Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Stood Up!

I haven't been stood up for a date since freshman year of college (and you know who you are) and believe me it has never happened since...until today. For 10 days in the winter we host a warming shelter for the homeless and it's probably the closest we come to being "church" all year long. I quickly fell in love with one of our guests. The first night he arrived for check-in I swore he was a cross between Captain Ahab and the Gordan's Fisherman. Beard down past his chest, bright yellow down winter coat and I wasn't sure he was sober enough to make it down the stairs- a state that I know all too well myself -and this was definetly a "maybe you should scooch down the stairs rather than try to walk" kind of scenarios...we've all been there!

ID is mandatory for check-in and my dear friend didn't have one. As good Protestants we like to follow the rules and the rules clearly state "must show ID." I was at the pat-down station checking for weapons of mass destructions that our guests may or may not be carrying. I also asked them if they had any items that they needed to declare like it was customs.

Being a smart-ass about it was the only way to compensate for the ridiculous procedures. We were allowed to let people only after 9pm- even though they had been waiting outside ours doors in the freezing cold and rain since 5pm each day- but the procedures stated that we couldn't let them in any earlier because then the other churches would have to as well..."and they might get mad at us." The only statement that kept me from declaring Marshal Law was "and they won't let us do this again next year." Funny that we are only allowed to participate in this ministry if we abide by the letter of the law.

Any way it was when I was at my pat-down command center when I heard the Capt. say, "do I look like I'm faking being homeless, I need a place to eat and sleep. I don't have ID where would it say I lived- in the field two miles from here!""

It was below freezing and these were excellent points but our faithful volunteers couldn't get their brains around the fact that it might be okay to let this gentleman, who clearly meets the criteria for need but that he doesn't have the proper paperwork to, gain access to the services he needed that we were there to provide. The solution was to take a picture of him with my cell phone and somehow that secured his safe passage.

Capt. Ahab has been worshipping with us every Sunday since the Spring. For me it isn't Sunday morning until he slips in the back and sits with my husband and often they talk through the whole sermon like teenagers...although recently he has started attended Sunday School before worship and we drink tea together before class when the whole church is quiet and talk about our week.

Today we were supposed to meet at the church, have some lunch and go do some errands he needed. So I made sure I was driving the super-sporty new car that was just washed, made a CD of music I thought he would like to listen to in the car and picked out a great place for lunch. It was like college all over again....but the Capt. didn't show.

Maybe my turning his request for assistance with filling out paperwork into a whole day of bonding was a deterrant. I scheduled what I thought would be caring and nurturing for him- but the Capt. only needed help with some paperwork- not a new bff. He's always teaching me something!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

She Has Risen!

Where the hell have I been? The short answer is making myself legitimate in the eyes of the Church. Since last we *spoke*- I left "Sexy Street" for a *head* of staff position at a church. THEN I got married and then began my current pastorate. So I'm no a threat to the "Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church" by no longer living in sin, having sex before marriage and selling vibrators and cockrings to pay the bills.

(as an aside, I couldn't go back to "Sexy Street" if I wanted to. A couple of months after their "top salesperson" took another job...the store closed due to poor sales numbers).

So now I'm back to committee meetings, broken furnaces, complaints that the AA group is leaving their cigarettes on the ground...In my previous position my greatest sources of conflict were whether someone was allergic to latex, will my boyfriend/husband be intimidated by the size of this dildo? and does this one piece crotchless fishnet body suit come in a larger size?

It has actually been a lovely experience with this congregation. I've had to pay Martin Hegestaad (God, he'll die if this pops in Google) overtime to keep it together. But given that Mrs. and Mrs. Pain in My Ass just returned from can't possibly stay this way forever.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Great Friday!

While many of you were mindful that yesterday was Good Friday- focused on the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross- I was selling lingerie and sex toys. And when I say selling I mean we've never sold so much product in the history of the store. Yesterday we got about 8 inches of snow, it was Good Friday and we were busy all night long. Normally we get a few strippers picking up last minute thongs and garters, a few couples looking for an interesting way to spend the weekend and a handful of young men picking up condoms.

I can't count the number of strippers we dressed last night because I learned that due to many companies giving Good Friday and Easter Monday off- strip clubs would be packed this weekend. Couples were planning weekend get-a-ways with in-laws home watching the kids...many of whom decided this weekend would be the opportune time to dabble in bondage. We sold restraints, handcuffs, ball-gags, whips, collars that read slave and was insane.

We were the highest selling store in our state and third highest in the nation last night. I don’t know how packed churches were last night but I can tell you Sexy Street in the hood was THE place to be last night.

As customers left I wished them a Happy Easter….and time after time after time was their response of “oh yeah, I forgot it was Easter.”

I had never been so happy and energized on Good Friday before in my life and it wasn't just good it was "great!"

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Freaky Town

On Palm Sunday a lovely male couple came into the store and made a mad dash to the toys and games section of the store. It is my mandate to great every customer so I trotted off after them to fulfill my professional duties. There was a significant age difference between the men and the younger responded to my greeting by saying “they wanted to go to freaky town to find some toys.” I asked if they needed a tour guide for “freaky town” or were they cool on their own. I was assured that they were familiar with “freaky town” and wouldn’t need my help. I went back to the front of the store and eagerly awaited what adventuresome toys they would choose to spend their Palm Sunday afternoon with.

It always warms my heart when a same gender loving couple comes into the store, or a person who is transitioning from one gender expression to another or when individuals come in who may be a little shy but leave feeling confident and empowered. It indicates to me that somehow we are doing our job well in creating an inclusive and welcoming environment.

I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t disappointed with what the gentlemen brought to the counter to purchase. Of all of the toys we offer in the store- 24” dildos, vibrating anal beads, conjoined anal plugs, testicle clamps, vibrating nipple clams, double ended glass dildos (great when cleaning) that have vibrating bumps on along the shaft for additional stimulation….out of all of the potential purchases in “freaky town”- they come to me with a penis pump.

“Really, a penis pump? Out of all of the choices, you picked a penis pump?” I think they could easily sense my disappointment.

Choosing a penis pump in the Toy Room of Sexy Street is like buying a pack of gum in one of those candy stores in the mall with every possible kind of candy you could choose from. I still feel a little let down even writing about it- but I was really glad they felt comfortable there and with me despite my obvious disappointment in their relatively conservative purchase. I don't know what my expectations were for them but they left me with a resonating sense that they must be Protestant.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Is it just me or is it standard practice for your co-workers so share the finer details of their sex lives?

I worked at Sexy Street from 3-9 last nights. By 3:05pm I was hearing unsolicited details about my manager's personal life. Let's call her Rhonda. So. I get to work, punch in, go drop off my personal stuff in the break room and walk out the door onto the sales floor to find Rhonda more than eagerly waiting for me. Apparently it didn't matter that there were customers with questions or customers who needed to be rung up. Rhonda came at me with that energy little kids get when they really, really want to tell you something and they don't care that you're on the phone or in the middle of another conversation......... it was like that.

Rhonda wanted to tell me about her weekend with her boyfriend Barry. Well, Barry lives with his ex-wife's mother, his daughter from that marriage and his ex-wife's son from a previous marriage. The only one missing from the house is the ex-wife! So Rhonda spent the weekend at Barry's....decided to make steaks and a pineapple upside down cake for dinner and dessert....the daughter was helping and cut her thumb open while opening the canned pineapple and needed stitches, 6 to be exact. Rhonda had to take her to the hospital but needed to call Barry who was at work.... somehow the ex-wife showed up, the ex-mother-in-law that still lives with her daughter's ex-husband apparently was a pain in the ass...the story culminated with Rhonda and Barry in bed, Barry with a "big-old-smile on his face" and the response to why he was smiling being that "every time they have sex it just gets better and better."

Now I realize that the name of my store is Sexy Street and that we sell a whole lot of sex toys, lingerie and lube.... but really, I don't want to know these finer details of Rhonda's personal life. I also learned that Barry is only 5'4" with very tiny equipment but works extra hard in bed to make up for it. SERIOUSLY! Come on now...this is just too much.

I've never felt more like an uptight WASP then I did last night. Frozen Chosen... all of that came into play and to be honest, I'm okay with it. My fiancé assures me that I should be more understanding given the fact that for me this is only a part-time job that we are hoping will be a brief interlude and that for Rhonda being the manager of Sexy Street is the culmination of her career aspirations. I just don't know's very hard to keep a "yick" expression off of my face.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Danced in the Morning

My current job has given me a direct connection to the dance industry. I've talked about this to a few of my friends and find it incredibly sweet that most of them thought I was talking about ballet dancers or Dancing With the Stars kind of dancers.

My friends… I am talking about strippers-women who take off their clothes in a manner that is choreographed to music. As church folks I’m going to guess that you’re not too familiar with the finer details of this industry so please allow me to share with you my findings.

First and foremost like all things there is a hierarchy of haves and have-nots. The “haves” in this business…..really are the club owners…but they do create a system that pits women against women. Because the women who bring in the most business to the clubs dance for free, have their wardrobes purchased by the club owners, receive free security in and out of the club as well as while they are working and they keep all of the tips they make.

Those women who dance in less well known clubs, off the main strip so to speak, pay a lot to dance. They have to pay a daily fee to the club owners just to be able to get on stage to dance and therefore have access to earn tips. They have to buy their own outfits (which are NOT cheap- less surface area covered does not equal less of a price tag!!) because they can’t wear the same outfit twice in one night- so every time they go up to dance, there is a new outfit that goes with them. They have to pay for bodyguard service in and out of the club. They don’t have to pay for protection while they are working because the club assigns them a bodyguard… who also is responsible for documenting every time the dancers are on stage or perform a lap dance or other private services….because the club owners take a percentage of those tips as well.

Our city has a 33% unemployment rate in some areas and there are little if any career options for our young women and men to aspire to. When your life choices are stripping or working in fast food there is little space for the Good News to break in. And even if it did, I'm not sure anyone could recognize it.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Spark of Renewal

Last night was my first Saturday night on the job. Normally I would be putting my finishing touches on my sermon, preparing for one of 7 zillion committee meetings all with my eye on the post-church Sunday nap! But instead I helped a woman who was getting ready to celebrate her 25th wedding anniversay and wanting to find something special to wear...both for herself and for her husband. She secretly booked a hotel room and giggled sharing the details of her plan like they tell me teenage girls do....I never giggled....I think I must be missing that gene.

The majority of our lingerie isn't really meant for women who have been married for 25 years. I'm not sure who they use as their models while designing but I'm pretty sure they don't use an actual human body- living and breathing (and eating and giving birth to children!!!!). But, lo and behold in our 50% off rack in the back of the store was a darling black corset with fuschia hearts and an attached garterbelt and thongs that was designed for a real woman. In the front of the store for the unrealistic bodies were a pair of fuschia fishnets that matched perfectly...and she had her own pair of heels.

In the midst of this dressing room adventure were stories of how she and her husband met, their three children- two in college and the youngest still in highschool. That their house burned down in 2006, their oldest daughter lost her college basketball scholarship because she tore her ACL and how outstanding their youngest son is and will certainly play in the NBA....but only after he earns his college degree regardless of how much money they throw at him!

It was a pleasure to be invited into this woman's joy and to soak in all of the advice and wisdom she shared with me.

God mainfests herself in so many unqiue ways- even in sex shop dressing rooms...on Saturday nights when one would think she would be inspiring sermons and meeting agendas. I think being with us last night was her preference for certain!