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Last week a girlfriend told me about a group in San Antonio that’s looking for female mentors to help young women who are exotic dancers. Our conversation reminded me of a dancer I met in my 20’s. I wrote this piece soon after. Since most of us will never meet an exotic dancer, I thought you might find her story interesting, insightful… and sad… and because not all of us had ideal childhoods… It might make you think about how she wound up in this position but you didn’t?

The naked blonde undulating down the runway oozes with sexuality in a dance she does five times a night, six nights a week, and her skin looks smooth and creamy under the lights. The men who watch her are all alike. Cash registers who dispense twenty dollar bills.

The blonde stops in front of an overweight man in a plaid shirt and shakes her breasts in his face. His money clip is on the table. 

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Good, bad or outrageous, my life has been about as normal as picking blueberries on Mars. After reading my blog posts over the years, many of you have urged me to write a book. I took your suggestions to heart, and New Years Day, I began writing a memoir. Even though I’m a writer, and I have an outline, writing a memoir is difficult. We all have a story to tell, but writing a book can be overwhelming. What if you had a simple template that made writing easy and had places for photos? And when you’re done, you’d have a finished, printed book?

Would that encourage you to write your story?

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Good friends are like portals to the past and the hands that help move us into the future. In the last week I’ve gotten together with a number of good friends. One I don’t see often, but when we do, we pick up as though one of us just stepped out of the room for a few minutes. 

No “Tell me what you’ve been up to?” We talk in shorthand and enter the conversation in midstream.

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ANNIE WITHOUT LULU
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Instead of children I’ve always had dogs, sometimes three at a time. They’re my family. Annie and Lulu were eight weeks old when I adopted them from the animal shelter almost two years ago. From the beginning the “experts” told me someday I’d have to make a choice and give one of my darling girls away, but I didn’t believe them. “Litter Mate Syndrome,” they called it. I’d never heard of litter mate syndrome and never had problems with any of my dogs. What do the experts know anyway? 

In this case… Everything!

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We’ve all gotten songs stuck in our heads that play over and over until we want to go screaming into the night. That’s how I’ve felt this past week. I’ve been singing Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s 1963, Wives and Lovers. I have no clue where it came from, but I can’t get rid of it.

In 2013, HuffPost said Wives and Lovers “could be one of the most offensive songs, ever.”

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Sometimes I’ll rewatch a film I’ve matured into like Alan J. Pakula’s 1971, dark thriller, Klute. It’s not that it was beyond my comprehension when I saw it the first time in the theater. But having seen it again, recently, I better understand the motivation of prostitute, Bree Daniels, and Jane Fonda’s Academy Award-winning portrayal of her.

Bree was light years ahead of me when it came to understanding men.

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BACK IN THE DAY... ME, LEE AND GAYLE
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One of the best trips I’ve ever taken was to Santa Fe, New Mexico, with my two best girlfriends. We’ve known one another since high school. The stores on Santa Fe’s plaza and the art galleries on Canyon Road beckoned us with bold brush strokes and shiny silver and turquoise baubles. Stores where your gold and platinum cards are welcome before you are.

I bought a custom-made paper bracelet and a series of x-rays taken of me at the emergency room in Santa Fe.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF FLICKR CREATIVE COMMON
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This morning I heard a story on the car radio that moved me. A woman was waiting at the airport gate for her flight. Seated near her in a wheelchair was an old man, waiting for another flight. He was alone. His grey hair was long and matted, and he sat hunched over, staring at the floor. The woman approached him and asked if she could brush his hair. The old man said, “I guess so.” Just as she finished, the gate attendant came and wheeled him down the ramp, onto the airplane. In a few minutes the attendant returned and told the woman the old man had started crying. He couldn’t understand the woman’s kind gesture. 

“Why would anyone care enough about me to brush my hair?” he’d asked the attendant. 

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LEE, GAYLE AND ME A FEW MONTHS AGO... FRIENDS SINCE WE WERE 16.
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Today I heard Paul Simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, and it made me think about the women in my life. While our girlfriends may never walk in our proverbial shoes, they often stand with us–in the same space–and help us through things we never dreamed we’d have to face. They’re the diamonds on the soles of our shoes. 

If you think about it, great girlfriends and shoes are a lot alike: They’re comfortable, with just the right amount of support, in all the right places. 

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