What starts with a trip to a homegoods store, evolves into a museum visit, a hip hop concert, a Pride parade, and ends running through the streets of Lake Worth at 5 a.m.? My life, that’s what. Reflectively, my day/night was awesome. In the moment? It was (in order): mundane, exciting and fun, and terrifying. I don’t realize how much I rely on holding my switchblade and/or mace in my pocket until I don’t have the option to do that.
Anyway, where to begin? Since this vacay’s inception, I have been getting up later and later each day, choosing not to give any fucks…which was true of Saturday as well. I made myself a tasty sausage omelet (this is of importance being the one of the very few times I ate all day) and strolled out to tackle the days self-planned events. I picked up a cabinet for my hosts and was subsequently called a “brave girl” for carrying it to the car myself. I couldn’t help but think of Arya Stark, but I’m pretty sure she’d laugh in my face if I told her she was a “brave girl” for carrying a fucking cabinet to the car in the parking lot. Anyway, it’s still cool to impress the weaklings that have settled in the flat, never-ending red lights, golf-infested state of Florida. It’s also kind of fun being able to relate to just about anyone here, as someone who has lived in NY, Philly, and Mass. Chances are everyone I encounter is either from there or has a friend/family member who is.
But back to this story–I went to the Flagler Museum first, on recommendation. The Flagler museum is unique to this area and the dude totally played his cards right. I wonder if this 71-year-old’s 34-year-bride was just a gold digger. They “floated around the same social circles” — the only way that’s happening is if she’s a whore or he’s a creepy old dude. Fine fine fine, Mary does her thing and I do mine.
So as to not miss what was affectionately referred to as “Summer Fest” on Facebook, I nixed the art museum I was planning to visit and headed across the water, where I could not-so-faintly hear “The Wobble” being played. I somehow knew I had found summer fest without having tried, and I was correct. What I didn’t realize was that it was essentially a hip-hop festival and I was one of maybe a dozen white people in a much larger crowd of black people. Again, fine. My giant ass fits in and I love me some southern BBQ. Okay, so I didn’t feel like I fit in, but I did my best to be as chill as possible, because, really I am kind of chill. While sitting on the grass under the trees, one of the only other few white people comes up and tells me I’m beautiful and asks to buy me a drink. I maybe would have entertained the idea if he was younger than 60, but alas. I procured some sick ribs (meal #2/final for the day), taught the booth bartenders what a “dark and stormy” was, and headed to the next thing, which happened to be Pride in Ft. Lauderdale.
I once again felt as though I didn’t belong with the crowd, but I didn’t let that stop me. LOVE is LOVE, right? So I did what I do best and nosed my way into other people’s lives. If I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have had the spot I did close to the parade line and I never would have jumped into the parade to help carry the incredibly long rainbow flag whose length I’ve yet to even try to guess. But I walked for blocks carrying my little piece of history and when it was over, I doubled back and danced my solo ass off at one of the bandshell/stages for a little while before deciding I was starving and too far from “home” to comfortably continue drinking…also, my phone was at 6%, so there’s that.
Having had missed checking out “downtown” Lake Worth, and seeing as it was on my way home, I decided to stop there. Downtown LW is about four blocks long and has about seven choices of establishments, most of which were packed with the Saturday night “crowd,” if it could even be called that. I chose a little German place called “Little Munich,” mostly because there were approximately 5 patrons and one of them had a plate in front of them. Food, yes! …until I asked and they were no longer serving anything other than a plate of ‘wursts with a pretzel. I chose to stay for a beer, because I’m not a rude asshole, but that ultimately led to the cook (who was clearly no longer working and clearly had been drinking for the better part of his worknight), named Hagen, hitting on me…incessantly. Now, I’m not really complaining, because that doesn’t happen nearly enough anymore, but the older I get the creepier the dudes get. I was told he was “harmless” though, so I trusted the locals. Other contenders for my attention, as the only female in the bar, were a 51 year old golf club bartender (and I assure you he looked the part), and a 36 year old FL transplant from Pittsburgh tutor. We all know where I went with this situation….
The brief backstory: I questioned whether I wanted to hook up with someone on this trip, mostly because it has been FOREVER and I’m not interested in hooking up with most of the dudes in Worcester because one of us winds up interested in the other and FUCK that bullshit. But for one moment in time I could be 24-year-old Linda and just hook up with someone I met at a bar…like low-self-esteem style. Also, someone back “home” that I was partially interested in dating was dealing with some ex-girlfriend stuff and I wasn’t having ANY thoughts about it this night…not to mention it was officially Father’s Day by the time I made any dumb choices and I am an emotionally fragile chick during a few days of the year, this being one of them. So I did the two shots of fireball provided by Hagen, drank the beer purchased by Golf Bartender, and enjoyed my “Cheap Thrill” (thanks, Sia!). Golf Bartender gave up eventually and left, leaving only me and Tutor to close out the bar. I’d had two shots and two beers over three hours, so I was about 72% in my right mind when I made the choice to walk home with Tutor, who promised to be a “perfect gentleman” and sleep on the couch–LOL. Turns out Tutor didn’t walk to the bar, he drove–and spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to find his car, and I began to freak out when I realized someone who was very drunk was going to drive us somewhere, even if it was only “16 blocks.” Fortunately at 2:30 a.m. there were very few people out and we made it safely to his place. I continued to freak out, verbally, because I was in a city(?) I’d never been to, unaware of where my vehicle (safety?) was, and entirely too sober to make really bad choices. I tried the vodka cran he made us, steered the conversation away from last names, and let Tutor kiss me. Things were going well until they weren’t. Until grown-up Linda cared more about her ultimate health than a lying stranger. The bottom line became “no condom = no sex” and although Tutor was pouty, he accepted the terms. I wanted to leave, but 16 blocks seemed like a long walk and he petitioned for sleep, so we tried that…until he was pretty consistent with trying again…and again…to get me to drop my morals, I guess? Finally I gave up, fully clothed myself, and asked him to point me in the direction of the place we met. He did a wonderful job of balancing his distaste for the situation and his belief that maybe if he did right by me I’d be like, “screw it, let’s have unsafe sex!” He offered to drive me NEAR the bar because he wasn’t a fan of driving in whatever part of the city(?) we were in. Ignoring that that statement made absolutely no sense except that he’s on the run or involved in a turf war, I insisted that I was not interested in making him drive drunk again. (Plus, my phone was now at 5% and I figured that was enough to get me to the car.) The need to escape clouded all of the anxious questions that arose once I felt as though I had, indeed, escaped. Like what the fuck was I doing at 4:50 a.m. walking down dark, deserted streets in a city(?) in South Florida I knew nothing about? His warning/attempt to get me in the car was that it was dangerous, and I brushed that off as some tactic to keep me a little longer, but it began to hit me as a reality that I was unarmed in an unknown place. Typically I’d have at least a switchblade and some mace in my hand in my pocket, but I couldn’t take either on the plane and so I thought about them sitting so safely and ineffectively in my apartment back in MA. I situated my keys in my hand in a way that provided a false sense of security, and knowing this, took off in a jog. I started doing the math: if I can run a 5k in 33 minutes, then I can jog this mile in 11 minutes and be at my car in no time. The difference is when you’re wearing flats, carrying a bag, and in one of the most humid states in the fucking country. When I saw people walking down the same dark street I was on ahead of me, I hopped over to a more populated highway-like street, but that had its dangers too. Not only did someone honk at me every few minutes, but a dude on a bicycle cruised by me asking if I was into any of the hard drugs. Wondering WTF I had gotten myself into, and what the lesser of the two street-based evils were, I hopped back over to the side street. Until a car rolled past me slowly and crawled to a stop about a block up. As I watched from behind a pickup truck, someone got out, got back in, and the car went up another block, turned the corner and stopped. I backtracked a block and once again chose the more populated street. I couldn’t really jog there (for some reason I didn’t feel comfortable showing the world how uncomfortable I was–I felt as though I needed to demonstrate an air of confidence), but I walked quickly and checked my phone often. As its battery life fell from 5% to 4% to 3%, the time to my car also decreased from 24 minutes to 16 minutes to 11 minutes to 8 minutes…and I refused to let myself feel comforted by the minimal amount of time I had left. I could only imagine relaxing with only 4 minutes to go and that being the time I missed something and was captured. I thought of my acquaintance in NOLA who was captured and brutally raped and assaulted after parking her car and walking to her apartment. The farther along I got on my walk, the more my mind conjured dangerous situations.
But ultimately, I made it. I only breathed a sigh of relief after I had been in the car long enough for the doors to automatically lock. It was 5:18 a.m. and I had survived a scary thing. Maybe there was no real threat, but I’d rather have treated it like one than not. Did I learn a lesson about going home with strangers? Maybe. I wasn’t a huge fan in the first place, but I also half wished I was still that person that would do it without a second thought. I partially miss NOT thinking things through, but I *am* ultimately glad that I did.
So like Kajal says: Men. You’re looking for a Jon Snow, and end up with a Ramsay. #Survival
And here’s Tutor, who started out as a kinda chill dude but ended up being a little creepy, weird, entirely too touchy of a drunk, and almost definitely a liar :
Because if you give me your first name and pretty much ANY information about you, I can find you on the internet.