It was a Thursday at Ohio State and my girls and I were out running wild. Ladies night meant no cover, and prowling the beer soaked floors of clubs–long reduced to rubble in later years by suits with expensive pens and an ill-timed fire along High Street.
It was our night and we were in full swing with late night disguises that took hours and a couple mix tapes to create. There might be a hickey or two for someone to blend before class tomorrow by the time this night was over, but we were game. We needed to shake off what week we had in classes and have an OBE on the dance floor to celebrate a Friday that was impatiently knocking on the door of tomorrow.
Tonight was about cheap Zimas and grunge/alt rock/techno at Mean Mr. Mustards. It was our joint in the early nineties, with sure-fire college-priced specials and a fun night out. However, trouble across the room would soon step in front of us.
She was beautiful in that feisty college girl way, and we weren’t the only ones to notice. Unfortunately, her friends were too busy either hunting for attention or getting it. First mistake, the divide and conquer. Drunk wolves make horrible squads, but lucky for her we didn’t decide to hang back, order a pizza and crash early.
As a group, we rolled deep and followed the code–show up together, shine together and step out together. You could get numbers, but you weren’t going to be some guaranteed nameless Jane by the next morning with only a rented sheet and a refrigerator to call home–not on our watch.
We cemented that rule after a new freshman came up missing after her friends thought that a South Campus party was more important than waiting. After dodging through an alley to catch up, she was abducted and taken too soon from the ones who loved her best.
My cousin and I were stopped on the way to class by the news crew the next morning and learned about this new jungle by having an overzealous reporter shoving a mic in our faces.
Damn, it really was like they said in UVC–the streets and most importantly, the alleys were different places after the sun went down. And rest her soul, this sister found out with her life why a true squad never leaves their own behind.
I had taken to wearing a biker jacket so I had enough pockets for necessities and wouldn’t be collared with a purse. It was my most-loved college purchase from a store called Stone Mountain, that had great beaded curtains and always smelled of Nag Champa. Besides, what little I had in its zippered pockets was mine and I was never in the mood to wrestle someone for it. Of course it was my go to for this evening out paired with my ripped jeans, form-fitting white t-shirt, and sturdy black biker boots. I had learned my lesson by ruining one pair of shoes on this dance floor, plus if I had to get all House of Pain up in the place, they were a perfect fit.
All of us were blue collar country. Without pretense and without filters. Scraped skin and bruises didn’t faze us, since on the daily in our separate lives we earned badges of honor that we never wished to cover up. The country breeds a special kind of girl that the city refines. The kind who can be on your arm, but never afraid to get dirty and break all nails if need be. We were those girls.
The girl we had spotted was cornered by some anxious frat–in his rugby shirt and lettered hat to the back. His eyes were not interested in her as a person. They showed a glaze of one too many shots and beer chasers with the guys and she was his trophy whether she wanted to be or not. Her frame was way too fragile to resist him and as I said before her friends were too distracted and alcohol soaked to be of much help to her.
We had already discussed amongst ourselves the plan, should it jump off so I knew the girls and I were on high alert. Moving toward the cramped dance floor we feigned celebration but were revolted by this guy’s lame Swayze impersonation which she was trying to politely rebuff. Her eyes said it all and as she nervously looked around for backup he grabbed her wrist.
I broke through them with the old, “I’m tipsy and friendly excuse me” move and started the backup unbeknownst to her. He was having none of it, and after I went between, seemed frustrated that I broke up his grind party and went toward her. With the loud music of Nine Inch Nails at a fevered pitch I talked in her ear and asked if she was okay. She wasn’t and couldn’t find her friends. I told her to play along. I gave her a hug like I hadn’t seen her in years and started talking the “how have you been” stuff. The rest of the squad started dancing and built a girl wall around her.
Luckily the huge, blond mosh pit guy was there like always and started moshing on cue. He was straight outta Headbanger’s Ball and was there just for the music and putting more miles on his Doc Martens. We moved her behind him and as he started slam dancing, came between drunk frat and us.
He was a perfect reinforcement, because if you tangled with him on the dance floor, you’d easily end up with a concussion. He was there at Mustard’s every Thursday night, and never was I so happy that he was there, than on that particular one.
We ushered her off the floor and walked around with her as if we all were friends. We might not have been friends, but we all were sisters. She thanked us, found her friends and got out of there fast, while Mr. Dirty Dancing wannabe gave me a look of disgust, stumbled back to the watering hole and into the obscurity of his bro bunch.
In conclusion, we may not have been able to save one freshman’s life, but in solidarity hopefully saved this girl from something she clearly did not want to be a part of.
Squad goals are for real, and if you aren’t about that life, maybe you use the term “friend” a little too loosely.
Image credit: Pixabay/AdinaVoicu