The Go Solo Project (Or “How I Ended up at a Male Strip Show. By Myself. Because That’s Not Weird.”)
Instead of being all giddy about the fact that, apparently, I’m totally famous in Australia, I felt like a sham.
You see, the author described me as someone who “took on the world.” And, you guys, I’m pretty sure that has never happened. Unless by “world” she meant “all the weird potato chip flavors of Asia.” In which case that only partly happened because I have my limits and cheesy-lobster-flavored potato chips are definitely beyond those limits. And, yes, cheesy-lobster-flavored chips exist BECAUSE CHINA.
Plus, well, maybe you noticed, but I haven’t really been doing all that much world travel lately.
I was worried that all these people would be clicking on the link to my blog, expecting to find blog posts about me taking on the world, and, instead, find blog posts about me taking on frozen custard and my new hardwood floors.
Not that these are not blog-worthy tasks.
But still.The article got me thinking about how I’m kind of a sham in other ways, too.
Like the fact that, sure, I may travel a lot on my own and I may blather on and on about the perks of solo travel. (Like, you never have to change your pants! Ever! And, go ahead, eat two breakfasts! No one will ever know! Wheee!)
But there are still a lot of other things – non-travely things – that I feel uncomfortable doing on my own.
There have been more than a few times since I’ve moved to Michigan that I’ve wanted to go somewhere or do something. But I’d have to go on my own since I don’t know many people here and OMIGOD EVERYONE’S GOING TO STARE AT ME AND PROBABLY SUSPECT I HAVE BODY LICE AND THAT’S WHY NO ONE WANTS TO HANG OUT WITH ME AND I SHOULD PROBABLY JUST STAY ON MY COUCH AND CRY AND INSPECT MYSELF FOR BODY LICE.
I hate when people tell me they want to travel but they can’t because they don’t have anyone to go with. So why was I using this same excuse not to do things I wanted to do?
Hence, the “Go Solo Project” was born.
Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s not the cleverest of names. But I’m not particularly good at the whole naming thing. (Did I ever tell you about the time I had a cat named Kitty? Let’s just all thank our lucky stars I have no plans to have any children.)
Besides, that’s exactly what this project is: me going solo to things that I don’t feel all that comfortable going solo to.It started last weekend when I went to Art Hop by myself. Art Hop is Kalamazoo’s version of First Friday, where all the art galleries are open to the public on the first Friday of the month and you can drink free wine and stare at art and generally act like a total hipster.
Since it’s an evening event and I knew it would mostly be occupied by couples and families and groups of friends, I felt awkward going on my own.
But I pulled on a black turtleneck and the skinniest pair of jeans I could find in an attempt to at least look like I fit in even if I knew I wouldn’t feel that way.
And it worked.
I felt a little awkward at first about being there by myself. But no one stared or commented about my possible body lice. And, soon enough, I was poking around and taking pictures and drinking wine from a plastic cup and enjoying myself.
And when I left the event and was walking home, someone leaned out of their minivan and called me a hipster.
If that’s not a sign of success, I don’t know what is.So I decided to up the ante a bit.
And that’s how the Go Solo Project quickly went from “This Thing That I’m Going to Do to Push Myself Out of My Comfort Zone in a Good Way, and Give Me Something to Write About and, Hopefully, Help Me Push Other People Out of their Comfort Zones, Too.”
To “This Thing That I’m Going to Do That Is Going to Make Me Feel Really Awkward and Weird and Possibly Get Me Arrested, But, Hey, It Should Make for a Really Good Story Later!”
Kind of like that time I decided to take a year off from my job and travel around Asia and volunteer. And then I ended up wading through a Malaysian rice paddy being told off-handedly by the rice farmer that I should keep an eye out for pythons.
But, instead, of finding myself knee-deep in mud, I found myself in knee-length-boots and a leopard-print top on my way to a male strip show.
Because I was pretty sure this was exactly what one wears to a male strip show. Not that I’ve ever been to a male strip show before.
Heck, I’ve only ever been to one bachelorette party in my life, and it was the kind of thing where there was a cheese platter.
So, yeah, male strip shows are not exactly my bag.But when I spotted the poster for Thunder from Down Under outside of the theater in downtown Kalamazoo, I knew it was exactly the type of thing I would feel really, really uncomfortable going to on my own because I knew it was exactly the kind of event that no woman in her right mind would go to on her own.
And I was right.
When I settled into my seat – a mere three rows from the stage — I found myself surrounded by groups. Bachelorette party groups. Birthday party groups. Divorce party groups. (Yes, apparently, that’s a thing.) Groups of coworkers. Groups of friends. One big group of family members, complete with a seventy-five-year-old grandmother. I even spotted two couples there on what appeared to be a double-date.
But, from what I could tell, I was definitely the only woman there on her own.I sipped my drink and tried to convince myself that going to a male strip show by myself was really no different than going to a movie or play by myself. As soon as the lights went down, I’d be able to forget I was all by myself and just be able to sit back and quietly enjoy the show.
Except I was wrong.
There is no sitting-back-and-quietly-enjoying when it comes to a male strip show – at least not this male strip show. As soon as the band of strapping, six-packed Australian strippers showed up on stage, all the women around me were jumping up and down and screaming, dancing in the aisles and screaming, and lunging towards the performers and screaming.
Let’s just say, there was a lot of screaming.
There was also a lot of hauling of women on to the stage – even the seventy-five-year-old grandma was pulled up on to stage where one of the strippers performed a sexy dance in front of her and, then, on top of her.
I was the only person in the theater attempting to sit back and quietly enjoy herself. If “cringing and desperately hoping against hope that I wouldn’t be dragged on to stage by a sweaty stripper” can be considered “sitting back and quietly enjoying myself.”
Which I’m pretty sure it cannot.
Not that the show was completely without enjoyment. I mean, I have to admit there is something undeniably entertaining about an over-muscled man attempting to sexy dance while wearing nothing but a g-string, a knee brace and a pair of sneakers.
But, after two hours of strobe lights and leather chaps and sweaty six-packs, I left the theater relieved it was finally over and I could cross “go to a male strip show” off my list of things I ever needed to do again.
Not that it was ever really even on my list to begin with.Have you ever done something by yourself that made you feel really awkward and not in a good push-yourself-out-of-your-comfort-zone way but in a holy-crap-what-am-I-even-doing-here way? Also, do you have any suggestions of things I should do by myself as part of my Go Solo Project? (And, please, oh please, can those things not involve sweaty strippers in leather chaps?)