Part 2: The Seedy Bar
So, there we were, drinking without any shits to give on a Tuesday night.
It was “Tequila Sunrise Tuesday,” after all, and we were quite willing to see the sunrise, indeed (in reality, we both knew sunrise meant 12am because deep, deep down,we actually gave a tiny little inkling of a shit about school).
The humid air of the bar filled our nostrils with the sensation of good times past and present, the counter just the right amount of sticky, as it should be drinking on a Tuesday night. We talked and talked about all of the things that had transpired during our day, including the bus ride.
Low rate musicians, stragglers, and late shift-workers began resentfully filling the bar before their shifts, the low strum of guitar vibrating solemnly through the low-lit air. We half expected to see the Newspaper Spy, but, alas, she had since passed through our lives never to return again. About three drinks in, the music began to pick up, and we couldn’t help but bob our heads along, wondering what more we needed in that moment.
We were best friends in a seedy bar on Tuesday—in other words, bliss.
And then in other, other words, naïve.
“Hey,” a large man pulled up next to Sparkle at the bar, “Excuse me, is this spot taken?”
“No,” we collectively answered.
“I’m Tater,” he stuck out his hand, roughly the size of three of ours together.
Since he was now introducing himself, instincts kicked in and we observed his face for remembering, “I’m Sparkle, this is Fifi.” He was between the ages thirty-five and forty-five, well built with trustworthy eyes—or so we thought.
Assuming he was alone, he seemed to be a nice gentleman. He had no interest in picking us up, as far as we could see, and we began to chat on a preliminary, cautious level.
“Oh, you’re students? I’m a bouncer at a strip club,” he read our expressions, we were still listening, and continued, “I protect the girls who work there and ensure they’re respected, not followed, or harassed.”
So, we trusted his logic and assumed he wasn’t all bad for a stranger.
And he wasn’t—we thought.
Alas, his expression of calm, collectedness dropped when a large, fifty-year-old-at-least man came over and shoved his fat belly up against the bar space we occupied.
He was clearly drunk.
“Hey, Tater, did you find us some new girls?” he burped, sweat leaking down his armpits, grey ponytail wet and frazzled along his rolling fields of neck.
Tater sighed, “Sparkle, Fifi: this is the owner of the club, Tot—”
“And recently divorced, ready to mingle,” he shifted in a circular motion, where his hips would have been, “What do you say, ladies? Want to work for me?”
Tater, clearly embarrassed, sank into the background, lending us the knowledge he did not like “Tot” at all.
“Um, no, we are fine,” still in the mindset we had to be polite, we tried to imagine Tot would disappear, the way Tater had, without needing to be too confrontational. We sipped our drinks during the awkward silence.
“Oh, come on, then dance with me!” Tot then put his hands on me and began “rotunding” around, snapping his bloated fingers, trying to pull me onto the dance floor.
Naturally, I was clinging to the bar, ripped myself from his grip, “No, thank you, we were just closing our tab,” I waved to the barkeep. I was scared, I’ll admit, but I my adrenaline was pumping so hard—Sparkle and I mind-melding escape plans—I had no time to realize how much my palms were sweating, stomach was churning and muscles were bracing.
Perhaps it was our karma for not helping the frat boy on the bus.
Speaking of the bus, we knew it was arriving at our stop in only a few minutes. We had to hold out just a little longer before freedom was our own. We only hoped these “men” were not loading with us.
In that moment of restraint, Tater reappeared, behind Sparkle, a look of fearful embarrassment in his eyes, as though he wanted to do something about Tot but was too afraid.
Tot continued to dance next to me, occasionally bumping into me, my tipping point growing closer with each flaccid tap of his belly rolls on my back.
The tab came, we paid, signed, nodded to Tater and began to leave.
“Where are you going?” Tot took a few steps towards us, stumbling slightly.
“We cannot miss the bus,” and we darted forth, into the night, the bus rolled lazily into port, we boarded and hunkered down, hoping the driver would floor it.
Only when the bus pulled off, we felt safe.
Let me tell you something: Tot and Tater were two very different people. Tater, not so bad, should have done something about his boss’s behavior and didn’t.
I cannot express enough how hard it is to go out, have a good time, and deal with zero repercussions. We were unharmed, yes, and perhaps Tot was harmless in the end.
But if force comes into play with someone’s willingness, give up. What Tot didn’t know, is I was about three belly bumps away from digging my heel between his bulbous thighs—I wonder, would Tater have stopped me?
We should have helped that frat boy on the bus.
We shouldn’t have laughed at him. If more people helped the way we should have, the way Tater should have, imagine how many girls and boys would feel safer (especially girls because let’s be real, there’s a reason girls have earlier curfews than boys).