THE ADULT ENTERTAINER
I was working part-time as a receptionist at a Karate School. I loved talking to all of the different students that came through the doors and it really exposed me to some really interesting people. Some of the students actually become very good friends and others enjoyed my outgoing personality so much that they frequently came to me with life issues: dating, marriage problems, job issues, etc. But, one student among them stood out the most.
This student was Melissa. Melissa was a young gal about 25, she stood about 5’4 and had a stature that was a bit heavy. She was a very vibrant woman and instantly felt drawn to me. As the weeks passed on she finally approached me one day with a dilemma.
“I’m just not getting that much business in Arizona,” Melissa stated as she sat with her shoulders heavy. “I never had any trouble in my line of work back on the East Coast.”
“Melissa what do you do?” I asked, since she had peaked my interest. She smiled at me mysteriously and leaned closely to my desk so that no one else could hear. Now I was intrigued. She then made her fingers make air quotation marks as she said, “I’m an entertainer–if you know what I mean.”
I was shocked for many reasons! First, she was, remember, a bit heavy, and I wondered what man would hire her to “entertain” them. But I just figured “to each their own.” Second, I was surprised that she had so much business on the East Coast. I wondered, Do men love heavier women on the East Coast?
Third, why did she feel so at ease sharing this information with me?
I instantly tried to clear the shock from my face and act normal in spite of the news she had just shared with me. Even though I was a little uncomfortable, I tried to pretend that everything was normal.
As the weeks passed on I was shocked at how comfortable she felt sharing with me the details of her line of work. On one occasion she said, “Carol, you have see this. It’s the best one I’ve ever owned.” Then she proceeded to look around the room like she was about to do a drug deal with me. Slowly Melissa pulled from her bag a retail bag and showed me the contents with precision so that only I could see what was inside. It was a wig that was straight and was streaked with blue and silver.
“It was kinda expensive. But, I need it for my job.” Melissa beamed at me for acceptance.
“Oh, yeah….it’s nice,” I was at a loss for words. I didn’t really know what to say. I wanted to ask her, ” Why are you striping? I’m kinda grossed out. You need to get some help.” But, instead, I opted for polite and said, “I like the silver highlights.” Melissa looked so proud.
On another occasion, Melissa followed the same mysterious protocol as before, but this time she asked me to follow her to her car. “I want to show you something I got, and this time it was on sale.”
I smiled hesitantly, not wanting to hurt her feelings, but all this talk about being an “entertainer” was kind of grossing me out now. But, I continued to amuse her so I didn’t come across as judgmental. As she opened the package that she had carefully placed in her trunk, I was kind of anticipating what was inside. To be quite honest, I was a little scared as well. What is this girl going to show me now? Melissa proudly displayed a large crystal case that carried inside of it about fifty different eye shadows. Some were blue, some were purple, some of the makeup had sparkles in it! I was taken back! I couldn’t believe that “entertainers” had such elaborate make up schemes.
“That’s nice Melissa,” I stated as politely as I could, with a small forced smile.
“Carol, I can’t believe I got it on sale. It only cost me $50!” Melissa was smiling at me as though she were showing me a small puppy. “This is really going to help my business.”
I couldn’t imagine how using expensive make-up was going to help her “business.” I mean, as far as I was concerned, she was “entertaining” some sick people. They were obviously not of the norm, at least not to be hiring an overweight girl.
Well, a few months passed of interactions between us. Several times on a Friday night class she would abruptly end our conversations because she had to get ready for “work.” I cringed every time. Then, Melissa finally approached me with some bad news. Business wasn’t that good for her in Arizona and she decided that she was going to head back home to the East Coast. She expressed some genuine sadness and it was quite obvious that she was sad to leave, but she made six times more than what she was making here. And, even though our conversations were odd at times, I was going to miss her.
The last day she attended class, she gave me a hug and handed me a business card. I politely took it and turned it upside down on my desk without looking at it. I walked her out to her car and wished her luck in her move and told her to keep in touch.
When I got back to my desk I saw the business card lying there upside-down, and with curiosity, I turned it over. I was floored and couldn’t breathe out of pure shock when I saw a picture of Melissa wearing the blue wig and clown make up and the words:
Freckles the Clown
All this time I had thought she was a stripper, but in all actuality she was a clown!
This story is an example of ETHNOMETHODOLOGY (a sub-field in sociology). Ethnomethodology begins with the assumption that certain rules are in charge of certain social situations. In this case, ethnomethodology is mixed with SYMBOLIC INTERACTION and the concept of “The Definition of the Situation.” Humans tend to make snap decisions about the meaning of a social situation and what is going on in the scene. As Carol did in the story, and we’ve all experienced this; we enter a social situation, define what is transpiring, and then as the scene unfolds, we realize we assessed the situation in a completely different light than what was actually happening. It’s not uncommon for events such as this to cause some considerable embarrassment. This is a common experience in social life. Has something like this ever happened to you? If so, please feel free to share...