You know those nights you look back on and wished you had just stayed home and watched Netflix? I have had at least a handful of these nights, but one particular night stands out amongst the rest.
It was a random weeknight and I was just hanging out at home. My best friend, whom I’ll call David, was going to our local spot and asked if I wanted to meet him up there. Our “Cheers” bar, we call it, is a typical suburban restaurant/bar that is tucked into a retail shopping center. About 50% of the shopping center isn’t occupied and it’s in a quiet neighborhood off the interstate.
The situation started when I walked into the restaurant and made my way around the bar, saying hi and giving hugs to the other regulars I saw and the staff working. I saw David at the other end of the bar and sitting next to him was a girl he had been casually talking to. Great, I was officially the third wheel, and the unannounced third wheel at that. They were sitting at one corner of the U-shaped bar and I grabbed a seat next to them. We all grabbed a drink, did our “cheers to the bar”, and they continued with their conversation. I soon realized I was going to have to make my own fun, which was totally fine with me.
I started chatting it up with one of the bartenders, who we will call Andrew for namesake purposes. I met Andrew the first night out after my divorce a few months prior. My best friend introduced me to him and said he was the bar manager and I needed to get to know him. Obviously. Andrew and I have bonded over many bourbons, our conversational chemistry is top notch and to the outside world, we may look a little flirty. But all things aside, he has grown to care about my well being and vice versa. I go to this bar because I feel safe, it’s my spot and people like Andrew are looking out for me.
Andrew and I started talking about dating apps and what is out there. Andrew has been a witness to many of my first dates while he was working and was always giving me advice. We were talking about my latest escapades and meetups when a man seated nearby interjected himself into our conversation.
I can’t remember what he said but I remember feeling bad vibes from the guy, let’s call him Roy. Something about Roy’s overall aura seemed creepy. He was about 5’6”, stocky build, and bald with the bulldog rolls on the back of his head. His smirk was sleazy and made me feel relatively uncomfortable but I remained my normal self – outgoing and cautiously friendly.
Roy was with 2 other men, and when the guys food came out the conversation died down. I thought we were done but unfortunately that was only the beginning.
The men were finishing up their food and Roy asked if he could buy me a drink. I thanked him graciously but declined the offer.
About 30 minutes passed, I decide to pass time on my phone because David was smooching his girl. I pull up Tinder and start swiping. I’m midway through swipes, swiping both left and right when I feel hot hair down my neck. I immediately turn around and Roy was standing behind me looking over my shoulder and down at my phone. He asked why I was swiping left and I replied that I just wasn’t into them. He asked to buy me a drink another two times before David asked him to please go sit down, explaining that we were there to have fun and we don’t want any problems and that he needed to leave me alone.
Not even 10 minutes later, Andrew is pouring some Woodford into my half drank glass. I asked what it was all about and he said Roy was buying me another. I motioned across the bar and told Roy I didn’t want him to buy me a drink because I’m not interested and I’m not trying to send the wrong impression. He fought me on it repeatedly and would not leave me alone.
I told David it was probably time for me to go. Roy interrupts and says he will take me home. I told Roy again, no thank you and that I’m not interested. I felt so uncomfortable and I asked if David would take me home or if I should order an Uber. Holding up his phone in the air, Roy says, “Honey, if you order Uber, I’ll take you home because I’m the closest driver”.
David tells me to stay awhile longer and tells Roy to mind his own business and leave us alone. Andrew also intervenes and says they can either leave me alone or they can leave the bar entirely.
At that point things seemed like they were going to die down when literally out of the blue, one of the other guy stands up and walks the 3 feet over to my best friend. He started yelling at him saying that this whole thing was David’s fault because he had been teasing me about my dates. The guy starts saying rude things about me and then Roy got up and was pacing behind David. There was a lot of yelling – terrible things were said about me out of spite, and sloppy, drunken men showed nothing but anger and immaturity. Things escalated pretty quickly. I was shocked that this whole charade was still going on. I couldn’t say a word because I had never seen a man behave in such a way at a bar, and in my quiet community.
I’m sure it wasn’t the first time he had been rejected or maybe he was just a sore loser, but Roy’s ego was hurt. Before I knew it, Andrew was asking Roy and his buddies to leave and they stormed out.
But Roy just couldn’t stop there. He wasn’t going to feel like he lost without showing who was boss. I had never been physically hurt by a man before until that night. I was silent and heard them yelling behind me as they were walking out. My ears were ringing and everything felt very surreal. All of a sudden I feel a massive thump into my back. I was knocked completely over and I realized Roy had curled up his fist and punched me directly in my back. He was yelling choice words but all I could hear was the ringing in my ears and the vibration that radiated through my body after the punch set in.
Roy was gone and I was glad everything was over. I was exhausted and wanted to go home and crawl into bed. I wanted to forget that tonight happened and that my safe place was not as safe as I thought it was. Andrew wanted to make sure I was okay to leave and noticed Roy had been sitting in his car for a very long time. He almost called the cops to make him leave but then Roy pulled away.
Worry still lingers. Roy knew this was my favorite bar. He was told I am there often and knows I live just a close Uber drive away. Am I safe? Or was this just a chapter out of a Lifetime movie?