Saturday Night, Sober

metro

My sister and I caught a late movie.

I’d been intrigued by The 9th life of Louis Drax so I wrote down the schedule for the week of release, but life happens and I couldn’t make it to the cinema. A week later, the movie only played at 9:30 pm. Every night of the week, but at 9:30 pm.

When you’re an introvert in your 30s, 9:30 pm is late.

I told my sister about it, expecting her to nix the idea on account of lateness, but she said we were tougher than that, and so we caught a late movie on a Saturday.

This blog post is not about a movie, though I could talk about The 9th Life of Louis Drax; it was a strange experience. And Jamie Dornan is not a bad actor: don’t let yourself be turned off by that 50 Shades crap.

But this post is not about that. So here I am, a quiet 36-year-old taking the metro late on a Saturday night. On a Saturday night in mid-September when school is back in session but not yet in full swing.

The first sign that tells you that you do not belong: you are not drunk. Not even a little tipsy. You’ve just walked out of a movie theatre where you drank iced tea. Diluted iced tea at that. Walking into this wagon is akin to entering an alcohol sauna. You take a breath and liquor hits your nostrils. Alcohol is seeping through the pores of the youth—doesn’t help that the weather feels more like early August than mid-September.

You take a seat with your iPod and magazine—the camouflage tools of the introverts—thinking you’ll just keep your head down until the metro stops at your station. But it’s all right, it’s OK. You’ve been young once. Kids are drunkish and on their way to another party or club. They’ll get off at some point over the next few stations before the train leaves downtown, and then the rest of the ride will resume in somewhat normalcy.

One station over and a group comes in. You don’t want to look up but you do. Because they are a large, rowdy group and one of them is playing loud music from his phone. It’s a group made up of eight boys and two girls.

Eight fully dressed boys and two girls clad in tight jeans and bras. Not cropped tops, not sporty tops: bras. Lacy bras.

This is also not a post about fashion or about policing what women and girls should or should not wear.

So the girls are kind of staggering around, partially due to their high heels and partially because they’re drunk. They proceed to use the metro poles as stripper poles (quick aside: EW!). And they are surrounded by drunken boys who brandish their phone cameras like social media weapons. (And they are not the only ones filming. As a non-drunk passenger on this train, I noticed two more people filming, unbeknownst to the girls, including a man who looked to be in his 50s.) Now individually, those boys are probably nice, normal boys, but all you need is one bad apple, and four drunken boys to one drunken girl is not a good ratio. I may not be the best at math but I know this. Four to one means I don’t like the odds. Throw in that bad apple and shit can happen quickly.

So I guess this is a post about that.

Oh boy!

While I am firmly in the camp of those who say that, as a society, we need to stop telling girls how to not get raped and to start telling boys not to rape, in the meantime, I live in the real world. In the real world, as much as it sucks, girls and women cannot get drunk freely. Girls and women need to protect themselves. In this age where even your grandpa has a phone with a camera, they need to protect themselves even more. We have all seen the devastating results the shortest of videos can have on the lives of people.

You know what the saddest part of this tale is? I didn’t do anything. I’m not proud of that, but I felt outnumbered and, I guess, too sober to approach the girls and maybe try to give them a friendly warning. Also, I can remember what it’s like to be 18, 19, 20. Would I have listened to the 36-year-old woman with her Harper’s Magazine in the metro? The 36-year-old woman clearly on her way to bed who looks like she never had one drink in her whole life? Probably not.

Portray your tedium for the world to see*

ImageWe live in an interesting age, don’t we? Narcissism seems rampant. But is it, really? Did technology and the advent of social media bring about this new age of narcissism or has it simply helped to express something that was already there; that has been there forever? One needs only to read about some of the historical figures of the past to realise that narcissism is nothing new.

I’ve just recently finished reading a history book; The Tudors by G.J. Meyer. As I was reading about Henry VIII, his multiple wives and his endless battle against Rome and Christianity—a battle purely fueled by lust and ego—I could not help but wonder at what kind of havok Henry VIII would wreck with a Twitter account. But hey! At least, good old Henry would have something interesting to say.

I cannot judge my fellow social media users and abusers as I am one of them. You may find me on Twitter, posting frivolous comments about TV shows or raging against the latest dumb move from the government. You’ll also catch me on Facebook, posting what I think are hilarious comments mostly followed by the sound of crickets. Heck, I even post here on this blog (though I am the only one reading it).

The one thing that worries me about social media is not its narcissistic nature. Those posts are easy enough to ignore. We can read between the lines or Facebook statuses and see the loneliness. No, what worries me is the rise of cynism. There is this growing sense of doubting everything and everyone. It’s hip to be bored. It’s cool to think everyone is out to get you. I can be cynical like nobody’s business, but I don’t think it’s awesome to believe no-one is capable of good; that we are not capable of good. Getting entrenched in cynism means to stop trying. And giving up is not cool.


* Manic Street Preachers – Don’t Be Evil (album: Postcards from a Young Man)