Blogging, PSAs

I Cried in a Bar…Twice.

Disclaimer: Names and identifying features changed or omitted. 

Go Jules Go title graphic_I cried in a bar. Twice_21JUL20

Ugh. No.

I pulled off the offending lace tank top and hung it neatly back in the closet, pausing to admire the uniformity of my new wooden hangers. I’d always wanted matching wooden hangers and a closet that looked like a high-end boutique shop. I might not have achieved the latter when I moved to Bend, Oregon last year, but the hangers?

00100lrportrait_00100_burst20200719154538586_cover
Flawless.

I tried on two more shirts, holding a small mirror in front of my face and glancing backwards into my full-length mirror.

Go Jules Go Mt Bachelor 2 June 2019

Do my arms really look like that? And my back? Is it the bra? Oh god. I can’t wear my hair up like this. Look at my double chin.

I yanked the bobby pins out of my side bun. Two months of calorie counting, weight lifting, yoga, and running 50 miles a week, and the reflection in the mirror still betrayed me. I settled on a red floral shirt, dark wash jeans, and a low ponytail.

“I’ll be there at 4:30 to pick you up, if that still works,” I texted my friend, Meghan.

“What are you wearing?” she replied.

I snapped a selfie, strategically cutting out my arms, and surrendering to the fact that this was just as good as it was going to get today.

img_20200718_160433

When I pulled into Meghan’s driveway, she stepped outside in a jaw-dropping maroon dress, her hair and make-up perfect. Playboy bunny meets red carpet knock-out.

“You look gorgeous, as always,” I said, popping out of the car to give her a hug (we had decided weeks earlier that we were definitely “COVID family,” thus able to enjoy embraces).

I hoped I sounded sincere, because I was. Even if I suddenly felt even older and haggier than ever before. We spent the late afternoon enjoying outdoor live music at a lake lodge, every head turning as Meghan walked by, two men even stopping to ask if she was staying at the lodge. The afternoon beer eventually turned into an al fresco “frosé” (frozen rosé) at a bar closer to home.

Frose
Okay then. I guess it’s a thing.

“Those guys keep looking over here,” Meghan giggled, her eyes fixed on a few men behind me.

I tried to casually pivot, turning back to Meghan with a grin.

“You can say that again.”

“They’re leaving now,” she whispered a minute later.

One of them paused in front of Meghan, the final traces of daylight catching his rugged stubble.

“I just have to tell you, you look great,” he said earnestly, staring Meghan down.

“Thank you so much,” Meghan replied, her picture-perfect smile and big, bright eyes shining. “Where are you from?”

“Seattle,” he replied. “I’m here for a bachelor party and leaving tomorrow.”

“Oh, that’s too bad,” Meghan said, a wink in her voice. “What’s your name?”

“Scott,” he answered. After an awkward half beat, he glanced my way.

“I’m Julie,” I heard myself say. “Jules” felt too unfeminine.

Jules COVID mask from Sarah
I’ll just be over here. Behind my mask.

He immediately returned his attention to Meghan and I downed the last of my frosé. After he left, the server started putting up chairs and wiping down tables.

“Want to try The Lot?” Meghan asked, referring to another outdoor bar just two blocks away. “I think they’re open ’til 10.”

It was 9:30pm, which is when most of Bend shuts down on a Saturday night, international pandemic or not. As we headed to The Lot, a young man shouted out his car window to ask where we were going, his gaze fixed firmly on Meghan.

As soon as we reached our destination and approached the bar for a drink, three men descended.

“You have to come sit with us,” they insisted, practically dragging Meghan to their table.

I waited for our drinks and then sat down next to Meghan, tugging my high-waisted jeans over my gurgling stomach. We had skipped dinner and all I could think about was my couch, my dog, and the delicious cauliflower pizza I wished I was eating.

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I’m coming for you, fake pizza.

Within five minutes, the three, scruffy-haired, patchouli-drenched men offered us mushrooms (which we politely declined) and told us about their Pacific Crest Trail through-hiking adventure.

“Because of those six months, we really learned how to read people,” the tallest, and youngest, of the crew said.

The cutest guy in the group had already cornered Meghan, forcing me to face the remaining two intoxicated men on my own. This is so not where I want to be right now.

“For example, I can tell that she,” the scruffiest and oldest one began, nodding towards Meghan, “is way more open and spontaneous than you. You’re really closed off.”

He went on for a minute and now had Meghan’s attention. Is this really happening? Are they going to keep talking about how this bombshell next to me is superior in every way, including her entire essence? 

“That’s no way to live,” they both went on. “You’re clearly so rigid and uptight.”

Meghan took one look at my face and interjected,

“We need more people like Jules. Jules is one of the greatest people I know and I always tell people about the dinner party I invited her to when we first met. She showed up with so much amazing wine and food and even labeled it in case anyone had allergies.”

Soy chorizo roll ups with ingredient card
Yeah. It’s kind of a thing I do.

By then I’d missed my opportunity for a graceful escape to the bathroom. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I am 38 years old, crying in front of strangers. In the middle of a bar. I eventually made it to the bathroom, with Meghan, and found myself saying,

“Yeah, I guess we can go with them to the dive bar downtown.” I can’t ditch you, and maybe I can redeem myself.

An hour later, Meghan was missing and Mushroom Man #3 was two inches from my face, shouting over the blaring music.

“I need you to hug me and prove you can connect on a deep, genuine level with another human being.”

“I’m good, thanks,” I said, staring at the shot of whiskey he had given me.

“Come on,” he persisted, and I wound up with my arms around his short, solid frame. A decision I’d later regret for many reasons, not the least of which involved reeking of incense for the rest of the night.

incense-milada-vigerova-Kfn2n0p6Lgc-unsplash
WHY DO YOU SMELL SO BAD? (Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash)

He wouldn’t let go, so I eventually pulled away, knowing I had -purposely- not given him what he was looking for.

“See, that still wasn’t genuine,” he said. “You’re so closed off. You’re living your life all wrong.”

“I think we’re more alike than you think we are,” I replied, knowing all of the bold, terrifying leaps of faith I’d taken over the past several years.

“No, we’re nothing alike,” he retorted, staring directly into my eyes. “You’re never going to experience what life has to offer if you don’t open up.”

My eyes filled for the second time in as many hours.

What if he’s right? Why can’t I be one of those women who goes on spontaneous camping trips, seduces strange, stubbly men, and embraces her mismatched hangers?

…Why can’t I be a little less me and a little more Meghan?

As I felt the hot tears trickle down my face, Meghan returned.

“He’s being mean again,” I said shakily, reduced to a toddler’s verbal range. “So I’m leaving, and you can come if you want.”

I bolted out the nearest door and pushed through the 20-somethings scattered on the bar’s back deck.

“How the hell did this night happen?” I wondered as I made the long, solo trek back to my car, choking back sobs and grateful that I’d sobered up so I could get home safely.

As I passed through Drake Park, the midnight sprinklers pivoted, drenching me. I almost laughed. Well isn’t this cinematic. I pictured the scene from The Holiday where Kate Winslet bends over her gas stove range, turning on a burner and inhaling deeply. She quickly chokes, running to the window, cracking it open and sighing,

“Low point.”

Kate Winslet The Holiday low point

Low point, Julie Jules, low point.

As soon as I got home and opened my apartment door, Uncle Jesse lavished me with licks and whines, watching curiously as I sat on the couch and wept – as deeply and fully as I’d wanted to all night. When I ran out of tears, I went to the fridge and fixed my long-awaited dinner, surprised that I had no urge to open a bottle of wine.

The cauliflower crust immediately crumbled into 17 pieces as I tried to flip it and I felt like crying all over again. Why does everything always fall apart?

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Holy melodramatic, Mom.

“I’m home, are you okay?” Meghan texted a little after 1am. “I’m so sorry I didn’t leave with you. I came outside, and you were already gone.”

“I’m glad you’re home safely,” was all I could manage.

I collapsed into bed a short while later, clinging to my favorite life line as I drifted into dream land.

Maybe this will all be funny tomorrow.

~*~*~*~*~*~

37 thoughts on “I Cried in a Bar…Twice.”

  1. Drunk men with no filter or good judgement are just like tarot cards: we project that they see what we fear about ourselves because deep down we are gluttons for punishment.
    You keep rocking those hangers and that adorable east coast informed style.

  2. I feel this one so much. But if we’ve learned anything from 90’s movies all you need to do is take off your glasses and suddenly everyone realizes you were ALWAYS BEAUTIFUL. (This might require you getting glasses, but like Freddie Prinze Jr. will show up almost immediately. Guaranteed. Except it might be Freddie Prinze III at this point…).

    1. You owe me $1,200 for a new laptop because there’s now coffee all over it. (That is one of my FAVORITE movie references.) Thank you for the much-needed laugh!

    2. Jules, I love you……..and you are beautiful AF inside and out. I’m so sorry you had to put up with that. I know sometimes you struggle to see your beauty, but it’s is so evident to me. On top of it all you’re making kick ass decisions that have taken some major guts and have been so spot on ❤️❤️❤️

  3. I’m sorry, but this is absolutely ridiculous. You will not let one drunken idiot define who you are and what kind of life you are living! I’ve been in awe of the changes you’ve made and look forward to your smiling face glorying in your new found experiences. You rock! And don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.
    ❣️

    1. Thank you!! This one threw me for such a loop that it also threw me off of my normal Wednesday blog post schedule!!! OMG. Excuse me. I need to go stare at my hangers and regroup.

      1. I think we’ve all been there, in the shadow of a gorgeous friend. But don’t let one idiot man erase years worth of self esteem. You ARE living your best life and have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself. Trust that.

  4. Jules! He sounds like a total douchebag. I wish I was there to tell him, real men don’t wear patchouli ANYTHING. Don’t let him bring you down for ONE second. I am pretty sure you have had life experiences far greater then his and are absolutely living your best life. It feels to me he was being a little manipulative too. Good on ya for not falling into some weird regretful evening. Hugs to you girl ❤️❤️

  5. If I was hiking that trail, the thought of insulting a stranger in a crowded bar would seem like the last thing I’d want to do. Actually, even if i wasn’t hiking, it seems like a pretty awful way to spend my time. My apologies on behalf of the lesser specimens of my gender.

    1. Ha! I was just telling a fellow stand-up guy friend (Oh! Byronic Man! You know him!) how so many movie scenes flashed through my mind in relation to this weird-ass night. In wondering why I was even talking to this guy, it was the scene from Clueless where Tai says to Cher, “It’s like, why am I even listening to you? You’re a virgin. Who. Can’t. Drive.”

  6. Isn’t it fun how people with all the answers and deep connection to “The Universe” lord it over others and thereby prove that they have neither?

    “I need you to hug me and prove you can connect on a deep, genuine level with another human being.” FUCK. OFF. That guy suuuuucks. You have my encouragement to throw a beer in the perp’s face next time that happens.

    UJ is right: you’re an awesome human. We all know it and I hope you do too.

    1. YESSSS. Shawna said, via text (paraphrasing here), “You can always tell someone is woke when they tell you how woke you AREN’T.” There were so many other great gems from that night, too. (Like when I actually tried to politely ask them about the PCT, and they groaned and said, “UGH everyone always asks us that” to all three of the questions I managed to get out.)

      I’m not sure he’s worth wasting a beer on, though… Heh. And THANK YOU.

  7. I want to go back in time and beat the crap out of the drunk bully who said you were all closed off… just so he could get laid. What an ass! A very insecure ass. That said, in my twenties I wouldn’t have known how to handle him and I would have cried too. I love the pics of you – so cute!

    1. Thank you!! (BTW I’m in the middle of watching the amazing video you included in your latest post – gonna finish it tonight!) I think that’s what really threw me about this night – the fact that I’m 38 and this was more like the nights I had when I was in my early 20s, which I hoped -and was sure- I’d never relive!!

      1. Quite honestly, if it had happened to me before the work I did with my last hypnotherapist (worked with her from 2013 to 2017), I wouldn’t have handled it well at all. Today, I’d stare them down and tell them (with my best sailor attitude) to fuck off. Glad you’re enjoying the video!

  8. This night sounds exhausting to me…Exhausting.

    You strike me as the sort of person who would label foods so meticulously, and I would love you for that. You also sound like the sort of person who would try to eat cauliflower pizza with a doodle dog, and I would not love you for that. Lol.

    Sorry you had a shit night, friend. I still think you rock tits more than you suck for what it’s worth. Come visit me in STL soon. I’ll show you a good time for sure with people who aren’t condescending jackasses. Just jackasses.

    1. That should be every dive bar’s tagline. “Come for the Bud Lite Lime, Stay for the Exhausting Existential Crisis.”

      I was embarrassed for several reasons in sharing this post, but mostly about the cauliflower crust.

      I’ve never been to STL! I hope they let us leave our houses soon.

  9. But…I genuinely don’t understand. You’re gorgeous AND badass (disclaimer: not a creep, just a longtime reader from 2011ish 😛 Back when I arrived here from JM Randolph’s blog). That guy on the other hand…

    It’s weird how some people in some situations can throw you back to a younger, less-sure self (or atleast make you react like that younger self) that you KNOW you no longer are. I had a moment like that this week, it sucks.

    1. Aw shucks, thank you! I actually had the wonderful privilege of talking to JM on the phone recently, which means you BOTH made me feel awesome in the same week!

      So sorry to hear you just had a similar experience. I hope it wasn’t similar in that it was actually a month-long series of triggers (as it was in my case) leading up to it! One of the things I try to remember (thank you, years of therapy) is that emotions/feelings are ALWAYS changing. And USUALLY the worst ones are followed by some of the best.

      1. A full-month of triggers! Ouch. I know from experience that can be exhausting. These healing journeys sure do demand stamina!

        Wishing you lots of comforting, uplifting, mindless Netflix/Primevideo, snacks and beverages, ❤

    1. Thank you x 2!! “Meghan” is the cat’s pajamas, I must emphasize. But speaking of pajamas, next Saturday night I should remember that that’s what I’d rather be wearing. At home. With Uncle Jesse. And my fake pizza.

      1. Comparisons are not fair. One of my best friends is a Meghan, is a magnet when we are out. It’s entertaining and reminds me how shallow we humans can be! It’s the women I know outside of the bar scene, who find me attractive for who I am, that I am interested in.

        1. Yes! I think that was one of the most unsettling things, too, having not been in that kind of environment for so long. Experiencing the classic “bar mating ritual” up close…yeesh.

  10. I spent lots of nights in my single thirties hitting the bars with a woman much more beautiful than I am. There is no other way to say it: It hurts.

      1. Hi Jules! I’m still writing and blogging but I’ve been a bit off the circuit, as I’ve been concentrating on novel writing. But your name popped up, and I thought … “Jules! I miss her!” If it makes you feel any better (and it sure made me feel better) I once went to the beach with my gorgeous friend, and the string from her tampon was hanging down between her legs. I did not tell her. Sort of evened the playing field, so to speak.

        1. Ha! I’m so glad you’re still writing because (clearly) you have the best stories! Going to make sure notifications are coming to my email so I know when you have new posts…

  11. You are lovely, Jules, and after being away from my reader for MONTHS (pandemic = life paralysis, for me apparently), I was so happy to binge on your posts this morning. Sorry about this particular night (BASTARDS!), but thanks for being real.

    1. Oh Amanda, thank you! You made my day with this comment. I’m definitely experiencing that life paralysis in waves. Sending you a big, virtual, germ-free hug and high five.

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