At 23, I’ve never been able to “just hook up” with someone.
And that’s not to say that I’m under the incredibly incorrect impression that one-night stands or casual sex are in any way “beneath me.” I have actively tried to hook up with people; it was something I desperately thought I needed when I was 22, after breaking off my second long-term relationship.
I had been in serious relationships for a grand total of about six and a half years, and I felt like it was a rite of passage—reclaiming my sexuality by confidently approaching someone, sexily batting my eyelashes, and having a passionate evening together, no strings attached. You know, Sex and the City style. I may have felt like a Charlotte at heart, but I was going to be a Samantha ONCE AND FOR ALL, DAMN IT. (After all, my birth certificate reads Samantha, so.)
I told my BFF about my dilemma, and being the excellent friend she is, she took me to one of her work parties at her co-worker’s house. And that’s exactly what led me to one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. . . and the only time I’ve ever barfed in the street.
A little background information here: I have social anxiety, and the thought of being intimate with someone I don’t know is slightly terrifying. That’s probably something I should have taken as a hint at the time that maybe one-night stands aren’t my thing, and certainly something I shouldn’t force, but hey—there I was, in this room filled with people I didn’t know while my best friend chatted with her co-workers.
I could see the guy that she told me I should hook up with—we’ll call him Carl—across the room. Carl, who was from Mexico, was cute and had a nice smile, but I was baffled. Is there a metaphorical fishing line that I’m supposed to cast out into the party void? Because I sure as hell didn’t know how to talk to a cute guy I didn’t know, especially if my brain knew what the primary objective was. It was then I suddenly noticed my best friend was (somehow) talking to him, and she was pointing at me.
I had no idea what to do with my hands.
In my distress, I whirled around and noticed a giant bucket in the center of the party. Like, it was HUGE; I could probably have curled up and slept in it if I wanted to. And it was filled with bright orange-ish yellow liquid with festive fruit floating in it. A little alcohol will make me less nervous, I thought to myself, and grabbed a big ol’ cup. It tasted like mango, and it was so, so delicious. It was then that I made my first mistake: assuming that if something tastes very fruity and sweet, it must not have a lot of alcohol in it. LOOOLLLL NO.
I still didn’t know what to do with my hands, so I held the cup with both of them and kept on sipping and refilling so I looked busy. An hour or so passed like this, with my best friend and I mingling throughout the party. I had all but given up on talking to Carl when suddenly, he approached me with a bottle of tequila. (I later found out this was because another guy, who had heard about my plight, drunkenly lied to Carl about me being a Victoria’s Secret model, despite the fact that I’m 4′ 10″ and, well, obviously not. But hey, at least it got him talking.)
“Hi, I’m Carl,” he said, smiling. He had the most lovely accent, and I was totally charmed. So when he asked me to take a shot of tequila with him, I didn’t want to say no. I thought about how many glasses of “juice” I’d had, but there couldn’t be much alcohol in that; I assumed I would be perfectly fine.
Well, you know what they say about assuming.
This house party was leading up to a big event at the local bar, and right around then was when everyone decided to pile into taxis and head on over. As I squeezed myself into one with my best friend, I thought about how excited I was to get to know Carl better. (Again. . . wasn’t used to the hook-up mentality.)
But suddenly, my happy thoughts were violently interrupted when I felt something happening. Something terrible in my stomach that was forcing me to make these terrible, awful hiccup-y noises. And I became keenly aware that I was smushed between two people. . . and that my body was about to do something absolutely disgusting.
“PULL OVER,” I managed to blurt out to the taxi driver. I rolled out of the cab, bent over, and promptly vomited in the street. For like, a really, really long time. I have never barfed so much in my life. My best friend stood supportively by my side, rubbing my back, until I was ready to amble back in the taxi.
The taxi driver awkwardly offered me a napkin to wipe my mouth. I accepted.
I was in no state to sit in a car on the ride home, so we went to the bar, a block away. You know, where all of my BFF’s co-workers, including Carl, were waiting. The bouncer stared at drunken li’l me, being propped up by my best friend. “How much have you had to drink?” he said accusatorily.
I tried to communicate that I was in need of hydration by blurting out something like “I jusss wan water.” He nodded and let us in, and I bolted to the bathroom, where I continued to be sick. I vaguely remember my BFF’s co-worker holding my hair while my BFF tried to feed me water, telling me that last time, she barfed in this very stall, too. I also vaguely remember feeling comforted by that piece of trivia.
By the time my body got rid of all the bad stuff and I and went home with my friends, I thought had lost all dignity. That only intensified when I realized that, while I was being a hot mess in the street, I had left my phone in the taxi, never to be recovered.
But when we got back to my friend’s house, we sat and watched Netflix with her boyfriend, and I thought about where I’d be at that moment if I hadn’t got sick. It’s possible I would have been in the bed of a stranger, without actually wanting to be in the bed of that stranger, feeling confused and sad and lonely because maybe, at that point in my life, hooking up wasn’t for me.
If I’m being honest with myself, I didn’t necessarily even want a hookup, but I felt like it was something I was supposed to do as a self-assured feminist. However, that night, I learned that being a feminist means doing what you feel comfortable doing because you want to do it—not because you feel like you’re expected to by some bogus societal standard. It’s perfectly OK that I haven’t had a one night stand, because no one should do anything they’re not comfortable with.
The motto of my story? You do you— sans barfing in the street. (But if you do barf in the street, it’s OK. Solidarity, sister.)
(Image via FOX.)