Since the time we became friends in high school, and all through our twenties, my friend Jane* and I had a running joke about stripper cops. It’s hard to say exactly what we found so hilarious about the concept, but the subject often wriggled its way into our conversations with a glib (and deeply ironic) lechery.
For me, the best moment of the fantasy was when the man assumed to be an officer of the law dropped his ruse (and his pants) and delivered his Miranda rights punch line: “You have the right to remain sexy.” Of course, the flashing blue lights would be the perfect accompaniment to Donna Summer’s “It’s Raining Men,” which, as all women and gay men know, happens to be the only song men ever strip to.
So when it came time to celebrate my friend Jane’s 30th birthday, it was with this deluded scenario in mind that my friend Kim* and I decided to order Jane a stripper cop. After all, we wanted to make Jane’s 30th birthday special. And what could be more special than a gyrating half-naked policeman? Plus, there was already a big birthday bash planned at Kim’s house, so when the police barged in “to break up the party,” it would seem so believable, no one would ever suspect our ploy.
Kim and I booked the stripper cop, and for the next few weeks, whenever I imagined the look on Jane’s face as some handsome beefcake cuffed her against his squad car, I giggled to myself.
But by the time Jane’s birthday actually arrived, I’d started to have second thoughts. And instead of enjoying myself at the party, all I could do was obsess about the fact that our sardonically amusing fantasy was about to become a very real reality. Every ten minutes I’d pull Jane aside for a worried tete-a-tete. This was going to be weird, wasn’t it? I whispered anxiously. Maybe we didn’t really think this through. Or maybe, Kim mused, we just need to drink more.
To make matters worse, the stripper cop was lost, and as the rest of our friends partied on, getting looser and more relaxed, Kim and I were now periodically fielding calls from this man, attempting to guide him through her labyrinthine neighborhood of one-way streets. His gruff Boston accent was the first turn-off. But even more unpleasant was the realization that this man on the other end of the line was an actual human being. And the only reason he was driving in circles through Allston Massachusetts at 11:00pm on a Saturday night, about to take off his clothes for a bunch of strangers, was the only reason anybody did–because he needed the money. And the harder Kim and I tried to help this guy find us, the less we wanted him to come. But now that we had set this plan in motion, we felt powerless to stop it. Plus, if he didn’t strip, there would be no birthday gift for Jane.
By this point, I was starting to feel sick, and it wasn’t from the six beers I’d chugged.
But it was too late to turn back now. The stripper cop was already pulling into Kim’s driveway, and not behind the wheel of a shiny blue squad car, but in a rusted out 1991 Ford Fiesta. Before he even got out of his car, all ambivalence about the issue vanished and we knew with a grim certainty that we’d made a mistake. But Kim and I just stood there, paralyzed with dread as we handed our $150 cash to this short, unattractive stranger and told him how best to sneak attack our oldest, dearest friend. “Use the back stairs and look for a pretty blonde about six inches taller than you.”
From the very first moment he threw open the kitchen door and announced there’d been a noise complaint, I knew we were done for. Even if he’d attempted to hide the boom box in his hand, no one would have believed he was a real policeman for a second. Even worse, nobody cared. In the harsh light of the kitchen, Kim and I took a better look at this man we were now in collusion with—noting every detail of his acne-scarred face, the spiky crispiness of his thin, overly gelled hair, and his pained expression at having to go through with this.
We could have stopped it right then and there, but instead, Kim and I dutifully pointed him towards the living room, where Jane was on the dance floor, unaware that the fun she was having was about to come to a screeching halt.
She knew as soon as she saw him. Even before he turned on his boom box, or told her, in his dull, mechanical Southie accent that she’d been “a wicked bahd girl.” Most people opted to leave the room before the striptease began in full, but a few onlookers gathered around Jane, like witnesses to a car crash–the birthday girl, it’s only victim.
There was no Donna Summer song as the stripper cop peeled off his uniform, performed a few rusty breakdancing moves, then proceeded—with nary a hint of irony—to push Jane to the floor in order to repeatedly thrust his speedo-clad package in her face. Because after all, what better way is there to say, “Happy birthday, friend?”
The lesson here being that things that are fun to talk about, are not always fun to actually do.
*names have been changed to protect the guilty.