My senior year in college, I went to a house party with three other girls, one of whom was Roommate. That detail’s not super important, but it just stands as further proof that Roommate is a good friend who has experienced some weird crap with me. Anyway, this party was the weekend after New Year’s (not even New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day or anything special, just a weekend close to a holiday) and was themed “Black & White” (which, why? why does a house party of barely graduated pot-heads need a theme?). However, the alcohol room was beach themed, complete with brightly colored children’s toy beach pails full of a strange mix of blue-ish alcohol. And yes, before you ask, there was indeed an entire room dedicated to alcohol. Maybe this is normal. I don’t know. I wasn’t invited to a lot of parties in high school or college. And the following story may be why…
You will also need to know this: I had just recently lost a significant amount of weight. Significant to the tune of 70 pounds (There’s a whole side story about growing up as a big girl and hitting the 300 pound mark and freaking out before joining WeightWatchers and losing 100 pounds and being within 20 pounds of my goal but moving home to the Far North and gaining part of it back and just now getting back on track to finish what I started, but that’s not what we’re talking about now).
So, there I am, feeling amazing and wearing cute black dress in a size I hadn’t worn since middle school, but also still feeling like the big awkward girl I used to be. And I’m perched on a couch with Roommate, feeling like an outsider at this party, because I only know those I came with. Plus, I’m a pretty tall girl (6’) and the dress is a little shorter than I’m used to when I’m sitting. It’s not inappropriate, but it’s more thigh than I’ve shown off in my life. I’m not really drinking and there isn’t really dancing, so I’m not sure what to be doing.
But then these two guys sit down on either side of us and start chatting with both of us. Pretty soon, the guy next to Roommate starts to draw her into a side conversation and the guy next to me focuses his attention on me alone. We’re chatting about things we have in common (and looking back, the conversation was weird and the topics were not at all sexy or interesting—I have to get better at the flirty banter, since I think I said “Yeah! I get that!” about a million times) and I barely even notice when Roommate and the other guy get up to go look at something (I later found out that the guy pretty much dropped her as soon as they got away from us, which makes me think that he was just my guy’s wingman. Which, for being hit on for the first time, I’m pretty impressed I got wingmanned. Okay, that may not a word. I could have made it up. But I think it might catch on…).
The couch is positioned so that all the speakers, which are turned up way too loud for comfort, are pointed straight at us. So I’m leaning in, yelling in his ear to keep talking. He’s complimenting me and sitting a little closer than is absolutely required. I’m blushing and eating it up, because I’m not used to male attention. A girl walks by and excitedly screams his name (which I cannot for the life of me remember, which just goes to show you how lasting our interactions turned out to be), so he jumps up and hugs her. She’s half drunk already and laughs loudly and obnoxiously at something he said that wasn’t funny and wasn’t intended to be. He extricates himself from her arms, introduces me, and then sits back down, even closer to me.
I notice but don’t register her pouty look as she wanders over to the iPod connected to the speakers and begins to change the music randomly, about fifteen seconds into each song. Annoying, right? It’s at this point I realize she’s the obnoxious girl my friends and I have been trying to avoid, since we walked in and she screamed something about, “Who the hell invited these chicks?” I ignore her and keep talking to the guy. She turns up the music, forcing us closer together---an unintended consequence of her obnoxiousness, to be sure. He’s basically got his face buried in my hair, his nose practically in my ear.
The girl disappears, only to reappear in a few minutes demanding his attention again. He gives it somewhat unwillingly and brushes her off after a second or two. I ask how they’re connected, finally catching the clues that this girl’s acting less like a friend and more like a girlfriend. He explains that they know each other in a distant, friend-of-a-friend type of way. He thinks she may be interested in him, but he’s not interested in her. I pretend to shrug this off, but I’m starting to realize at this point that this guy is kind of a macho idiot who thinks he’s cooler and smarter than he really is—due to other factors than just his interactions with this girl. Plus, he’s short, so it probably wouldn’t have worked out anyway. However, I’m trying to enjoy myself and not over-think things, so we keep talking. The girl interrupts twice more, but mostly just as she’s passing the couch. I’m annoyed, but I can’t figure out a way to get out of this whole situation.
We’re very close on the couch now and I’m starting to be really aware of how much of my legs are showing. At one point, he rests his hand on my bare knee, but I accidently send him a “what the hell are you doing, dude?” signal instead of a “this is new for me and I don’t know how to react” signal, so he quickly removes his hand. And I’m relieved. The party is so loud at this point that we’re yelling into each other’s ears and we’re going hoarse. I can see my friends across the room, all sneaking approving looks at me over the guy’s head and are not going to come over and interrupt for anything, even if I want them to (which I kind of do). I’m beginning to think this guy actually might like me and ask for my number, when from out of nowhere…
Everything and everyone in the room freezes and all of the eyes in the living room, kitchen, alcohol room, and back deck swing over to me. And the obnoxious girl standing over me. Who has just come up on my blind side and slapped me, full force, on the side of my bare leg. (Yes, you read that right. My leg. My lower, outer thigh, right above my knee. Apparently, I don’t warrant a face slap—which I’m grateful for, don’t get me wrong—but just a slap to a random part of the body that most people don’t target in the course of drunken brawls or catfights.) So, the whole room is waiting on tenterhooks to see what the hell just happened and what’s going to happen next. I don’t even have time to think. I never saw it coming and my leg is stinging sharply before I even know where to look.
And casual as can be, I slowly turn my head around (not my entire body, just my head—like she wasn’t worth the effort) and ask her, as one would ask a child, “Excuse me?”
Suddenly abashed and realizing the whole party is staring at her (and that I’m not jumping up and clawing her eyes out, thereby deflecting attention from the fact that she’s the instigator), she says something to the effect of “You’re a bitch. I mean, you look sexy tonight. You’re a sexy bitch!”as if she’s giving me a compliment by assaulting me.
I glare at her coldly and say, “Thanks…” as sarcastically as I can manage, which is a pretty lofty level due to the circumstances, and then turn back and resume my conversation with the guy like nothing happened. Everyone at the party just kind of goes “whoa” and jumps back into partying. I glance up and my friends’ eyes are like saucers. They’re the only ones who haven’t returned to partying—the girl having scampered off with her posse of snickering girls as soon as my head was turned. The guy apologizes profusely for her and I tell him I’m fine. All the while, my insides are starting to quiver and I’m wondering a) did I really just get slapped?; b) how did I manage to stay so calm?; and c) what the HELL?
Now, looking back, I’m not sure how anyone could have heard the slap when the music was so loud and there were so many people around. But hear it they did. And in case you’re wondering if I’m a pansy and the slap wasn’t all that bad, I would like to tell you that she left three bruises: one where the heel of her hand landed, one where the tip of her middle finger hit, and one where her thumb connected. I would also like to tell you that these bruises were still visible three weeks later (I totally could have pressed charges. If I had the guts for that kind of thing. Or had I learned her name…).
Roommate later said she heard the slap, saw my face, and thought I was going to take the girl out. I’m still not completely sure it was me inside the body that responded that way, because I’m usually confrontation avoider. When confrontation is in my face, my first response is to cry. My second is to attack. And yet, all I said was, “Excuse me?” Really? It was so calm. So acerbic. It was the kind of thing I usually think up, six hours after a confrontation as the way I should have done it, while regretting that I had mumbled and shrugged my way through it instead. But my body just kind of took over and came up with something I’m still a little proud of today. Of course, the adrenaline and all of that kicked in about twenty minutes later and I was then worried about the whole thing and stumbling over my words. After the threat had passed. I occasionally do that for some reason—I get nervous after a presentation or I have stress nightmares about missing a final I’ve already passed.
If you’re wondering what happened with the guy, just know it ended in a typical Elise fashion. About ten minutes after the slap, he said he wanted to get my number, but had to run to the bathroom and would get it from me when he came back. He had his phone in his hand while he said this, so I was pretty certain I was getting the brush off. And I was okay with that, because I was pretty sure I didn’t really ever want to talk to him again, but it was still a tiny let down. Because, SERIOUSLY DUDE? I just got slapped for talking to you! The least you could do is give me a fake number or a vague, “I’ll call you…” But no, the brush off. Fine. Whatever.
As soon as he darted to the “bathroom,” my friends came over to check on me. I told them I wanted to go home and when they asked about the guy, I said I was pretty sure it wasn’t going anywhere at all. They expressed the appropriate level of sympathy and I went to go get my coat. I was satisfied to leave it at that and escape before the crazy girl found me again.
Instead, I found her. With him. Making out. Up against a door. The door to the room where my coat was stowed.
So I had to use my “Excuse me?” line again. This time with a little less badass cool and more of an “Ummm… Boy whose name I don’t remember and crazy girl? Um… Would you mind moving so I can get my coat and go home before I get hurt again? If it’s not too much trouble? Please?” kind of tone. Then crazy girl said something witty about, “Oh, here’s your girlfriend…” in a high, sarcastic voice and I thought we were going to throw down in a cramped hallway with no one to help me. Instead, he pulled her upstairs while calling her “baby” and I spent the next forty-five minutes looking for the idiot who locked my coat in that room. So that I could get my keys and leave. Epic and yet completely anti-climactic. Welcome to my life.
And this is the totally true tale of how I got hit on and hit for the first time each in one night. And how I guess I became a “Sexy Bitch.” I’m so glad I have strange, violent women at parties to let me know when I have arrived at the next level of female awesomeness. Because without her, I’m not sure I whould have ever known how awesome I really was. Excuse me? Thanks…