My first official decision as a newly engaged man was to seize cliché’s warm and comforting bosom with both hands and plant my face in it. Not only was I going to have a traditional bachelor party, I was going to have the most trite and overdone bachelor party imaginable: Vegas, strip club, gambling, drinking and drugs. The only line I wasn’t going to cross was the one marked fidelity, because I love my very-soon-to-be-wife, and because, well, I’m not a dick.
I’m not going to regale you with my wild bachelor party story; truth is, you’ve seen it many times before, and it was funnier, and better produced. I won’t spend much time at all telling you that one of the attendees may or may not have passed out in his own partially digested dinner, soaked in urine and blood from a drunken fall. That he may or may not have stumbled out at 4 o’clock in the morning naked and calling for a friend as if he were a lost pet–only to return a few minutes later for his shoes. It may or may not also be true that on their way back to the room after losing badly at craps, my friends ran afoul of an old man pissing in the hallway of the Mirage, wracked with grief that he couldn’t find his socks.
It’s also certainly possible, but not necessarily true, that I had so many lap dances thrown at me while wired on coke and Kettle One that I didn’t notice my crotch was chaffed like I had just been ridden bareback across the Mojave. And that I was so blitzed I was able to feign stoicism as a particularly spiteful asian stripper pinched my nipples between two Lee press-on nails until they bled. Or that I was so drunk I believed the 95 pound dancer with the musculature of a gymnast had two kids at home and a Masters degree in Sociology.
All of that may, or may not be true. What is absolutely true, however, is that my total lack of game in a musically-juiced club has been verified beyond any doubt. Never in my 37 years have I been able to lose myself enough to grind unselfconsciously up against a strange woman–no matter how attractive she is. Not because I wasn’t interested in laying her; I used to be interested in that very thing, but I was always best at accomplishing that with my tongue over my tail bone. Not that I’ve been some perpetually satisfied Lothario; far from it. Most nights before finding Molly, I was alone, and often lonely because of my kinesthetic shyness. Going out to clubs was, for most of my twenties, a study in petty humiliations. My imagination and self-awareness constantly worked against me and produced, not some Nietzschean opportunist, but a rather impotent sack–intimidated by his own idealized self.
I admit all of this rather easily now, because I no longer care. I am comfortable with the pleasures my body produces, but I prefer to enjoy them after a psychological coup–after I’ve slipped something more substantial than my six pack across a woman’s borders. All that being said, I had seized the idea of my clichéd bachelor party fiercely and had decided I was going to bump and grind my way into anatomical anonymity.
The first girl I danced with, a slight Chinese woman who I found out was working on her Ph.D at UCSD, squatted to the music so many times I thought she was running through an exercise routine. She must have had a personal trainer. Undoubtedly, this was meant to be sexy, since the height she lowered herself to required no elaborate interpretation as to its purpose. At one point, I feared for her tonsils if I should suddenly become excited, but luckily that never happened. I was able to explain my laughter away by telling her I was having a great time, but I made it out of there quickly lest she suspect another reason.
The second girl I “danced” with was brought to our table at the Ghost Bar by an exceptionally friendly bouncer who thought we needed some action. A tall and well proportioned blonde, sleeved in black stretchy cotton, she was shy and friendly, and out the door in ten minutes. She wanted to dance, rather than talk about “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” Come on, I was just warming up to the music. What, “your life isn’t measured out in coffee spoons?” Go figure.
Of course, the real reason I embraced the degradation of women so enthusiastically was my mates. My buddies. I did it because it’s an American ritual, and I embrace this great wreck of an ideal all the way through. Bonding over the commidification of women is what we do in America to usher in the next phase of a man’s life. I can hate myself for coveting venal things, or I can swallow that venality whole and let it sit in my throat like a ball of molten lead, so it can help me spit fire at the flag, terrorize all those limp fools who harass its burden, jack the simpletons that raise it like some striped scutum against their own cowardice.
There isn’t one America, but it colors us all the same. So I clutch the grenade to my chest, grit my teeth, and yawp wildly to the cadence of war. I meet the new phase of my life alive and ready to do battle with the indignities of middle-class life; to prepare my counterinsurgency against PTA meetings and Sunday afternoon soccer games. To love my wife madly, and stupidly indifferent to the cruelties of time.
This past weekend I was the member of a tribe, a brotherhood, a band that’s played live since fire was the only instrument. All of us different, all of us men, all of us American and alive at the morning song of the 21st century–all of us soon to be forgotten, replaced, infirm with age–not too long from youth, still potent, fathers, writers, lawyers, managers, middle-aged sell outs, divorcés, poets, drunks, brothers–for one night dancing at the top of the desert while Rome was burning and women were selling their fake tits and sweaty cunts for a $20 bill, we were brothers. We were brothers.