I met my husband at a strip bar.
Not just a strip bar, but the biggest cowboy strip bar in a little college town in the Western U.S.
To clarify, neither of us was working the joint.
I was a 1st year. In business school speak, 1st year = freshman. And he was a 2nd year. Read: senior.
The school is known around the West for its finance and sports programs. So the MBA program was full of dudes. Serious snake ranch city.
So, of course it makes sense that a few of us 1st year gals decided to prop up one of our own who was feeling blue by surprising her with… (a) A nice dinner? No. (b) Night out dancing with baby lamb frat boys? No?
Why, I know, let’s cheer her up by taking her to a gentlemen’s club!
I still have no idea how we came up with this scheme but I think it hatched in utter delirium while we were writing an accounting case study at 3 A.M. Not to mention that ladies get in free to said gentleman’s club and we were all broke grad students.
Word spread around the b-school that the first year girls were headed to the biggest cowboy strip bar in town. So a bunch of second year guys – the seniors who btw had Fridays off and had spent the entire day drinking – decided to show up and… well, poach the first years.
We roll into the cowboy strip bar tryin’ to be all cool. Like we hang out in these places every day, which is freaking hard to do because public nudity is completely legal in this state. No lie. You can walk down the street buck naked and as long as you’re not doing anything gross, it’s perfectly legit. So you can only imagine what kinds of liberties are being taken in a strip club. NAS-tay!
Anyway, there were a dozen second years at the rail being, uh, entertained. Cowboy among them.
Now, it should have given me pause that he had his baseball cap on backwards. A five dollar bill turned vertically and tucked into its back strap. I should have thought, pig. But, no, I thought:
I’m going to marry that man
And five years, three cities, four moves, three jobs (him), two jobs (me) and three months later I did.
These days I often wonder if he looks at me and thinks, “lady, this is SO not what I signed up for.” I feel bad for him. I’m such a mess these days. I often feel hopeless. I am definitely not as much fun. He surely wants the old me back. Not this crazy lady who cries at the drop of a hat. Heck, I want the old me back, too.
This year’s ups and downs in the conception arena have been rough on us, the Cowboy and me. I sometimes wonder if I’m driving the bus on the baby thing and have left him sulking in the passenger seat, staring out the window at the wide open range.
It feels this way because I’m actually living it: the ovulating, the two week wait, the real & imagined pregnancy symptoms, the miscarriages (holy living hell if you ask me) and the recovery. And he’s observing it. Living with it through me, yes, but not physically living through any of it.
And then he’ll say it. A simple remark that makes me realize that he's got at least one of his hands on the steering wheel, too. (Come to think of it, do you know any guy who uses 2 hands on the steering wheel?
One simple, reaffirming sentence from Cowboy and I know in my heart that everything will be OK in one way or another some day. In that instant, I know it as solidly as I knew I was going to marry him when I saw him at that strip bar. You see, he has faith where I have none. And he helps me catch a glimpse of that faith, which I can cling to when it feels like there is not much left.
Because, you see, I have him. And when you think about it, that’s one helluvalot I have left.
* Important Note: please don’t let Cowboy’s nickname and the cowboy strip bar where we met lead you to believe we are rednecks. Yes, Cowboy is originally from the Lone Star State (as am I) but right now he’s out golfing in shorts I bought him that have little golden retrievers embroidered all over them.