Men in Bars
When work takes me on the road, dining alone is a pleasure I cherish. Sometimes it means a night in, complete with robe, slippers, room service and a sappy rom-com or it might be a seat for one at the end of the bar at some local hot spot. Either way, I enjoy the solitude after a day of being "on". So it really sucks when someone ruins my fun.
On a recent night in Toronto I found myself dining solo at a place called E11even. It looked ok, but I chose it because it was close to my hotel (Le Germain. A fantastic boutique hotel). As I entered the lounge I surveyed the room. The best spot seemed to be at the bar, next to another woman. She looked safe. I made myself comfortable and ordered a glass of red along with salad and bowl of ravioli to follow. I was famished and already thinking about what to have for desert (sticky toffee pudding was on the menu. Yum!)
I was sitting with a full glass when the woman next door leaned over to say some guy wanted to buy me a drink. I said I didn’t want one. Several minutes later, said guy comes up and again offers to buy me that drink. I barely turned to look at him but noticed that he was a robust fellow with a nose grown plump and rosy, probably from many years in bars trying to buy women drinks. His brow was sweaty. But it didn’t matter what he looked like. “Thanks but no thanks” was my response. I was clear, polite and direct. That should have been it.
But I was halfway through my ceasar salad (which was over-dressed) and there he was again. “Come on, let me buy you a drink”.
“Look”, I replied, “thank you but I really don’t want one.”
“Really?”, he asked.
“Really”, I told him.
I turned away, but felt him watching me and grumbling to his buddies. As my ravioli arrived (stuffed with smoked cheese in a pomadoro sauce) the bartender came over with a glass of wine. Guess who it was from.
Now I was irritated. I told the barkeep I didn’t want any more wine and that I’d already told him no. She stuck the glass behind the bar and said let’s just let him think you drank it. The path of least resistance.
The thing is I DID want more wine, not to mention that desert. But Mr. Sweaty Brow ruined my experience. And since I was alone, when he wouldn’t take no for an answer I had to start considering my safety. Overly dramatic? I don’t think so. You never know who you’re dealing with. I wolfed down the ravioli and exited out a side entrance, feeling grumpy and unsatiated.
This is a familiar story for many women and so to all men in bars I say, whatever your intentions are for buying a stranger a drink, please learn to read the signs. Body language is key. I wasn’t making eye contact with anyone, I was hunched over my phone and turned away from the crowd. Nothing about my physical presence suggested I was open to an offer.
Dress isn’t necessarily an indicator of a woman being open or not. That is, just because she’s wearing an outfit you might find appealing or sexy, it doesn’t mean she put it on hoping it would help her get approached.
But the most obvious sign of all is words. Please take them at face value and remember that in all things romantic, no means no.
Can you relate? Have you been on either side of this scenario?
[Image: Stuart Mullenberg]