With the film (yes, film) Magic Mike currently in theatres, I figured there couldn’t be a more perfect time to tell this story.
Twas a Saturday evening in November and I anxiously waited
for my 19th birthday party to start with breath that was bated.
Just kidding. I thought I could do it but the story is just too intricate. Carrying on…
So it was my 19th birthday. I was in my second year of university and lived in a house with five other girls and one guy. For my party, we planned to have people over to “pre-drink” (which is what we called it, but it isn’t entirely accurate. We didn’t “pre-” anything. We drank) and then we’d head downtown to a bar (The Ceeps, for all you Londoners/Westerners. Classic).
Around dinner time, a couple of my roommates and I headed to the mall to run some last-minute errands. I was apprehensive about leaving the house so close to when I expected my guests to arrive, but somehow I ended up going. On our way home, literally a block away from our house, we got a call from one of the roommates who insisted we needed to pick up Little Caesars pizza, which was back at the mall. Are you freaking kidding me??? I said we’d stop at the pizza place near our house instead since we were so close, but she insisted that they specifically wanted Little Caesars. She was being downright ludicrous. Though I strongly protested, the driver was in control, and she decided we were going to drive right past our street, turn around, and go back to the mall to get this special pizza. I sulked in the back seat.
In case you haven’t picked up on this yet, I’m not exactly the coolest person in the world (actually, in my world, I am. But I suspect in other worlds, I am not). And I especially wasn’t in 2004. So when a university party with real people and alcohol and a specially burned party CD was revolving around me, I wanted to leave zero room for error. So here I was, about to be late to my own super cool university party. I couldn’t believe this was happening.
Something to note about my roommate who was driving: We always lovingly joked around about her having “disregard” because she usually handled things (borrowed clothing, food, situations) with the grace and care of a bull in a china shop.
Well, we picked up the stupid pizza and as we were about to get back in the car, she turned and looked at me like she’d just accidentally taped over an episode of Survivor.
She had locked the keys in the car.
I’m thinking, “Typical. JUST typical. OF COURSE she’d manage to lock the keys in the car on MY BIRTHDAY right when I need to be home with guests arriving ANY MINUTE!” And I still needed to straighten my hair and polish my clogs.
We paced outside the car as we called the house and arranged for one of the other roommates with a car to come bring us the spare key. We lived about a five-minute drive away, but somehow it took her half an hour to come rescue us. At this point, I was losing my mind. I kept it cool because I didn’t want to be that loser girl who gets mad at her friends on her birthday, but I was fucking fuming.
When we finally got home, I raced through the door and up the stairs to get ready. None of the guests had arrived yet, because, unbeknownst to me (the party expert), apparently no one arrives to a party on time. Huh!
When I came back downstairs in my party wear, I noticed the living room was re-arranged. Couches and chairs lined the walls with a big open space in the middle. And there were new huge speakers set up in the corner. I said, “Awwwww, you guys! Thanks for the speakers for the party!”
Then, they started force-feeding me drinks.
Raspberry Sourpuss was my drink of choice during that time (I know. I KNOW). They had me do shot after shot.
I was loving life. The guests had all arrived and I was bouncing around the house. I went out to the front porch and found an older man standing with a younger man in an A.C. Slater-esque ensemble. I learned that they were our new neighbours coming to check out the party. My party was so cool it was attracting outsiders!
Later, I found myself seated in the middle of the room. All of a sudden, the theme song from Cops (bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do…) started blaring from the speakers. A.C. Slater was now slowly slinking into the room, dressed as a cop.
The events of the past two hours were swirling in my head–getting me out of the house, the ridiculous Little Caesars pizza request, locking the keys in the car, the slow rescue effort, the speakers, shoving alcohol down my throat, the “new neighbours”…It all led to one unbelievable conclusion:
MY FRIENDS BOUGHT ME A STRIPPER FOR MY BIRTHDAY.
I learned later they had been planning it for ages. They still, to this day, get uncomfortable and change the subject when I inquire about the cost. Everyone was in on it. I was totally surprised. Every planned detail kept me in the dark. They had to delay my return from running errands, hence insisting that Little Caesars pizza was the only pizza they would eat. They arranged for my friend with disregard to lock the keys in the car because they knew I’d believe she’d do that. They weren’t sure how I was going to take it–be really pissed or find it really funny–so as insurance, they loaded me up with alcohol. The “new neighbours” were the stripper and a man we later dubbed “Lerch” because he stood creepily at the back operating the music. It was all an intricate plan woven to lead to this moment.
Now, a stripper is probably the last thing I would ever expect or request for my birthday. But that’s what made it so amazing. Of course, and to the relief of my friends, I happened to find it HILARIOUS. It was the funniest night of my life and I’ve never laughed so hard and so long–not even at a that’s what she said.
The stripper’s name was Tiger Max. After he stripped off his cop uniform, he was dressed in nothing but a tiger print thong. He gave the thong to me as a souvenir. I still have it. In a box in the attic of my dad’s house, filled with tokens from my past such as report cards, dance trophies, finger paintings, and diaries, lies a tiger print thong in a plastic baggie.
I wish I could post pictures from that night, but I can’t. Many of my friends featured in the photos with the naked man are now teachers and working professionals. Probably not the best idea. Also, Tiger Max may have since extracted himself from stripper-dom and might not want his stripper past on the internet for the world to see. While it would be lovely for him to move on from the stripper world, deep down I really hope that right now, somewhere, Tiger Max is hauling his speakers from party to party to the delight of women everywhere.
So, since I can’t post pictures, here is my artists’ rendition of Tiger Max.
Stop wiping the spot on your screen–the little red spot on his lip isn’t accidental. He had a cold sore. He was short. But man, could he move. He was a hands on stripper. He targeted the shyest, most uncomfortable girls in the room and forced them to participate. The following series of pictures are accurate renderings of the original photos I have of Tiger Max working his magic on my poor friends. The names have been altered to protect their identity.
We were squealing and laughing and crying and laughing and screaming and laughing through his whole routine. Afterward, he and Lerch for some reason decided to hang out for a bit. Nothing is more awkward than sitting on a couch next to a stripper trying to strike up conversation with the girls he was just naked in front of moments ago. “Sooooooo, you ladies are all in school?…”
The rest of the night doesn’t even matter: Wearing the tiger print thong OVER my pants in public; getting asked to leave The Ceeps; falling down, repeatedly, while walking up the stairs at our next bar, Jim Bob’s, and again getting asked to leave; telling random strangers that I was wearing a thong over my pants because, “I had sex with a stripper!” (what?!) While these are all legendary and typical facets of a 19th birthday, they all paled in comparison to the Tiger Max experience.
My friends are gods.