Wednesday, May 11, 2005


First steps. It doesn’t get more momentous than that.

Genevieve was holding onto the back of her plastic pink car. She teetered and balanced as she has for over a month now. Her toes curled under as if they were digging for stability. Then, left leg locked, Genny stepped forward.

Her face flushed with an open smile. Then her right leg scuffed its way forward. She made it halfway across the living room rug with me just assisting her legs from behind.

All the planning in her head. All the watching and studying. I can just imagine her dreams tonight—her pink feet scurrying across the playground floor, crawling up the plastic curly slide and standing upright triumphantly on the top before she plops down and slides down with the wind rushing through her crooked bangs.

I’m reminded of my own first stripper steps. I had assumed I would be able to study the other dancers before I had to perform, but I was the first dancer to arrive and thus the first dancer to strip. I had not prepared at all for my first day except for the buying of costumes and the shaving of legs and bikini area.

I stepped onto the long runway stage at The Hideaway after slipping sweaty dollar bills into the jukebox. I don’t remember my first song choice, but I do remember that it was a fast song, something that I could just move to without stopping. Before the song began I wobbled downstage to the brass pole and reached out with my right hand and clung to its coolness.

The music rumbled from far corners and I felt the eyes from all around me land on my flesh. I swallowed hard and pushed one foot forward in front of the next. I shimmied down to the end of the stage, thrust my hip out and swung my hair over my shoulder. I spun around and began to dance. My legs pushed forward by the sheer strength of my will and the fear of what would happen if I stopped moving.

Once I flopped into bed that first night my legs ached and my knees trembled. My dreams were mixed with banging music, flashing lights and quivering stripper steps.

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