This weekend, I received my honorary degree in Drunk Straight Boys.
Now, this might seem like I'm drunk-straight-boy-shaming, but I'm not. I'm drunk-straight-fuckboy shaming. (Maybe. I don't know anymore. You can't even open your mouth without being accused of shaming someone.)
(My friend once asked me if she should buy a pair of super fierce Jeffery Campbell boots, and I said, "Yes, you totally should get them because you have so many pairs of sneakers and not a lot of boots!" and she went around telling everyone I "sneaker-shamed" her. So if expressing my thoughts and feelings is shaming, then baby, I'm shamelessly shaming.)
(OK, I digress.)
Close your eyes and travel back in time with me to the Saturday before Halloween in New York City. The Upper East Side, to be exact.
Now, for those of you who live outside the Manhattan bubble (You poor things! Just KIDDING! Sort of.), let me tell you a bit about the Upper East Side: It's a tree-lined neighborhood full of old money, Jewish delis, top-notch laundromats, the best private schools in the country, cheap nail salons and old, fabulous rich women adorned with real fur, walking fluffy, freshly blow-dried dogs on monogrammed leashes while dripping in vintage diamonds as they smoke long, skinny cigarettes and the whole thing is just lux, lux, lux.
I love the Upper East Side. I live on the Upper East Side. I was born on the Upper East Side.
However, recently, an influx of young finance bros have infiltrated my beloved area. And all these finance bro bars suddenly got peppered into the lux mix.
I understand this change on a very deep visceral level. I've been on the Upper East Side my whole life, and there were no bros there when I was a kid. I don't think I saw a bro in the flesh until I was 16 and went to drink at an underage bar in Murray Hill (the only original bro neighborhood of Manhattan).
So anyway, it was Halloween weekend, and my best friend Ruba had just flown in from London. By the time she got through customs and all of that airport stuff, it was 10:30 pm and she was a jet-lagged hot mess.
We were supposed to spend her first night back in America being super fabulous, going somewhere glittery and gay in the West Village. But we thought, screw that, and decided to go to a local pub on east 83rd.
The moment I walked in the pub, I knew I had suddenly stepped into bro territory.
And based on the drunkards' general lack of spacial awareness, I also realized we were the most sober people in there.
When we stepped up to the bar to order a drink, I felt a fuzzy back pressed up against my naked back. (I was wearing a crop top and cat ears because I love to be a basic slut cliché on Halloween.)
I don't know about you guys, but I loathe when someone invades my personal space, especially when it's some really loud, really heavy dude recklessly swaying his thick limbs around. And it doesn't help that this dude was wearing a fucking unicorn onesie.
But you know what? I was irritated, but I'm not a Grinch, especially on Halloween. So I lightly tapped him on the shoulder and politely purred, "Hey, buddy, do you mind moving a little to the left?"
The unicorn boy turned around, his eyes as glassy as freshly polished marbles, and slurred, "Woah, you're feisty."
I could feel the steam slowly start to come out of my ears, but I heard Michelle Obama's voice whisper in my ear: "When they go low, we go high." So I took the high road. I was my version of polite.
"Please just move a little to the left. You're practically sitting in my lap, dude," I calmly said, emotionless because I knew what kind of prick I was dealing with — the kind who thinks exhibiting any kind of feeling means you're a hysterical woman who needs to be institutionalized.
"So much attitude! Why you gotta be so bitchy?" he sneered.
Right on cue, Ruba handed me a shot of Fireball. I slugged the whole thing down in one go and remembered, once again, why I only go to gay bars.
"Just move that way," I said flatly. I didn't feel like getting into it with a blacked-out douche bag. I need to preserve my rage for the election.
The guy rolled his eyes and yelled "SHE'S MEAN!" before stumbling slightly to the left, the hood of his unicorn onesie falling down.
In that moment, I wished I were wearing a darker lipstick, my go-to fuckboy repellent.
"OK, girl. Let's catch up," I said to Ruba.
"Well," she began. "I have a huge interview —"
"Hey ladies," I heard a voice slur behind me. "I don't mean to be disrespectful, but wow, you're really beautiffullllll."
THIS guy was clad in a creepy beetle juice costume, which I found pretty bold and triggering, considering we're in the thick of a goddamn killer clown epidemic.
Suddenly, this man child was creepily rubbing Ruba's back, his whiskey breath assaulting the air and making me want to gag/die.
"Do you mind giving us a second? I just got back from London and I'm trying to catch up with my best friend. We were mid-conversation," Ruba said like a civilized English virgin woman.
I would have probably punched him out for rubbing my back, but she's a little less reactive than I am.
"Why do you hate me!" he viscously barked, his breath of fire sending a dramatic wave of nausea all over me.
"We never said hate. We're just mid-conversation," Ruba replied.
Now it was my turn to hand Ruba a Fireball shot.
"OH, FIREBALL SHOTS! I'M GOING TO ORDER ONE!"
And just like that, Beetle Juice ordered a Fireball shot from the bartender, knocked it back and thanked us for the shot. The shot we didn't buy him.
"We need to find him and make him pay for his own goddamn drink!" I shouted, really starting to rage.
"How did that even happen?" Ruba wailed, forgetting about this specific breed of intolerable American man.
And just like that, I felt a hard tap on my shoulder. It's was coming from another guy ferociously grinding his jaw (with ecstasy? cocaine?) who was dressed like a skater. (I think? He was wearing a helmut and an orange torn up T-shirt. I grew up around skate boys, and none of them ever looked like this, but whatever.)
Skate Boy looked right at Ruba, and with deep hurt, proclaimed, "Your friend HATES ME!"
"I've never spoken to you before in my life. How could I hate you?" I asked in shock.
"Because you gave me a dirty look, and look at you! You - you - you don't even want to talk to me!" he stammered.
Suddenly, his cell phone rang. He picked up and started slurring into the phone. "Hey, we are at some bar somewhere, and I'm talking to this girl named Christine and I love her and she hates me!"
"My name is not Christine," I said. "And no offense, but I'm mid-conversation with my friend right now."
"SEE! You HATE me! Why do you hate me... Suzie."
"Well, I'm starting to fucking hate you, considering you just interrupted my conversation, called me the wrong name twice, slurred into my face, your jaw is going a million miles an hour, you picked up the phone in the middle of our conversation and because I don't care to talk to you — you're accusing me of hating you. Hate is a strong word, bro."
"Stuck up bitches," Skater Boy said, swaying backwards and falling on my friend Ruba. She fought his heavy body off of her.
I looked at her long and hard.
"Do you realize we've been called a bitch three times tonight by strange, drunk men?" I asked her, bewildered.
She dutifully nodded. "It's like, if you don't want to fall all over a wasted bro, you're a 'bitch.' It's absurd."
I began to think back to all the other times I've been in situations like this. There have been SO many times that I've been called aggressive, bitchy, mean, self-important or pompous. (Not by you good guys — I love you).
Women are supposed to be so hungry to talk to men that when they approach us, wasted, interrupt our conversations with our friends, breathe their halitosis death breath into our faces, and creepily graze our back with their fingers without our consent, we are supposed to engage with them. And if we don't, we're bitches.
But really, I'm not a bitch. You're just drunk. Drunk and annoying.
And I'm not uptight; you're just putting your gross hands on my bare, freshly exfoliated shoulder, and I don't even know you, and I don't like to be touched by anyone I'm not dating, let alone drunk strangers.
I'm not aggressive; I just want to consume my champagne like a lady and carry on my important conversation with my best friend of 15 years.
I'm not pompous; I'm just not interested.
Rejecting your advances doesn't make me a bitch; it makes me a person with standards. And we all know fuckboys can't handle women with standards.
So fierce girls of the world, if you're going to a bro bar at 1:30 am and you don't feel like dealing with drunks yelling at you, just wear something super high fashion.
Because bros never talk to girls who are really high fashion. Personal style scares them. So does black lipstick.
Otherwise, just get ready to be called a bitch all night. But that's fine too. Maybe we should reclaim bitch, anyway. If being a bitch means demanding respect, let's bitch the fuck out, sisters.
LET YOUR BITCH FLAG FLY.