Poll Dancer, Chapter One

CHAPTER 1

 

Gold Rush: This is actually one of my favorite moves, although for the longest time, I thought it was called “the Face Plant.” With a name like that, it looks pretty much as you’d expect…

– From Push and Pole Fitness Tutorials, Vol. 2

Hair braided neatly out of my face? Yup. Sports bra holding my girls in place? Got it. Hairspray to keep my booty shorts from riding up? Always.

 

After re-applying my lipstick a second time and double-checking the view from my phone’s video camera, I was ready. Although I’d done half a dozen of these videos over the past few months to promote my new pole fitness classes at the local dance studio, I still got nervous every time. But social media brought in business. The only way to get over the nerves was to do the thing, so I wiped my palms against my shorts, adjusted my top one more time, and took a deep breath.

 

Finally, I hit “record” and moved into position. “Hey, everyone, I’m Mel from Push and Pole Fitness. I’m going to do one of my favorite short routines to give you a hint of what we do. If you like what you see, come on down to my studio on Central Ave. We’ve got classes five nights a week. The number’s in my bio. And don’t forget to follow me for more videos. I put out new tutorials each week, so you can learn to do pole at home if you can’t make it to a studio.”

 

Gripping the cold metal bar with one hand, I walked in a circle, then spun around, flashing a smile at the camera. “Don’t worry. This isn’t first class stuff. Just a taste of what you can achieve one day if you put your mind to it.”

 

After a word to my phone, music blared from the Bluetooth speakers in the corners.

 

Every dancer has favorite songs for different moods. When I did exhibitions or contests, I preferred something with fast and slow sections to show off a variety of talents. But live streams were usually short, quick. The purpose was to wow the audience, show off some of my best moves.

 

To blow off steam, nothing beat Whitney Houston circa 1987. Even though she was before my time, my mom used to listen to her when she’d work out. Her songs brought me fond memories—and gave me a much-needed jolt of enthusiasm. Blasting “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” I started my routine.

 

Step, step, dip, twirl, down, up. Spin, climb, twirl, flip. Down to the floor, ending in a split. After the second chorus, I climbed, scooting my way to the top before clamping my legs around the pole, wrapping my torso around to the front and balancing in a seated position. I paused for dramatic effect, looking right at the camera.

 

My legs parted, and I dropped.

 

The ground shrieked toward me. Seconds from the bottom, my legs snapped together, my hands tightened their grip, and I halted.

 

At least, that was how it was supposed to work. How it did work, the last two hundred times I exhibited the move.

 

Not today, though.

 

I fell, as planned. But then something thudded against the front door of my condo. Like someone breaking in.

 

My head snapped involuntarily toward the sound. A second thud, a jingle, and a clacking sound. The door flew open. Time froze. My ex-boyfriend Gary stumbled across the threshold. I couldn’t for the life of me think what he was doing in my apartment. Or where he got a key.

 

Then I realized he wasn’t alone. Wrapped around him was his intern, Lindsay. Her shirt flew through the air, hitting me in the face.

 

My mouth fell open. They crashed up against the wall next to the door, not even noticing my presence. My ass slammed into the ground. Ow.

 

Before I’d even finished registering the pain—much less processing everything else that happened—my phone started to ring. My best friend’s ringtone.

 

“Not a good time, Lana,” I muttered.

 

Finally, Gary and Lindsay realized they weren’t alone. They looked over at me, still entwined. I couldn’t stop staring at them. Couldn’t speak. The room shrank until it contained nothing but them and me. And the incessant blaring of my ringtone. Lindsay’s face.

 

Gary’s voice broke into my stupor. “What are you doing here?”

 

“Me? What are you doing? And with her?” I jabbed a finger in Lindsay’s direction.

 

“We thought you were at work,” she said.

 

“Oh, well, that just makes everything okay, doesn’t it?” My voice rose with each word, reaching a pitch I’d never heard before. “Why do you even have a key?”

 

“I made a copy awhile back, in case I needed it.”

 

Closing my eyes, I forced myself to count to twenty before I answered. “Okay, Gary. I suppose that makes sense, although you should’ve told me. But why did you keep it after we broke up?”

 

He stuttered. Nothing he could say would make things better. My phone rang again. The sound like needles piercing my brain. Near hysteria, I grabbed it from the tripod where I’d set it up.

 

Oh, no.

 

As soon as I got my hands on the phone, everything made sense. With a start, I realized exactly why my best friend kept calling me. The video was still recording. Posting on Facebook Live.

 

My routine.

 

Gary’s entry. Making out with Lindsay.

 

My fall.

 

The revelation that my ex kept a copy of my key to use my house for sex. Ew. Ew. Ew. I needed a shower. And to change my locks.

 

But first, I needed to turn off my phone. Because as I stood frozen in horror, with all these thoughts reeling through my head, the reactions kept rolling by. Thumbs up. Laughing. Heart. Laughing. Oh, hell.

~ I ~

The video went viral. Someone had managed to record it from their screen before I turned off the recording and deleted the file. They shared it on their own page. So did everyone else. My friends were so used to sharing every pole fitness video they found with me that eleven of them posted it to my own wall with some version of “Haha! ZOMG this is hilarious!” before I shut down my page.

 

What a nightmare.

 

While waiting for the emergency all-night locksmith, I called my boss.

 

“Helen, I’m so sorry,” I began before she could even say anything. “Hold on. Are you laughing?”

 

“Oh, Mel, you’re brilliant!”

 

“I am?”

 

“Absolutely! That video is hilarious. Do you see how many views it’s gotten?”

 

No, I did not. Because when I’d finally gotten Gary and Lindsay out of my house, Lana had texted me what was happening. She convinced me not to look. Easy enough, since I really didn’t want to know how many strangers witnessed my humiliation.

 

“Um, a lot?”

 

“Thousands at least. I’ve watched it twelve times myself. I can’t help it.” Helen laughed, a high-pitched girlish sound that seemed foreign coming from a seventy-year-old woman. “This is amazing! The phones are ringing off the hook. I’m so glad you remembered to put the pitch for the studio at the beginning of the tape instead of waiting until the end.”

 

“Yeah, you know Helen, that ending wasn’t exactly what I’d planned—”

 

“Pfft. Yeah, I know. But there’s no such thing as bad publicity, dear. This is going to be amazing for us.”

 

“You’re not mad? Embarrassed for me?”

 

“Oh, I’m completely embarrassed for you. You must be horrified. What a way to get dumped.”

 

“Actually, I dumped Gary six months ago.”

 

“Shh, that’s not what the viewers will see. It’s okay, dear. If people feel sorry for you, they’ll spend money on more classes. This is such a great marketing move, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself. Well done!”

 

I sighed. If I didn’t know better, I’d think Helen was the one to copy and share the video. She certainly seemed delighted about my public humiliation. But she also called Facebook Live “a tape” and didn’t know how to reset the password on her smartphone. “Well, I’m glad I could help. I think.”

 

“Don’t worry,” she said. “Come by the studio a little early tomorrow, and we can talk strategy. I know you’re humiliated. But time heals all wounds. And so does extra pay. Everything will be fine.”

 

“I guess that’s good, then. I’ll see you later.”

 

We hung up and despite my better judgment, I opened my laptop. The video didn’t take long to find. Three more people had attempted to share the video with me, and ten others tried to tag me. Some “friends” they were. I blocked the taggers, paused to greet the locksmith, then pulled the video up again.

 

Oh, man. It was just as bad as I thought. There I was, dancing. Talking about how great pole was. And…. thud! Slamming into the floor. Cringing, I covered my face with my hands.

 

“Hilarious, isn’t it?” The locksmith’s voice jolted me out of my self-pity.

 

“What?”

 

He gestured at the screen. “Sorry, I couldn’t help but hear what you were listening to. That video. A friend sent it to me earlier. So funny. That woman sure got some surprise, didn’t she?”

 

Yeah. Some surprise indeed.

 

“They’re calling her The Fall Girl.” The man leaned closer, peering at my face. “Hold on a sec…”

 

I stood and slammed the computer shut, then spun away from him. “I need to get some water. Is the lock almost done?”

 

“There’s a pole in your living room… and that door… The locks.” If I’d listened any harder, I’ve had heard the light bulb going on in his head. “You’re the Fall Girl! I can’t wait to tell all my friends!”

 

“You know, I’d really prefer you didn’t.”

 

Chortling, he banged his palms on my kitchen island. “Oh, the guys are never gonna believe this! Come on. Can I get a selfie with you?”

 

He wasn’t going to let it go. He wasn’t going to leave. After a minute, I sighed. “Fine. After the locks are changed.”

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