22 OCtober 2004

It seems to me that, nine times out of ten, drunk men believe that they are superior to sober women.

Actually, nine times out of ten, men believe they're superior to women regardless, and in at least half of those cases, the woman agrees. But it's drastically more pronounced, I think, between a drunk man and a sober woman.

When I used to go to bars, men would frequently offer to buy me a drink. Sometimes I'd accept, sometimes I'd decline, but I almost never turned down company. I am fascinated by people. I'd rather have a conversation with a stranger than a screwdriver anyday. It used to be a kind of therapy for me. I'd tell some stranger my life story, including all kinds of secrets and private things, and I'd listen to his life story, including all kinds of secrets and private things, and then I'd finish my drink and disappear into the night, never to see him again. That last part -- never seeing him again -- frequently seemed like it might be the hard part, but it always worked. I never ran into the same drink-buyer again. Yeah, maybe the whole thing is a little bit sick, but at least I didn't go to support groups to hug people and cry, right? Besides, I never let anybody buy me more than one drink. I never went home with anybody. I never gave out my phone number. And I never led anybody on. At least, I seriously tried not to lead anybody on.

But there was always one problem...

After a little while of talking, the man in question would always decide to give me advice about my life, and how I was living it. He would offer evidence as to his superior intellect, wisdom, or experience, and proceed to tell me that my relationship was unhealthy, that I needed a new career path, or that I simply lacked some essential facet of human happiness... Often, the man's qualifications consisted of having been a taxi driver for ten years, having been in the military, having been overseas, or -- most commonly -- being older than me.

I used to put up with that crap pretty well, I think. It seemed like a fair trade-off, all things considered. I got what I wanted, which was to talk and to hear stories of weird people's lives... It only seemed fair that he would get what he wanted, which was to assert his arrogance on somebody else.

The problem with this is two-fold. One, it's fucking irritating to have somebody tell you what you need. Two, drunk strangers typically have NO idea what anybody needs, and their advice is just fucking stupid.

So, last night, for the first time, I decided not to bother with the niceties of listening to a drunk stranger wax philosophical about what I need.

* * * * * * * * * * *

I had gone out for a walk. The energy in the apartment was stifling and a little bit unpleasant. Besides, I needed to take the garbage out. So, I grabbed a notebook, a pen, my discman, and a CD (which, it turned out, didn't work), threw the trash in the dumpster, and set out for a nice quiet place with a streetlight.

About thirty minutes after I'd found my spot, this guy walked up and asked if I knew where there was a condominium complex nearby, or something to that effect. He didn't know exactly WHERE it was, and the guy hadn't given him real good directions...

Now, I'm not stupid. The dude was on foot, and he was looking a little bit antsy. He was on his way to some deal or another. But I didn't ask. I just told him I didn't really know, and tried to elicit more information out of him to no avail. He wandered off, but then returned back... This time, he didn't want directions, he just wanted to talk. He considered it fortuitous that I'd been sitting there under that streetlight and that I was friendly, because the place he was going to probably would have gotten him "into trouble."

Yeah, I knew it.

So, in the interest of keeping the man out of trouble, and because I didn't have much better to do with my life, I offered him a seat next to me. He told me about his ex-girlfriend, and his buddies, and his time in the Marines, and how he'd gotten his degree in Laramie, Wyoming, and... yeah, a bunch of crap that was basically meaningless because the dude was really pretty drunk and apparently his mind kept wandering.

(And yeah, he was drunk; I could smell shitty beer on him from about fifteen feet away...)

But, after an hour or so, the man decided that he knew me pretty well. In fact, he knew me REALLY well. Well enough, in fact, to tell me all about what he thought of me and the way I was living my life.

Here's what he thought:

* ...that I should have sent in photos for the "world's hottest teacher" contest in "Maxim" magazine, or some crap like that, because the girl who won looked like a crackwhore, and I was -- forgive him for being so forward -- much more attractive.

* ...that I had low self-esteem and needed to do something about it.

* ...that he wasn't trained in psychology or anything, but he'd learned enough in the Marines to know that I was angry and bitter about any number of things, and that I needed to work out my anger in constructive ways.

* ...that my boyfriend didn't really love me.

* ...that I was probably just "degrading my values" in my relationship.

* ...that I had no business being outside in the cold at night, being pregnant and all...

* ...that I needed to become more "flexible" and that I would never be "compatible" with anybody until I found myself some bullheaded boyfriend who would rush into every situation ready to beat the fuck out of somebody or something.

* ...that I really needed to eat food.

Um...... yeah. Dude told me, in this ultra-serious way, as if he knew some profound secret I didn't know, that I needed to eat food. He didn't say that I was too skinny and I ought to eat MORE food. Just that I ought to eat food. Here was how that part of the conversation went:

Me: "Well, I'd better get back home soon. I haven't eaten in a few hours and I ought to make myself a snack or something."

Him: "Yes. You should eat food. It's good for you. And since you're pregnant, you really need to eat, for the sake of the child inside you."

Yeah, seriously.

I was considering making a graceful exit up until that point. I don't care if dude thought I had low self-esteem, or if he thought I was too angry about things, or if I needed to be flexible. But you don't fuck with my relationship. That deserves walking away, nothing more and nothing less.

That's another thing about drunk men. They always think you're dating the wrong person. You can say, "Oh, yeah, and I'm dating this great guy; his name is Pete Smith," and the drunk guy would automatically KNOW somehow that this man was NOT the right one. The drunk dude can somehow sense abusiveness, neglect, cheating, cruelty, and manipulation. He ALWAYS says you can do better. He doesn't necessarily imply that HE would be better, but he ALWAYS tells you that he knows EXACTLY the kind of man you're dating, and that that "type" of fellow is only going to hurt you. It NEVER fails. Drunk men always hate the boyfriend, even if you don't say a damned thing about the boyfriend. And really, I HADN'T said much. Certainly not enough for anybody sane and sober to criticize. I mean, less than the equivalent of "his name is Pete Smith."

So, this dude was taking issue with my boyfriend.

Fuck that shit.

I love my boyfriend. My boyfriend is WONDERFUL to me. We are wonderful for each other. If it were up to me, I'd never spend a day (or a night) without him. If it were up to me, the only times I'd leave his arms would be to go to the bathroom, and occasionally when one or both of us needed to eat, or walk around, or something to that effect. We've had a problem or two, but nothing that, relative to any of my previous relationships, actually qualifies as a REAL problem. And it's never been anything we couldn't solve with a long, quiet talk. We take care of each other. It's really, really good. You don't talk smack about my boyfriend. You just DON'T. I don't care if you're drunk, and I don't care if you're only looking out for what you suppose is my best interest. You just don't go there.

So, dude is telling me how my boyfriend doesn't give a damn about me, and how I'm only with him because I'm using him, and he's going to hurt me and I'm going to need to leave him in order to do the right thing for everybody... I'm sorry, but that fucking pisses me off. I prepared to bail on the drunk dude.

And THEN he tells me that crap about how food is good for me to eat.

And then I just blew up. "You seem to think I'm pretty damned stupid, huh, that I'm not aware that food is for eating? I look that dumb to you? You think I don't FUCKING KNOW that food is good to eat? I'll tell you what, man, I'm not quite as stupid as all that."

He started stuttering about how he hadn't meant to offend me. So, I had to call him on ALL of it...

"No, LISTEN to me. You tell me to be a 'peaceful person,' and then you tell me I ought to date some trigger-happy asshole. You tell me that I need to be more flexible, but yopu're telling me EXACTLY how I'm supposed to go about it, as if your rigid little methods are the only right way to go. You tell me that my boyfriend is using me and that I'm using him, even though I didn't tell you anything about him. And you've kept me out here talking with you for the past several hours, and THEN you tell me that I shouldn't be out in the cold? You're trying to tell me that you KNOW what I need? Man, you don't know SHIT about me. You don't know SHIT about what I need. I happen to know what I need, and it sure as hell isn't somebody else trying to tell me what I fucking need."

I wasn't quite as eloquent as all that. But close. I was infuriated at this son of a bitch. And my fury rose above any inhibitions I might have had about yelling at a strange man in the middle of the night while I was all alone there under the streetlight. And sure, technically, I guess he could have hit me, or pulled a knife, or some crap like that. But I had this very strong feeling that the drunk guy would be absolutely terrified if a tiny little freak like me blew up at him. Long experience has taught me that if you're small and vulnerable-looking, and you freak out and yell, your bigger, scarier opponent will back down immediately. In the past five years or so, I've invoked that particular strategy a number of times, and I've only seen it fail once or twice -- and then, only with people who knew damn well I was just yelling. I knew that this wouldn't fail.

And sure enough, dude backed off. He literally took about six or seven steps backwards. Then he said it was nice to have met me, but that he had to go home. And he was sorry if he'd offended me. When he turned his back, he just trotted off toward his apartment complex and didn't look back.

By this time, I was more than ready to go back to my own apartment -- it WAS pretty cold out, and I did want a snack -- so I took a shortcut through a patch of weeds and was back at home in about five minutes.

All night, I thought about that jackass.

But more than that, I thought about how, had he been sober, he might have actually been a cool guy.

I don't understand WHAT the hell it is about drunk dudes that make them think they're qualified and entitled to tell me what's good for me. It ALWAYS seems to go that way.

* * * * * * * * * * *

To hell with it. I'm not gonna take that crap anymore. It's not worth it. It's NEVER been worth it, really.

I don't know why I've put up with dipshits like that guy for so long.

Must be my low self-esteem.