An Open Letter to the Man Who Kicked Me Out of A Bar
Dear The Man Who Kicked Me Out of a Bar,
Here is my story:
My friends and I were having a lovely time. Laughing and dancing with passion only Usher’s songs can inspire, we were savoring our last night together. I don’t remember the DJ’s name (forgive me, friend), but I do remember that he provided my requested track ("Confessions Part II").
You left your lonely grouping of empty cocktail glasses and sleek liquor bottles to approach us.
“Who are you?” you demanded, assuming the classic position of a member of the “good 'ole boys club" - the power stance.
“Who are you?” I countered, less-than-amused at your question and tone which surpassed Eliza Dolittle’s false superiority upon her first entrance into high society.
“My family owns the Cowboys,” was your response to the question, but to me it felt like the punchline to a lackluster joke.
With all of the defiance I could muster, I countered, “And what do you do?”
Your face remained as cold and stiff as your recently pressed suit as you explained to me the Very Important world of stock brokerage and your Very Important place within it.
When you decided Scene Three: Arrogant and Patronizing Monologue was over, you misread my thinly veiled expression of annoyance and extended an invitation to your table for bottle service.
I quickly recovered from shock and emphatically refused the invitation. Yet this time my words caused a wrinkle upon your once-starched face.
What happened next can only be described as a few stills of a slow motion scene:
Still one: My friend, standing a few feet from our lovely conversation, immersed one hand into the depths of her bag.
Still two: Before she could emerge with her phone (the purpose for her reaching into the bag), you stepped in.
Still three: With unbridled speed, your hand fastened on to a few large bills from your wallet. You thrust the bills directly into the face of my friend.
And suddenly the picture returned to normal speed.
“Do you need some money,” you posed as an assumption, after you already assumed the answer.
“What is wrong with you?!” I exclaimed, “You can’t do that.”
You leaned in to my left ear and snarled, “She’s Indian. She might need it.”
Did you see my face? Even the strongest prescription glasses could not provide more clarity than the revulsion in my eyes. Could you truly not read the situation? Or was your track record so impeccable, that you assumed the obvious disgust written all over my face was a front?
The repugnance in my heart that began with your opening line, grew three times as large. I don’t remember my exact words, but if I had to guess, they would have been akin to Kathleen Kelly’s searing words in You’ve Got Mail, “But no one will ever remember you, Joe Fox... You are nothing but a suit!”
But unlike Joe Fox, you did not leave. You wanted to feel powerful again, so you chose to remove me and the threat I was posing. You gestured to the door, proclaiming “I own this bar. You need to leave.” You grabbed any bouncer within earshot and reminded them just who you are. You instructed them to escort me and my friends to the door.
The next day, I regaled this tale to my friend, Madeline. She listened as my boiling blood guzzled to the surface to produce questions like “Who do I complain to?” and “How can I take him down?”
And after considering my fervent thoughts, Madeline provided one gentle thought of her own.
“But shouldn’t we mainly feel sad that he is this way?”
And it hit me just like it hit Kathleen Kelly. It was Kierkegaard who said that life has to be lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards. What I understood at the time was the layered misogyny and racism, but only upon further reflection do I see another side of the story: I made him feel small.
No one enters this world offending and elbowing everyone around him. Somewhere along his way or many somewheres along his way, this man not only learned behaving in this nature was a possibility, he learned that could be accepted. Whatever it is that turned him this way, I won’t know. I can only assume it wasn’t pretty.
E.L. Doctorow said writing is “like driving at night with the headlights on. You can only see a little ways ahead of you, but you can make the whole journey that way.” I love this because it’s true of most things. In that bar, I could only see what the light was shining on right in front of me: a man filled with ugliness. I’m still processing through the ideas of guilt and responsibility and how one can best respond when faced with ugliness, but each time I move further along the journey the light illuminates a bit more.
So, to the man who kicked me out of the bar, now you’ve heard my story. While what you did was awful, what I did was not nice. Maybe next time I’ll try to do a better job of understanding your story with compassion and most of all grace.