Today is a strange day in and of itself.
It’s May 7th, the day before May 8th, which was my best friend and fellow Taurus Klaus’s birthday. It’s been 18 years since he passed away but I always remember him every year on this date, since he was exactly one week older than me. And he never let me forget that!
I also got word today from my good friend Jeanette that her best friend Bridget had passed away earlier this week. I had met Bridget on several occasions through Jeanette, but my favourite memory of her is this:
I was almost five months pregnant at the time. Not quite showing and unable to drink. But my friend Jeanette was getting married. So I went out for her hen night/stagette/doe night – whatever you want to call it when you take the bride-to-be out for her last night of debauchery, instead of sitting around opening up presents with prissy ribbons and wearing hats made out of paper plates and ribbons and bullshit like that.
It was in December, because she was getting married in January. There were six of us. Had to be because we all squished into a boat of a vehicle. One of those Cadillac/Lincoln type deals from the 80s that had bench seats in the front and back. We all had nicknames – I was Preggo, of course. And we met at Bridget’s house.
Bridget was married with two daughters who were extremely close with their mother. Bridget was warm and welcoming and made me feel at ease about going out with a bunch of drinkers and being one of two people who weren’t imbibing (the other being the designated driver). She took the time to make me feel special by getting me to talk about what was going on in my crazy life and how I was doing and would I be ready to travel the following month for Jeanette’s wedding. So we had our drinks, we had our name tags, Bridget gave her daughters one last scolding before bed so they wouldn’t give their dad a hard time, and we went out into the frosty, dark night.
Squished in the back of this massive boat-like vehicle, Bridget was telling us about these wonderful new Cadbury Christmas Elves that had pop rocks in them. So we had to stop at a gas station and find them. They were weird because your tongue would be coated in Dairy Milk richness when all of a sudden, the pop rock would explode and stick to your tongue and the roof of your mouth, sit there, and crackle. Once you got over the weirdness, they were the best damn Christmas candies on earth!
Thanks to pregnancy brain, all I remember about the ride to where we were going was that it was long, and dark, and cold, and full of pop rocks. We got to some building in the East end of Toronto and had to climb a steep flight of stairs; absolutely perfect for a pregnant woman with a fear of heights. We seemed to be the first people who arrived for the 11pm show. Lucky for me, they made virgin vodka crans.
We were laughing and chatting and having a grand old time, watching the club fill up with nothing but women. Not one gay man. Not one man dragged along by his wife. The only men were sound guys and barkeeps.
And then the main attraction men came out to your typical cheesy songs, dressed in chaps and cowboy hats and leather and the like, to hoots and hollers and whistles. You would never hear anything like that in a club featuring female dancers.
Then the strangest thing I have ever seen in a club, strip or not, happened. Women from the audience left their tables and went to stand on stage. I was looking around to see if they had been selected by staff, because of course we would have put our doe on stage with the rest of them. But no, these women seemed to just volunteer and walk up and knew what time to stand on stage.
Then we started to squeal in shock, horror, and hilarity. The male strippers went up to each of these women standing on stage and dirty danced with them, while the women pawed the well-built, washboard-abed, smooth-chested specimens of the male sex writhing against them. Some of them even kissed. It was just nasty!
It was that night when I decided I would never visit another male strip club again.
Bridget's daughters are a decade older now, and they won’t remember the night that they almost got in big trouble just before their mom went out with a bunch of crazy women.
What Bridget and Klaus had in common is that they were both fighters until their bodies could fight no more. They both wanted to live as long as they could, through the pain and drain and the visits by friends and families, faces unrecognizable behind masks (which we took off when the nurses left the room), capped & gowned to the nines, as if we were at the Center for Disease Control.
Yet sttill, at the very end, each of them would have given you the nightshirts off their backs if they saw that you were shivering at the side of their bed.
Rest In Peace, Klaus. I miss you terribly, my friend, even if we never did do Remingtons together.
Rest in Peace, Bridget. Thank you for your kindness.