Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Old Married Lady Walks Into A Bar...

On Saturday night I went out. To bars. Plural. This almost never happens.

A few years ago, yes, I was flirting with sailors and knocking back watery Buds like a bargain basement bin Carrie Bradshaw, but these days, I tend to go to bars at 2:30 pm, in yoga pants with a toddler in tow (I know that makes me sound like a sloppy alcoholic, but I'm trying to be sensitive to the needs of normal adults, specifically the after-work crowds who would rather not have babies harshing their 5 o'clock mellows).

Truthfully, I've never been much of a bar girl to begin with. I'm naturally standoffish around strangers, I like to have a place to sit down at all times, and my go-to drink is red wine, which is just not a cool bar drink (the divier the bar, the more asshatty you look clutching your dusty stem glass of Yellowtail merlot). I can and do drink beer and hard liquor, but it doesn't usually end well. Which, incidentally, is a great segue into my story!

I went out with two friends, who for the sake of Internet privacy I'll call Flopsy and Mopsy. Flopsy is a married mother of two; Mopsy is a single gal about town who spends most of her time trying not to get kicked out of the country for being Canadian. Both are awesome.

We started out at a wine bar, where we drained two bottles of red over a light dinner while Flops and I scared Mops with stories of our kids almost choking to death on organic cheddar bunnies. You know, girl talk.

We were tipsy by then, so we wandered through the softly falling snow to a bar a block away. None of us had ever been. We squeezed behind the bar in our puffy winter coats and were debating what to order when a thin, nerdy gentleman with a Mr. Rogers/Norman Batesy vibe offered to buy us a round of beers. He was wearing a sweater and said he was a historian. We looked at each other and were like, why not?

Here's why not: Letting someone buy you a drink is basically agreeing to make forced, awkward conversation with them for the duration of said drink. That's not so bad, right? Well, not usually (says the girl who has been offered drinks by strangers maybe twice, total, ahem), but this guy--who, for the sake of Internet privacy I will call The Racist Historian--turned out to be a super creep. The whole Norman Bates aesthetic should have been a giveaway, but what can I say, I don't get out much.

When your name is Una, no one hears it correctly the first time in a loud bar. This is my life:
"I'm Una."
"Luna, hi."
"No, Una."
"Sorry, Uta."
"Una, with an N.*"
"Uma. Cool, like Uma Thurman?"
"No, an N. N like Nancy."
"Wow, sorry Nancy. I totally misheard you the first time."
*Una With An N is going to be my self-produced cabaret album title.

So TRH's first mistake was calling me Uma.

His second was casually dropping the word "mulatto."

I wish I could tell you in what context he said it, but I was busy sipping my shitty free beer and trying to adjust to the new landscape. Being out at a bar after midnight on a weekend without my husband or child was like being abruptly socialized after years in the wild. I was basically Jodie Foster in Nell. My inner monologue went something like:

Should I take off my coat? Everyone else is magically not wearing coats, even though there are no visible coat racks. But if I take off my coat, then I have to pretend to hang it nonchalantly over one arm, which works with a light jacket, but not in winter. If I did that now I'd just look like I was trying to strangle a sleeping bag to death. Also taking my coat off might be seen as an invitation to look at my--HOLD UP, did he just say mulatto? 

So. Flopsy, Mopsy and I tried to start our own conversation without seeming rude, by doing the patented lady move of turning away in small increments until you are facing in the opposite direction. Flopsy started talking about her dad's heart problems--again, fun girl talk--when TRH awkwardly attempted to insert himself back in.

"I'm feeling kind of left out here," he said loudly.

"Oh, we were just talking about my father's medical history," Flopsy muttered.

TRH sighed and then reached over, grabbed my beer, and used it to refill his beer. It was as stark a rejection as I've ever seen in person, except maybe for that scene in Gladiator when Joaquin Phoenix does the really dramatic thumbs down.

I began furtively texting Jeff:
Me: Is it rude to ignore the dude who just bought you a beer?
Jeff: Ish
Me: He is a racist historian, though.
Jeff: Bold angle for a p***y hunt.
*Sorry, I can't say--or type--the word p***y if it's in reference to anatomy and not to, you know, just being a pussy. 

After that we did the somewhat less classy lady move of quickly walking out of the bar and erupting into drunken giggles. I mean, it was nice and all for him to buy our drinks, but what did TRH think would happen? That he would hit on all three of us simultaneously, kind of cast a wide net, and fill us with hops and whispered epithets until one (or more) of us decided to throw caution to the wind and go home with him? Obviously he didn't even do a ring check. Amateur.

The next bar we teetered into was a lively, cavernous establishment that caters to the Brooklyn hipster, which is the most advanced species in the hipster taxonomy--and the mothership did not disappoint (it had two full-size bocce courts, for Christ's sake). Almost immediately, once again, we were set upon, this time by two much friendlier and more attractive men named Wasn't Listening and Don't Care (to be fair, my name for the evening was Look, I'm Married and Tired and Wearing a Giant Puffer Coat With Dried Banana On It, Can Someone Just Find Me A Seat And Maybe A Cheese Plate? )

Seriously, though, it sucks to be married and talking to nice single guys, because you don't want to wait until an awkward moment to flash your ring ("So, Ula, why don't you take off your coat, get comfortable?""Haha, I need to get going soon. My husband is watching our child. Haha.") but you also don't want to be so presumptuous that you start every conversation with "HI, I'M MARRIED, DON'T BOTHER." So I just sipped my Jack and ginger and stood there being jealous of everyone at the bar who wasn't  wearing a stretched-out maternity top. Bitches.

I won't lie, it was a blast to go out on the town with girlfriends for the first time in what feels like years, and of course it was nice to be quasi-hit on by three men, even if one of them was a confirmed racist and probable serial killer. But as I walked home in the snow, and then tip-toed into my warm, quiet apartment, finally doffing my down-filled armor and forcing my sleepy-eyed husband to slow dance with me in his boxer shorts, I realized that I needed to get out just to discover that, most of the time, I'd rather stay in.

Vomit, I know. But all good bar stories end in vomit.
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29 comments :

  1. Awww! I share your awkwardness - I'm an old married lady in a college town, so my conversations with unobservant Men Offering Drinks has the added sparkle of "Are you a student?" and "You graduated? When?" and "OH."

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    1. HA. Just say "I'm a senior." They don't have to know you're not talking about college. RIGHT?

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  2. Aaaaand she's back!

    Do you know how painful it is to choke back sympathetic laughter to the point of tears while in your cubicle in a deathly silent office? IT HURTS, UDA.

    The ring-miss hasn't happened to me since I've had my baby, but the last time it did, I just let the guy ramble on and name-drop Leonardo DiCaprio (OH PUH-LEASE) to his heart's content until he finally zeroed in on the ring, conveniently on the hand I was using to sip the drink he'd just bought me. I just smiled while he stuttered. Thanks for the drink, darling!

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    1. I DO feel kind of back, in a number of ways--TMI post forthcoming. Spoiler: It's about female troubles.

      And I like your ring flashing style. I took my engagement ring off when Sam was born just on the off-chance I poked out one of his eyes, but I still wear my plain gold wedding band. Plus I have that new(ish) mom "NO ONE TOUCH ME I JUST NEED FIVE GODDMAN MINUTES" look. I'm actually shocked any of these guys spoke to me.

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  3. I love this! So true. I went to Vegas for a conference without husband and baby and it was pretty awful. Before going though, I was so excited! Sleeping as long as I wanted! Drink as much as I wanted! What actually happened was I got a terrible hangover, and completely unrelated, I got a call from doctor that I had cancer. Vegas already sucked, but then all I wanted was to be home with my boys and not in a smoky casino.

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    1. Oh my God, that's awful. I can't imagine getting bad news in Las Vegas, while everyone else is dressed in spangled cowgirl outfits and butt floss. (Can you tell I've never actually been to Vegas?) Anyway, I hope you're healthy now!

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  4. Love it! As an old married myself, I had the same-ish experience this weekend - going out to find that I would usually rather stay in. Cheers :)

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    1. I am toasting you with my juice glass of wine and my Roku remote!

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  5. Haha, great (and lovely) post. I bloody love your blog. xx

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    1. Aw, thanks! I bloody love "bloody" used as an adverb!

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  6. nice one. the coat thing is such a pain

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    1. Right? How can we fix this? Can someone invent a down jacket that converts into a gas in confined spaces? Sidebar: It should smell like pie.

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  7. If I were a woman and some stranger tried to buy me a drink I'd say "why?" with a disdainful expression. I feel sorry for you ladies who have to put up with imposing jerks every time you enter a bar.

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    1. Thank you. I don't want to shame dudes in general for talking to ladies in bars or buying us drinks, though. 75% of the time the intentions are good and not too shady/aggressive. Okay, maybe 75% is a little generous. 50% of the time.

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  8. The last time I went out, which was literally a year ago yesterday, some guy with a waist-length ponytail and AC Slater jeans started whipping his hair all over us. At first, we just thought it was accidental...he was really into his jam...but it got increasingly sexual. He didn't even buy us a drink...dick.

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    1. Oh noooooooooo. Sounds like he was letting his Soul Glo.

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  9. Ugh, the same thing happens to me every time I say my name to a stranger:
    Me: "Katie Spann."
    Stranger: "Stan?"
    Me: "No, Spann. S-P-A-N-N."
    Stranger: "Ohh, Spam."
    Me: "What? No! SPANN. S like Sam. P like Paul. A like apple. N like Nancy. N like Nancy."
    Stranger: "Right, that's what I said, Stan."
    Me: "Nelson. My last name is Nelson."

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    1. On the bright side, we get to write funny dialogue scenes illustrating our deep emotional pain :)

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  10. The last time I was in a bar we got there at 6 and left at 7. And I still felt totally cool.

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    1. That's because you ARE. Obviously.

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  11. People always think my name is Carrie. Several years ago, when I was working a job where I answered phones with an introduction, I got sick of it and started calling myself Tear-y, just so that they would get it. Nobody called me Carrie after that, but I'm pretty sure they thought I was pretentious. There is no winning this game!

    I, too, hate that awkward few minutes before a random stranger finds out that I'm married. I always feel bad if they offer to buy me a drink before the discovery because I feel rude saying no, but I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't offer at all if they thought I wasn't available. That racist guy is gross, though, for pouring your beer into his. #1, that's rude, and #2, drinking after a stranger is gross. Especially during flu season.

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  12. My husband is mad at you now because I laughed really loudly reading this and he's trying to sleep and he has a headache, whine whine--WINE! I need some wine. Maybe in a bar. I can't remember the last time I was actually in a bar. It might be really awkward if I had to tell someone I'm married because since I took off my rings for some reason and now can't find them (don't tell husband, this is the second set I've misplaced) I could be accused of false advertising and/or lying.

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    1. Please apologize to him on my behalf, but then give me a secret high five.

      And in general I try to dissuade people from ring tattoos, but it might work for you. :)

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  13. Okay, so I've been a longtime reader of your blog, and I love it. Today, I have just one more reason for said love: education.

    I VERY shamefully had no idea that the term TRH used was, in fact, racist! I asked my husband after reading this if he knew it was considered a derogatory or racist term, and he didn't either! He's from New York, but I'm from the South, so I did feel slightly better knowing it wasn't just me who somehow made it to almost 30 yrs old without knowing this info. He actually thinks he first heard the term in a social studies class in elementary school!

    Anyway, we both know better now, so thank you!

    As for the jacket dilemma, I usually just drape it over the stool or bench before sitting down if there are no hooks, or coat check.

    Oh, you were also very encouraging towards me a while back in a post that was pregnancy related (my comment was about the discrimination childless women also face in the workplace and elsewhere in response to your "Can women have it all?" article discussion). I was afraid I would never be able to conceive, and voiced from that view point. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for your encouragement, and I'm very happy to report that I'm now pregnant, everything is going well, and it's a girl! I will keep her away from organic cheddar bunnies, make sure she receives a better education than her parents, and look forward to mommy pub crawls. :)

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    1. You know, while I was writing this post I Googled "mulatto" to make sure it WAS racist, and although it's not a slur, it's antiquated--on the same level as "colored"--and therefore pretty frowned upon.

      And CONGRATULATIONS! I am so happy for you. And keep the cheddar bunnies for yourself, they are fucking tasty.

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  14. Love your story though I think you should be grateful you are being chatted up by adult men. Just before I read this post I was walking to work when a 16/17 year old youth gave me the eye and then winked at me, (Yeah I know, cocky wee bugger for a 16 year old). First I felt pleased (since I'm a 36 year old single mother of 5 any attention that's not bodily-fluid related is pleasant to me) then I remembered the last person to have a crush on me was my 16 year old neighbour. I started to get a bit worried. Why am I attracting teenage boys? Am I wafting some kind of maternal scent appealing to the poorly-mothered? I'm away to brainstorm ideas for making myself less attractive to teenagers...

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  15. lol I am right there with you, except I'm a bit rude and flash my super gaudy, giant, fake stone "bar ring" right away and say: "I'd love to talk to you, but all you're getting from me is some conversation guy." Most of the time the guys who actually have decent conversation skills stick around and the jerks leave me alone. MOST of the time. lol

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  16. I love this! I suffer similarly, but add in that I've got REALLY AWFUL hearing (like I should get hearing aids, ferreals) and I had my second child 5 months ago and it makes me wonder how/if I ever enjoyed my time in bars. Don't get me wrong... I'm all for an escape from home occasionally, and even a nice glass of something to take the edge off... but I am too old, too tired, too deaf, and too cranky for the bar scene.

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