Step One: Actually Going Out
I have a confession: I haven’t explored Los Angeles nearly as much as I’d like to. Whether it was due to the fact I was tired after days of meetings, filming, or editing, I never felt the zest in my spirit to go out and explore the town. I let the time constraints and routine get to me, and before I knew it, I noticed that the Joanna who used to click her heels around the city solo had been in hiding, while the Joanna who loves wine and Netflix took over. Despite knowing that going out alone is essential to building confidence and feeling good about yourself, I’ve been slacking, and I owe myself an apology.
This weekend I put an end to the Netflix binge and made plans [with myself] to go watch live Jazz music at one of LA’s most recommended spots; The Blue Whale. I had been wanting to go since we moved, but for one reason or another I either stayed home or decided to do something else. All I needed to do was get my booty out of the house to do something that makes me really happy; listen to talented musicians, mingle with strangers, and dance till my feet hurt [yes, I dance alone]. But of course, anyone who thinks about going out alone knows that the hardest part is actually getting out of the house without anyone pushing you to do so.
I took advantage of a quick jolt of energy and left the couch to walk towards LA’s ever-so-reliable Metro system. It was 8:05PM on Sunday night, clear and crisp skies, the excitement of “anything can happen” was in the air.
A 10 minute walk out of the Metro station, I arrived at this adorable plaza in Little Tokyo. Upstairs to the left, past some Ramen bars was the hidden gem of Jazz music. It was an instant click of “oh, these are my kind of people.” Fedoras, scarves, cool cocktails, and a diverse group of people, all scattered in this dimly lit lounge for their common love of music and mingling. Coincidentally, I dig both of those things. The door man asked if I was by myself about three times. Is it that unbelievable that I go to a lounge alone? I chuckled and said, “yes, just me!”
(shameless bathroom selfie)
At the bar, I waited longer than necessary to order a drink. I gave a funny look to the lady next to me as we joked about who would get to order first. This stranger and I began exchanging thoughts on what each drink might taste like, and conversation flowed for the next 10 minutes while we waited to be attended to. She introduced herself to me (let’s call her Nicole), and I warmly told her I’d see her again throughout the night as I walked into the crowd with my drink in hand.
Step Two: You’re In, Now What?
All smiles, like the goofy goober I am when in a Jazz venue, I scan the room to see what kind of folks had shown up. There were classy couples, out for an evening of cooing and grooving. Of course, in most night venues you can’t forget about the skinny, tight-faced, fresh hair blowout gals who were glamed up from head to toe, waiting for a suitor to buy them a drink. And where the skinny glam gals go, the creepy lurking men will conveniently be as well.
I didn’t think about where I would fit in, I was just there to have a good time. I find a seat on the corner of a row, a seat that was perfectly positioned for a quick exit strategy if needed, but still gave me a chance to speak to the person who might sit next to me.
I take a few sips of my delicious Old Cuban drink, bob my head, and send a few texts, when I was asked to move in so a man could sit next to me. He was alone, dressed in all black, and had glasses; to me he seemed harmless.
Step Three: Spotting a Creep
Of course, that was until he started saying and doing the creepiest things.
“Hi, I’m Steve”
“I’m Jo, nice to meet you. Is it your first time here?”
“No, I play in bands, I know these guys. Next time I play, you should come and see me”
Already getting too excited buddy.
“I love this kind of stuff, I’ll be back for sure.”
“So, what are you drinking?”
“Don’t worry about it, I’m good! I’ll get my own drink”
Pshhhh, you better believe I ain’t letting your creepy a$$ buy me a drink.
“Really, let me get your drink.”
“No, seriously, I’m good.”
At this point, he had leaned towards me and definitely entered my personal bubble zone, forcing me to lean back like Fat Joe to avoid getting his saliva on my face. Yuck!
“Excuse me for a second.” He left to walk in the direction of the bar, and while he was gone I had already started thoroughly thinking about my exit strategy. I looked to my side and saw Nicole sitting right near me with what looked like her father. I shot her a smile, and she smiled back almost as a “If something goes down, I got you girl.”
Steve comes back with a beer in one hand, and a clear cocktail in the other.
“Here you go, for you.”
“Uhh, I told you I didn’t want anything, what is this?” I say in a slightly annoyed but still not completely rude way.
“I asked the bartender to make something girly, and this is what he gave me.”
First of all, not only did he piss me off because he was completely invading my personal space, but I had told him two times I didn’t want a drink, AND he got me a girly drink when I probably have the same drinking palate as a grown man with a beard. This guy was losing hardcore.
“I’m not drinking this.” I said with a straight face. I got up, put his drink at the bar, and boldly got myself another one of what I was already drinking. That’s right, I’ma do bad all by myself *Z Snap*.
I returned to my seat, Steve was unfortunately still there.
“So, do you pose?”
As if this guy couldn’t increase his sketch-o-meter any more, he threw that question at me.
“I do art, here, let me show you. I want you to pose for me.”
How unreal is this? This ain’t the Titanic B. I will not be your Rose, ya nasty!
I declined his offer and he insisted I take his card.
At this point, I had completely shut down my “I care what you have to say” energy. I tuned into the music, which had gotten a lot calmer and smoother. I bobbed my head, feeling the notes when I was interrupted by good ol’ Steve.
“Can I sleep on your shoulder?”
I had to laugh out loud with this one, and firmly responded, “absolutely not.”
Step Four: Ditching the Creep
Five minutes later, he went to the restroom and I took the opportunity to make my exit strategy and sit next to Nicole, who had been laughing every time I gave her a look.
As soon as I sat down, I felt as though I had reunited with one of my best friends from home, a complete stranger turned into my salvation for the evening. While giggling, she mentioned that she thought he was gonna try to jump into my mouth while I was trying desperately to back up. I shook my head and knew I had added another crazy story to my solo adventure memoir.
Step Five: Use the Creep to Make New Friends
For the rest of the night, Nicole and I chatted about everything from the live Jazz that was filling the room, to living in LA, and of course, about traveling. This woman is a bada$$; she’s traveled everywhere alone and shared some of her incredible stories. She would laugh about her travel mistakes and how it led to her getting her purse cut and stolen. She spoke about the beauty of each place she visited so vibrantly, and had a sense of curiosity that I admire. Basically, she’s my kind of person. If she wasn’t already a delight, her father chimed in with more travel stories about how he’s gone to Brazil several times, and his support of his daughter’s solo travels.
Could these people be anymore opposite from creeper Steve!? They were warm, and took me under their wing for the night introducing me to all of their friends who walked in. A few minutes later, one of Nicole’s friends asked how we’d met as if we were life-long friends, I responded, “at the bar just tonight!”
Oh how looks can be deceiving. You sit down next to someone who looks harmless, and they show their creepy nature within seconds, while a stranger turns into a friend in just a few hours.
Have you gone out alone? If so, comment below with your stories and how you avoided a creepy situation!