I don’t quite know where to begin this. I’ve had both a great and a shitty week all at once. Actually, on balance, it’s been more good stuff than bad, but the bad was quite spectacularly so, at least for me, and has taken a while to get out of my system.
Earlier in the week, I went out with a group of people from work that included a (straight) man that I quite like. He’s interesting to talk to and not unattractive so it promised to be a fun evening, though I’d told H to expect me home relatively early. Things were pleasant and fun so I ended up staying later than I had originally planned and we moved to another bar nearby. And then it all went sour. The guy had far too much to drink and began to ask me why exactly I’d come along when he’d invited me. He was also by then expressing an interest in a young woman in our group (and by ‘expressing an interest’ I mean ‘slobbering all over’) who wasn’t averse to his attentions. Perhaps that made him more cocky or something. I don’t know. But anyway, he basically first set up the situation as my having come out with the express purpose of bedding him, and then announced that he didn’t want to fuck me. He prefaced the statement with a litany of my virtues, which, in retrospect, only made the whole thing more annoying.
For various reasons, I did not empty my drink in his face and crack him over the head with the glass, though I had a brief vision of doing exactly that. I think there was an ice bucket nearby that could have made a handy bludgeon and, had I been as drunk as the other two, I might even have swung it. Unfortunately, I tend to stop drinking when I’m pleasantly buzzed so I was relatively more clear headed than the one-man judge and jury.
I was not clear headed enough, however, to avoid being completely confused. This was hardly the first time I’d gone out casually with friends for a drink but nobody had made this sort of assumption or leveled this kind of accusation at me before. So I thought:
1. Had I said or done something to indicate that I was interested in this man? I didn’t think so. I don’t really flirt much even when I’m very interested and the conversation had been mostly work-related anyway. No double entendres, no come-ons, nothing beyond exactly the same friendly attitude as towards the other people present. In fact, I think the object of his interest and I had touched more than anyone else (she’s an affectionate sort and I have no objection to attractive women touching me).
2. Was I interested? I realized I had been at the start of the evening – as I said, he’s both attractive and interesting – but
3. did that mean that I actually wanted to have sex with him? Right then? No. Without exception I hate drunk men. I will not have sex with a drunk person. In order to avoid sex when drunk, I also avoid getting drunk in the first place (unless I’m with people I trust completely). But even with the intoxication removed from the equation, I still would not have wanted to make things sexual at such an early stage. I knew him only slightly from work, and while I may have found him attractive, I don’t blithely hop into bed with just anyone, regardless of how hot they are.
4. Did my presence there at the end of the evening constitute interest? I hadn’t thought it did. In fact, I had gone along precisely because there were three of us, not two, and because, for various very good personal and professional reasons, I assumed all of us were off limits to each other.
And then I remembered another important detail. My underwear. When getting dressed, I had for a moment considered wearing my favorite lacy pair because they make me feel sexy, but then opted for a plain comfy pair, thinking, “I’m going out with people from work. Why bother?”
This may seem like a lot of agonizing over something a drunk idiot said, but his assumptions sent me for a loop. They made me question my own intentions and made me wonder if I was actually giving not just him but other people the wrong idea somehow.
I did eventually respond to his question with the simple answer that, at least up until he turned into an asshole, I was there simply because I enjoyed talking to him and nothing more. He went a bit quiet after that, then returned to slobbering over the girl (who’d turned bright red during his speech and looked like she wanted to be anywhere but there at that moment). Unfortunately, given that it was well past midnight, the street was empty of cars and crawling with drunks and derelicts, and that I did not know the area at all, I had to stay put till we got kicked out of the place when it closed. I suppose I could have called for a ride home, but they’d already called last drinks and the only thing worse than going out there alone right then would have been waiting there alone after the place closed. Plus, I realized that my presence was bothering the idiot – though not the girl – and I figured that if I could increase his discomfort by staying put, why not? So I sat back turned slightly towards them and finished my drink slowly while they made out. I have to say it was pretty juvenile – there’s a reason I keep calling it slobbering – and I began to find the situation a bit silly by the end of it. I was still quite angry though and also pretty upset at the assumption and the unwarranted rejection as well. I mean, it sucks, but I know how to deal with rejection in response to an actual overture on my part. But how do you respond to an uninvited rejection? Imagine I randomly say to you, in the middle of a conversation about photography, “You’re lovely and interesting and all that, but I don’t want to fuck you.” What the…?
Anyway, we left shortly after that, with the girl being quite sweet about getting me home. I told H the whole stupid story and then spent the following day sleeping it off . Over the course of the day of recovery, I realized that I’d really done nothing to be embarrassed about. I mean, if anyone ought to be sheepish, it should be the idiot who got inebriated, insulted a workmate and took advantage of a dippy young woman, don’tcha think? Yet, much to my irritation, I was still dreading running into him and it was mostly because H tempted me with a lunch date that I went back to work the following day.
And I ended up having a great day. I did not run into the idiot, but I did meet up with another bunch of people for a drink after work. (Honestly, I don’t actually consume that much alcohol. Everyone I know just congregates in bars.) And when I say people, I mean mostly men. Unlike the other night, we directly discussed sexuality and I, for the first time outside of queer groups and my immediate circle, actually mentioned in conversation (though not all at the same time) that I was bi, married, and not monogamous (some of which was expressed as “Hey, me too! Cool. *grin*). Then we said goodbye and went our separate ways.
The following night, I went out again, this time with people from a local queer group and, again, the atmosphere was completely different. Most were bi, some were poly and all of them were casually affectionate but there was no pressure and again no assumptions. I almost didn’t go, but, again, H practically forced me out the door, bless him, and I came back floating and happy. Not because I hooked up with anyone but because I didn’t and wasn’t expected to, even though I ended up staying there late talking with one of the men (there were only two other women there to begin with and they left early).
I know I’m comparing apples and oranges here in a way, and I am resisting translating this into some kind of pronouncement on why I prefer hanging out with queer people because I am aware that the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’ and, really, there were other elements in the first situation that didn’t exist in the other two. Nobody got stupidly drunk on either of the two other occasions, for one, and, for another, the individuals involved were different. It is likely that if you add the copious amounts of alcohol, the late hour, and the personalities that were present on the first night to either of the other two, stupid assumptions might have been made there as well. But the fact is, they weren’t. The fact is that I’m looking forward to seeing both of the other groups of people next week. The fact is that the connections I made on the other two nights may develop into pleasant acquaintances and even good friendships. The funny thing, though, is that it is, in a way, thanks to that asshole on the first night that I can honestly say that this is really all I want. Everything else can develop in its own time.