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Recently, whilst out on one of my probably-a-bit-too-frequent-trips to my local bar, I met a man who was very drunk (perhaps a bit too drunk for a Wednesday...but then again I was there too) and, perhaps not unrelated, also very bothersome. I say "met," but that’s probably too strong a word for a man who just sat down with us without concern at the lack of invitation. An enforced meeting would be a better description.

Drunk Man regaled us with answers to questions we hadn’t asked, such as "Who’s your favourite pop musician?" and "Can you name some famous sexy ginger people?" (He couldn’t. I can. Gingers rock... yes, I’m ginger). After a while of such thought-provoking discussion, it became clear that Drunk Man was not just a passing ship in the ocean of our night out, and I gradually, yet reluctantly, began to accept him. The acceptance was much in the same way one might accept a stray cat that just shows up in the backyard one day and sort of just stays there forever. Eventually you just think "screw it," and start feeding it.

The acceptance was short lived. Before the stray cat...sorry, Drunk Man...turned up, I had been enjoying the night out with my male, once boyfriend, now platonic friend. The male to female ratio had Drunk Man inquisitive. It seemed his interested was piqued, and now he was required to know the definition of our relationship in order for our now-mutual experience to continue any further. Now, I like to know things too. Learning is fun, after all. But it was the method and wording in which Drunk Man forwarded this request for knowledge that left me feeling more than a tad irked. It pretty much went like this:

Drunk Man points at me but looks directly at my friend: “Is she your girlfriend?”

Platonic Friend: "No."

Drunk Man continues to point at me yet look directly at my friend: “Are you dating her?”

Platonic Friend: "No."

Drunk Man is of course still pointing, not looking: “Are you fuck buddies then?”

Platonic Friend: "No."

Aside from the obvious thread I could weave here about the ignorance that sometimes people of the opposite sex can actually just be friends, my main concern at this particular exchange is the immediacy of which I became chopped liver.

The moment Drunk Man felt the overwhelming and apparently unsuppressible urge to know the ins-and-outs of our sexually standing, I no longer existed as a functioning and communicable human being. I was the jar of chopped liver in the corner and my Platonic Friend was the only one with the answers to why it was there and who it belonged to.

Now, I have to be fair and admit that this is not the first time I have unwittingly metamorphosed into said jar. Drunk Man is taking a lot of flak for a lot of other drunk men. And some sober men too. Drunk Man is the straw that broke this camel’s back...or should it be broke the jar’s seal? I’m not sure.

What I am sure of is that I’m damn sick of immediately transforming into a jar of chopped liver when a man begins to wonder about my romantic and/or sex life. Again, I’m momentarily ignoring the utter bullshit of an idea that it’s anyone else’s damn business who I choose to hump or not hump.

At some point in these delightfully random bar exchanges, it appears I am no longer considered to be a person in my own right. I suddenly become defined by the classification of the relationship between myself and the male I’m with. I’m his girlfriend, his date, his fuck buddy. My potential contributions to the conversation will be interpreted by whichever role I take in the male friend’s life. My intelligence, sense of humour and general ability to hold great drunken discussions become disputable depending on my sexual status.

So Drunk Man, and drunk men everywhere, my point is this: my worth and my value are not defined or dependable upon the dynamics of the relationship of the person I’m with. I am more than capable of participating in your drunken bar banter completely on my own standing. In fact, I’m a delight. My skills at drunken ramblings will blow your mind.

And if you do feel the irresistible (and frankly inappropriate) urge to know the exact characterisations of the relationship of the man I’m sitting with, at least have the indecency to ask me too.

Image: Nejma by Nayyirah Waheed, via Tumblr

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Elcie Burrows is from Northern Ireland and is a writer, social justice campaigner and freelance events coordinator for charities and non-profit organisations.  Elcie can be contacted at elcieburrows@gmail.com.

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