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18

Men in Bars

Friday, 7 March 2014 | Tags: , , , ,

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]

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  • Tim Edwards

    It sad to see that some men can’t take a hint. I’ve never brought a woman a drink that I hadn’t already talked to. I think part of the problem is in TV and movies that what guys do when they see a single woman in a bar. And it sometimes works for them. In real life it never works and all you do is creep out the woman. I wish there was an answer to this problem but I know they will always be guys like that.

  • Tim Edwards

    One more thought since you and Kristina are public figures what would you do if he said Im a big fan of your shows and I want to buy you a drink. Would it be any different?

    • Anna Wallner

      Hi Tim, It’s really hard to say without having had that specific conversation, but I am always very thankful when anyone says hello and comments on our shows. And that was part of the point: Why would anyone think a person would be open to accepting a drink when you had had zero communication with them?! Perhaps you’re right and we should blame the movies. But yes, this almost never works in real life.

      • Tim Edwards

        Hi Anna, that’s true there is the polite way to do it even when talking to public figures. The problem at bars is that thing called liquid courage. Some people think it means they can do and say what they want without problems. Which of course is not true. Hopefully this hasn’t ruined you eating out alone. I really do think that Hollywood is partly to blame. They do it so often that some guys think it’s the normal thing to do.

  • https://www.facebook.com/susanjartist samONT2011

    Sweaty Brow should have stopped the minute you said, ‘No thank you.’ Even the, ‘Really?’ ‘Yes, really’ was more than enough.
    His buddies likely goaded him, plied him with more booze, pumped him up, but he didn’t stop.
    The bartender was wrong, she should have went to Sweaty Brow with the wine and returned it with a polite, ;The lady isn’t interested, don’t continue.’
    So that didn’t happen and even though you did nothing wrong, you felt you had to defend yourself, even explain that whatever you were wearing, no means no.

  • bvillebill

    I spent several years as a bartender in a hotel lounge. Every now and then you get a ” Mr Sweaty Brow ” type. As a man, I usually intervened politely. Now I find myself in a job where I spend a good many nights at the hotel bar enjoying dinner alone. I find the best approach when meeting anyone sitting at the bar is a smile and a hello. I ve had some great conversations, but some cold shoulders as well.Maybe the bar experience taught me how to pickup when someone just wants some alone time…

  • CanadianErin

    The female bartender needs a SMACK — she should have known better, but she was obviously looking at the final bar tab of the guys and going for a bigger tip! As someone in hospitality for the better part of my life, that REALLY angers me. I now know that stopping in at E11even is NOT going to be on my To Do list!
    What also angers me is that this guy, with his buddies was acting stupid. Grown ass men. Jeez!
    I don’t blame you one iota for feeling like your personal safety was at risk! I would have felt the same way!

  • http://www3.sympatico.ca/jandls/The_Giurin_Homepage/Welcome.html John A. Giurin

    As a guy, Pastor, and gentleman-in-progress, I apologize for all embeciles who do not know how to respect a person’s privacy.
    I can’t fathom how you must have felt; the fact that Sweaty Brow did not end up wearing the proffered glass of wine is a credit to your patience.
    I’m surprised that the bartender encouraged his behaviour by allowing him to buy you a drink and serving it to you. A word to the manager about that might have been in order.
    All I can say, Anna is it’s embarrassing to the rest of us men when fools like that try to hit on women that are alone. I think the simple fact that someone is alone is reason enough not to bother them. I hope that your next experience is not soured by another jerk trying to pick you up.