I had one of those “it’s a small world” incidents at the Atlanta airport yesterday. While waiting in baggage claim for Sophia to return from her latest business trip, I ran into our favorite Caribbean entertainer. The ensuing conversation reminded me how a single error in judgment can drastically change a life, and not for the better.
I hadn’t seen “Marco” in two years. Back then, and on numerous prior occasions, Sophia and I had enthusiastically attended each of his nightly performances in a hotel lounge on the Caribbean island where we vacation semi-annually. His act consisted of singing, dancing, and witty repartee with audience members of all ages. As much as we liked his voice and song selection, the two of us felt most drawn to his comedic touch, especially his lap dances. The absurd sight of the wafer-thin, graying but handsomely debonair, entertainer straddling an overweight grandmother — in front of her adult children and septuagenarian husband — never got old. And judging by the consistently packed houses at his performances, my wife and I weren’t the only ones reveling in his bawdy routines.
It’s a given that no entertainer receives universal love. After all, appreciation of both music and comedy depends on subjective elements. A mildly off-color joke eliciting peals of laughter from almost an entire crowd might deeply offend one person. As a consequence, it’s critical for a professional to know his audience and to carefully select the targets for his racier behavior … as Marco himself now recognizes.
A year ago, when Sophia and I last vacationed in the tropics, Marco didn’t appear at his traditional stomping grounds. The hotel staff told us he no longer performed there, yet wouldn’t say why. Naturally, when I encountered the man himself in the airport yesterday, I asked what happened.
“To tell you the truth, I got fired and the hotel blackballed me from working anywhere else on the island,” Marco ruefully acknowledged.
“One night, a family of four came to my show. Since they all seemed to be enjoying the act, I thought dad and the two daughters would love it if I gave old mom a lap dance. And they did. One daughter was laughing so hard she had tears in her eyes. Like always in those situations, I tried to spread the love by climbing on to her too. Of course, I expected them all to laugh just as hard then, but nobody but her cracked a smile. The father even yelled at me to ‘get off’ and went to the front desk to complain! As soon as the show ended, the manager fired me.”
I couldn’t believe the hotel axed Marco because one retiree whined about a lap dance on a consenting adult. I said as much too.
Eyes downcast, Marco sheepishly explained: “I should’ve told you ‘I thought’ they were two daughters with their parents. They weren’t, which I learned from the hotel manager when he fired me. You know, twelve-year-old granddaughters look deceptively mature these days.”