Is there anything worse for a socially awkward person than being forced into sweaty, human contact with strangers who are there to try and make a shish kabob out of you? The answer is no. No, there is not.
I despise clubs. I firmly believe they must be stopped. But I have gorgeous friends who like to club (ugh, it does NOT deserve its own verb, mind you, but there we are) and are good at it and as a result, sometimes my night ends at a club. Actually, the night ends with me huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf, a firm scowl etched on my face, angry tears in my eyes, and an urgency to my stride only matched by those avoiding a crazy, homeless person on the streets of New York City.
The thing is your night can never begin at a club because acceptable clubbing hours do not begin until 11pm. And perhaps that is why I hate them so much: they provide an unavoidable conflict with sweatpants, Netflix, and Half-Baked time. So when my friends decide tonight is a dreaded clubbing night, I remind myself of how much I love them and how much they have done for me and I put my brave face on.
The first thing this means is that I am going to have to put on tight, revealing clothing, in the hopes that the bouncer will waive the $5,226 cover charge because I give him my perkiest smile while wearing my perkiest bra. As much as giving in to this notion pains me, I, being poor, have only my breasts.
My two best friends are getting-ready professionals. Watching them do themselves up is like watching a ballet. But me? I have never been able to wear mascara without it becoming face-scara and the mechanics of the curling iron elude me. So I adopt a grab-the-first-pair-of-shorts-and-first-sparkly-thing-you-see tactic, throw it on, and be careful not to look in the mirror for too long. Then I pour myself a drink (because there is no way in heck I can do this completely sober), sit, and wait. Usually one of my friends gets a load of my outfit at some point in this stage and picks something else twenty times better (though just as uncomfortable).
At 11:15, we ride.
We arrive to find a line filled with shivering girls who are dressed exactly like us and guys in button-downs with their chests puffed out: a confident look that can only be presupposed by an I-am-so-going-to-get-laid-tonight mentality. We get in line and shiver with the rest of them and wait for exactly 34 minutes before people (me) start to get antsy. This is usually the point where the girl behind us with a big, beefy boyfriend decides that we have cut her in line and that we are going to pay for our sin. She screams at us. My friends scream back. My teeth just continue to chatter. I am too cold to yell. She tries to get the rest of the line to join in, but the rest of the line is astute enough to pick up on who the real pain in the arse is here. She continues to scream until her throat is stripped raw. The bouncer comes over and asks her to get to the back of the line. Everyone cheers. She yells that she will get us in the end and spits. Class act.
At 12:07, we finally reach the coveted front of the line. My friends both smile and bat their eyes at the bouncer, who smiles back and tells them they can go right in. Then, it’s my turn. I am holding on to my own arms and rubbing them for warmth. My legs are clenched together like I have a peeing emergency, and I am walking in a way that can only be likened to a duck. I try to smile, but my lips are numb and chapped and I am sure I look constipated. He gives me a look that’s a cross between pity and horror. My friends rescue me by yelling, “She’s with us!”
“Oh? Oh…well, okay.” He moves the rope aside to let me in.
Hands down most flattering thing ever said to me.
Stepping into a club is like stepping into another dimension. Perhaps one might call it Hell. It is hot, it is smelly, and anything can happen. All rules go by the wayside. My friends immediately decide to head straight for the center of the dance floor to sway sexily to the obscenely loud music.
I am not the world’s worst dancer, but the only moves I have really mastered are those required of musical theatre actors. So unless the song is appropriate for a Charleston or a Time Step, I am pretty much at a loss. Or if it’s one of those glorious songs that has directions. I love those. I will Cha Cha Slide all night. But sexy dancing? Hey, what now? What is this, a mating ritual?
The thing about clubs is it totally is a mating ritual. And only the fittest survive. The males of the species circle the dance floor, seeking out their prey with hungry eyes, licking their lips. The females group together in the middle, either doing their best to get eaten or doing their best to avoid getting eaten. I am absolutely in the latter category, so you can imagine my horror when…oh, God. Eye contact. I have made eye contact. AVERT! AVERT IMMEDIATELY! It is too late. He swoops down on me like a hawk.
I try to shout, “No, thank you!” over the music, but either he doesn’t hear me or has chosen to ignore my desperate, yet polite plea to be ignored.
“Jillian, c’mon. He’s hot!” I hear my friends say as two guys close in on them. I sigh and surrender my butt to his crotch. No exchange of names or salutations. No more eye contact. Just a sweaty head on my shoulder and sweaty palms on my hips and a sweaty semi against my behind. What I find funny about the evolution of grinding is that less and less movement has become required over time. I can just stand perfect still as he breathes on me and pray I get out of here alive.
The song is over, but he is intent on holding on. Accordingly, I tell him I have to go to the bathroom. This is the funny thing about guys: they often think that you leaving them alone on the dance floor to go to the bathroom, they are being full-on rejected. This is the funny thing about girls: they hear you have to go to the bathroom and think that they have to go with you. While I love the power of a good, ol’-fashioned group effort, this is a full-on rejection and I don’t have to go to the bathroom. I am going to get a drink. I am going to get two drinks. I am going to suck it up and pay the $28 because I am not drunk enough for this shit.
I signal to my friends that I can take care of this one alone, and run like an Olympian to the overcrowded bar. I throw money down and end up with a plastic pill cup of whiskey. I am about to sob. It will never be enough.
Suddenly, I feel as though I am being watched. I turn to see that I have been spotted by the Hawk: pursuer of my butt. His crotch must have detected me. Damn the sophistication of clubbing crotch technology. I look for a place to hide. This is a code red. We must ABORT. ABORT! He strides to me and pinches my cheek (no, not my face cheek. I wish).
“Can I buy you a drink?”
“I already have a drink.” Though the idea of another drink sounds wonderful, we all know what ‘Can I buy you a drink?’ means.
“You know, you don’t have to be such a bitch about it.”
I dump the rest of my overpriced drink on him and kick his shin for good measure.
I decide now is a good time to go to the bathroom. At least it will kill time. There is no way in Hell I’m going back on that dance floor. I slam myself against the wall and prepare myself to wait on a line for an hour.
“You gonna cut me again, bitch?” I hear murmured in my ear. No. This is not happening right now. I turn to face the Line Nazi.
“You are a primitive, knuckle-dragging, vociferous lush.” I say, because, ya know, words. (They’re pretty much all I have.)
“What did you say, bitch?!” I see her open palm pull back in the corner of my eye and brace myself. She smacks me and it’s not even a respectable smack. I do nothing. I do not even acknowledge I’ve been hit. She goes in for another smack. I duck and she accidentally hits the girl in front of me. The girl in front of me screams and smacks the Line Nazi, who smacks her back, and then all of a sudden they’re multiplying, and ever girl on the line is hitting each other and pulling hair and screaming and I think I will never hear the word “bitch” so many times in quick succession again in my life, and then I remember I will probably have to go to a club again.
The lights come back on. They’re shutting her down. I grab my friends by the wrists and stride out of there with the urgency of someone avoiding a crazy, homeless man, scowl etched on my face, tears in my eyes.
“Hey, how about we go to the diner?” I hear one of them say. And then I remember why I love them and the point of clubbing in the first place: the fries and milkshakes that come afterward.