“Why, thank you. That’s very kind,” I replied, channeling Scarlett O’Hara. Buoyed by his generosity, I decided to brave the bathroom, where I heard some guy shout out to the woman in the next stall:
“Hey Ange—you in there?”
“Yeah. I’m peein’. I’m tryin’ to decide if I should go naked or not.”
“Oh. Hey, Ange—they got any rubbers in there?”
On my way back, I peered into the dance area, where the Jackson 5’s “ABC” was playing. A mustachioed man was swinging his dick back and forth between two blondes, who each caught it in her mouth in turn and sucked on it to the beat. The trio’s choreography was admirable.
Upon my return to the table, the manager presented us with a steaming package of microwaved popcorn. (POPCORN: Hot, not too salty, not too greasy, reminiscent of an office break room.) Almost immediately, a topless woman bounced over, holding out a cup. “Word around the club is that you two have fresh popcorn.”
We poured some into her cup, and soon other swingers flocked to our table with their cups. Watching popcorn spilling all over bare boobs as people greedily shoveled it into their mouths, I was reminded of the Le Trapeze website, which claims, “NYC Swingers are the most glamorous in the world!”
Perhaps if you’re Orville Redenbacher.
The popcorn was a good icebreaker, sort of like at the first Thanksgiving. I asked a woman in a red kimono what happened to the hot buffet.
“Oh,” she sighed. “The Health Department made them remove it.”
This prompted everyone to begin waxing nostalgic about the good old days of spaghetti and chicken fingers. We gazed at the empty buffet bins wistfully. They looked a bit like the abandoned steel mills of Youngstown, Ohio. Still standing, yet defunct. Whispering memories of a bygone prosperity.
At this point, I spotted a young guy strutting around with a towel hanging off of his hard on. No one else seemed to find it funny. It occurred to me that this might be something he did all the time. Probably gets old.
Just then a dark-haired man shuffled over to us. He’d taken a liking to Krystal and invited her to stop by his fried chicken restaurant in Queens.
“It’s good chicken,” he said. “You’re really beautiful.”
Her face froze. I quickly swooped in. “We’re here together,” I said.
“Oh yeah?” he replied with a hint of defiance.
I slammed my tube-socked foot up on the chair next to Krystal, marking my territory. Running his fingers through her hair, he looked at me and said, “You’re lucky. She’s so beautiful.” Then he turned and walked off to the Mat Room.
“Can you believe that asshole?” I shrieked. “Running his greasy fried chicken hut fingers through your hair?”
My outburst attracted the attention of a cranky swinger in rimless glasses who slid down next to us. “Stay away from that guy,” he said. “He’s a slime ball.”
He popped a Lifesaver. “This is a bad night to be here,” he continued. “It’s 90 percent paid—women who get paid just to come into the club, then the guy goes off and does his own thing. They’re the bottom of the barrel. Like that woman over there. She’s paid.”
He gestured in the direction of an immensely overweight woman spilling out of her white negligee, who was eating fistfuls of Oreos. I thought it would be a wise business plan on her part to get paid by the pound. Then I felt bad.
“These people tonight have no respect,” he continued. “They don’t follow the rules.” He pointed down at his feet. “Like wearing socks.”
Hallelujah! Finally, someone wearing tube socks. I was about to ask a follow-up question when a sweaty swinger couple sat down beside us. “Yeah,” said the male half of the couple, “I call those people who bring in paid escorts ‘swinglers.’”
The cranky swinger got up and left without warning. I thought maybe he didn’t like anyone tonight.
The male shrugged and said, “Swinging is like yoga. It looks weird from the outside, but it’s great when you’re in the flow.”
The female leaned in: “That’s where we met. At his yoga class.”
“She’s a Leo,” he offered. “I’m a Scorpio.”
At 2:15 a.m., the smell of pizza wafted through, and soon the staff started putting out boxes. I grabbed a couple slices. (PIZZA: A whiff of oregano in the tomato sauce, tasty dough.)
Suddenly, there was a stampede of half-naked people toward the counter. I imagined them in midorgasm saying, “Wait—did somebody order pizza?”
Before long the Fried Chicken Hut Swinger, the Towel Hanging From His Hard On Swinger, the Optimist Swinger and the Red Kimono Swinger rejoined the buffet crowd. Everyone seemed really happy that there was pizza.
After that, the energy began to lag. Krystal and I decided to call it a night. I realized, it’s true what they say. There are no strangers here. Just naked people I haven’t met yet.
As Le Trapeze’s door clicked shut behind us, a voice rang out: “Hey, Ange, you want pepperoni or sausage pizza?”