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The First Weekend of School (again)
The First Weekend of School (again)
A few friends of mine and I were in a basement pub when a tall and broad-chested man walked in with girl, their arms together and somewhat carefully walking to the table behind us.
As their banter became noticeably louder, just plain loud, (as in bars, no one can ever hear the words, just the tone), I looked over, somewhat annoyed at asking my friends to speak up over the noise.
The couple got up and began to dance, slowly, drunkenly. His arms were around her waist and she was rocking back and forth in them, grinding against him, rocking back just far enough so he could see her cleavage and, drunkenly, stare at it for a while.
With some disgust I was glaring at them when the girl rocked back enough to almost bump her head on our table. She quickly twisted around and said something I didn't understand, so I asked her to say it again.
"He's trying to kiss me and he won't leave me alone."
She was quite drunk, and I started thinking of what advice a girl would give to another girl to get herself out of such a situation. But I couldn't think of anything aside from, "Did you try to go to the bathroom?"
"Yes, I tried that and he waited for me. Please. He's starting to scare me."
So I decided to switch to what a gentleman would do. I asked him to sit down for a drink. I was a little surprised when he did. My friends introduced themselves and the boy began to register a slow but necessary confusion. The girl began to walk away with a rapid step.
"I don't care about that girl. I'm a graduate student. Someone needs to take me home."
He seemed too drunk, too early in the night. I looked at him and his eyes were not in sync. He kept repeating what he had said, in various perumtations.
"I can't get caught by the cops. Someone needs to take me home. I'm a graduate student."
I looked over at one of my male friends and suggested that we drive him home. I wanted a sideman in case this lumbering fool decided to step out of his routine. And the friend suggested, instead, that we call a cab.
Yes, people. There are taxis in Iowa.
And, in a moment of good timing, we were at a pub near the very place where the taxis sit and wait to take their too-young carriage home. We got the "graduate student" up, and he turned to me, though he wasn't looking at me, and said:
"I need someone to hold my hand."
I suggested that instead my friend and I support him in a more acceptable, manly manner. But he stayed in the same spot, to the extent that he could, demanding that someone hold his hand, saying, "I don't care about that girl. I don't want the police to arrest me. I'm a dentistry student. Someone needs to take me home."
Fine, I thought. I grabbed his hand and we went walking, me dragging him more like the way an emberassed girlfriend drags her man way from an emberassing scene, out of the bar. The city was packed with new students, dressed up, barely wearing any clothes, strutting about town. Thick lines of eager-to-demonstrate-their-heterosexuality college freshman, staring at us, but not gawking. Beautiful girls showing as much of their breasts as they can, and a little more. Boys slicked up and ready to prowl. And here I was holding this fool's hand. My friend walked slightly behind, a bit pensive at the thought that a man asked that his hand be held my him.
We found a cab and I asked the driver if he was accepting cargo. He was, we put the lumbering fool into the cab, and off they went.
My friend and I went back into the bar, and the girl who we had thought ran away was instead shivering in the doorway. I asked if she was okay. "I don't know what to do. I don't know how to get back home. I'm scared of him."
Okay, I thought. I asked her where she lived and she gave us the name of a dormitory. My friend and I offered to walk her there, which was four blocks away, and we told her that the fool was put in the cab and was safely gone. She picked up her cell and called her roomate, who promised to pick her up half-way. Why she had not called her before, I do not know. I also don't know why she didn't call anyone, or ask anyone for help until she asked me.
"This is my first week here. I don't even know where I am. I'm eighteen years old. He was scaring me."
I do know not why she was so drunk not to realize that she was so close to home. I don't think I've ever been that drunk, even if I wanted to be with strange men. I looked her over, and she was so young. So obviously from one of the many fine, small towns in Iowa, so wanting to fit into the college lifestyle. Her clothes did not look as if they had been torn and she was not crying.
It was her first weekend of college and she was terrified.
We got her to the half-way point, and her roomate, in pajamas, gave her a hug. The girl leaned on her roomates shoulder and they walked home. And we went back downtown and had a few more drinks to dampen the fear of the entire situation.
Holding that man's hand, some people may have thought I was queer, but I was only doing what was right. Sometimes the right thing is awkward and you just can't give a damn but do it.
I do not believe he was a dentistry graduate student. I know most of them, and I had never seen him before. He also had a dense, unkept look that the college would never allow. This did not seem to be the kind of guy who would go to a convention and seduce hygenist. All he looked like was a drunk machine programmed for fucking, for his own pleasure and perhaps someone elses' pain.
I do believe that she was eighteen. I'm sorry that the lesson had to be so hard, but it could have been so much worse.
I don't know what happened before they came into the bar. I wish that she had the common sense to bring a friend along. And some mace.
Security comes in numbers. Too many men are still predators. Liquor dulls the mind -- though I sensed that they had been doing more than drinking. I can only pray that there are not too many more of you like this out, alone, tonight.
Kids -- and by kids I mean those who are really just ten years younger than I am -- take your time. I know you won't, but I'll toss out the advice nevertheless. It is possible to have that thrilling college fun that you so desperately are told that you want, and you so desperately need, without being in danger.
I don't know what would have happened if my friends and I weren't there. Every scenario that I can play out makes me nausesous and sad to be human.