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I figured I had made it through the hardest part of this assignment when I actually took a deep breath and walked into Camelot Show Bar on M Street NW. I mean, just to duck under the Camelot canopy that juts onto the sidewalk like a giant canary penis, I had to saunter past the office workers standing in line at Chipotle, skip by the folks turning into the Sign of the Whale, and generally act like I wasn’t some perv looking for an afternoon fix of young nubile flesh while gnawing on a peppercorn steak with a side of mashed potatoes.

Well, I was wrong. The hardest part came when the dancer bounded off the stage and launched into that standard social protocol of all strip clubs: hitting up the patrons for cash while pretending to give a shit about them. The stripper approached my table. I had already placed my order.

“Hi, how are you?” she asked.

The interior of the club was dark, illuminated only by the sickly yellow glow of these backlit transparent panels, designed faintly in the style of a family coat of arms. Despite the poor light, I could tell this dancer was very tan. She was also young, although she was trying hard to act more mature than someone who shows her crotch for a living.

“You having a little lunch?” she inquired.

“Yes, just stopped by for a bite,” I lied.

“What are you having?” she wanted to know.

I started to fidget, wondering if the meter was running in this young woman’s mind and what the charge would be for me.

“I got the jerk chicken.” This was true. After carefully and deliberately scanning the menu (while a completely naked woman danced on stage, mind you, and other women wearing sexy underwear paraded around the narrow room), I decided that the only true test of the kitchen would be to order one of their specials, not a burger or a sandwich. Hence, the jerk chicken.

The dancer looked at me blankly for a second, then said, “Oh, that must be a special.”

“It is a special,” I reassured her.

“The chef is good here,” she countered. “You wouldn’t think so at a place like this, but the chef is really good.”

“What do you usually get?” I asked.

“I usually get the burger,” she responded.

I looked at her in her bikini underwear, guessing that she couldn’t be 100 pounds, tops.

“But you’re so skinny,” I protested. “You must not eat that many burgers.”

“I have a very high metabolism,” she said. She went on to describe how much she sweats and how people worried that she couldn’t put on any weight, which then lead to various medical tests.

“They tested me for tapeworms,  too” she noted. 

The next image that flashed in my mind was enough to ruin my appetite — and any sort of side dish of arousal that might come from eating lunch around women without a stitch of clothes on.