I stared down at my cat Dino curled in my lap and picked idly at the quilt covering my legs. Mackenna was still talking, and I should have been listening, but I just couldn’t find any interest in the dates in history she read off. She was my roommate, best friend, and tutor in all things historical. Without her shoving her vast knowledge down my throat, there is no way that I would have been able to earn my credits in intro to medieval history and historic sociology of modern cultures after 1945. Honestly, those classes put me to sleep instantly, and I just couldn’t bear to listen to all the events of the past. All the books were based on events passed, showing few pictures, and not holding my interest. How I ended up in these God-awful classes, I have no idea.
Instead of listening intently and taking the notes that I needed, I was thinking of about the hot guy in my psychology and perceptions of the American culture course. Even though I was not anywhere near being his type (sexy, flirtatious, outgoing, experienced), I had somehow gained his attention, and it had brought me nothing but trouble. Still, my mind couldn’t help but play a romantic Bruno Mars song every time I thought of him, and I hoped that I would be that girl he swept off her feet and settled down for.
“Are you actually listening, or is there a pre-teen pop song playing in your head while you think about the frat boy?” Mackenna knew me all too well. She was very aware of the nearly non-stop soundtrack to my life that played within my head, and apparently she was even aware of the thoughts I was having as I had them. This was not really a surprise.
“It’s not a pre-teen pop song, more like the romantic tunes of Bruno Mars. That man knows how to woo a woman with his lyrics.” I gave her a sly smile and prepared for the truckload of attitude that I knew was coming my way. Mackenna knew something about me that most people didn’t. I used music to narrate my own life, and the music I had going on in my head typically influenced my mood. This is something that I am sure happened with lots of people, but for me, it had begun as a coping mechanism. A way to block out the world around me. Now, it was more of a habit, and my tastes were eclectic. On any given day, anything ranging from Mozart to AC/DC to Lady Gaga could be heard within my mind. I liked it all.
“Damnit, Ali, you are supposed to be listening and taking notes.” Mackenna’s voice drew me out of my head and back to her. “I don’t have time to replay all that I’ve said because of your jukebox muddled brain. Get it together chick, because I’m wasting valuable club time being here tonight.” She was right, of course; I really needed to get out of my own head. I looked down at my lap guiltily and missed the throw pillow she snatched up and hurled my way. It wasn’t until Dino quickly dug in his claws and jumped over the back of the couch did I realize that Mackenna was declaring war. Her aim at my head was perfect. I looked up at her, while rubbing the leg Dino had clawed, and narrowed my eyes.
“Pay attention, woman.” She shrugged one shoulder nonchalantly and looked down to her phone. I was pretty sure that she was texting one of her club friends to find out where they were. She was giving up and ditching me.
Because she was preoccupied with her phone, she didn’t notice me getting up and hurling my body at her in attack. I jumped on top of her and my fingers went to her ribcage- it’s her weakness. I maintain that having this knowledge and utilizing this to gain the upper hand does not make me a bad friend; it only solidifies my role as her best friend.
“Uncle! Goddamnit, woman, uncle!” Mackenna screamed breathlessly as she tried to block my tickle attack. I relented, knowing that I had won back her affection because she was now leaning her head on the back of the oversized recliner with a wide grin on her face. Now settled on her lap, I wrapped my arms around her neck and kissed her cheek.
“I’m sorry that I wasn’t paying attention, I just have a lot on my mind.”
“Yeah, like the beefed up, no-good-for-you, shallow, boy toy. That is a lot of muscle to have on your mind.” Obviously, Mackenna did not approve of my crush. This, again, was no surprise.
“Well, not so much him, but the mess that I am in because I was trying to impress him.” When discussing our doctoral thesis in our study group meeting with Dr. Shire, the psych and perceptions professor, I was full of bravado thanks to the presence of the aforementioned boy toy. Because I was full of bravado, and wanted to appear to be confident and sexy and mysterious, I ran with an idea for my project that definitely grabbed attention and was definitely sure to get me into trouble.
“I’m telling you, back out, Ali. I have a bad feeling about this project, and if you mentioned the safety risks to Dr. Shire, I am sure he will let you amend your thesis.” Her worry seeped into her voice, not hiding her concern at all. The problem was, however, I had already fought for this project, I had already gotten the attention I wanted (and more), and I did not want to be seen as a coward.
Let’s backtrack for a moment to consider my ‘brilliant’ thesis project. As an aspiring psychologist, I have a major interest in human sexuality, even if I have not partaken in very many sexual occurrences. I like to know what drives people to intimacy, their perceptions of their shared experiences, and the fantasies that drive their actions. I may be fairly inexperienced, but that does not mean that I am immune to sexuality in general. I get horny, I have fantasies like any other adult female; I just don’t act on those impulses, at least, I haven’t in years.
All of this aside, I thought that the best way to study human sexuality was to immerse myself into the world of all things sexual. I was going undercover at a local burlesque and brothel club, called The Rabbit Hole, and I was going to learn about how acting out fantasies can drive strangers to share certain perceptions while being intimate in a controlled setting. Very Freud, I know, but the idea seemed to really draw the interest of my peers, a special one in particular, and my professor seemed just as intrigued.
“Ali, it’s dangerous. The brothels were just only legalized earlier this spring, there is still a lot of criminal activity surrounding them. You really need to reconsider.” Mackenna was right about the brothel barely being legalized. Of course she had knowledge of this, she was a law major and had stayed very informed during the campaign for decriminalization. The nation as a whole had changed over the last year, and as such, the selling of sex and marijuana had been legitimized.
“I’ve done my research, Mac, The Rabbit Hole is one of the few clubs in the area to meld cohesively into lawfulness. They have registered members that pay fees, making the whole thing a lot safer.” I may have been rash in my decision to go on this journey, but I was not foolish enough to go completely willy-nilly. I wanted and needed this project to go smoothly, and that meant that I had to place myself in the safest environment possible.
“Have you told your parents? They’ll think you’re crazy. You are crazy, if you go through with this.” Shit. She caught me off-guard. I hadn’t thought about what would happen if my parents found out. They would only find out if my thesis was published, which was unlikely, but if they found out, I would get the blame for the harm caused to their social standing. If I knew anything in this world, it was that the social standing of my parents is not to be infringed upon. It was enough that I had made a mess of their lives when I was ten, but they had finally regained their position in the uptight hierarchy that is their country club. I really shouldn’t take any risks that would disrupt their lives again. I considered the idea of going to talk to Dr. Shire.
“You are biting your lip. That means that you hadn’t considered your parents and the effect this could have on their social life. Get dressed now, and go see Dr. Shire before he leaves his office for the night.”
“No, I have to see this through, Mac. It’s important to me. Everything will be fine.” I sighed loudly and started to get off her lap. The entire conversation had happened with us sharing the space on the large chair. This wasn’t unusual for us, seeing as we had been best friends for the last 19 years and felt more like sisters than anything. “I think that is enough of an attempt at tutoring me for tonight. Go ahead and call your club friends, I’m going to bed so that I’m rested for the big day tomorrow.” She grabbed my hand as I stood, maybe to try to talk me out of my plan again. However, the look I gave her must’ve clued her in because she just squeezed my hand instead.
“That’s fine. I love you, lady, so wake me before you head out in the morning, okay?” I answered her with a kiss on the top of her head and headed through the narrow hallway to my bedroom in the rear of our apartment.
I closed my door and leaned my back against it as I let out a deep breath. I was completely unprepared for tomorrow, but I had already made my appointment with the very stern woman on the phone, and I was due to be at the club by 9:00am. She told me not to be late. The Rabbit Hole hosts lunch for their club members, so apparently, this means that the employees need to be there hours before to prepare. To prepare to entertain. That is what I’d be doing. Entertaining. Well, kind of. I’d be working as a hostess and/or waitress since the dancers and professionals were the star entertainers. This meant that although I would be in the hot zone of human sexuality, I would only be on the outskirts. An observer. This role seemed safe enough and helped to harden my resolve to follow through with the project.
I turned the lock on my doorknob before pushing off and stepping towards my bed. My outfit for the big day was draped neatly across my comforter. I looked down at the fitted, pale blue bodycon dress that I had chosen after much deliberation. The short sleeves puffed up a little when on, and the square-cut neckline accentuated my assets well. In other words, my boobs looked spectacular in the dress. The fabric was stretchy and fit my body like a glove. It hugged my hips and thighs, only to end a few inches above my knees.
I had gotten the dress for a function at my parents club, and while it was paired with white flats, a nice cardigan, and a sophisticated bun at the time, it would take on a whole different look tomorrow. Black pumps would show off my long legs, and I planned to wear my pale blonde hair down and straightened. The look would be simple and sexy. Hopefully, this would give me the confidence I needed not to chicken out before I actually made it in the door.
Trying to be sexy was beyond foreign to me. Because of a traumatic experience when I was young, it wasn’t until I was 20 that I actually dated. After 2 months of faking patience and understanding, my first boyfriend got me into bed only to last for about four minutes. Finished, he rolled away, cleaned up, made a lame excuse about needing to study for finals, and broke up with me two days later via text. Text! Could a person be anymore shameless?
Mackenna had convinced me that all of this was bound to happen because all women went through this, and that I just needed to be pickier when choosing my next ‘lover’. That term for a fuck-buddy makes me think of one of those cheesy romance novels with Fabio on the front. Yuck. I don’t know how I let her convince me of this. The next time I ventured out for a ‘lover’, I skipped the 2 months of dating and opted for a one-night stand. I found somebody that dampened my panties the second I saw him. Somehow, I had convinced myself that this level of sexual attraction would guarantee phenomenal sex. This was when I learned one of the most important lessons of the world: an attractive body does not promise carnal skills. Mr. GQ was completely lame in the sack, and I had since given up on finding sexual heaven and settled for the skills of a vibrator.
The misadventure with the male model was nearly three years ago. My vibrator had become the closest thing I had to a relationship since then, and recently, it was accompanied by visions of a certain hunky, baseball-playing psych major. Needless to say, my knowledge of sexuality remained to be extremely limited, meaning that dressing up and entering a sex club was beyond me.
Still staring at the dress, I lazily wondered what tomorrow would be like. The Rabbit Hole was as exclusive as it can get. It is more difficult to obtain membership there than it is at my parent’s fancy-shmancy golf club, and that is pretty damn hard to do. It took me calling for a week and a half straight, at least twice a day to get the management to talk to me. Even so, they only offered me a trial run after I sent them a picture from Halloween last year. Mackenna had gotten us invited to a frat masquerade ball, and she designed my outfit hoping I would land another ‘lover’. I had dressed in a corset and short tutu with fishnets and heels. My hair was piled in curls all Victorian-style and I had a lacy eye mask that was attached to a stick. I looked freaking awesome and I guess that the club management agreed.
I hadn’t considered what that picture might suggest to the management. It was a racy costume (even the shyest of girls dress skanky on Halloween) and I really hoped they wouldn’t want me to dress like that to deal with clients. I couldn’t show that much skin on a regular basis, I just don’t have that kind of courage.
I picked the sensual dress up off the bed and hung it on the back of the door. Moving to my dresser, I chose my nicest pair of black lacy panties and bra to match. They weren’t Victoria’s Secret level of sexy, but they were good enough to give me the confidence I needed to at least make it through my initial meeting with management. Finally, I grabbed my most stylish pair of black pumps and set them in the corner near the door.
Pulling back the covers of my bed and hitting the lamp on my nightstand, I settled on my side with my knees pulled to my chest. The intro to a song about moving through the scared times was playing in my mind, pushing me to work through my shit to get my project done. I couldn’t give up on this, even if I was scared shitless. And in total honesty, I was. But following through with this also burying some demons that I’ve had since I was really young. I glanced through the dark room back at the gorgeous dress hanging on the door hook. Even if I was scared out of my mind, I knew that I would look damn good during my journey through The Rabbit Hole. And that alone would help make it all just a little bit easier. Somewhere in the deep corners of my mind, a song about my milkshake bringing the boys around was playing. I’d look hot for the interview, for sure.