Today was a terrible day for my body, and no picnic for my mind, either.

It started when I got up at 4:00am, way past when I'd wanted to get up, and started playing through Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark with a new character. I played for about six hours and then decided to drive around uptown for an hour or so before noon, looking for a decent Mexican restaurant to eat lunch at, but found none (the Cuco's Cucina that had been on Carrollton Avenue has been replaced with a Saltwater Grill), so I hit up a grocery store and got a bit of chicken. No problem so far except for getting up at the wrong time.

After a bit more hack and slash through NWN:HOTU, 4:00pm rolls around and I decide that since I haven't gone to bed yet, that I should go to the crawfish boil my employers are having on the first floor of this building (even though I don't like crawfish), where for three hours my nose was assailed with the stench of boiling insects, and where I also drank three or four cups of beer before going back upstairs to lie down for a bit and try to sleep.

After several hours of internal deliberation and getting into or out of bed, I decided to go to the French Quarter and visit some strip clubs. I'd had such a positive experience the last time I visited one, that I figured that even an unremarkable few hours spent being around nearly nude girls would be time better spent than trying unsuccessfully to get to sleep. However, as is becoming my strip club calling card, once I was in the place, I went into full anxiety attack mode, and I ended up leaving Scarlett's Cabaret after one drink and no dances, feeling extremely, inexplicably nauseous. I walked around on the less-populated streets that bracket Bourbon Street for a while to calm myself (and my stomach), and then walked over to Rick's Cabaret.

It was the first time I'd been to Rick's since my bachelor party there some three years ago. For a Saturday night, Rick's was fairly low-key -- only about a dozen dancers and lots of empty seats. In relatively short order, a dancer seated herself next to me and introduced herself as Christine. We made small talk, as the customers and employees of strip clubs are often wont to do, and during the little chat she seemed very familiar to me, like I'd seen her in a music video or while passing by a cover of Maxim or FHM at the Barnes & Noble magazine rack, but I couldn't place her face, beautiful as it was. Her skin was uniformly tanned, but not in a tanning booth kind of way, and not excessively so. Her hair was in tight ringlets, varying in color from dark brown to vermillion (depending on the angle at which the lighting touched her) that easily reached her hips. As the negotiation of what sort of dance I'd like was concluded, we both rose from our chairs and I noticed that she had a good three or four inches of height on me, and the type of body that I've been innately drawn to since I realised what type of female body I'd regarded above all else: taller than me, a gorgeous, open face, with full but not pouty lips; green eyes; breasts that were full but not overly cumbersome; and a perfectly pitched set of hips, thighs, and booty -- I'd say she was probably around a size 6 or an 8 (USA sizes); smooth skin that smelled faintly of lavender. (Tall girls with divinely proportionate builds make my heart seriously flutter.)

Christine danced for me "girl style," at my request, for about fifteen minutes. Toward the end, the anxiety began creeping back in, but I had it mostly under control. She kissed me on the cheek, and I paid her $40, laying heavily on the few-worded compliments. She said she'd check on me in a little while for another dance. So I sat there in my lapdance chair, thinking about how enjoyable what I'd just experienced was, but then I got around to thinking that it was good to be so close to a girl again, even if I had to pay for the privilege (yes, I'm aware of how miserably pathetic that seems). A short time later and I was trying to decide whether I should leave, or stay and get another dance. It was at that point that the nausea came back and I made for the door. I barely made it outside before vomiting into Bourbon Street's gutter as several drunken Bourbon Street goers looked on in horror, as though they'd never seen such a thing before. (It's fairly common on Bourbon -- you just have to get used to it.)

After a bit more walking around to calm myself I went back to Scarlett's, and had a table dance from a very shy, novice girl whose name I've already forgotten, which really wasn't all that interesting. She admitted to me, mid-dance, that this was her first night at work as a dancer, which explains her rather uninteresting dance.

Immediately afterwards, I flagged down a dancer I'd talked to right after I'd first arrived -- she'd been trying to get me to buy a lapdance, but I wanted to wait then as I'd just walked in the door. Conincidentially and conveniently, she was walking right toward me when I smiled and waved in her direction. She took me into one of the "private" rooms in the back of the place and gave me a "boy style" dance (which is the standard strip club fare for heterosexual male patrons -- simulated sex, dry humping, feigned masturbation, etc.), which I normally abhor unless it's done correctly, and this girl, Sheena by name, knew how to do it correctly. She was so cute and had such an adorably round, curvy body, and a face that reminded me of Anna Lisa. She felt so soft and smooth against me during the whole thing that even the "boy style" facets of her dance felt pretty nice. Mmmm. Girls like her are the reason people should visit strip clubs. Anyway, I got through both of those dances without any anxiety problems, presumably because I purged them into the gutter outside Rick's even as I walked away from it towards Bienville Street, my head thundering and pounding as I attempted to compose myself, down Bienville and onto Chartres, all the way home.

Tonight made me realise that I really, honestly do miss having a better half, as it were. I've spent too many nights alone trying to wedge my body between a multitude of pillows, hoping that the completed pillow arrangement will feel a little like sharing a bed with a woman. But it never does. Pillows don't breathe softly against my neck, nor do they have legs with which to intertwine mine. They lack hands to hold, hair to smell, faces to kiss, and arms with which to enfold me.

I miss every female-shaped lump beneath stolen covers, every feeling of every arm that fell asleep into pins and needles from being lain upon, every spoon position, every head on every shoulder. I miss them all, regardless of circumstance, however bad they might've seemed then. Memories of such things have become my sustinence.

If I am unable to eradicate these psychological problems that keep causing me to basically freak out in public places containing more than just a few people, then I'm afraid that the pillows are all that will ever attempt, however lovelessly and unrealistically, to console me in an otherwise lonely bed.

Sometimes I cry them to sleep.

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