It was a night out... (but not at the Frankenstein place).
I had the kind of night out last night that my clergy and academic vocations rarely let me pursue, and one that my sense of self-protectionism as a woman who travels the world alone had not yet permitted.
I met a guy, went out with his friends and stayed out until the sun came up.
I had a grand time. But in all honesty, it was possible in large measure because my new friend is gay. I am super careful about meeting and spending time with men at home and abroad. I have survived some things that I don't ever want to revisit. My adventure and my decision-making process leading up to it make an interesting study in my Black American woman's healthy paranoia.
My new friend is an employee and resident of the facility in which I am staying whom I have gotten to know over the past couple of weeks. People here know him and that would have made it possible for me to go out with him, straight or gay. And when he said he had some mates (all Irish) here and that I was most welcome for some beers with them and maybe a barbecue, I said sure even though he told me I might be the only girl there.
One of my inner voices was telling me that this is how all of the girls get kidnapped and sold into sex-trafficking in the movies and in reality. And I had to go there.
But since I had gotten to know him, his coworkers and employers in the past couple of weeks and our plans were public plans, and I - who am suspicious by nature - did not hear alarms, I went.
We started with a friend from his masters program coming over, they had a few beers and we all had a good chat. Then we went to another guest residence for academics and researchers with which I was familiar and about ten of us sat outside, listening to music, eating popcorn and talking while the Irishmen put away 4-5 forty ounce beers on top of what had previously been consumed. I don't drink beer and they didn't have any wine, but I was fine.
Then seven of us went out to the center of the city were there were outdoor cafes and bars around plazas filled with people. We joined a table with a couple of girls who left quickly and had a ball. Hookah was smoked - I took a couple of puffs - that may have made me ill later. And I had a horrible shot of tequila and a rum and coke - that may have had fountain water which also may have made me sick. Needless to say the lads kept pounding back the beers.
Round about two am we went to a dance club and shut it down. That was a lot of fun. I was finished drinking but the boys were still going hard at it.
We picked up two Italian girls and went to another bar and sat outside and talked while the boys drank some more. Round about four am I got cold and I was tired. I was ready to go. My friend had to replace a beer he knocked out of someone's hand and for some reason he came back with two. At four thirty he still wasn't ready - he who had said he'd look after me and make sure I got back home safely. At five I'd had enough. By 5:15 I walked to a cab. Two of the boys ran to me and made sure the cabbie would take good care of me (not my friend); I wasn't worried, but I appreciated their efforts. By 5:50 I was home, stripping and collapsing.
By nine I was awake with a sour stomach. Since my hair smelled like cigarettes and that was also turning my stomach, I got up, took a shower, washed it and went back to bed and took a couple of pepto tabs.
At 12:30 I went to lunch. My friend was nowhere to be seen and didn't answer his room phone. No one knew if he made it home. I took one bite of my sandwich and ran for the loo. I didn't make it. I lost it on the floor outside the bathroom. When I made it into the bathroom I didn't have time to close the door. After a few minutes, I closed the door, finished up and cleaned up. The staff to whom I apologized profusely was already cleaning up.
I went back to bed and got up for dinner at 6. I'm fine now, had a small meal and some tea. Still no sight or sound of my friend. I'm not too worried about him, seems like this is a pattern.
So that was the priest-professor's big night out. Pretty tame by some undergrad standards. Pretty epic by mine. And also a reminder that I and only I am responsible for my safety. I have real legitimate concerns, but I can still have fun when the opportunity presents itself. And it helps me not to feel any potential for sexual pressure when hanging out casually. Thank god for lesbian and gay friends. Now if it had been a dating scenario, I would have gone to meet him - not nine of them - at a restaurant or club and gotten myself there and back by taxi and maybe only had one drink. It's a shame that my life has to be so choreographed, but even so, I had fun.
Now hear's hoping the dear, daft, drunken Irishman finds his way home before he has to report for work tomorrow.