I am at the bar.
My friend is telling me about her current love interest. I tell her she’s beautiful and that her mohawk is awesome. She doesn’t need to impress anyone.
A man approaches us. He is wearing plaid. His hair is spiked up with gel. It looks greasy, and he leans in so close to my friend that I can almost see each individual follicle.
He takes two white Tic Tacs and holds them between his thumb and index finger. He throws one at my friend’s drink and it bounces off of her whiskey glass. It hits her in the face. She looks confused. She bends down to the ground, wondering if her nose ring has fallen out.
The man takes the other Tic Tac and tries to toss it into my drink. He misses again and it rolls onto the bar.
He looks at me half-apologetically.
“I’m just trying to win fifty bucks,” he says.
My friend puts together what’s happening.
“You were trying to pretend to roofie our drinks?” she asks.
“Yeah. It was my friends over there. They dared me to do it.”
My ears are hot. I can’t breathe. My friend is stunned and can’t find words.
“You think this is some fucking joke?” I say. “You think that this isn’t traumatizing for either of us? You really think you can come over here and pretend to put drugs in our drinks and have that be okay? Like neither of us have been roofied before? Like this is some normal thing people do to each other?“
My friend makes eye contact with me, and then at the man.
"She’s right. This isn’t funny, dude. I’ve been roofied before.” she says.
“Hey, we’re all cool here. I don’t want to start anything. My friends over there want to buy you both drinks for your trouble.”
The words slither out of his mouth. I feel sick, like I’m the one in the wrong here. I swallow and push my anger up to my throat.
“I don’t want your fucking drinks,” I shout. “I don’t want you anywhere near me. I don’t feel safe around you. I hope your fifty dollars was worth it. I hope everything you’re doing to us is worth it. I hope you take that fifty dollars and invest it in the Women’s and Children’s center, or some charity that advocates human rights, because what you’re doing right now is sick. Pretending to drug someone is not some fucking joke.“
The whole time I’ve been shouting at him, the man’s eyes fill with something that looks like pity. Then, he glances over to his friends and they harden. He says, “I’ll go buy some women’s pantyhose with it. Then I’ll untangle them.”
I’m so shocked that I hardly notice that the bartender has approached us and has been listening to our conversation. Before I can respond, he interrupts:
"Everything okay over here?”
“Nothing is okay. I don’t want this guy’s drinks. I don’t want this guy around me. I don’t feel safe.”
“Gotcha.” The bartender looks at the man. He says one simple word.
The man and his friends leave the bar. I go out to the patio and bury my face in my hands. I wonder what century we’re living in. I think about how many miles per hour the world turns (1,038) and I try to find Orion. I pull a hangnail off my thumb. I try to ask myself if I’m still a victim. I probably am. It’s hard to tell with these things.
For the first time in a long time, I don’t feel bad for yelling or swearing.