When Strippers Dream of Stephen Hawking by Christopher Hivner
Misty Cakes knew from the time she was 11 years old that she wanted to be a theoretical physicist, but her dreams were derailed in 2020 when congress passed the Federal Employment Reassignment Act wherein everyone was forced into a job that fit their name.
The moment in history that propelled the government to enact the new law was the 2016 presidential election when West Virginia governor Edwin Butternut upset Senator Hank Lockjaw of Iowa. Butternut was eminently qualified to be president.
Intelligent and bold in his thinking, he had a chance to lead the United States into a positive future. However, his presidency was a disaster because of his name. No world leader could take him seriously and many ended up on their knees slapping the floor, repeating “Butternut” over and over between gales of laughter. The nadir was when the ambassador from Uzbekistan let out a whoop and popped a blood vessel in his eye during the introductions.
Butternut’s opposite was Hank Lockjaw, an affable, but dopey man, who in 12 years in the senate put his name on one piece of legislation which named a school cafeteria table after him. But because of his tough sounding, manly name, people listened when he spoke. World leaders swooned at his touch and recited Elizabeth Barrett Browning poetry to him.
Thus the Federal Employment Reassignment Act was put into effect and Misty Cakes, whose goal was a research fellowship at Cal Berkeley, was instead forced to take a job as a stripper at Frank’s Flesh Emporium and Seafood Buffet.
Her mother Gloria, maker of fine faux gem jewelry, was so proud she attended every one of Misty’s six daily shows assembling her wares at table #7. Misty had the looks to be a successful stripper (or as she liked to be called, a Dance Entertainment Engineer). Her long brunette hair swayed gracefully as she moved her athletic, toned body to the music. Her 36 C breasts held their perfect shape with every move and put on quite the show for Frank’s mid-morning crowd.
Misty fulfilled her government mandated obligations every day but her dreams of theoretical particles never died. As she moved on stage her mind was calculating the mass of the visible universe. In the crowd she didn’t see the leering faces of businessmen taking long lunches or the unemployed spending their checks. She saw swirling clouds of plasma, plumes of super-heated gas and trillions of particles dancing with her. Electrons, neutrons, quarks, neutrinos; they all joined Misty in her exotic grind while her mother sold the patrons necklaces of beads to throw onstage as tribute.
At night while she slept, Misty’s hands scrawled equations in the air on dream- created paper while Stephen Hawking spoke encouragement from the front of a classroom dressed as a gopher (she could never figure that part out).
It was during one of her sleeping hallucinations that Misty had an idea that would change how people did their jobs forever. She couldn’t be a physicist but she was determined to have it be a larger part of her life. When she awoke she found her mother already up and working on a pair of earrings in the shape of Misty’s legs. With wild arm motions and the excitement of a dog whose just discovered her own tail she described her dream to Gloria.
Working feverishly Gloria sewed together her daughter’s new costume while Misty studied. She loaded lectures onto her iPod, listening to them on the bus on the way to the club. In the dressing room, she recited her lines while practicing the moves she had seen in her dream. Finally, it was 10:30 am. The club was half-full with a visiting basketball team that had never left from the evening before. Misty was introduced.
“Please welcome to the stage, our own perky pixie, Misty Cakes!”
Misty walked out on stage in her new costume which was a white, round piece of cloth covering her groin and two more pieces of material covering her breasts. The two rounds over her breasts were each attached to a circle of wire that ran from her collar bone to mid-thigh. The wires were attached to her waist with a thin belt. Misty had asked that her music be played at a lower volume than usual and she had hooked a small microphone to her left ear.
When the music began, she moved her torso in a circular fashion and the two pieces of material covering her breasts slid down the wire and bobbed around her legs.
She continued to dance and make the pieces rotate and then she started to speak.
“I am a hydrogen atom. This is my nucleus,” she said, pointing to the piece of cloth over her groin. “This is my electron,” she continued, pointing to one of the other pieces. “And this is my proton”, she said pointing to the last piece. “I am an atom of the most abundant element in the universe. If there were two of me on stage and we collided at the speed of light we would become an atom of helium. This is how the sun produces energy. It’s called nuclear fusion.”
The men in the audience were slack-jawed both at Misty’s evocative dance and at the scientific facts she was spouting. They were mesmerized by the electron and proton spinning around covering and uncovering her breasts. When her performance finished there was silence. The customers looked at each other in amazement before the room erupted in applause. Money floated to the stage like falling autumn leaves. Misty took bow after bow with an electric smile while Gloria herded the dollar bills into her purse.
Misty had found a way to do her forced labor while including her passion. She had been hoping that the audience would bear with her scientific chatter and odd costumes. To her surprise they embraced her show. They packed the club waiting to see her new outfits and to learn physics while having a crab cake.
One day she came out with an elliptical version of her hydrogen atom costume that ran from her neck to her feet. “I’m a particle accelerator,” she had started. She got the two white dots moving fast by jumping up and down all the while explaining the function of an accelerator. When the dots collided the entire costume fell away revealing her nude body. Gloria needed a grocery bag to collect her daughter’s tips.
Soon Misty’s shows were standing room only. Frank couldn’t order enough Polynesian shrimp. For the first time Misty was enjoying being a stripper. She loved thelooks on the men’s faces as she taught them the theory of relativity. Some of them had formed study groups, watching her shows with textbooks and posters of the Periodic Table of Elements.
But Misty’s full impact was felt among the other dancers as she inspired them all to follow their dreams. Her partner on the morning shift was a busty African American stripper named Lava Jones. Before the government forced her into stripping, Lava had begun a career in politics as the campaign manager for a mayoral candidate. Using material left over from that election, she created costumes made out of “Elect Dawson” yard signs and would only remove a piece after a customer registered to vote.
One of the night time girls with the whimsical name of Cherry Jubilee had worked at a retirement home calling Bingo games and missed the joy on the senior citizen’s faces when they won. She made a costume out of ping pong balls with Bingo numbers painted on them. As she danced a member of the audience pulled numbers from a drum and she would remove the matching ball until she was disrobed and she saw that familiar look of elation on the customers’ faces.
Misty Cakes’ revolution soon swept on to other jobs. English teachers did pirouette’s while diagramming sentences, construction workers sang arias while cutting dry wall, postal workers drew cartoons and gave them away to their customers. Everyone, no matter what job they were forced to work, found a way to add their own flair.
Now while she slept, Misty no longer dreamt of computing equations on a blackboard. Instead, her subconscious placed her on a beach, walking through the sand as warm, Caribbean water lapped at her ankles and Stephen Hawking played volleyball with a family of gophers (what does that mean!).
Christopher Hivner writes from a small town in Pennsylvania surrounded by books and the echoes of music. His work has recently been published in eFiction Fantasy and Dark Moon Digest. A book of horror stories, “The Spaces Between Your Screams” was published in 2008. Information about all his writing can be found at www.chrishivner.com