I Hate New Year’s Eve… And Skirts

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The year is drawing to an end, with its good and bad; with the ups and downs, the hook-ups and the break-ups and the happily-ever-afters. The year is drawing to an end, and many are making plans for their New Year’s Eve – the where and when and with whom. To many, this is a very special night to look forward to and to cherish. To me, I used to hate new year’s eve… with a vengeance!

For as long as I can remember, New Year’s Eve was a night I dreaded. I always preferred to be home, in my pj’s and retire to bed as early as possible. After all, it was just like any other night out. I always believed that New Year’s Eve was overrated and over-priced; and with the exception of a year or two, I have spent New Year’s Eve at home, in my pj’s. It never crossed my mind to wonder of the reason behind my disliking this night. But recently, it hit me out of nowehere.

It was New Year’s Eve of 1993-1994; I was 16 going on 17 (no, this is not a quote from Sound of Music – honest!), and I had had a crush on a girl who had lived in the same area I live in. Back then, I had not labeled myself as lesbian, had obviously not come out, and had no experience whatsoever with girls. I used to believe that my crush on her – and any other girl for that matter – was what I used to call “platonic love”: I was ‘straight’ and what have you, but emotionally I was attracted to girls. Childish maybe, but those were my beliefs back then; especially that I didn’t know any better. So, when this girl’s brother asked me out on a date for new year’s eve that year, it was almost like a dream come true – I could brag to my girl friends that I had a date on New Year’s Eve (something out of the ordinary back in those days), and I could also get the chance to meet the ‘girl of my dreams’.

I remember my excitement as I was getting dressed for the evening – a pair of black pants, white shirt and a black jacket. I wanted the night to be perfect. I can see still my father’s reflection in the mirror, reprimanding me for my outfit, and demanding that I “look like a girl” and put on a girly dress. I remember how his request upset me, but I loved him and looked up to him; so I did what he had asked for. After all, he was older and wiser, and he definitely knew better than I did.

An off white wavy skirt with a matching top, long black boots and light make-up courtesy of my mother – I was all set for a night never to be forgotten.

The guy was very punctual. He had said he would pass by at 9 pm, and he did. At the door, I remember my dad telling me to enjoy my evening and be the strong girl he had raised me to be. He kissed me on the cheek and then handed me over for a hug from my mother, who also whispered in my ear that she was confident of me. I have to admit, that gave me a sense of strength I had never felt in my entire life. “I am ready to conquer the world”; those were my thoughts as I took the elevator and then walked towards the parked white Mistubishi Pajero 1991 jeep.

I did not find a bouquet of flowers waiting for me in the car, nor did he open the door of the jeep for me. But that did not really matter, at least not to me. I had always been a down to earth, equality seeker; so a bouquet or an open door were not things I thought of or cared for.

The ride to our destination was pleasant; small talk and some compliments here and there. We were going to a high-end private club in Broumana. The way to the club was a private road among pine trees. We had arrived earlier than the rest of the group we were meeting – a bunch of his friends and their girlfriends – so we parked a little before the club, underneath the pine trees and began to talk. We talked of school and his official exams (he was applying for the BAC II official exams that year). The conversation turned into flirting; it was fine with me – a kiss here, a kiss there; nothing major. I thought that that was the ‘normal’ way for an evening to go. But the flirting stopped when his friends arrived and we all headed into the club.

I have to admit, I was somewhat tense as I had never been out on a date for new year’s before. In addition, I was trying to operate in the skirt I was wearing – for me it was hard labor to be in a skirt, and took a lot of effort. I had always been a Tomboy; always in shorts and sneakers. Dresses and skirts and girls’ wear was not a familiar territory. Nevertheless, I managed.

The evening started out with the appetizers and the bottles of alcohol sharply aligned on the table. Thankfully, my father had taught us to drink since an early age; his opinion of that was that we should be ready to be out there in the world. Ergo, alcohol was nothing strange for me. I poured my first glass, and watched as my ‘date’ started to hit on another girl in the group. At first, I thought he was acquainted with her but then I found out that he was acquainting himself with her right there and then. It made me feel horrible and left out, but those feelings soon evaporated when another girl in the group – a single one I may add – sat next to me and spent the rest of the evening with me. We had a good time talking and laughing.

The clock struck midnight announcing the end of 1993 and the beginning of 1994. Everyone cheered; glasses were raised in toast and couple kissed. My newly found escort for the evening and I watched as my ‘date’ passionately kissed the other girl. I felt her arm rest on my shoulder as a gesture of sympathy; so I looked at her and smiled – my way of saying “it’s fine”. At that point, I made a promise to myself never to talk to him again.

At around 1:00 am, I had grown impatient and bored and asked him to take me home. At first, he was reluctant to leave, but then he excused himself from the girl he was sitting next to, made sure to tell her he was coming back, and then got ready to leave. I said my goodbyes to the group and walked to the car. Again, no doors were open. Instead, I got a grumpy face and a whole lot of nagging. I remained silent; I did not want to look like one of those ‘weak’ girls. My pride would not allow me to express how hurtful what he had done was, and I just wanted to be ‘the strong girl’ my dad had brought me up to be.

We were on the right way back home when all of a sudden he took a turn into an under-populated area. That was when I uttered my first words to him on the trip back; “where are you going?” His response was: “Just here.” Again I asked the same question, knowing in advance what his response would be. And again, I got the same unsatisfying answer. I asked him to turn around and take me home, but he refused. He got irritated with my request and said: “Either stop talking or get out of the car!”

You have to understand that back in 1993, the whole area I was living in was occupied by a foreign army; one that had just gained power over that precise area, and many horrific incidents were taking place. Add to that, the under-populated road he took was one well known to be overly-populated with that foreign army. So the decision I had to make was not going to be pleasant in either case. I had to choose the lesser of two evils; thus I remained in the car and watched him drive to a secluded area.

He parked the car between some bushes on the side of the dirt road, turned off the lights and the engine, and looked at me as though waiting for me to make some sort of move. For a split second, I felt my mind betray me and I did not know what to do. I started thinking of my mom and dad, my school mates and my best friend. I started thinking of what I could do to get out of the situation I was in, or how I could talk him out of it. My thoughts were interrupted only by his voice saying: “So… yalla!”

“Yalla shoo?” I asked. And ever so calmly came his reply: “You know.”

I don’t know where I got the strength from, but at that specific moment in time and space, I decided not to succumb. So I refused to ‘yalla’ and insisted he takes me back home. He was stubborn and refused my request. So I froze in my seat and looked outside the window, wishing in the bottom of my heart that he would come to his senses and just drive away. Instead, he gave me an ultimatum: I either accept or I get out of the car. Getting out of the car that night was a chance I was not willing to take – my ‘date’ was the lesser of two evils, and I had to succumb.

The events that followed the ultimatum seemed to take place in slow motion. “You know that my balls would swell and hurt like hell if I don’t do this” was his argument as he unzipped his pants and proudly revealed his ‘tool’…

I will not delve into the gory details of what happened next, as a lot of it is now blurred. All I remember is that I did not allow myself to cry or grief; I was the ‘strong girl’ and nothing was going to change that. And for years I had been that strong girl my family was confident of.

I had completely blocked the memory of that unforgettable New Year’s Eve from my mind. Never once throughout the years between 1993 and 2011 had I even remembered the fact that I was raped. Until a couple of weeks ago, I was in total oblivion to that night. But all that changed when I received an annoying dinner invitation from a 60-something year old man. The feelings that took over me upon hearing him invite me for dinner ‘when the family goes away to the mountains’ brought back the same disgusting feelings I had that night 18 years ago. And it all came back to me. I remembered… and, for the first time in 18 years, I cried.

I hold no grudges against my ‘date’; none whatsoever. I am just glad that I finally got the chance to start getting the whole thing out of my system. It still hurts whenever I think of it; the images of that night are now vivid and more real. The memory of it all will remain engraved in my main, but I know I will heal… And now I know why I used to hate New Year’s Eve.. and skirts.


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