Does the world really need another “Me Too” post?
At this point, I want to believe the ball is rolling, and that things will get better. I mean… if Hollywood looks like it’s about to clean house… Well, I think we all knew Hollywood’s a cess pool.
But somewhere along the line, I ran into someone who was saying–loudly, and angrily, and probably to some guy who accidentally stepped in the shit–that it is a big deal, and if he doesn’t understand why women are upset about it, it’s because every woman he knows… EVERY SINGLE ONE… has been the victim of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault.
But that EVERY SINGLE ONE thing made me start thinking.
You know that moment, where you start looking at your friends, and counting on your fingers?
That thing where you… didn’t really consider yourself a victim. I mean, you were lucky… and well… you were lucky.
So, I started thinking about the women around me. The ones closest to me, actually. You have to be… pretty close to someone before they’re going to tell you those stories.
Do I have to tell you how this turned out?
Is it EVERY SINGLE ONE? I don’t know. But it comes close.
A little bit of concentration, and I was remembering a lot of stories.
How many? Enough that I’m starting to believe maybe it is every single one.
Which brings me to my story. My stories. Because, of course, there are stories. And the only ones I’m going to tell are my own. And I didn’t know that this was my near-miss rape story until months after the fact.
I was living in a new city. I hadn’t made a lot of connections, but I had jumped head first into the dance scene.
Now, to be clear, I’m talking about the ballroom/historical dance scene. The mostly tea-totalling, discipline and practice dance scene. So, you can imagine what an orgy that was.
And I was taking a couple months’ worth of Balboa lessons in this kitschy little bar. (When dance is popular, bars always want dancers. Then, they find out we don’t actually drink while dancing.)
So, I’ve made a few friends–not close, enduring friendships, but buddies. You know how that common-interest thing works–and we’re palling around in this bar on some off-night. Tuesday, or Thursday. Not a big-crowd night.
Round about closing time, the owner–who, by the way, I’ve never seen before–appears, and starts mixing mudslides. Free mudslides. For anybody and everybody who wants one. He’s giving away more alcohol than he sold all night long. Big, enormous, syrup-y mudslides.
And I’m sitting there, drenched in sweat–because dance is a workout–and holding the beautiful, icy-cold bottle of water I’d bought about three seconds before last call.
Mudslide doesn’t even look good.
But I say “no thank you,” and “thanks, I’m good,” and he offers a couple more times. Made real sure I knew it was free. Kinda reminds me of the way an old aunt pushes a slice of pie.
And I kept drinking water and cooling off.
The party winds down, and I walked out of there.
And I kept going back.
Absolutely nothing about that night tripped my alarms in any way. I didn’t feel unsafe. I assumed the guy knew someone in the group, or maybe that he was doing it to keep his bar in the good graces of a pretty talented DJ who happened to dance with us. You scratch my back…
There weren’t any more free drinks, but then… who really expects that?
I didn’t have any idea that anything was wrong until the bar closed suddenly, and I heard why on the evening news.
The owner had been arrested on multiple counts of first degree rape.
And the victims had been drugged. Taken up to the VIP room and raped while they were unconscious.
The bar never reopened, and eventually, the building was sold.
So, here it is. The thing about me, too. I was lucky. That’s all. Just luck. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t save myself. I didn’t know there was anything to save myself from.
And I know there are women out there–women who weren’t lucky–asking themselves what they missed. And I’m the one who can tell them. Nothing. You didn’t miss anything.
My friends and I sat in a room with a serial rapist who was laughing and pouring mudslides, and generally being a good host. A dozen of us. And not one of us saw anything.