Why Women Who Sit Alone At Bars Are Independent And Empowered

by Sheena Sharma

Ah, Wednesday. Wednesday is my favorite day of the week, because it's usually the day I treat myself. I'll get my nails done, or I'll maybe hit up a hair salon for a mid-week blow-out.

On other days, I'll go to a bar. I very much enjoy the momentary calm I get from drinking a $10 glass of Prosecco from the northeastern region of Italy in a posh Manhattan speakeasy. I also enjoy having no company while doing so.

One fine recent Wednesday, I strolled into my neighborhood bar. I had spent the first half of my week dealing with ten different kinds of stress, and there was nothing more I wanted to do than decompress with just me, myself and a drink.

I sat down. The bartender was quick and attentive. He poured me a Malbec and let me be -- for a little while, anyway.

Ten minutes later, he came back over. “I love your overalls,” he said. “They're so cute.”

"Thanks," I said, swirling the wine around in my glass. I didn't want him to think I'm a bitch; I used to be a bartender, so I can empathize. I gave him a little more to work with. "It's actually an overall dress."

"Oh. Hey, do you want to take a shot? It's on me." He winked.

I knew what he must have been thinking. This poor girl. Her girlfriends were busy. Or her Tinder date must've stood her up. Let me get her drunk so she can forget how ALONE she is.

My girlfriends weren't busy. I had no Tinder date to speak of. I also wasn't looking to turn my early-evening buzz into a full-on tipsy turn-up, but he kept insisting, so I couldn't say no ... right?

"Um ... no, thank you," I said in my most polite tone. "I think I'm all right."

"Oh, come on," he continued. "It's free! You can't say no to free. What do you like? Whiskey? Vodka?"

"Whiskey, I guess." I'm too nice to shut anyone down. That's why I would've been much better off if the damn bartender just kept to himself.

While I chugged my shot, a man in a brown suede suit walked over to me.

"You sure mean business," he said, laughing at my post-shot frown. I tried to turn my frown into a half-smile. Eventually, he buggered off, and I breathed easy. But a few minutes later, another man sat down next to me and struck up a conversation with me about his soldier cousin stationed in Afghanistan, because my "wonderful" Sanskrit tattoo reminded him of, um, brown people, I guess. I should have told him to f*ck off -- but again, once they get started, it's difficult for me to tell them to stop.

That day, I walked in hoping to have three glasses of wine, but I only made it to two. Everyone ran me out. In just an hour's time, two men hit on me, and the bartender served me pity drinks. Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining about getting free drinks. Actually, you know what? I am. Because I didn't want them.

I don't go to the bar hoping I can get free drinks. I'm not there for attention. I'm not there to get hit on. I'm there because after a long day filled with facing the world, I like to be alone. I mean, I guess a part of me is flattered that I'm deemed worthy enough to be hit on. But another part of me is angry for being considered a spectacle when I just want to be a spectator. Can a girl live?

I don't want to be bothered. I don't want to be harassed. Like the man by himself at the bar watching the big game and cradling his top-shelf whiskey, I want to blend into the crowd. I want to be a wallflower. When was the last time you saw a man sit down at a bar and spend half his alone time warding off women like a human f*cking flyswatter? That's what I thought.

I'm not going to the bar alone on a Saturday night, the definitive "rage" night of the week. It's Wednesday, it's 5 pm, and I'm not looking for anything to happen. I don't expect anything to happen. And I certainly wouldn't think that men with their overflowing briefcases and day-old business attire are expecting anything, either.

There's something incredibly empowering about going to the bar, ordering the drink special and silently people-watching. Doing it makes me realize that I don't always need friends or a man to have a good time. I am completely fascinated in what's happening in the lives of the bar-goers around me. Overhearing bits of conversations gives me life.

I have girlfriends who've told me they feel the need to be doing something while sitting alone at the bar and waiting for someone, whether it's texting, playing with their hair or nervously tapping their feet. If they aren't preoccupied, they're implying that they're DTF. And it's a damn shame they feel that way because they shouldn't have to.

What would make it clear that I'm not looking to indulge your sub-par pick-up lines? Shall I put in my headphones? Look down at my shoes the entire time? Sport a T-shirt that says “Don't you dare talk to me”?

Maybe at the bar, I look bored. Horny. Lonely. Well, let me tell you something: My staring-off-into-the-distance face is my thinking face. It's my RRP: resting REPOSE face. My lack of company is a statement. It isn't an invitation.

I'm independent. I work hard. And sometimes, I like to unwind alone in a sea of people. I also happen to be a woman. So please divert your eyes, put your wallet away, and take your alcohol-infused arrogance elsewhere. Thank you VERY much.