Jerry was a casino high roller, an oil tycoon who enjoyed women and “art”. The night he offered $50,000 to see me sans clothes he sat at the bar as usual. He wore a Rolex with his Tommy Bahama shirt, and though he didn’t say much, he commanded attention.
He’d spent a good thirty minutes watching me deal before heading over to my table.
“You ready to run away with me yet, ma’am?” Jerry drawled at me, slapping some hundreds on the table. “Make sure to give me plenty of tippin’ chips.”
“You’ll have to wait in line,” I told him, rolling my eyes at his usual introduction and pointing to my husband at the bar, who’d come with some friends for a drink and the game. “My husband’s here tonight.”
Jerry turned to look and nodded, then stayed quiet the rest of the time he played.
“What did he ask you to do?”
Jerry came to find me outside on break. He didn’t say much beyond, “call me,” but handed me a card with his number. Then, with a tip of his hat, got into his pickup truck where his wife sat chain-smoking in the passenger seat.
As I stood confused, a dealer named Anna in a permanent bad mood came to join me.
I gave a weak smile and started to walk away when she spoke up. “The last person Jerry wanted something from, he and his wife paid her boyfriend a year’s salary. They wanted to see all thirty-five of her tattoos. She took off work for a year and went to the Bahamas.”
Anna raised a tattooed blue eyebrow. “So, what did he ask you and your husband to do?”
“I’m not sure what you mean,” I’d said. “I don’t know anything.”
Anna laughed and flicked her cigarette into the parking lot. “That’s fucked up. It was, like, a month ago.”
“You might want to talk to your husband.”
Then, Anna strolled away, her crop top revealing several of the tattoos that snaked their way up her back to her neck.
Why do bodies always have to be sexy?
I’m not stupid. Anna had tried to make me sweat by not-so-subtly suggesting my husband and Jerry had an interesting chat.
And, if I’m honest, all I could think was, “Pose nude for a year’s salary? Hell yeah, I’ll do it.”
If it were up to me and Jerry had come to me with his proposal right then and there, the matter would’ve been finished in minutes.
I have a philosophy: Once you’ve seen one naked body, you’ve seen them all.
Not everyone agrees.
I mean, there’s no problem with finding a body sexy. I’d be lying if I didn’t.
But bro — all the time? And if people like bodies so much, why is there so much scandal around nudity?
Am I too high, or does this make sense to anyone else?
Still, seeing that the oldest strip club in the U.S. started in 1954, it’s clear some industrious ladies and gents learned quickly not to give a fuck.
Then they’d helped turn sex into a multi-billion dollar industry.
“Drop it. Let’s have some dinner,” is the first thing my husband said when I’d questioned him at home. “He offered me a lot of money to allow you to do something you wouldn’t do anyway.”
“He wanted to see me naked, right?” I’d asked. “Why didn’t he just ask me?”
My husband cast his eyes to the floor, so I pressed on. “Another dealer told me. She said he paid a girl a lot of money to see her naked. How much did he offer?”
“He came up with some bullshit presentation, but around fifty grand,” my husband confessed.
“If you want me to say no, of course, I’ll say no. You don’t need to hide shit,” I said. “But I’ve posed nude before and I walk around naked every day. How is this different, love?”
“You’re my wife,” he said, placing his hand on mine. “And you’re better than that. Would you let me do it?”
“Hell, I’d tell you to charge more. We’ve both done worse with people for free.”
“True, but with women, it’s a little different, right?”
The damaging effects of sexualization
“Of course not,” I’d wanted to say.
But my husband dropped his eyes to the spaghetti on his plate, and I let it lie. I had no issues with his refusal.
Even if his cloak and dagger approach bothered me a little, trying to see the problem from another’s perspective is a healthy way to manage tough moments. Not a lot of men want a stranger to offer him money so he can eye hump his naked wife.
But this isn’t the point. I never imagined my laid back husband would say something like this. Judging from the sincerity in his voice, I’ll say he didn’t mean to make me uncomfortable. And, in turn, neither did I.
Yet, I felt so small. And what’s worse is, I know I’m not the only one who has.
Despite the unclenching of society’s butthole in recent decades, the stigma a woman’s body needs to be locked down is a tough one to shake.
Also, in relationships, it’s almost an unspoken rule a woman’s body belongs to the man she marries.
And it’s damaging as hell. With this constant spotlight on our bodies, women suffer.
Sexualization doesn't only lead to low self-confidence and shame. There are plenty of studies showing it causes mental illness, too. Anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, bulimia, body dysmorphia — they’re real.
Not to mention the scars left on a woman’s sexuality when she does want to explore this side of her.
All I could add was, “Well, that’s weird, huh?” and let it go.
Even after we split a year later, we never spoke of it, but my husband did start coming around the bar far more often.
Sometimes, let a body just be a body.
There is a misquoted phrase linked to Aristotle. I’m going to butcher it one more time. Often used to understand metaphysics, I’ll pretend these words apply to people, too.
“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”
We all know we’re so much more than our physical selves. So why are our naked bodies held under such a powerful microscope?
If I learned anything from this, it’s to remind others to let a body be a body now and again.
In the future, I’ll keep this in mind. Also, if another man offers fifty grand to see me naked, I’ll be asking for payment in large bills.