Sex & Love
The Profane and the Sacred
I’m the only one in my immediate family who would ever go to Jewish services. My parents will go to a Bat Mitzvah or holiday feast, but my mom worships Bill Maher and George Carlin, and my dad is all … Read More
I’m the only one in my immediate family who would ever go to Jewish services. My parents will go to a Bat Mitzvah or holiday feast, but my mom worships Bill Maher and George Carlin, and my dad is all about work-he does JDate, that’s about it. My sister is just not interested. I wonder why I have this desire to practice my Judaism. I spent the summer of my sophomore year at NYU in Krakow studying Eastern European Jewry and the Holocaust. I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t interested and connected to Jewish history, yet I can’t find a lasting religious connection. I think it’s more my ignorance and frustration, rather than a stubborn disbelief. At this particular Friday night service, most people in the sanctuary knew when to bow and when to answer back. Most knew the Hebrew songs. I knew a few, but nothing compared to the rest of the congregation; I almost walked out. My ignorance, combined with harsh air-conditioning, made me feel stupid and miserable. I just wanted to leave, I wanted to go to 7-Eleven, buy a tub of Ben and Jerry’s, and begin my year feasting on junk food. Thinking about how bad of a decision that would be, I moved seats instead. I just had to stick with it. I looked at how many more pages we had left in the Rosh Hashanah liturgy and I resolved to make it through until the end. Though, I also spent a good deal of time eyeing a goyishe-looking Jewish fox behind the curtain. I thought I might see him at the singles mixer after the service. Motivated by his penis, I stayed. I had plans to meet my also-Jewish girlfriend after services to go to a strip club. I have to confess, throughout the whole service I kept thinking, "I’m a sinner. I’m a sinner." At one point, the Rabbi read a passage about God knowing the difference between the sacred and profane. "That’s me!" I thought, "I’m profane!" I texted my girlfriend: "Are you still up to going to Cheetahs Strip Club?" She texted back, "Yah! Are you?" I couldn’t bail on her. I’m trying to be more social, but I felt like it was a deliberate choice to start the year off with a sin. When I originally asked her if she wanted to come to temple with me, she wrote "No, I think I’m skipping temple this year. But thanks! Strippers should be enough for me to ring in the new year :)." Her clarity and directness was refreshing. "Fuck it," I thought, "I’m not canceling. I’m just gonna go."
As I walked down the narrow Beverly Hills side streets on the way to my car, I saw a few families (I think they were Persian) having Rosh Hashanah dinner on their balconies. Sounds of joy and conversation filled the warm night air, and I was jealous. I would rather have been with a family, enjoying brisket and kasha varnishkes, than at temple by myself. One day I’ll have a family like that, I thought to myself. Instead, I drove to Cheetahs in Hollywood to meet my girlfriend. Both events, the Temple and Cheetahs, were letdowns. I had built up both in my mind: a transformative night of prayer peppered with sex.
What I remember most about Cheetahs was talking to a stripper named Sarah. She wasn’t wearing an ounce of makeup, and her hair was scraggly and her grammar was poor. Despite the lack of effort, she still looked pretty. She was talking to us about how badly the economy has hit strip clubs, and how little she makes now – which is more than I make. Then she said "I’ve worked here for ten years." I found that shocking, because I haven’t done anything for ten years. Talk about commitment: ten years at the same strip club. I was amazed. My girlfriend and I joked that she should have a 401(k), or at least a pension plan. She told us that she also goes to school. Relatively, she has her shit together. I figured that she was the Mother Hen of Cheetahs, and she watched over all the girls. When a dancer from Switzerland approached the stage, Sarah commented, "I mean some dancers…like that heffa’, I mean come on!" The Swiss dancer was very voluptuous. She had rolls of stomach fat, but strangely, no cellulite. The skin on her legs was smooth and taut. "Look at that heffa’," Sarah repeated and walked away. We watched the "heffa’" dance. "Wow," I said to my girlfriend, "She is really hot. She is like sex personified." She danced like she was fucking the stage, but at first it wasn’t dirty; it was real clean. She wore this ballerina outfit, she had a Lolita look to her. See, Cheetahs is not a nude club. The girls wear panties or bathing suit bottoms and bra or bikini tops. It’s so you can drink. In California, nude clubs are dry. The Swiss dancer had on a pink bikini top, but not the kind of bikini top you can purchase at a swim store: this kind is only available at a Hollywood ‘specialty’ store. It was sparkly, pink and silver, and had two triangles that covered her chest. She also wore a black thong, which she lazily covered with a very short pink frilly skirt. That was a dirty outfit, so girly and naughty that it begged for a spanking. She came out and folded herself down into a split. She put her arms forward and held that position, crotch down to the floor. She writhed slowly on the ground. "Holy shit," I said to my girlfriend, "She is really dirty." That’s the thing with this girl, she wasn’t cheap, and she had no qualms about the extra fat on her stomach and neither did I. She was a woman and a girl all at once. Even while posed, her face remained cherubic. She looked only twenty-two or twenty-three. This plump ballerina wore pinkish lipstick and soft, rosy blush.
Watching her dance, none of the other girls compared. The Swiss girl smiled at me longer than a stripper ought to stare. She knew I approved. The other girls were dirtier, and I felt their self-loathing. No one turned me on like the Swiss girl. It’s not that I wanted to kiss her, but she had something that appealed to me: pride, brazenness, Chutzpah. Near the end of the night, my girlfriend and I talked about tattoos. She recently decided that she wanted one, and I recently settled on a design I could live with. I don’t have any tattoos, and I have never thought of getting one until now. I would get the word "COURAGE." Sure, it might sound juvenile, but it’s what I lack. I feel like I don’t always have the courage to be myself, and I need to be reminded. Still, I doubt that I will ever actually get a tattoo. No, I’m pretty positive that I won’t. You’re really not supposed to in the Jewish religion. Maybe it is just that I hate needles. I’m not sure what will happen in 5770. I’m not sure if I’ll continue going to temple or to strip clubs (not that I go to either very often), but I am sure that I will continue writing, and I will continue trying to have the courage and chutzpah. I will be brazen, I will be myself.