Sassy by name, Sassy by nature, I write to explode the myths which surround the lapdancing profession - standing up for the clubs, the girls and the customers. Its not always drinking champagne and playing with my tits - it can be hassle, hustling and hangovers. At heart I'm just a regular twenty-something posh cockney living in London who likes taking her clothes off...
The Morning after the night before
Lucy and Jeremy walked to the train station together. The light was bright and the air was crisp. It was a lovely sunny bright winter morning. They kept pace along the path; Jeremy’s feet straining not to break into the usual commuter quickstep, Lucy practically skipping along in last night’s socks, breathing in huge lung-fulls of air as if she was in a yoga class.
“It feels funny walking to work in the morning rather than coming home from it. I can’t wait to get my days back again. The morning air always reminds me of home.”
“Do you think it’ll take long?” Asked Jeremy.
“I hope not. It’s so frustrating that I spent thousands of pounds and millions of hours learning about something I can’t do to end up in a bar showing my tits to pervy men.” She glanced at him, waiting for his reaction. The flush of a man still embarrassed by sex played out across his cheeks, and for a moment he wasn’t a Senior Analyst going to Canary Wharf, he was a teenage boy caught with his willy in his hands. “Apart from you of course. You were nice – that’s why you got a date.” Lucy playfully punched Jeremy in the arm before linking her own through it. He felt his suit shift with her impetuous action, his businesslike interior going all lopsided under his coat.
“What are you going to do then?”
“Work in a gallery. They’re my favourite place in the world – I want to be surrounded by a lasting beauty, a worthwhile beauty that people pay for. I applied for everything going after I’d finished my degree, but it was a big fat resounding NO all round. Took forever altering cover letters and whatnot. Then the bloody banks took away my student privileges and now I’m in so much debt there’s no way I can get a normal job. There’s no jobs anyway – that’s what the papers say. Recession. Doubley-dip.”
“You in a lot of debt then?” He vaguely remembered her mentioning credit cards and university fees last night, and something about mountains, before he’d cut her off with an explanation that he’d talked about money all day and couldn’t they try another topic? Now, however, with a freshly laundered shirt on and a tie around his neck, it seemed perfectly reasonable to talk about finance. He looked at his watch. At this pace they had four more minutes of walking and talking before the station, where they’d have three minutes till the quarter-past train… He was OK. He would arrive at the office perfectly on time.
Lucy was still gurgling on by his side. “Yep. Tons on fees. 9 a year it was – but you pay that later. Thousands on credit cards – I think it’s 10, who knows, there are like, three of them… then a student overdraft to pay off but that doesn’t count really I guess, plus errr…”
“When did you finish university Lucy?” He interrupted. Facts were good. Dates. Tangible concepts he could grasp at through her entertaining yet diverting babble that was temporarily accompanying his daily commute.
“Last summer, total blast, couldn’t believe..”
“Ten k on 20 – 25% APR plus the fees right?”
“Something like that. Every time I’m on holiday the interest bit gets a bit more and I never realise, then all the bills get bigger.”
Jeremy slowed down from a commuter walk to a lost in thought stroll. He was counting on his fingers.
“By my reckoning, you could pay half of it off with your Christmas earnings and refinance the remainder. You won’t even notice it after the New Year.”
Lucy gave a loud snort which turned into a smokers throaty cackle, the sound seeming to bounce along the pavement bollards like a ball amongst skittles.
“Stripper’s aren’t millionaires Jeremy! It’s going to take forever to pay off that ten grand, like it or not.” But the sound of her laugh hadn’t bounced off her face, it had dissolved amongst the furrows of fake-tan on her creased forehead. It would take a long time, for ever and ever, and just like the rest of her friends, she was 22 and fucked. Lucy paused at this thought, so Jeremy stopped too. She was shaking her head and muttering about the futility of life and why was it so bloody cold when all you wanted was a fag, her hands poking around in her pockets. He could see the seconds passing by as swiftly as her good mood.
Freeing her hand from the warmth of her coat pocket her took it in his cold one.
“Let me explain. You just need a plan, that’s all. You’ve finished university Lucy, so treat it as a full time job and use the money to break out of this cycle. Success is all about successive stages – applying your talents, getting interviews, getting a job, getting promoted. You say you can’t do that because you’ve got no money but I think you can’t do that because you haven’t tried to start it up properly.”
“That’s easy for you to say.”
“I got my job through an internship my university set up for me, yes – but I still had to compete to get it. I’ve got a boss, I’ve got colleagues, I’ve got clients – but in the end it’s all down to me. You can’t expect life to hand you everything on a plate.”
“I work hard!”
(Jeremy didn’t entirely agree with this statement. She was, after all, a Bachelor of the Arts exotic dancer from Devon and had therefore probably never had a proper days work in her life.)
“It’s too early for a lecture Jeremy. Can you drop it?” Lucy’s mouth pouted as she started patting her pockets for a fag once more.
“I’m not lecturing you – it’s advice. Listen, think smart like me; 10k with a 5k loan. 5k left. £200 over 25 days – done. Over by Christmas.”
“I don’t want to owe anybody else any money.”
“It’s called being smart Lucy. Financial savvy.”
Lucy wondered if he was simply being patronising or if he had packed a magic wand in his breast pocket that morning. “Right. Like a banks going to help me. I’m self-employed. I’m a stripper. I’m a red flag. I’m…”
“…a liability. I know. Not if you save £200 every shift. It’ll take you 25 days.”
She stiffened, suddenly alert as a meerkat. “25? Like Christmas?”
Jeremy suppressed a snigger. “If you want to think of it like that, yeah. 25 days of saving – just like Christmas.” He patted her encouragingly on the arm, giving it a little squeeze to press home his point. “You could even set the 25th December as your deadline.”
Lucy’s eyes grew large with possibility as she imagined a Christmas Day free of ‘URGENT’ emails and Indian call-centres. A determined feeling began bundling up in her stomach, making its presence known with a heaviness, turning into a kind of lightness pushing aside the hungover nerves and gurgitating egg. She could feel it floating up, an orb of feeling and resolution, until it reached her head and burst in a feeling of clarity and thought that had needed no drugs, no yogic breathing, no affirmations and definitely no magazine advice. Just a man who could do maths and figure out solutions.
“You really think I can clear all my debts by the 25th of December?”
“Not clear – pay off and refinance. But essentially, yes. If you can stick to your goals.”
“No debts! Amazing! Can you imagine… I could start applying for jobs in galleries then, or assist an auctioneer – or go back for a PHD. MA. Doctor of…!” She tapped his other arm. “SOLD! To the sexy man in the coat!”
“I’d start applying now. Get your name seen. It can be a long process.”
“So I could. Or perhaps not. I don’t know. I don’t care. Oh Jeremy this is wonderful – you’re so clever!” She flung her arms around him and gave him a big bear hug whilst the other commuters siphoned themselves around them. They must all be trying to make the quarter past train. “Now we have to meet up again – I want to tell you how I’m doing!”
“You can’t keep on taking nights off work to go on dates all the time. You need to treat this seriously. Make an action plan.”
“An action plan! Exactly! I’ll make one and stick it on my wall. I’ll get some gold stars.”
“Excel! Of course I’ll excel – I’ll excel at work till I am the sexiest moneymaker that ever took her clothes off. I’ve got a goal now, don’t you see – how do you make it seem so easy? Why didn’t I think of Christmas? Even when I’m in the West End I’ll see Christmas and I’ll remember the plan – our plan – I had a dream before, but now I have a plan!”