February 14 2019
The other night, two friends and I watched a game at a local sports bar. It was one of those rare Saturday nights where it’s too cold to put forth much effort. Girls night, game, beer. That’s all we wanted.
We sit at a table in the bar area, the game on directly in front of us. It’s the perfect seat.
Except it isn’t.
The minute we sit, a man at the bar dressed in an army uniform, a bit older than us, drinking a beer alone, turns to us and says, “Go Caps!” We are wearing the colors and gear, so yes bar-man, Go Caps! We return the sentiment and turn back to our menus.
Our team scores moments later as we sit, our beers on their way, and we cheer.
“Whew, what a goal,” the man shares from a few feet away. We nod our agreement. Then he stands and makes his way three steps to our table, where he begins to talk, and share, and then overshare.
The deep details of our conversation are not important. He discussed his education, what he is doing out in this area, where he has lived, his career, his age. And then he let us know he is single.
That is when it hit’s me he is truly hitting on us.
Let’s go back to the beginning for a moment.
When he began the conversation from his stool, my immediate thought was, ‘Sucks to have to sit at a bar alone to watch the game on a Saturday. I don’t mind sharing the excitement of the game and high-fives as we score. That is completely doable.’ And it would have been. I would have gladly given him that and shared a few sentences of conversation as we all watched the game together. Except that isn’t what happened.
It quickly became obvious over the hour long attempts what his one and only goal was. He did this by standing too close, leaning over until his face was almost touching mine to share a photo on his phone. He continued to inject himself where he very clearly after a short time was no longer welcome.
How did this all end, you ask? About forty-minutes into the conversation, we took two girls off the table by confirming that they both were taken. Another fifteen later I finally gave into the advice and informed him I, too, had a boyfriend. Within seconds he was wrapping up his story. Within minutes he had paid his bar tab, and in a solid five disappeared out the backdoor without another word to us.
And we were pissed. Not only did we not get to watch the game, but for him to so blatantly reveal that his true intention was to ‘get’ one of us was insulting. This anger was a combination of feeling guilty for being annoyed by his presence, his military uniform, and the cliche truth that this happens all the time. He had no desire for common politeness after we had suffered in the name of it.
This interaction of course brought around the begging question that all girls ask themselves on many an occasion, “Is it possible for a girl (or group of girls) to go out and not have a negative interaction in this way?” This is by far a tame example of this kind of behavior, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
I don’t tell this story in self-flattery. I’m not complaining that a guy thought we were pretty and wanted to talk to us. I’m questioning the motives and rudeness behind such a gesture. At what point does it become impossible to kindly hint that he is wasting his time? How many times do we have to not acknowledge his words, move away from his encroaching body, and bluntly turn away from him before he gets it?
And it wasn’t just him.
Another girl approached us at the end of the night, striking up a conversation before expertly explaining that her two friends are at the other table and were any of us single. We should join them, she said. Our social cues were again ignored. We flat out refused her offer, and it was a bit darkly done. We left before the clock struck midnight, fearing it couldn’t get any better with more alcohol in the system.
All this to say, maybe we should have been more blunt. Maybe we felt unsafe rejecting an older and physically sound man. It’s possible our ponytails and t-shirts were screaming for attention. Maybe we were putting out vibes that we wanted to be talked to. Maybe it’s all our fault.
But maybe, at the same time, people should pick up on social cues and understand when something is appropriate or isn’t. I would have raised a glass with you bar-man, but I wasn’t about to give you my number and that should have been clear in the way I became more and more visibly uncomfortable as you encroached in my personal space.
Has this ever happened to you? How did you get out of the situation? How did you avoid it?