won’t be time to read the hard news.

A woman comes down the aisle and stops by me. She is knockout gorgeous — a real goddess. She’s got a thick, flowing mane in what I guess is “strawberry blonde.” It makes her look like she just got out of bed—in a good way, that is.

“Is this seat taken?” the walking centerfold asks.

“No,” I mutter offhandedly, trying to sound blasé, and continuing to read my “Time” magazine.

“Mind if I sit here?” she asks.

“Not at all,” I answer.

Three days in New York and I’ve become a ladies’ man? How the hell did that happen? I’ve got to play this cool. Don’t screw it up like I usually do.

She puts something in the overhead bin and sits down. She smells good, almost celestial. I’m afraid to look at her. When you come right down to it, there’s no way I’ve got the guts to talk to her. I continue reading “Time.”

A flight attendant comes by with an armful of the New York Sunday papers. She asks the goddess if she’d like a paper. The goddess says she would. The New York Sunday Times is plopped in her lap. It must weigh 10 pounds.

“Did she want me to pass these out?” the goddess asks. She’s directing the question to me. She knows I’m alive!

“Oh no, that’s all one paper. The Sunday Times. It’s always enormous.” I say. I’m thinking she seems friendly enough. “You’re not from New York then?” I ask.

“Oh gracious no. From L.A.” she says.

“What will you be doing in Toronto? Are you an actress?” I ask. It’s obvious she’s something special. She’s not going to T.O. to play hockey.

“I’m a stripper,” she announces. She is looking me in the eye, and her manner is tantalizing.

“At the Lux?” I ask. The Lux is Toronto’s top burlesque house. I went there once while in college. I felt the whole time the cops were going to raid the joint. I’m not sure how to talk about Toronto’s Burly-Q scene. So I don’t say anything.

We’re in first class, so, want it or not, breakfast is served. “I guess being from California you drink a lot of orange juice,” I say, immediately realizing how outré that sounds. She must think I’m some kind of pantywaist.

“Every morning for breakfast I have an Orange Julius,” she says. I ask what that is and she tells me.

“That’d work for me. I never have time for a proper breakfast,” I say.

“Do you have a blender?” she asks.

“No, but I have an eggbeater,” I say.

“You could mix a raw egg in your Orange Julius and that’d be a complete well-rounded breakfast for you. And you wouldn’t need to do any cooking,” she says. “By the way, I’m Taffy O’Neill.”

We get to talking. Taffy’s married and has a little boy with polio. She works to pay for his medical needs. She is mesmerizing me. I’ve never met anyone like this.

The plane lands and we take a bus to the city. We talk all the way. The bus lets out at the Westbury Hotel, not far from the Lux Theater. The driver unloads the luggage and I help Taffy locate her bags.

She gives me her clear-plastic wardrobe bag to hold. It’s got her stripper gowns inside. I speculate on all the trick zippers each gown would have.

It’s cold in Toronto today, and the wind is coming down Yonge Street. We stand there on the sidewalk; there are a few departing words, and we say goodbye. I head off to the subway. I’m only a 10-cent ride away from my apartment, and I’ve got stories to tell when I get there.

“Wait!” she screams. “You have my costumes!”

Here I am walking off with her garment bag. After all that, I’m still just a putz — a word I picked up in New York.

Terry Haller is a retired advertising executive. You can reach him at hallerraven@hotmail.com.