I have a good friend who is a bartender at a local bar. He always appreciates a visit so occasionally I like to stop by for a drink to chat and catch up. Formerly, as a male, this was something of a non-event. I would sit down wherever there was a free space with little concern for who I sat near. I followed the usual method of looking for a spot that would allow others at the bar some personal space. If the bar was full and only single stools were available, I would ask someone nearby if the stool was available. Often someone nearby would make a comment and we might engage in friendly banter. It was nice way to socialize and possibly make a new friend. As a woman this regular visit became something very different. I walked in around 3 in the afternoon because that was “Happy Minute.” Any drink ordered at 3pm was 2 for 1. My first indication of this visit being unusual was the way everyone looked at me as I entered, both men and women. Each gender had their own way. The men seemed to be “checking me out,” while the women seemed to be sizing me up and laying down judgement. Neither group seemed like a great option to sit next to. The women felt hostile and the men felt a bit too friendly. Luckily there was a seat in the corner with 2 stools between me and the next man seated at the near corner on the short side of the bar. My friend came around and greeted me with a hug as he usually did and asked me what I wanted. “Bloody Mary,” I said. He knew that was my drink and he made the best Bloody Mary in town. As he walked back around the bar to make my drink the gentleman on the near corner moved 2 spots over and sat down next to me. He was Latino, about 45 and looked like a blue collar guy, maybe a construction worker.”Hello.” he said looking me up and down. “Hi” I said feeling a little uncomfortable. “So, how do you know the bartender?” He asked. “Oh, we work together and he’s a good friend.” I responded as my drink arrived. “Don’t bother her.” my friend the bartender said to the man. “I’m not bothering her” the man said. “Just being friendly.” “Well, I’m watching you.” my friend admonished giving the man a stern look. I guessed this guy was a regular wolf hound here and probably hit on anything new and female. ” I’m Gilbert.” he said holding out a rough brown hand. “Genivieve” I responded shaking it. Light conversation followed but there was a different energy than in my former conversations with men. He was WAY too interested in what I was saying and looking right in my eyes. Men having conversations at bars will often hardly look at one another. Call it primate psychology, but there are 2 things men don’t tolerate in casual conversation, too much eye contact and overly personal questions. Gilbert was breaking both of these man rules but then again I am no longer male. I attempted to focus on my drink but now noticed another man on the far side of the bar unabashedly staring at me. He was smiling and staring right at me. As soon as he saw me notice he got up from his stool and walked around the length of the bar. Gilbert was still going on when the other gentleman walked up smiling behind Gilbert’s left shoulder. “Hello.” he said interrupting. Gilbert turned to look at the intruder. “Can’t you see we’re having a conversation?” he said to the new man. “Oh, I’m sorry.” The new gentleman responded without looking at Gilbert. “I just had to meet this lovely woman.” “Hello, I’m Andrew.” The new man said holding out his hand palm upward. “Genvieve.” I said as I gave him mine. He kissed the top of my hand. “Achanté Genvieve.” Andrew said slowly releasing my hand looking directly into my eyes. he was tall, anglo with very close cut salt and pepper hair. He had smiling gray blue eyes and looked to be in his mid fifties. “What a beautiful name and what stunning eyes you have.” He commented without losing eye contact. “Ooh, barf.” I thought. “Do men actually say that?” I never used cheesy lines like that when approaching a woman, but I guess it must at least occasionally work or he wouldn’t have tried it. I had to admit, part of me enjoyed the compliment. After all, as a former girlfriend said, ” we don’t take all this time getting ready to be ignored. ” What brings a lovely lady like yourself in here?” Andrew continued. Gilbert was clearly getting annoyed with Andrew’s slick moves. I must admit, this was quickly becoming strange and I felt out of my depth. I thought of a trick I’d seen women use and excused myself to the ladies room.
“Wow!” I muttered a few minutes later as I looked at myself in the oval mirror above the sink in the restroom. “Maybe they’ll be gone when I get back.” No such luck. As a matter of fact, now there were 3 men near my chair. The new guy looked like a Latino hit man. Fu-man-chu mustache, tank top and tattoos covered both arms and shoulders. I could see I would have to abandon my unfinished drink altogether. “Hi beautiful.” The new guy said. Andrew held out my chair. ” I’m sorry” I said. “I have to go.” In truth I probably would have left sooner but my girlfriend was meeting me here. Unfortunately my phone had died so I couldn’t call her and didn’t even know what time it was. “Oh, c’mon!” Gilbert said. “At least finish your drink.” “No, really” I replied waving my bartender friend down. ” I have to go.” “At least let me call you.” Gilbert protested. “Can’t you see she’s not interested.” Andrew said confrontationally. My bartender friend saw me and walked over with the check. “You Ok?” He asked. I was seriously beginning to wonder. “Hello honey.” I heard over my right shoulder as I paid my bill. I turned around. It was my girlfriend. She looked elegant as always in a knee length navy dress and button up black sweater. “Ready to go?” She asked quickly assessing the situation. “Yes.” I said giving her a big hug. “Yes.” I said again as I gathered my purse. My girlfriend put her arm around my waist looking directly at each man one at a time. Her look said, “step back.” And so they did. I smiled and said, “Goodbye.” The three men stood stone still, their eyes following us as we walked out the door hand in hand.