The Pole Dancer and...Family Values???

Just when I thought I'd heard everything, in walked Keri, a tall, beautiful brunette dressed in a mini-skirt and three-inch heels. She sashayed to her exam room sporting legs so long and sexy they could rival Tina Turner’s. With a body like that, she could be a model, I mused.

“How can I help you, Keri?” I asked, wondering why this picture of health would need a doctor.

Keri immediately tugged up her mini-skirt and yanked down her panties to reveal lobster-red splotches all over her buttock and bikini line. She showed similar hives all across her bra-line.

It didn’t take a Rhodes scholar to figure out Keri was allergic to the fabric of some new bathing suit. “I’d donate that new bikini to Goodwill and go back to your old swimsuit,” I advised. “You’re clearly allergic to the new fabric.”

I pulled out my prescription pad and scribbled out a script for a potent cortisone cream. “Apply this to your rash twice a day, quit wearing that new bathing suit, and your rash will be gone in ten days,” I reassured her. Problem solved, I stood up to leave.

Keri raised a hand to detain me. “Wait! It’s not that easy."

She then informed me the new “swimsuit” was actually a skimpy Latex panties and bikini top she was required to wear as her “costume” at a men’s strip club in Atlanta where she worked every Friday and Saturday night as an exotic pole dancer. Latex, she informed me, allowed the men to tuck bills into her costume without the money falling out. Only problem? Keri was severely allergic to Latex!

“Couldn’t you wear a non-Latex outfit?” I inquired.

Keri shook her head. “All eight pole dancers are required to wear matching outfits. Since I’m the newbie in the dance troop, I don’t dare to complain or I might lose my job. My boss already thinks I’m the least talented dancer, so I can’t give him an excuse to fire me.”

Least talented dancer! How much talent does it take to shimmy down a pole flaunting one’s body parts?

Plus, how discriminating could a bunch of drunks in a smoky strip club be? I’ll bet none had ever judged an episode of Dancing with the Stars. Most wouldn’t know a pirouette from an arabesque! But who am I to judge? Maybe slithering down a pole took more talent than I envisioned.

The feminist in me fumed. Why would any woman degrade herself by working at such a sexist, demeaning job?

Keri answered my unspoken question. “I know it’s degrading work, but I need this job. I make more money working eight hours a week at the club than I did working full-time as a pre-school teacher. This way, I get to be home with my baby full-time. My mom babysits little Abby from Friday night until Sunday morning, so she never has to go to daycare. I purposely work in Atlanta instead of Nashville so I’ll never be an embarrassment to my daughter. I also use the fake name ‘Bambi’ when I’m in Atlanta. And in case you’re wondering, I never have sex with my customers. Lap dancing is as far as I go.” She grinned at me and added, “A girl’s got to have some ethics.”

She then informed me the boss had offered to pay for her to get breast augmentation surgery as a "fringe benefit", if she would sign a three-year contract with the club! Ironically, the club did NOT cover sick days or health insurance!

I was taken back! What a sad commentary on American values that a pole dancer made more in eight hours than a pre-school teacher did working full-time! Plus, I’d never heard of anyone choosing to work as a pole dancer because she wanted to spend more time with her baby! Keri wanted to be a full-time mother. It almost sounded like….family values!

In case you’re wondering, to prevent Keri’s allergic rash from continuing, I had her apply cortisone cream and then a thick coating of Vaseline before she donned her “costume.” The Vaseline would act as a barrier. I instructed her to use non-Latex gloves to protect her hands while pulling her outfit on and off then shower immediately to remove any residue.

Keri called me a week later to inform me the preventive treatment worked. She also thanked me for not judging her. "I'm not proud of what I do, but if it allows me to be home full-time with Abby, I'll do it."

While I wasn’t wild about Keri’s career choice, I was paid to doctor her, not to judge her. Who'd have thunk pole dancing had provided her the chance to mother her baby full-time?