Lake Effect, Spring 2011, Volume 15: from The Stripper

Theresa Milbrodt


from The Stripper

When I tell people I’m a stripper they look at me funny, then I tell them it’s just paint and they groan and roll their eyes and say Funny man, real funny, but for a moment they were picturing it, me, a forty-five year old guy with a bit of a paunch taking off my boxers in front of well, I don’t know who they think would be in the audience, but who doesn’t dream of people paying money to see them naked, and I mean a serious strip, not just a drunk gag, it’s an ego trip most wouldn’t mind, but in our bedroom all the stripping is in the dark.  She says she’s embarrassed of her hips, the stretch marks that come from having a kid, but I could care less.  She just doesn’t want to see forty-five-year-old me, or maybe just my foot, the prosthetic.

I wonder what would happen if I took that off in front of her, stripped myself of the ability to walk, because twelve years ago when we were first dating she said she’d find that sexy, and I didn’t get it at first, but she said it would make me vulnerable.

I said, “That’s sexy?”

And she said, “Sure.”

But the things people say when they’re first dating are different than the things they’d say after ten years of marriage, when most bedroom talk consists of Are you up for it? and then Maybe tomorrow, would you please turn off the light?  I understand her need to sleep because she’s a part-time bank teller and a full-time mother, but what if I took my foot off in our dark bedroom and then turned on the light and showed myself to her in all my vulnerability, what would she do?