“There is nothing more dangerous that a woman does than getting drunk in public.”
That chauvinistic declaration, with some elements of truth, belonged to my father and the first time I can recall hearing it was around age eight. For reasons best left to a therapist to explain, those words have stuck with me and resonated in my behavior.
The thought crossed my mind recently as I watched a 30somthing woman weeble her way down a subway platform taking anything but the shortest distance between points A and B. She wasn’t my responsibility and I had no intention of making her so, but I did keep a cautious eye on her… just in case something really bad was to happen.
When the train arrived we both made our way to the same door. She grabbed different poles with each hand but still was less than steady as the train moved. At one point, she leaned her hip against the pole I was holding, pinning my hand there. My instinct was to prop her up, offer a steadying hand, but I resisted because no one wants to be seen as the guy trying to take advantage of the drunk girl. Two stops after our boarding location, we exited the train. She walked the first set of escalators – zigzagging her way. When we reached the second set of escalators, she again walked for a bit before surrendering and standing still. I walked past her for a few steps before the momentum of nature or nurture (jump ball) could not be quelled and I turned to ask her “When we get topside, may I help you get a cab?”
“No, no, I’ll be ok” she replied with a surprising level of syllabic acuity.
I assured her that “we’ve all been there” and that it’s “not a big deal” while I tried to make the argument that walking home, even the two blocks she needed to travel, wasn’t a good idea. I volleyed, she countered but her protestations where not very vehement. Eventually, after we had ascended the last escalator, I had to exercise the guilt option – “My grandma would be really upset if I let you walk home by yourself; I’d walk you home myself but you don’t know me so that wouldn’t be a good thing.”
“It’s only two blocks, I can make it” she said before taking my face in her hands, getting kissing-distance close and saying “I’ll be fine.”
“I’m not worried about your ability to get there, I’m concerned about all of the people you’ll pass on your way there – look there’s a cab right now” I said while waving him over. “Cab’s here, just take it as fait accompli.”
She got in the cab and I paid the driver enough to take her those two blocks with a sufficiently large tip that I am hoping he made sure she got inside as I asked him to do.
Two nights later, I was sitting in the bar where I was headed the night that I helped that woman into a cab when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“We met the other night, but I never caught your name” the same woman said.
“I’m Restaurant Refugee” I replied using my full name for introductions the way that Miss Manners has taught me.
She thanked me for getting her home, insisted on buying me a drink as compensation, and then explained that despite the fact that she was grateful, thinks me a gentleman and kinda cute, cannot date me because she could never get past the embarrassment of our first meeting.
…and the trend of good deeds not going unpunished continues.
…as does the trend of attractive women mistakenly thinking that the dating decision is entirely theirs regardless of their behavior.