I’m not sure this qualifies as an Oops, but is rather one of the most cruelly tacky comments I have ever been subjected to. I was out with some old friends from college having drinks and we decided to play a round of the drinking game, Never-Have-I-Ever. The basic rules of this game are that everyone, in turn, says something they haven’t done. Everyone else present who has done this thing will take a drink. It’s generally played by groups of friends as a way to get to know one another better, and we felt it would be a good opportunity to catch up.
Well, we went a few rounds when my former roommate, whom I had been rather close with in college, said “Never have I ever had sex in a car.” This not being true of me, I did not take a drink, and she immediately called me on it, making quite a fuss about it. I laughed it off at first and said she must have me confused with someone else. Then–in front of all of our friends and loud enough for several other people at the bar to hear–she tells me to play fair, that I was raped freshmen year by a guy I went on a date with in his car, and that counts. Can you imagine? Granted, this was several years in the past and an event I had dealt with through counseling, but obviously not something everyone knew about or that was appropriate for publicly toasting.
Needless to say, I and several of my other friends, awkwardly called it a night. I haven’t spoken to her since. 0102-09
I’d like to clear up my original comments on this post. What I said initially was basically that this game involving private information and alcohol was potentially a train wreck waiting to happen. What I didn’t say and should have was that the OP got hit by that train in a devastating way. By noting the folly of the situation, I didn’t mean to imply some moral equivalence between the OP foolishly entering into this situation and the “friend” savagely (or best very insensitively) publicizing such a horrid memory, perhaps shared in confidence many years previously. The “friend” was utterly wrong and I didn’t mean to defend her behavior at all. Please forgive my tone-deafness in addressing the folly of getting into the situation without making clear that folly or no, the treatment that the OP received was inexcusable.
Merriam-Webster defines “Discretion” as 1) the quality of having or showing discernment or good judgment : the quality of being discreet especially : cautious reserve in speech.
The indiscretion of the OP was in choosing to play a game that is, by its very nature, fraught with opportunities for a major faux pas. In no way is her date rape a result of an indiscretion, nor is rape itself merely an indiscretion, nor does the exegesis of the OP’s story indicate she was indiscreet in revealing her own rape.
I don’t consider participating in a drinking game that reveals things that should be very private, i.e. sexual information, about oneself in a public bar to be an exercise in showing discernment or being cautiously reserved in speech regardless of whether one is raped or not. I will disagree with some readers’ comments that the game is always innocent and harmless and their wrong assumption that I have no idea what I am talking about. Drinking games like this were common in the Dark Ages when I was in college (I overheard many lurid TMIs in crowded, noisy bars) and with two college students living at home, our hospitality is predominantly aimed at the 19-24 year old age group. My two college -aged children, when asked last night at dinner what their thoughts were on the “Never Have I” drinking game responded that they were “recipes for disaster” and “too much potential for finding out more than you ever wanted to know about your friends”. It cannot be an exercise in good judgment and discernment, i.e discretion, for anyone, raped or not, to add alcohol to the objective of TMI revelations in a public bar populated with God knows who overhearing it and either wishing they weren’t a party to hearing those discussions or salaciously enjoying every morsel. And in this age of small electronic recording devices, your public indiscretions can go viral on Youtube.
The Expectation of Courtesy
“We should expect courtesy and kindness in all situations from those closest to us”, paraphrased, is what one person said about how the OP should have been treated by her friend. We can *HOPE* people will engage in reciprocal courtesy but to expect it? Totally unrealistic. This site owes its 14 year existence to the harsh reality that people, even trusted friends and family, royally screw it up. A myriad of variables such as upbringing, religion, self perception, ignorance, etc. means there can be a wide range of perception as to what manners even are or why they would be even relevant to someone’s life. That’s why we learn to bean dip and dodge odd situations that have the potential to go south. The site’s forum members in particular, learn how to recognize the approaching faux pas moment and deftly sidestep it.
As for the argument that the OP should be able to play this kind of game with the expectation that friends will treat her respectfully…again, we can *hope* that people will behave the same way we would but to expect it as if it was owed or earned for one’s own good behavior? Particularly when alcohol, youth and the folly of playing the game in a public bar is added to the mix? Human nature being what it is, people *will* disappoint, let you down, offend and hurt you. Human nature sucks sometimes. And declining to play along with the game will not stunt or scar anyone for life.
This site raison d’etre for years has been the focus on one’s own personal responsibility for behavior in order to be more educational as opposed to merely being an archive of rants about those other bad people. Most stories have a clear antagonist that requires no further explanation justifying just why they deserve Etiquette Hell. It’s been the policy of the site for years to address how the story writer might have acted to either head off a potential faux pas or indiscretion and how to extricate oneself from a situation gone south. The OP did have the choice to decline to play the game based on an observation that the game was to be played in a public venue where discretion will go flying right out the window. And there can be sympathy for her for just not being aware that she was walking right into a major faux pas.