Side Piece Nation! There's A Better Life!

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The Side Piece Life sucks!

I know. I have lived the Side Piece life.

I have been the other guy. The other guy that was more engaging, more attentive, more exciting than the Main Piece. I was the guy hidden in the wings loving on borrowed and/or stolen time. And while I convinced myself that the Side Piece life was a fabulous life because I was free of all the Main Piece duties and responsibilities, the reality was that it was a hard, sad life.

And dangerous life. Every time I allowed myself to get involved with someone already involved, I put my life at risk. I’ve had vicious email exchanges with husbands; scuffles with boyfriends. Hell, that time I got trapped in that stripper’s bathroom, I could have died. Wait. Have I not told you that story? OMG!

So…the year was 1994. Summer. Atlanta, Georgia. My best friend and I had discovered a strip joint off Old National highway called the Playboy Palace. It was open seven days a week and on Tuesday nights – a pretty slow night for strip clubs - they had what was called “Sports Night.” On Sports Night the ladies were allowed to ditch the stilettos and fancy under garments and wear tennis shoes and tennis skirts and tank tops and whatever. While our first few encounters were Friday and Saturday nights, we swiftly became regulars at Sports Night. For one, the bouncer – who was former Public Enemy member Professor Griff – was more lenient, which was perfect since my best friend was packing a fake ID from Five Points. Moreover, the drinks were cheaper and, because the crowd was small, table dances were also cheaper and lasted a lot longer. It was on Sports Night that I met Blondie.

Blondie – the name referring to the color in which she dyed her hair – had danced for us many times. One particular time while she was dancing she jumped into our conversation – god knows what we were talking about – and corrected me. I was intrigued. I invited her to join our conversation and she held her own. It was an added bonus to the entertainment. After that, as we became regulars to the Playboy Palace, Blondie became a regular at our table. Every Tuesday night, Blondie, my best friend and I solved the world’s problems while Blondie danced in her birthday suit and we drank cheap liquor. It was a lovely time. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but somehow Blondie got my pager number.

She paged me one Monday morning. I know it was a Monday because she wasn't working that day. Anyway, I called and after all the pleasantries there was a dead silence. I asked her was something wrong and that when she unloaded. Blondie was not stripper, she was an accountant. Or at least she wanted to be one. She had come to Atlanta to go to school and a year after her arrival, the money dried up. Her mom had remarried and was now concerned with her new family and was unwilling to provide for Blondie. After the money dried up, she lost her place and was bunking with some of the other girls at the club. One night, distraught, she had mentioned her money woes to this married cab driver, who was a regular customer, and he offered to put her in an apartment and pay the rent in exchange for “private dances.” She accepted the offer and soon after became his mistress. This was her life. She danced at night to save money and she sat in her apartment all day studying the accounting books she bought hoping that the Cabbie stayed home with his wife and kids. Despite the horror of the tale she shared, I managed to inject some humor into the conversation so that several times throughout the conversation she said, “you’re funny.” I guess this was the most amusement she had experienced in a while because a hour after our conversation ended she called again and invited me over. I asked about the Cabbie and she said it was Monday, a busy day at the airport, and he would not be around. So, I went to see Blondie.

The apartment was one of many in a large apartment complex. Blondie’s apartment was on the ground level. It was a one bedroom with a living room/dining room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom that you had to go through the bedroom to enter. The living room had two large windows that were across from the front door and the bedroom had two medium sized window that looked out over the parking space right in front of the apartment. Blondie had hardly any furniture. In the living room were a matching couch and love seat set and nothing else. In her bedroom, was a pallet made of several blankets and nothing else. Blondie sat down on the pallet, invited me to sit down, and with nothing else to do, we talked. We talked for hours. She was very smart and witty and the time seemed to fly. I was so engulfed in the conversation that I didn’t hear the key in the door and I would have totally missed that someone was entering the apartment if Blondie hadn't yelled, “Oh shit! He’s here!”

We jumped up and ran around in circles for a minute. I couldn’t go out the front door because the Cabbie was coming in that way. I could not go out the windows because one set was in the living room – across from the front door – and the other set was in the bedroom – next to the front door. With no other options, Blondie pushed me into the bathroom and told me to lock the door.

I sat down on the toilet and waited. I heard Cabbie enter. I heard some dialogue between him and Blondie. Then they entered her bedroom. There was silence and then the Cabbie yelled, “Who’s here?” Blondie told him no one was there but I could hear him stomping around the apartment looking for me. Finally, he came to the bathroom and upon finding it locked, he yelled again. “Who’s in there?” Again, Blondie denied my presence. “Then why is the door locked?” Blondie's answer was unconvincing. Cabbie pounded on the door and tussled with the door knob. When he received no response, Cabbie stormed out of the room and returned with a butter knife and began to pick at the door determined to enter.

At this point it was clear that Cabbie was going to get in. He was going to see me. I thought about hiding in the shower but then he would find me and I’d be pressed against a wall. I figured my only way out was to walk out and the only way I was going to walk out of there was if Cabbie believed I was there for a reason other than Blondie. I quickly dropped my pants, raised the toilet seat and sat back down like I was actually using the toilet. Just as I sat down, the lock gave and Cabbie entered the bathroom. I yelled, “HEY!” Cabbie yelled, “OH!” stepped out of the bathroom closing the door behind him and from the other side yelled, “sorry.”

I sat there for another minute or two, flushed the toilet, washed my hands, and walked out of the bathroom at a very hurried pace. Completely ignoring Cabbie, I thanked Blondie for letting me use the bathroom and then I made for the front door. Cabbie followed asking, “Who are you?” and I responded with, “I’m really in a hurry, sir. Ask her.” I made it out the front door, ran to my car, and drove away. Once I was out of the complex, I burst into a fit of laughter fueled by pure fear.

I was a fool.

The Side Piece life is a fool’s existence. It is the decision to live your days and nights as the co-conspirator in someone’s plan to be unfaithful. It is a life rooted in the idea that a piece of someone is better than no one at all and as a former Side Piece with twenty plus years of bad decision making under his belt, let me tell you that is not true.

Because ultimately, the piece you get is not enough. You don't receive love when you want it or need it. You get it when it's available. And when you do get it, it's timed affection that can never stay long and has no idea when it can return. At some point, every Side Piece realizes that they are the pet sitting under the table of a massive feast waiting for scraps hoping that the Main Piece doesn't eat everything. And that’s just no way to live.

Side Piece Nation, stop. There’s a better life. A life where you get to celebrate birthdays and holidays and other important days with the someone you love. A life free of secret codes and cryptic messages. A life where you are free to leave a trail because all roads lead to you.

Believe it or not, you are Main Piece material. Be someone’s Main Piece.

But if you are determined to be the Side Piece, be careful. Protect your head, protect your heart and protect your karma.

And stay the hell away from strippers.

Seriously.

Remember. No always. No never.

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