A girlfriend and I decided to meet for drinks. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, and it was late in the day, so we thought we would mix it up by going to an actual bar instead of a coffee shop. We were both single, pre-marriage, pre-kids, in the Halcyon days of nerdom when we would get together early in the evening to discuss which good books we were reading and what great music she was playing on the piano.

Just a couple of dorks in a booth.

And then along came a man.

“Hey,” he said, sauntering over and already tipsy. “What are you ladies doing here all by yourselves?”

I am a person who feels alone in her life with some degree of frequency, but I was positive that Cathy was not my imaginary friend. We had worked together at a real job, getting real paychecks at a place where they did not regularly employ people who were just figments of my imagination.

“We’re not alone,” I said. “We’re with each other.”

“You know what I mean,” he said, sitting down next to me in the booth.

I did not, actually. Probably because I was into books and friends who played classical music, and not picking up drunk, self-involved studs at bars.

“What are you ladies up to?” he asked.

“We are having a drink and enjoying each other’s company,” I said. “I thought that part seemed sort of obvious.”

“Can I buy you a drink?” he said.

“No thanks. Can you leave us alone?” I asked.

He gave me a dirty and disappointed look and said: “Wow, bitch. And I thought you were pretty.”

“And I thought this was our table,” I replied.

He left, which was lucky for him because otherwise I was planning on providing him with a lesson in feminism and philosophy that hopefully would have driven him away or put him sound enough to sleep that I could have pushed him off the seat next to me and onto the floor.

If it wasn’t already clear from this story, or if you are ordering three more shots while reading this post, man-who-is-planning-on-making-his-presence-known-to-women-in-the-bar: Two or more women who are together in a public place are not alone. Most of the time, it’s probably safe to assume that we are there to enjoy each other’s company or to work out some sort of other social negotiation that may or may not involve men. Please do not approach us unless verbally invited or made welcome with clear social body language signals such as flagging you down like we are hailing a cab.

Thank you.


Sarah writes with sarcasm about science, gender, feminism and fertility issues on her blog sarahanngilbert.com. She is writing a memoir about her experience becoming a parent. Sarah lives in Denver with her wife, two girls and an ungrateful dog. If she had more free time, she would spend it lobbying the state government to make down vests and flip-flops the official uniform of Colorado. You can talk to her on Twitter @sarahanngilbert.


  1. “and I thought this was our table.” Boom. I would probably have lost it at “bitch.”

    And, as my mom always said “pretty is as pretty does.”

  2. Amen to that! Some men really think that if no man is present, no matter how many women are together, they are “alone”! Bless our pea-pickin’ lil’ ol’ hearts. Why who knew we could go out all by out lil’ ol’ lonesome selves?

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