"What the hell are these?" He makes a drink motion and gestures toward a soda bar behind the main stage. A couple of guys in Steeler jerseys and chain necklaces shoot a game of pool just inside the right-hand side of the door. About the only light from the interior is black light, and it clangs and wiggles on the bright stripes of the puffy chairs and casts an eerie tone on the girls. It makes their eyes and teeth milky blue. At the bar we trade our tickets for Cokes, no ice, and over the booming bass of 50 Cent's "In Da Club," my friend yells, "I might get a lap dance from the white girl!"

"They can't even take their clothes off anymore!" I yell back...then ask, "Wait! Which one?" He points to a tall, slender college-aged girl, and I yell, "Oh, you mean Svetlana, the illegal Russian immigrant?" We sit in black-lit chairs that have the bonkers green-and-blue pattern and make stories for each of the strippers.

"That's what happens to your body when you've had three cesareans and you've eaten deep-fried everything for 30 years."

"This one worked as a bank teller until she did a little time upstate for stabbing her ex-husband."

"That one's a man."

When the doorman passes our table on the way to the john, he leans over, thumbs his neckhole, and croaks, "Cancer," as though we asked him why he had a hole in his neck.

"Let's do it," I say after doling out a handful of ones to various G-stringed working moms, and we carry our cups of cola out of the joint and back to my place, where we mix it with what whiskey I've got and we do a couple rails of blow off a CD case on my kitchen counter.

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