There's Me, then there's Red

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“Yes Mom, I am sure that Tuesday is my day off. I’ve been working there for almost a year,” I said, trying to reassure my mother that I could have lunch with her later and not get in trouble at work. “Are you positive? I would feel better if you would give me the number to the store just so I can be sure,” my mom probed, as if she couldn’t trust her mature twenty-two-year-old daughter. “YES! Now stop bugging me, I have to be somewhere. Bye, Mom.” I hung up the phone before she could say anything else and I stopped in front of my favorite place.
Antonio’s Dance Company had to be one of the best places I could think of. I had dreams of dancing in a huge production there, but my parents don’t support my dream and I can’t afford lessons without them. Their money from being two of the top real estate agents in the country left them so rich they didn’t know what to do with themselves. They would fund anything I wanted to do except dancing. They found it to be one of the most pointless things in the world. Because they are so unsupportive, I get my dance practice by performing at the local strip club every night. My parents don’t know about this part of my life, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to tell them.
Next to Antonio’s was my least favorite place in the world. The place where I worked during the day: Mattress Warehouse. I didn’t need to work there; I only did because when I wanted to buy something I hated feeling like a 12-year-old hitting up my parents for cash. I walked around town (passing Antonio’s seventeen times) until it was finally 1:00 and I could go into the restaurant.
I walked into the restaurant and a waiter pointed towards the table my mother was sitting at. Before I walked over to her, I went into the bathroom and reapplied some red lipstick. Red was my favorite color. It was the color of my curtains in my house, the majority of my clothes, and the wig that I wore when I would strip. My stripper name was even Red.
I walked toward my mother and sat down. I immediately picked up the menu, trying to avoid conversation. Talking to my mother always made me uncomfortable. She reached across the table and pulled my menu down so I could see her face. “Hi, my name is Jo. I’m your mother. Talk to me. I won’t bite,” she said as though she were speaking to a five-year-old. “Hi, Mom. How are you?” I asked. “I’m just fine. I’m just wondering if you’re going to decline an invitation to an event your father and I are going to,” she said while sipping on her water. I rolled my eyes and asked, “What’s the occasion?”
“The Wilsons are having a charity event next Saturday and they want the three of us to be there as the guests of honor.”
“What time?”
“It starts at 8:00pm and ends at 11:00pm”
“I can’t make it.”

“What is it that you are always doing that you can’t even go to a charity event?!?” she was screaming and the whole restaurant was taking pictures and staring.
Calmly I told her, “I have plans that day.”
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING THAT IS SO IMPORTANT THAT YOU CAN’T CANCEL TO BE WITH YOUR FAMILY?!?”
“Where is this charity event taking place?” I asked. By now she had calmed down.
“It’s at the strip club on Mason Street. Now tell me why you can’t come!”
“Who has a charity event at a strip club?” I inquired, trying to avoid the fact that I would be there when my parents were. I already knew about the charity event and Red was scheduled to dance all night.

“That’s it! If you can’t tell your own mother, then you can’t get her money either!” she shouted, and left the restaurant in a flurry of anger. I ran after her. I staggered back when I reached the door of the restaurant, stunned that all those paparazzi had gotten there so quickly. “Mom, wait! I have to tell you something!” I yelled down the street. She turned around and walked up to me. “I’m listening.”
“I really can’t go with you and Dad to the event.”
“I can understand that, but I need a reason. They wanted us to be the guests of honor.”
“I know. It was on the invitation.”
“What? How did you know that? I didn’t show you the invitation.”
“They show all the dancers the invitations for events so we can get an idea of how we should act and dress.”
“Dancers? What are talking about?”
“I’m going to be at the strip club as a stripper for the event.” My mom was silent for what seemed like hours, but it was really closer to five seconds.
“D-Do you n-normally do this?”
“Yes.”

Without a thought, my mother took off her heels and tore down the street. I didn’t call after her or try to call her. She knew why I was doing it and she was just trying to avoid it. I called for a car to pick me up and I went home.

I walked into my barren apartment and went into my bedroom. I pulled my back my red bedspread and lay down. Then the phone rang. I answered and a woman with an overly cheery voice said, “Hi, is this Molly Peterson? My name is Angie, and I’m with Antonio’s Dance Company.” Shocked, I answered, “Yes, my name is Molly Peterson. Why are you calling?” “A woman by the name of Jo Peterson called and signed you up for lessons every night from 8:00pm to 11:00pm. She also told me to inform that Red quit her job.” I laughed. “Thank you. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow in class,” I said.





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