Walking home from a great night out at 2am. I was up early that morning getting ready for the weekend. I had worked a full day in a job that I’m still learning. I went straight from work to a comedy gig I performed at. I had a great time and to celebrate did some karaoke with my mates afterwards. Then out of nowhere it’s 2am and I was tired; dead tired all of a sudden. The energy was gone and I was sipping my cranberry juice half asleep at the bar.
I realised that I’d left my car in the carpark on Willis and I was on Allen. Fleetingly thought of calling a Taxi. “Don’t be ridiculous Julz.” I told myself. “Can’t call a taxi to take me to my car.” So I set off walking. My feet were killing me that day. It’s not usual for that to happen. Usually I can walk for miles in heels without flinching but I was suffering and it’s because I was so damn tired.
Halfway there and mid pep talk to myself… “Not long to go now!”, said the perpetually peppy voice in my head. “When you get home you can have a milo in bed.” That peppy bitch likes to bribe me into doing things. It works too because she knows my weaknesses.
My chain of thought is interrupted by a strange male voice coming from a dark corner; where I can see, if I strain, the end of a cigarette burning. “Just take them off.” He says, which I would have replied to, if he hadn’t continued keen to hear his own voice again. “What’s fucking wrong with you?”
My jaw dropped. Put yourself there in that moment. I’m super tired. I’m carrying in my arms enough bags of changes of clothes, shoes and touch up makeup, to dress the entire entourage of a Katy Perry concert. My feet are sore, but it’s my choice to wear the shoes still. All my brain throws up in the moment is a slightly confused and majorly pissed off “What the hell dude?” before I kept walking. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it the whole way home. Typically my brain is now supplying a litany of answers to the corner dweller, a veritable feast to lecture him with. Things along the line of: Ever think it might have been a safety choice to avoid getting glass or something in my foot? What business is my body of yours anyway? How dare you feel like you can have an opinion based on a split second look and not knowing anything about me? Would you have commented if i wasn’t alone or wasn’t a female, I don’t think so. Take your unwanted attention and comments and shove them up where the sun don’t shine. In case that wasn’t clear I meant your Arsehole. What’s fucking wrong with you?
Then literally 4 days later I’m sitting in a bar, to be honest bored and tired, and I’m on my phone. I’m there because… well frankly I just didn’t want to go home yet and occasionally friends turn up there or the bar quiets and I have a chat to my mates behind the bar. When the bar closes we often have a good catch up and chat too that I enjoy. The bars busy currently and in the meantime I’m scrolling Facebook and Instagram intently and looking, for all the world to see, uninterested in being approached by anyone.
Let me stop for a minute in my story to further explain this concept to people. Someone who is interested in having a chat and being approached is generally head up and eyes roaming looking to make contact. If you catch their eye and they smile, nod, hold contact, gesture to you, or mouth words, anything similar to this, that’s them making contact with you. That’s when you’re good to approach. Go ahead with confidence. If for instance the person you’re looking to chat to is eyes down, on their phone, or talking to their friends avoiding making eye contact with you, then they don’t want to be approached. If you move near them and they move away or turn away from you, then they don’t want to be approached. Or oh, this one is really hard to understand for some reason, they say anything that sounds like a “No thank you” or “Not interested” or even just don’t reply to you, they don’t want to be approached.
So, picture me. Squeezed into the far corner of the bar so I’m well out of the way. I’m looking at my phone not looking up to make contact with anyone other than the bar staff for the odd chat. Whenever someone throws conversation my way, I either turn down the offer of a drink/company etc or I smile briefly and go back to my phone. It’s clear, I’m not wanting to be approached, there’s loads of girls in the bar with roaming eyes, pretty dresses and bright smiles but I’m not one of them. You could explain this by calling me a man hater, people often do. Also not true as my male mates will tell you, I’ve just been divorced and I’ve been round the dating wheel a few times and I know nothing particularly special came from a drunken bar encounter and consequently I’m not into them (Anymore for those who knew me once upon a time. It’s how I know they’re nothing special. Haha) But I don’t think that means I should have to give up going out dressing up and getting a drink. I’d take a book to the bar if I thought that would get no attention. Perfect night.
Enter first guy who puts his arm around me from behind me and goes for a boob squeeze. Dear god. Seriously? I mean it’s 1am. I did dress up. But in no way have I ‘encouraged’ this stupidity. In the firmest way possible I remove his arm from grabbing at me and say clearly while now making eye contact “No.” He’s glazed with alcohol fuzziness and he’s confused. He looks at me and points to his face. “No?” He asks, clearly thinking that upon seeing his face I would reconsider wanting to be pawed at.
Again, I reply “No.” and add a “thank you.” My mother taught me to be polite after all. And I go back to my phone. Which apparently is the signal that I want more attention. He again drapes his arm around my shoulder and tries to get in between my face and my phone. Saying to me “But, what’s wrong with you, I’m the coolest guy you’ve never met.”
My patience is already thin tonight, remember I’m tired. I yet again remove his arm and say “No thank you.” And try to go back to my phone. He’s still going and he’s on repeat “But I’m the coolest….” and he’s back to pointing at his face.
I’m done. No patience. I turn to him and say clearly and a little more loudly, so he can hear me above the music just in case he was struggling, “No thank you! Not interested. Please leave me alone!” Which is something he’s clearly never had happen in his life. He’s shocked. His jaw actually dropped. He stood there for a second reeling and processing. And having gathered himself then turns to me, red faced opens his mouth and… I don’t let him say whatever stupid thing I can see building. Quietly and firmly, with pauses for emphasis, I repeat, “Leave… me… alone!” And finally… he does. I breathe a sigh of relief and turn back to my phone for more news of the world and more little delightful details about my friends lives.
Not more than 10 mins goes by when I’m grabbed from the side. Literally grabbed. I nearly fell off my stool. Someone was grabbing my waist and my head and pulling me towards them. My initial reaction is to pull away and get a look at them, the very intimate and confident way they’re pulling me towards them means it just has got to be someone I know. Surely. But I look up and this time it’s my jaw that drops. I don’t know this guy. And he’s still trying to pull my head towards his, his lips jutting out. What is he doing? I’m actually in shock. I think he’s trying to kiss me. Are you freaking serious? He’s strong and he’s winning and now I panic and push hard.
“Get off me” I squeal, in very real distress as he staggers and loses grip on my waist and face. I’m sitting on my stool, feeling angry and violated. His reply? “What? I was just trying to kiss you! What’s wrong with you?”
This time I’m furious. My patience was used up with the previous guy. He has no way of knowing that but maybe he needs this. He needs to know. This is not ok. “You just tried to physically molest me, and you want to know what’s wrong with me? Take a guess and while you’re guessing take your drink and fuck off.”
For the second time tonight, a guys jaw drops. This time it makes me want to punch him in his stupid face. I never asked for any of this. I just sat at a bar in a nice dress, drinking a CC ‘n Dry while scrolling through news feeds. I can see his confusion building into a sense of angry righteousness as he suddenly feels hard done by being called a molester. My anger burns hotter, for all the women who aren’t as confident as me, who don’t know how to say they don’t like a guys “attention”. Fury firing me up for all the women who said “Stop” and “No” to guys who didn’t listen and felt entitled to take instead of ask.
His mouth opens to say something and he sees my face. His expression goes from pissed off to wary, good he’s learning. He looks down at his drink for a long time, swaying in place. My anger is coal, slow burning and hot, so I wait. He’s so close, still pressed into my tiny corner of space at the bar, I can smell his sweaty drunken stench rising off him.
He turns to me, wary expression still in place “ Can’t we just be friends” he asks. I take a deep breath and close my eyes, trying to will my patience and calm back. “No.” I reply. “Why not?” He replies, faking hurt. “I don’t want to be friends with you.” I’m now back to my calm and reasonable tone. I’m sober after all and I’m happy to educate. “You don’t even know me.” he snaps.
Ah, there it is. The entitlements back. He’s angry at me again. Why don’t they remember that they came over and interrupted me and I clearly don’t want to be interrupted by them. Why don’t they just stop and wonder if I wanted to be kissed before they tried it? I’ll never understand.
“No.” I am firm. “I don’t and I don’t want to. Why would I be friends with someone who tried to molest me a moment ago.”
His angry face twitches as I drop the M word again. “No I didn’t” he says as he looks around to see who’s listening. Clearly thinking that i’m ruining his chances with the other girls at the bar who his charming approach would usually work on. Sadly… that’s possibly true. He probably gets lots of kisses from girls who wouldn’t have if he’d asked first. “Oh, really. And what would you call trying to kiss someone who didn’t want to be kissed, exactly?” I ask. “Another couple of words for it could be sexual harassment.”
“Wasn’t like that. What’s wrong with you?” he’s back peddling now. He’s convinced himself he did nothing wrong and that he’s being attacked unfairly now. They always do.
“You” I hiss, surprising myself, as the anger I didn’t know was back slips out from between my teeth. Why is there something wrong with me for wanting to be treated with respect and left alone? I feel my face contort under the strain of trying to hold the words back. I know what I must look like, I can see it in his eyes as he starts to, finally back away out of my personal space. He’s scared of me and I want him to be. “What’s wrong with me? Really? You think it’s ok to just grab at what you want. Did I look like I wanted to be kissed by you? Did you ask? No you just tried to force yourself on me. You are my problem. Go away.”
Like a terrified cat in the face of the dreaded plastic bag, with real fear he turned and practically ran away. I turned to my phone, the coal still burning bright, knowing that the only way to purge it was to write it out so I grabbed my phone and turned to WordPress; my faithful therapist. My bar friends have seen the whole thing and after checking I was ok, supplied libation to ease the anger. Cocktail now in hand, my fingers flying over my phones keyboard, typing out these entitled experiences. I was caught up in ridding myself of the anger and could feel the calm descending again as I immortalized these idiots.
It took me a good while to even realise that there was a guy tucked into the bar next to me, attempting to make conversation. As he repeated himself, when I looked up, I found myself waiting with baited breath for the outcome of this conversation. Would he be like the end of the fairytale, the one who proves not all guys are idiots or would he be just another example of the ridiculous sense of ownership that guys have over every female that ventures into a bar. Not all females visit bars to find a man, in fact I visit them often to drink and socialise with no interest in picking up at all. And I know I’m not alone in that either.
“What a long email you’re typing” he comments again and this time I hear it. I have not looked in his direction once, and still don’t. “It’s not an email” I reply going back to my phone. I’m clearly not engaging. I’m not sending any signals I’m interested. He continues. “You girls and your long texts.”
Oh good. Is that a tinge of sexism I hear there? I sigh, put down my phone and turn to make sure that he gets my full meaning this time. There’s still hope for him yet. Trying to to let my previous experiences taint giving him a calm reaction. “It’s not a text. I’m actually kind of busy writing something and I’d like to be left alone thank you.” and I wait. He smiles, he thinks he’s got my attention “Text or email same thing. It’s long.”
Sigh number 2 escapes out of my mouth and the coal is beginning to burn hot again. “It’s not a text or an email and yes it is long. I have a lot to say. So if you don’t mind…” I’m still trying to be calm. After all, points in his favour, at least this guy hasn’t tried to grope me. “Yea. Girls always text long texts.” He actually looks pleased with himself and steps in closer. Dear god. I clearly thought too soon and this is worse somehow. Now he’s attacking my gender in a weird offhand way that he clearly thinks is stellar observational conversation too.
“Look. It’s not a text or email. I’ve said that a few times now. I’m not interested in having a conversation with you. Have a good night.” No jaw drop this time. His eyebrows draw together as his forehead crinkle into a frown. His drink slams down to the bar and with no more words he slides his drink along the bar with force until it smacks straight into my phone in my hand. While it’s sliding he turns and leaves.
I roll my eyes. I suppose that makes me the bitch again. I probably ruined his night with my bitchiness. I’m so sorry that he chose to talk to me and I wasn’t wow’ed by his gender observations around text messaging. I’m glad he was sober enough to be indignant. At least he didn’t need yelling at. I turn back to my phone where I hadn’t even finished writing about the first guy and now realised I had three to purge.I looked around and squeezed myself further into the corner, in an attempt to make myself unnoticed and again my fingers flew. Now I’m at the end of the story, the fiery anger is satisfied but not gone. I’m still so aware that this goes on far too often.
My message here? Guys or girls, when you visit a bar and see someone that you might like to engage in conversation, a dance or some other type of sweaty activity for the night, have a look at whether they’re open to approach and try for a chat. Listen and hear if they’re interested. Basically read the signs and listen to the words, it’s not hard to figure out if someone flirts back. If they don’t turn to face you, give you eye contact, give you their name, laugh at your jokes, reply to your questions and ask their own or say the words that are variations of yes, then simply say “Have a nice night” and walk away. It’s not about you. It’s about them and their choice to sit at a bar and not be expected to provide you with an ear for your conversation, get body parts groped, or be kissed without being asked first. The choice to talk or not is theirs and not yours to force. Read the signals people. Be better.
Rant over, poison lanced with the sharing, thanks for reading. Maybe you said, YES in fellow frustration (I hope not) then like, share and maybe people who need to read this, will read this, and there will be one less guy or girl being that idiot at the bar. One less person I need to think “What’s wrong me? No buddy, what’s wrong with you?” That’s my dream.