My daughter will not grow up to pour some sugar on you (I hope)
My 3-year-old daughter and I watch as a mom signs her son into daycare ahead of us. Her zero-percent body fat is stuffed into a short beige dress and towering black heels. The Glade PlugIns perfume cloud and giant, exhaustion-concealing sunglasses tell me she’s not a patent attorney.
The father of a little girl has only one real job in life, the great philosopher Christopher Rock once orated, and that’s to keep her off the pole. Fellow dads of Vegas daughters: We have picked the most difficult American city in which to do our only real job. According to the 2012 UNLV report “Sex Industry and Sex Workers in Nevada,” approximately 12,000 exotic dancers are registered with Metro, a third to a half of whom reside here with young children intent on befriending and influencing yours. (Okay, I lied. This report mentioned nothing about children. But how many strippers do you really think aren’t single moms?)
Even if we manage to avoid sex workers during our daily routine, we still must walk our children past barely clad cocktail waitresses just to see a Disney movie, and explain hooker billboard trucks when we visit cousins staying in town. And fully half of all middle-class Las Vegas females under age 40, at least judging by my ongoing, nonscientific survey, sport a tramp stamp or some other visually stimulating tattoo. (The woman at my daycare wore a butterfly, encircled by barbed wire, on her ankle.)
A more scientific study, by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in 2012, ranked Nevada the 46th most desirable state in which to raise a child. Stripping-likelihood wasn’t among this report’s indicators, but it did include economic well-being, health, safety, education, community engagement, social relationships and emotional well-being. And those things all sound pretty related to stripping-likelihood to me.
As long as I provide strong, positive values — so I’m assured by fellow hostages of this predicament — they will neutralize any skeezeball influences seeping into my daughter’s impressionable gray matter. I believe there’s some truth to this. I’ve seen firsthand the important role played by bad fathering in stripper production. In my 20s, I dated an exotic dancer myself. (Don’t judge me. This was back when I still had closure to achieve for my high-school loser self.) Okay, so maybe I didn’t “date” Amber. We had one date and it ended in tears — first hers, then mine after she stormed out because I had the brilliant idea of calling her over to my bed using the phrase, “Come to daddy.”
So I try, I really do. I love my daughter unconditionally. Even after carrot-juice poops. I read her children’s books about female doctors and astronauts. And I do as little meth as possible. But, crap, good-looking 18-year-old Las Vegas females can earn 10 times what I do in a year by grinding into male crotches to Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” If I could, I might apply myself.
I know it’s possible to raise a normal girl in this abnormal city. One of our babysitters is a beautiful Palo Verde High School senior whose childhood was not a long rehearsal for the sex industry. At 17, she’s not only an honor student with multiple college acceptances, but an actual virgin. (And no, she’s not a Mormon. She was brought up without religion, as we plan our daughter to be.)
So I ask Lane — a pseudonym because I refused not to print that she was a virgin — exactly how she acquired this Vegas immunity of hers. It turns out, she hung with friends in parks, restaurants, ice-skating rinks and bowling alleys — like kids in normal cities. “And when you have to walk through a casino, that’s normal to you,” Lane says. “You don’t know any different. It didn’t have an impact on me.”
Lane credits her single mom with instilling in her a set of core values that repelled her from the bad influences and kids. When she saw her first hooker billboard truck, for example, her mom told her, “There’s so much more you can be in life than that.”
However, Lane also guesses that, for females born with more rebellious personalities — like her older sister, who grew up in California — parental values don’t hold as firmly, and there are probably better places than Las Vegas to raise them to not drop their panties onto a stage.
Fortunately for me, my daughter skews nonrebellious. Even better, she favors the Dora the Explorer bracelets without glitter, and doesn’t go by any other names in daycare. (So far, so good.)
Still, there is one more expert I need to consult before I feel good about my odds. I told my wife it was entirely Desert Companion’s idea for me to ask some strippers how to prevent our daughter from joining their ranks. And she bought it.
“I’m sorry to break it to you, but there is absolutely nothing you can do to prevent it,” says a woman who grinds into my crotch to Mötley Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club. The 5-foot-7 brunette with a koi fish tattooed on her buttocks says her name is Melody, and that she’s 26 and resides in Huntington Beach, Calif., not far from where she grew up.
“The more you try to prevent her,” Melody insists, “the more she will want to.”
Note to self: Never show my daughter this article.
Melody claims she did not want the conservative life her Laotian parents had in mind for her. I ask her what this life specifically entailed, but I only have $40 cash and our time is up.
Melody made her point, however, and it’s a good one. I’m obsessing way too much over this. I should just mellow out and trust good parenting to do its thing. And even if my worst nightmare comes true, I waited until age 46 to become a father. That means there’s a real chance I’ll be dead by the time my daughter becomes a stripper, so what will I care?
And, if not, I’ll be dead right after finding out.