The Dancer Versus the Mustache
Debbie was five minutes into the job interview when the restaurant manager’s mustache winked at her. Impossible, of course, but it happened, just the same. She’d asked the prick if there were any open waitress positions and he’d answered, “Well, that depends on what positions you’re willing to get into,” and then his mustache winked. So help me God, Debbie thought, the fucking thing winked.
Ron, the aforementioned prick with the aforementioned mustache, noticed her looking at his whiskers. He leaned back in his chair, took a comb out of his breast pocket, and ran it through five times through each side. Five times exactly. Then he put the comb back in his pocket and puckered his lips to give the mustache a better platform. It was enormous. The biggest mustache Debbie had ever seen.
“What position did you have in mind?” Debbie asked, disbelieving the words even as they came out of her mouth. The great Dynamite Deb, who’d spent half of her life getting the upper hand on the best chauvinist assholes in the business, now being played by a goddamn amateur. What a son of a bitch life is, she thought. What a bastard.
She’d been a headliner once. Her name had been in lights. She’d danced every club on the strip and was practically royalty. In fifteen years, she never bought herself a single drink. Not one. Men lined up at the doors on the coldest nights and paid twenty bucks just to see her, and not one of them ever complained about the price. There wasn’t a man alive who saw Debbie dance that wouldn’t look you straight in the eye and tell you that nobody can close a show like Dynamite Deb–nobody.
Now, there she was, sitting across the desk from a drooling manager in a cheap suit, begging for a job. Christ, the things that time does to us, she thought. It isn’t fair. She didn’t feel any different from that twenty-year-old kid that used to bring the house down. She still had all the same moves, her body just jiggled more when she made them. The worst part about getting old is that you’re still young inside, but nobody would believe it if you told them.
Ron locked his hands behind his head and leaned back in his chair, kicking his feet up on his desk. “What would you say is your best position?”
“I was hoping you had some waitress shifts open. I could bus tables. Look, I’ll wash dishes if you need me to. If I don’t come up with rent money in about five days, I’m going to be sleeping on a park bench.”
Ron smiled. Tiny wheels turned behind his beady eyes, “My, oh my, Debbie. That sounds like a very tight spot. Is that right? Is it a...very...tight...spot?”
Debbie dug the nails of one hand into the back of the other to keep from losing her cool. “Yes, it is.”
Ron's mustache bounced excitedly. “Well Debbie,” he schmoozed, leaning over the desk. “I’m willing to help you with your tight spot, if you’re willing to help me with mine.”
"You want me to help you with your tight spot?" Debbie asked, feigning confusion.
Ron’s face went blank as he realized the mutually penetrative implications of what he'd said. He stammered, “I mean, I can help you with your problem if you can help me with mine.”
“And what’s your problem, Ron?”
He leaned back in his seat and sighed. A faraway, wistful look filled her eyes. “I’ll tell you Debbie, people think it’s easy, running a restaurant. All they see is the nice car, the power, but I’ll tell you, it gets downright lonesome sometimes.”
Debbie covered her mouth to stifle her laughter. “What can I do to help?”
Ron raised one eyebrow. “We’re both adults here. Use your imagination.”
“Look,” Debbie snapped, “just tell me what the hell you want me to do, already.”
Ron's smile disappeared. His face flushed red and his mustache bristled. “Listen, I’m trying to keep things pleasant. If you don’t like it you can get the fuck out of here. Do you think I don’t know why you didn’t put any work history on your application? Do you think I’m stupid? You’re a whore. Not even a whore. You’re too old even for that, anymore, aren’t you? You think you can throw some makeup on and cover that up? You’ve got whore written all over you. So, if you don’t like what I’ve got to say, then you get right on out of here, find something somewhere else. It’s one hell of a job market out there, though, and from what I've seen you don’t have much of a resume.”
The last time a man had talked to Debbie like that, she’d broken a beer bottle over his face. But that was a long time ago and a different world altogether. She’d been somebody else, then. She’d been Dynamite Deb, hottest act on the strip. Now, she was just Debbie. Middle aged, soft around the edges, one week away from being homeless. She couldn’t afford to be picky, anymore. There were worse ways to make money than this, and if she wasn’t careful she’d find out all about them.
The moment the decision was made, something inside of her turned off, as though she'd flipped an autopilot switch in her mind. “I’m sorry. I do appreciate your help, Ron. What do you want me to do?”
Ron’s rage disappeared. The blood drained out of his face. It wasn’t difficult to guess where it was going. “I’ll have you working tonight if you kiss it. Right here, right now.” His mustache seemed ready to leap off his face, like a dog on a chain, and he calmed it with long, soothing strokes.
In Debbi’s mind, she went back to her first time on stage. She'd been eighteen years old. Not an uncommonly beautiful girl, not as beautiful as the other girls on the strip, anyway. But she had chutzpah. Moxie. A fire in her belly that never faded and never quit.
Family and friends laughed when she told them she was going to be a dancer. You’re pretty, they said, but you’re not that pretty. They said she’d make a fool out of herself. They said she'd be laughed off the stage. She listened to every word and swore that she would not only become a dancer, she’d become the greatest dancer that city had ever seen–a fucking diva.
On the night of her eighteenth birthday, she stepped onto the stage, threw her top into the crowd, and blew the whole goddamn house away. Nobody had ever seen anything like it. When it was over, the audience was left paralyzed in their seats in a desperate sweat, cocks so hard that they throbbed in pain. Nobody ever laughed about Debbie dancing again.
“Take your pants off,” she said numbly in Ron’s office.
Ron shot up from the desk, fumbling with his belt in excitement. He got tangled in his pant legs and almost fell over. Finally he wrestled them off, tossed them on the desk, and stood gaping at her in blue boxer shorts with white flowers on them. When Debbie glanced down at the undergarment, he grumbled, “My wife buys me this shit.”
Debbie shrugged. In her mind she was driving home from that first night on stage, Bob Seger cranked to full volume, pounding her hands against the roof and whooping it up. Goddamn, is there any feeling like that? Showing the whole world that they didn’t know what the hell they were talking about, after all? Proving once and for all that you’d been right the whole time. You really were a star. A fucking diva.
She glanced at Ron's underwear. He followed her gaze down, pulled them off, and tossed them atop the pants on the desk.
Eventually, she thought, time gets its hands on everything, and it never gives them back again. Eventually, the best parts of your life become stories nobody wants to hear. The best days of your life nothing but blank spaces on job applications. Eventually, the manager's and their mustaches always win.
Debbie stood up from her chair and walked to Ron. He closed his eyes, mustache quivering in anticipation.
"Are you ready?" she asked.
"Yes. Fucking hurry up, already," Ron growled, sweat beading on his forehead.
"Okay," Debbie said. She gripped Ron's shoulders to get her balance, brought one foot all the way back, and kicked him in the balls with every ounce of force in her frame. It was the first time in her life that she was glad for the extra weight she'd put on.
Ron's mouth shot open. His eyes bugged out like a cartoon character whose foot had been crushed by a giant anvil and his mustache launched from his face, twisting and twirling through the air before hitting to the floor.
The mustache scurried for cover beneath the desk. Before it could escape, Debbie impaled it upon her heel and ground it beneath her foot. The mustache let out a little squeal and died.
Ron collapsed to the floor, clutching his genitals, mouth open in a soundless scream. The moment his knees hit the floor he fell over on his side, quivering in shock.
Debbie grabbed his pants and underwear from the desk and left the office. Out in the hallway she pulled the fire alarm. As the employees scrambled outside, she stopped a waitress and told her, "Ron's locked inside his office. Make sure the firefighters know that they need to break the door down." The waitress nodded and bolted outside.
Debbie tossed Ron's clothes in a dumpster in the parking lot and walked to her car. She got inside and turned the radio all the way up. The fire trucks were pulling into the parking lot just as she was pulling out. She slipped into traffic and hit the gas.
Eventually, she thought, time will take it all. You can't hold it off forever. But on this day, at least, there was one thing that time couldn’t get its hands on, and that was the fact that there wasn’t a man alive that ever saw Debbie dance that wouldn’t look you straight in the eye and tell you, without hesitation, that nobody closes a show like Dynamite Deb–nobody.
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