“The Evolution of Beauty,” from Elena Georgiou’s new collection of short stories, The Immigrant’s Refrigerator (GenPop Books, 2018), is featured at Cagibi.
When the stripper arrived at the lesbian “bachelor” party, I felt like I was in one of those dreams where someone opens the bathroom door and catches you peeing. The only straight party guest had ordered her for “entertainment,” but mimicking straight men was not the way forward for this night of prenuptial fun. We were not prudes, but the heavy makeup and the long painted nails on the stripper made it clear she was not for us. We tried to be extra polite, pretending we were amused, but her entrance made our own bodies clench in response.
As the stripper took off her coat and hat, she apologized for her lateness, explaining that her babysitter had not shown up. She set up her music, standing with her back to us in a red glittery bikini and high-heeled shoes. I tried not to look at her, but I couldn’t help myself; she was the spitting image of a younger version of my mother, which made me want to cover her back up.
The explanation for her late arrival made us unclench a little, and we invited her to join The Circle of the Fully Clothed. One of the party guests poured her a Scotch. I fought the urge to call her by my mother’s name. The rest of the women tried to make her feel welcome by beginning a conversation about childcare.