Awhile back, I had an experience that – I think – falls well within the realm of Universal Embarrassment Experienced by Single Girls. Here it is: The winter before last, during a long, dry spell of no-boyfriend-ness, I went to a party – a really good one, the kind hosted by somebody who has much more money than you, where you can’t seem to turn a corner without somebody thrusting another Grey Goose and tonic into your hot little hand. My girlfriends and I circled the room, ate cheese, and moonlighted as bartenders for the sole purpose of flirting with boys. By 9pm, we were buzzed. At 10pm, we were fully inebriated and dancing on a couch in tank tops. And by 11pm, I was completely wasted, surrounded by drunk, pretty people, and actively looking for somebody to make out with – somebody who I found in the form of a flirty twentysomething guy, who was wearing a collared shirt and had pretentiously mussed-up hipster hair. We danced, shouting at each other over the music and awkwardly flailing around until we gave up and retreated to a spot on the wall with our drinks.
Twenty minutes later, standing arm-in-arm with my new friend, I realized that I was clinging to him less out of adoration and more because I could no longer feel my legs.
“Hey,” I said, still trying to look coy and desirable in spite of my premonition that I might vomit at any moment, “I think I’m gonna get out of here.”
“Okay,” said the guy.
“Okay,” I said, still hovering.
“Here, let me get your number,” he said resignedly, pulling out his phone. I looked over his shoulder while he entered it in. It fell into a digital pile of other K-names – Katie, Katrina, Kelly, Kristen – just one more conquest in a sea of approximately 1 million girls. Shit, I thought.
“Wow,” I said.
“What can I say,” he said. “I’m kinda popular.”
“I can see that.”
"Well," I said.
“So, uh, I’ll call you.”
“Yeah, you should do that!” I replied, trying to sound non-committal and not at all desperate.
“Or what?” he said.
“Or, uh… I’ll… I’ll tell everyone you have herpes,” I said, and immediately thought, Oh, oh no no no, that was NOT smooth.
The guy looked at me with disgust.
“Ha, ha!” I said, lamely.
“Whatever,” he said.
The next morning, stumbling through a hangover haze, I vowed 1) to never attend another open bar party again, and 2) to forget, as immediately and thoroughly as possible, that I had ever tried to assure a next-day call by telling somebody I would trash their sexual reputation.
Here’s the thing: I think that this sort of embarrassment – the kind that seems to be a catch-all explanation for one’s inadequacy in the eyes of men– is both common and, for the most part, forgettable. In a city of 9 million, you need not dwell on the non-acquaintance who witnessed your awful social blunder. Who cares! The moment is past, the humiliation fades, the guy is just another anonymous face in the crowd. There’s no reason, none at all, to ever think about it again.
Unless, of course, there were other forces at work to painfully and repeatedly remind you of your own stupidity. Like, if it was caught on tape. Or if the guy was being talked about in the mainstream media every other week.
I mean, then you’d just have to kill yourself.