Steak and Legs: Unexpected Insights From a Girls’ Getaway
Let’s just say girls’ weekend in Portland didn’t exactly go as planned. In fact, it couldn’t have been more unexpected — and certainly one for the books. Typically, for our annual getaways, we’ll gather our plastic and stock up on enough booze to fuel our shopping and eating binges while we catch up on each other’s lives. It’s always a nice escape from the daily humdrum, and full of memorable laughs. However, this year’s annual girls’ gathering sent me on a train back to Seattle with profound longing and a barrage of hard questions.
Portland was an obvious choice due to its foodie scene, endless retail therapy, and no sales tax. I was quick to introduce the bachelor party, whom I met on the train over, to the group of enthusiastic ladies that were awaiting my arrival. A couple of us single folks exchanged numbers and shared our weekend plans before parting ways, ready to indulge in a loose itinerary around the “City of Roses.”
“Filet and T&A!” one of the guys smiled before getting into the cab. “We’ll meet you there!”
I repeated his words out loud, wondering how the two went together before one of my BFF’s politely cut in.
“Steak and legs!” she added in jest, throwing my bag and five pairs of shoes into the car.
“Huh?” I questioned their claims, eagerly typing their indiscretions inside Google’s search bar before stopping at Acropolis Steakhouse Strip Club. I was speechless — and wildly curious, having no idea that the Portland I thought I had come to know, with noteworthy eccentricities, of course, was crawling with more stripteases than any other city in the country. Who would’ve thought? Portland, Oregon? Home to a surfeit of bicyclists, eco-friendly… everything, and cheerful gas attendants? I realized I didn’t know shit about my neighbors as I continued to scroll down my phone. Portland holding the title for most strip clubs per capita blew my mind, as well as the fact that Casa Diablo, another popular nude establishment, serves only vegan food and asks that strippers refrain from wearing fur, feathers, or wool on stage. I was captivated — and learning by the second, wanting to explore this big new world — full of teeming nuances and heavy undercurrents. My hasty investigation propelled a sudden urge to unpack the blueprints and throw caution to the wind, successfully lured and unapologetic.
Upon arriving to our hotel, we jumped right into a group discussion about my research. And with a little prodding and some Trader Joe’s bubbly, we decided to save the mani-pedis for another day and see what Portland really had to offer. Husbands received quick check-ins, my devoted mothers shared a sequence of “I love you’s” after attentively listening to stories about winning soccer games, daddy’s long pizza order, and Barbie’s new hair cut. The plan was set — and dispositions at liberty. Our first stop: Sassy’s.
It didn’t take long for the bouncer to usher six, freshly groomed, thirty-something year-old women into the strip club. Taking note of his missing smile, I quickly shifted my stare over to the thick ink stretching along his oversized earlobes and down his arms. I spotted skulls, marijuana leaves, dead grandma’s glowing headshot, and various sketches of the female anatomy. The yellow brick road couldn’t have been further away from our red star on a map full of question marks. Even Siri wished us luck as we attempted to confirm Uber’s lead down unfamiliar territory. We were in though, hook, line, and sinker, ready to absorb our new surroundings.
Struggling to focus on the pathway to our table, my gaze shifted between a gyrating dancer and the overwhelming mass of guests, who like me, watched with bated breath. My eyes shot from corner to corner as well-oiled breasts moved effortlessly to AC/DC’s timely ballad, You Shook Me All Night Long — and straight into a set of nostrils. I had to remind myself to blink as legs dangled open in my peripheral. What the hell had we walked into? I couldn’t believe I was in Boho Portland, seeing a woman’s everything spread eagle before me. My last memory, a few years prior, consisted of florescent boas and tightly packed speedos — a little different from Portland’s farm-raised Ribeyes with titties on the side. I was speechless, holding onto a strange intimacy. And all I could do was stare, damn near dribbling saliva down my chin — not quite expecting a game of peekaboo at a strikingly slow rate.
After we settled in to the front row, I headed straight for the bar. For once, I was happy to see a line, allowing me time to observe from the perimeters while Sassy’s employees worked the scene. On one platform, I tracked a dancer’s impressive moves and rock-hard physique as she nailed the “Downward Dog,” giving hot yoga a whole new meaning — and motivation for her onlookers to empty their pockets. It was startling, especially after I watched her partner, an equally agile blonde, quickly stuff a pile of crinkled bills into her purse as her performance came to an end. She was focused and efficient, searching every corner for any lost earnings — while prompting me to work through a swarm of emotions. I began to feel oddly and unexpectedly empowered. These women had purpose. They had intention — and command, like nothing I had ever seen. Their bravery and boldness packed a punch, leading me to examine my own ideas about sexuality, survival, intimacy, and even commitment. I, too, needed to own my purpose. Be brave, take risks, saddle up, and spread my… wings. Embrace the same gutty resilience I’d come to understand in such a short amount of time. I wanted to step into my own power— fully clothed, but with the same notable insight, and integrity to fall — and get back up.
While watching a dancer strategically wrap her feet behind her head, I jumped at the touch of a warm hand against my lower back.
“I want you to meet Angel.”
I quickly turned to find a middle-aged, petite brunette five inches away from my face and smiling like we had known each other for years.
“He… llo,” I replied cautiously, moving my stare over to Angel who stood wearing nothing but pink heart-shaped stickers over her nipples and a Band-Aid along her hoo-ha.
“We can go somewhere private,” Angel offered, pointing to a separate area.
“Oh… I… uh… I…,” barely left my mouth as I tried keeping eye contact. “I’m just getting a drink and heading to join my friends.”
“She puts on quite a show,” the small brunette quickly interjected, running her gaze along the edging of Angel’s firm backside.
“I… uh, don’t doubt that,” I replied, reminding myself that I was still in Portland, Oregon — far, far away from Powell’s Books and a Patagonia sale rounder. I glanced back at the bar, noting a tattooed dancer chatting with a man well beyond an introduction. She sat half-naked and self-assured, sharing loud guttural laughs. I admired her control.
“What do you think?” Angel asked, staring at my debit card.
“I think a great opportunity just arrived,” I smiled, watching our bachelor party settle in around the corners of our table. “And I know just the guy.”