Guys don’t totally suck (I learned on my birthday)

(Hey guys, I got Prismacolors for my birthday! Enjoy the new doodles.)

I can’t say the last 7 days were uneventful — I had a birthday and 2013 became 2014 — but there isn’t a whole lot I’m willing to share on a website with my real name on it (Summary: lots of booze & bangin’). I do have a little story for you:

On my birthday, I discovered that the place I always think is Redwing but is not Redwing is also not Livewire. Nope, it’s Nunu’s.  But, you can’t blame Kateyln for taking me to the wrong, “U-shaped bar with booths,” because that, Livewire is.  Eh, it’d work. Never expecting much for my birthday, I put up check-in on facebook like my bat-signal and waited to see which friends would show.

I really mean I don’t expect much for my birthday. It’s the 27th of December, and I’ve spent most of those in a car ride to grandpa’s house in SB. My parents made the day special by letting me have the newspaper first and sometimes we’d pick up In’n’Out.  As I’ve gotten older, my birthday has become less of an addendum to Christmas in a bad way (hello child, you are getting a COMBO present and it is clothes!!), and more of an addendum to Christmas in a good way (combo present: DSLR!!!). First off, no one forgets my birthday checks. Also, I haven’t completely abandoned my childhood fantasy that all the lights and tinsel are put up just for me.

The “wrong” bar and my general lowered expectations for birthdays should have set me at unease, but maybe I just feel like I can do anything in a pair of Jeffrey Cambell’s and 1000 square inches of electric-grape leather. Maybe I could even accept free drinks from strangers.

electric-grape-leather-80s-comic-strawberry-blondeThe first person to show up was Katelyn’s bestie. She brought me a wrapped gift that was very obviously alcohol.

no-wine-gift-in-the-barYeah, no, that had to go straight to the car. The two girls left me in the bar to attend to my whiskey and a PBR tall can. I finished the former and took taxes from the latter. Just standin’ here by myself, looking gorgeous and bored. Twiddle thumbs.

Two dudes approached me and the first one said, “Hey, Sarah?” Close enough, and with my face-blind-ish-ness I assumed he knew me. We very quickly established he did not. I’m really good at talking about myself so I slipped in seamlessly that it was my birthday. (I’m lying; I announced it without context like a proud 5-year-old.)

He immediately offered a birthday shot. The way he did all the talking, I figured he was trying to wing-man for his shaggy-haired friend. I thought I knew what was going on there. Whatever, I could take his alcohol and reject his friend. Leather. 6 inch heels. It’s my birthday.

And then something kind of magical happened. The three of us took our shots of bourbon. My friend Marina arrived. He saw I wasn’t alone anymore, and told me he was glad to meet me, he’d be over by the pool table. He was glad to meet me. Past tense. As in he just bought me a shot and would be leaving me alone. I gave him a big hug I was so pleased.

I don’t want to undercut the rarity of these kinds of occurrences. I don’t want to dismiss the damage my gender faces at the hand of institutionalized sexism and asshats. I’ve certainly seen my fair share of bullshit. But something about that moment felt very….normal. Like it happens every day. Like 2014 is going to be different for me.

It’s the serenity that I felt that I treasure most. I know I’ll have to continue sharpening my skills of graceful rejection. I know someday some guy is going to put his hands on me and act like I was asking for it. But this little moment, this freely given shot, makes it worth it to keep my heart open.

Thank you, Bryan, wherever you are, for giving me something special for my birthday.

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