I am not a fan of strip clubs. That’s where quitters dwell. Hapless tongue tied miscreants with not a whit of wit about them infected with the need for company but lacking the confidence to cast themselves out and risk rejection. Dollars split the difference and they get to look. It reeks of communism.
I didn’t always hold this opinion. Fresh from my driver’s test, sixteen year old me applied and got a job as a delivery driver at a DeVinci’s Pizza in Homewood. The owners, who lived across from my house at the time, were educated and well traveled. They spoke multiple languages (I think she spoke six). They knew Leonardo’s last name was misspelled when they bought the restaurant, but the ads “Home of the Mona Lisa” were out there and business was rolling and you don’t fix what ain’t broke. Forget the name. The salient bit to grasp is that at sixteen, I was a delivery driver in Homewood at a restaurant that would get frequent orders from the strippers at Sammy’s Go-Go.
Imagine a quiet Wednesday night, many years ago. Brian, Jason, and I are school friends. We are sixteen or seventeen and finding out about the world. We collude and conspire on so many fronts. We are practically brothers. We also work together at DeVinci’s as delivery drivers and an order from Sammy’s just came in.
Ever seen three teenage boys try to kill each other to do some work? The prize was immense. The winning driver would take the orders – it was always at least five orders with five separate checks to five separate girls – and meet the customers: bare
breasted women cooing “Aw! you are sooooo cute!” and giving you absurd tips, all in ones of course. If you were very, very, lucky, you would hear the magic words: “Desire (pronounced “Desaray”) is on stage, honey. Wait right here. She’ll be done in a minute.” At sixteen you stood and watched topless ladies writhe due to a loophole in the law that allowed underage high school students to ogle breast as long as they possessed a pizza delivery warming bag. The pizza bag is an immediate pass by lines waiting behind a velvet rope, a salve to otherwise suspicious bouncers, and +5 vs. off duty cops.
I had not gone back to the club, but a few years ago my brother in law told me that he and his twin brother meet their grandfather for drinks at Sammy’s about once a month on a Saturday afternoon. My grandfather on my mother’s side was a strict Catholic and my grandfather on my father’s side, when at fourteen I innocently asked him to rent Fast Times at Ridgemont High because some kids at school said it was funny, at one point yelled out to my grandmother who was in another room, “Dammit Nanette! They are showing me a fornication on my television!” The idea of a strip club with a grandfather was so foreign that when I was invited to join them last weekend, I jumped at the chance to ask my seven months pregnant wife if I could go drink beer in a place where lithe-ish (it was Saturday afternoon) women bare their breasts.
I’m not comfortable with the dynamic of someone pretending to be attracted to me because I might give them money. I’ve been told by “dancers” at multiple bachelor parties to “Loosen up.” But if I had not gone and met my brother-in-law and company I would have missed the following exchange:
Stripper walks by in a half shirt meant to be worn over a t-shirt and smiles.
Brother-in-law to me: “My wife has that shirt.”
Stripper, kind of horrified: “Did you just say you could see my p***y?”
Me: “That’s what I heard.”
She laughed so hard when we told her what he really said and she was so disarmed that she couldn’t do the whole stripper thing anymore. Though the elephant in the room was still her partially exposed ta-tas, she talked to us and we maintained eye contact. I was finally not uncomfortable in a strip club. I had a desire (pronounced desire) for DeVinci’s Outrageous Steak Sandwich because more than pizza, more than lasagna, more than any other dish on the menu, that was what my high school strippers ordered.
But it doesn’t exist anymore, at least in name. The same sandwich is on the menu as the Stromboli, an uninspired moniker. The Outrageous Steak is made with strips of stew meat sauteed with Worchestire, probably round, but cut so thinly that toughness is not an issue. The strips are put on a sizzle platter with a blend of mozzarella and provolone, sliced onions and mushrooms, and thinned brown gravy. The results get piled on a hoagie roll and the universe pauses. It may be the best sandwich in town.
For those in Birmingham, DeVinci’s Pizza is at 2707 18th Street So., (205) 879-1455. Sorry, but they don’t deliver anymore. Apres moi, le deluge.