“You’re not going to tell anyone, are you?”
The question was strange to me. Was I going to tell anyone? Of course I was. This was rich. Juicy. How could I commit to keeping information this amazing to myself? I couldn’t. And I don’t believe I should have to do so.
My relationship with this boy was rocky at best. I spent five years chasing after him, despite his boredom after two. The second half of our relationship was violent: dotted with hateful messages, disgusted words of rage shouted in tearful faces, negligence, suspicion, and bruised egos. We slammed doors and always went for the jugular. I feel as though I spent months crumpled on the floor, nursing a broken heart. I was no saint. But I was naive and hopeful; I made myself solely available to him and I was unrelentingly patient. He did not hesitate to exploit that. Again and again I forgave and attempted to fix our damaged dynamic. Again and again my efforts were punished.
And now I have learned that he’s a stripper at a nearby gay club that encourages full-frontal nudity. I still can’t fully wrap my head around it. My ex boyfriend, the one with the permanent scowl is a stripper? He refused to so much as say hello to my friends, but he gives men he just met private attention in a back room? For years he criticized people who made money off of their bodies: strippers, prostitutes, those in the pornography industry, and even models, all received the same response. This is some kind of spectacular about face. I am bewildered. I am delighted. I have not laughed so hard in weeks.
Naturally, I did what any better-off ex-girlfriend would do: I took a few of my friends to his club for drinks. Contrary to the list of performers for the night, he was not there. In hindsight, I am glad. Not only am I entirely disinterested in seeing my ex nude, which is something I had previously neglected to consider, but my streak of vindictiveness was fleeting. At the time, I was intoxicated by the idea of handing him a dollar bill, my smirk saying everything my words could not. The next morning, however, I was embarrassed by my attempt to make him uncomfortable. I have made it abundantly clear that I do not want him to come to my job, whether or not I am working. I have apologized for my hypocrisy. But to keep his secret? That’s another beast altogether.
“Marie, don’t go spreading this around.”
Our mutual friend has been pleading with me. But the facts are these: I have already told a good many people within my circle, and what they do with the information is beyond me. Additionally, I simply don’t feel as though I owe my ex anything at all. He was tirelessly awful to me for years, and it would be shockingly presumptuous for him to expect me to hold my tongue solely to benefit him. I cannot tolerate someone demanding my respect after deliberately showing me none. Having to lie in the bed you made is never an easy lesson, but in this case I have no sympathy. If I refrain from telling more people about my ex’s secret identity, it will not be out of respect for him. I recognize that I hold a lot of power in this situation, and I hope my ex is nothing short of grateful that I am not abusing it. Truly, though, I am disinterested in the power I have. My choices in this matter are only a reflection of who I am as a person, and nothing else. I have no desire to spitefully tell his father or anyone else that he is keeping this from. But it is not related to him; it’s because I have never been intent on making things more difficult for people. I can think of thousands of things I would rather be doing than trying to ruin someone’s life. Especially someone of whom I am so happy to be rid.
On another note, I don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with being a stripper. I know that my ex isn’t doing it for any financial reasons; he is well-educated and well-paid. I am uncertain why it is then, that he is ashamed of this weekend job. I tend to be pretty sex-positive and more than anything, I’m confused by his out-of-character, seemingly-shameful double life.
The lesson here, I think, is that you shouldn’t do things that you feel worried about and ashamed of doing. If this weren’t the case, then my actions would weigh absolutely nothing. The other lesson, of course, is that you should maybe not be horrible to your girlfriend. Luckily for this one, I’m pretty put-together and I don’t act maliciously. But really, don’t ever try to demand my respect.