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Episode 7 "Tongue tied and pussy grabbed"

Updated: Oct 17, 2019





CHAPTER SEVEN

- Tongue tied and pussy grabbed -


Sometimes, life can be tough for a single girl living on her own in a big city. And by sometimes, I mean usually almost always. That’s why it’s extremely important to surround yourself with great friends, who love and support you, who show up, and stick by you in good times and bad - especially once you’ve been pussy grabbed.


My friend Lillian and I started taking road trips together after the majority of our friends started tying the knot and the tiny shoe laces that inevitably follow. It was our way of embracing our independence rather than yielding to society’s insistence that we feel defeated by it, since past a certain age singleness is seemingly something we should wallow in. We’d since road tripped across Washington, Oregon, California, and Georgia, and on December 31st, 2017 we found ourselves in Arizona.


We were on our way back from New Mexico and decided to break up our drive by staying overnight in Tucson. Neither of us had ever been, despite the fact I grew up less than two hours away, and we figured it’d be a safe enough place to ring in the new year.


After checking into our boutique hotel and finding the concierge was too young to recommend any bars, Lillian put her Yelp skills to use and procured a plan for the evening. We subsequently got ourselves ready in the bathroom mirror and even documented the riveting entertainment on Instagram, so everyone could enjoy our curling iron’s as microphones lip sync performance to Celine Dion. The little bit of silliness kept us feeling young, which may have been what triggered the following thought:


Rachel: Okay, I’m sure everything will be fine tonight but I just want to talk strategy for a second. I don't know if you know this, but Tucson is a college town.


Lillian: Okay... what does that mean?!


Rachel: It means, we need to keep our eyes and hands on our drinks at all times, no matter what. If one of us sets one down, we get another. No splitting up, no going home separately. We stick together no matter what.


The truth was I’d never been to college, so my knowledge about the culture surrounding it was limited to movies like Old School and documentaries like the Hunting Ground. And, despite the fact she’d never formally confirmed it, I had reasons to suspect my friend Cassie had been date raped while visiting the very campus we were in the midst of. It was the only explanation I saw for her otherwise irrational disdain toward Tucson, and going ballistic if either the city or Arizona itself were so much as mentioned.


While I felt it was in our best interest to have our guard up, I wasn’t necessarily worried either. We were intelligent career women in our thirties living in one of the most arguably dangerous cities in the country, and whatever had happened to Cassie did so nearly fifteen years prior - omg, I can’t believe I’m old enough for that to not be exaggeration…


Rachel: And we should probably have a hard out time. When do you want to head back here tonight? I was thinking 12:15/12:30 at the latest to avoid surge pricing.


Lillian: That’s what I was thinking.


Rachel: Cool.


Lillian: Oh, and give me your cards and stuff, let’s just keep everything in once place so it’s easier to keep track of.


Rachel: Good thinking.


I handed over my ID, credit card, and cell phone for Lillian to put inside her purse before we hopped into an Uber and headed downtown.


The streets were just as packed as the bars and by the time we found our way inside one, it seemed unlikely we’d get a drink at all. After about thirty minutes of persistence though, Lillian had managed to snag us both two drinks each.


Lillian: Here. We’re double fisting. I don’t want to deal with the bar again and we can just leave when they’re gone.


I didn’t want to admit to Lillian that was music to my ears, especially when whatever was coming out of the speakers in the bar was anything but. The truth is, I’ve sort of been a Grandma since High School. My fomo has always been linked to productivity and sleep rather than social interactions and experiences. I’ve just always been waiting for either the rest of my peers to catch up or an age when it’s socially acceptable to admit to feeling this way.


With our drinks in hands, we shuffled our way through the crowd, finding a place in the back corner of the room where we could wait for the ball to drop. That’s when we realized, there was no ball to reference.


Lillian: How do they not have the TV’s on?!


Rachel: Yeah! How the hell are we supposed to know when it’s midnight? Especially with our hands occupied? I can’t pull out my phone.


Guy: Hey! Would you guys mind taking a picture of us?


Lillian: (sarcastic) Yeah, sure. I got a free hand.


Guy: Sorry…


Rachel: Here, I got it.


Lillian: One, two, three. Here, I took four. See if you like any of them.


I handed Lillian back her drink while the guy and his friends scanned through their photos. They were a group of six, four guys, two girls, two couples, all professional types our age. They silently judged Lillian’s skills as a photographer before approving of their individual faces for posting purposes.


Girl: Derek! You’re blinking!!!


Second Girl: In like every single one.


Derek: … could you take another?


Lillian: Are you fucking kidding me? Don't blink! Blinks McGee!


Lillian is the oldest to two brothers, which is why it has become a habit of hers to talk to nearly every man with the same level of brazen authority. It’s something I’ve always admired about her, really. Whether she was talking to my dad, her boss, a guy she liked, or a stranger she just met in a bar, she never thought twice when it came to calling someone on their shit or putting them in their place. Which is why her reaction to the events that followed shocked me even more than the actual event itself, if possible.


Roughly ten minutes after this exchange, and five after midnight, Derek and his friend Brian, had left the couples in their group to chat up Lillian and me instead. When they asked about our decision to spend NYE in Tucson, we told them about the twelve hour road trip we’d set out on just one night prior. To be honest, we love impressing people with our ambitious itineraries, especially men. It feels like our way of separating ourselves from the common girls who spend time with their friends at malls or over brunch, instead of chasing waterfalls and natural wonders in the next state over. I know that’s catty but let’s be real, in a social media driven society that breeds comparativeness, it’s our small way of trying to feel superior when really, we feel anything but.


When Brian offered to get us another drink so we could continue to get to know each other, I politely declined. After all, it was already 12:10 and in our modern Cinderella story we had only five more minutes before our Uber turned into an overpriced pumpkin.


Lillian: I’ll do another.


I shot Lillian a look. Did she not remember our self imposed curfew?


Lillian: Whatever, we’re in Tucson. The Ubers aren’t going to be that expensive if we wait another half hour.


Rachel: You mean hour. It’s gonna take at least thirty minutes to get another drink!

Lillian: Not anymore. Everyone bar hops after the ball drops. See? It’s already clearing out.


Rachel: Fine. But, go with him to the bar. We don’t know these guys.


Lillian: Okay, mom!


While Lillian joined Brian at the bar, I tried to pass the time by getting to know Derek a little better. Though originally from Tucson, he was currently living in DC where he worked for the country’s immigration department. A fact I found rather amusing considering Derek himself is Mexican and our President is Donald Trump. After some playful and albeit flirtatious banter surrounding that hot topic, I informed Derek of my own upbringing in Arizona before leaving it behind to pursue an equally cliche and sometimes equally ironic, career in Los Angeles.


By the time Lillian and Brian returned, I was actually starting to enjoy myself. Derek and I had discovered we had a decent amount in common, including the fact we’d both grown up with live-in Grandma’s, and we bonded over our shared love of and longing for the desert we’d both left, coincidentally, around the same time as well.


It was nice talking to someone who seemed to have their shit together. Who had a job that didn’t revolve around playing pretend, and who, for a thirty-something, actually seemed like a thirty-something. I had to admit maybe there was more to miss out on than sleep. Then again, maybe there wasn’t.


Brian: Oh, man no! Kobe is the worst!


Lillian: You’re just jealous because we got him.


Derek: Oh, God, no! You got Brian talking about basketball?! He’ll never shut up now. He gets such a boner for anything sports related.


Rachel: Don’t worry, Brian. I’m the same way whenever anyone mentions Taylor Swift.


That’s when, from out of no where, I felt Derek’s hand grab my pubic mound. I use that term because it’s both anatomically accurate, and cringeworthy, and I want you to experience even just a fraction of what I did, in that precise moment, as a stranger’s hand lingered in silence, just above my vagina.


Derek: That’s weird, I don’t feel a penis.


It was like he wanted to confirm, by narrating his gesture, that my body was in fact registering its senses correctly. I stood there, stunned. What made the situation even more fucked up, in that initial moment anyway, was that for a second it actually felt acceptable. An excuse that can only be blamed on the combination of his casual confidence and my unique profession.


With most love scenes coincidentally shooting the first week of production, your costars themselves tend to be virtual strangers. That’s why, as an actor, you have to learn to get comfortable with giving people you hardly know the permission to touch your body, in order to effectively convey them having done it for years. And with Derek’s casual and comfortable demeanor, the whole situation felt familiar to me at first. But, as I began to process the facts, the more reality set in.


This wasn’t a movie. We weren’t in a scene. This guy wasn’t an actor. He wasn’t even a friend. And to that point, none of my friends, including one’s I’ve even dated for a time, who were even actors themselves, would have so much as attempted to do such a thing. Because that’s not something you do. Ever. And with that realization beginning to supersede any sense memory, I attempted to address is.


Rachel: Um, did you just pussy grab me?


Derek: I dunno, did I?


Rachel: Well, I mean it was more of a poke than a grab but yeah, you just pussy poked me.


Derek: Uh oh, are you gonna sue me now? Is this like a Harvey Weistead thing?


Rachel: It’s Weinstein -


Brian: Hey you guys, a table just opened up. Let’s grab it.


The three of them, seemingly unaffected, beelined for the corner table and set their drinks down. I trailed behind, still trying to regain my balance.


Brian: So, what do you girls do in LA?


Lillian: I’m a designer and Rachel’s in the entertainment industry.


Derek: What are you like a PA or stand in or something?


It wasn’t the insult that sent me over the edge. The whole situation had just finally caught up to me. I immediately pulled Lillian to the side, her ignorance to the whole matter firing me up even more.


Rachel: I want to leave.


Lillian: Okay, we don’t have to talk about work.


Rachel: It’s not about work. It’s about the fact that some guy I don’t know just grabbed my vagina and no one other than me seemed to think there was anything wrong with it. I just want to get out of here. We said we were leaving at 12:15. It’s already 1.


Lillian: Okay, fine.


Lillian opened her purse and handed me my phone. And then my ID. And then my credit card. And then, the room key.


Rachel: What’s this?


Lillian: You said you wanted to leave.


Rachel: You’re not coming with?


Lillian: It's still kind of early.


She stared at me, stoic. I wasn’t sure what the hell was going on, but for someone who’d only had two drinks over the span of two hours, I was beginning to feel like I’d had twenty. In an attempt to distract her from the muscles in my face contorting and giving away my emotions, I looked down at my phone and pulled up the Uber app. The pricing only further pissed me off.


Rachel: 65 dollars?!


Lillian: Did you check pool?


Rachel: It's 45!


Lillian: Yikes! Looks like you’ll have to stay.


Rachel: I have to take a walk.


Lillian: Well, are you planning on coming back?


Rachel: I don’t know right now.


Lillian: Well, do you want to say goodbye to the guys in case you don’t or do you want me to do it for you?


Rachel: No, I don’t feel the need to say goodbye to my sexual offender, thanks. And you don’t need to say it for me either. What you can say is why I left - because he grabbed my vagina. That shit may fly in Washington but it doesn’t with me.


But the sobering, cold hard truth, was that it had. Because I’d waited too long to be bothered by it, and because nobody else was.






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