Illustration by Bob AulI never used to put much stock in the dosing anecdotes in OC Weekly. It seems every time Commie Girl gets a bellyache after bar hopping, she writes about how she was "dosed." Don't get me wrong: drugging a woman so you can have sex with her limp, passed-out body is up there with the worst of violent crimes. I just wasn't convinced it's a pervasive practice. To me, the whole dosing thing was just another "scared straight" tactic to keep us from drinking and having sex with people we meet in bars (yes, you'd like that wouldn't you, Mr. Attorney General?). "Storm Watch 2004! Mountain lions are eating mad cows! Girls are getting dosed in bars! Details at 11!" Either that, or "I was dosed" was the newest excuse given by stupid girls who get wasted and fuck someone they later wish they hadn't. At least that's what I thought before last Thursday night.
Maybe if I hadn't been so distracted earlier in the evening by the obnoxiously drunk girl (we'll call her Brandy), I would have noticed something amiss with her pretty friend (we'll call her Candy). The gaggle of girls came into my favorite bar at around midnight. My buddy and I had had a few drinks with them at an earlier cocktail party, but they'd clearly made a few stops in between. There were four or five of them, all in their early 20s, along with one guy in his 30s. He hadn't been at the cocktail party but was clearly part of their group now and seemed to know Candy well, though he seemed out of her league.
Only Brandy was drunk, and because she was in my favorite bar and had screeched my name as she came into it, I felt instantly responsible for keeping her from making a scene. This was difficult, as she refused to sit still and shut up, which is all any of us really wanted. Her friends were fine, drunk only in a "let's all make out at the bar in a three-way girl-girl-girl kiss" sort of way. No slurring of words. No rolling of eyes back into the head or puking in the car. That would come later.
Finally, after one shriek too many, it was time for Brandy to leave. I escorted her out a few seconds before the bar owner would have done the same. I'm not sure how it came that we were driving Brandy and Candy home: you 86 a girl from a bar, you take her home, I guess, and maybe I had designs on Candy. After a ridiculously long ordeal with Brandy in the parking lot, we were ready to leave. But now where the hell was Candy?
Back in the bar, she was sitting by herself in the corner, eyes glazed over and head lolling around on her neck like a bobble-head doll. How'd she get so drunk? I wondered as I guided her out to the car. Finally. Everyone was in the car, ready to go, when Candy started to puke. Great. While she vomited on the floor of my friend's car (suddenly she was so drunk, we couldn't get her out of the car in time), a cab pulled up and Candy's guy friend got out, looked at us in an odd way (I realize later), and, without a word, slammed the cab door and took off.
We drove carefully (nothing says 502 like a drunk girl puking out the car window) to Brandy's apartment complex, where, of course, she'd lost her keys. As we carried Candy's dead weight to the front door, I mused how badly the night had turned out. When I was making out with Candy and the two other girls at the bar, it seemed so full of possibilities. Now I'm carrying her seemingly lifeless body across a parking lot. . . .
Wait. Lifeless. That's not good.
Then it hit me (finally, you're thinking): this isn't drunk. This is drugged. "She's been dosed," I heard myself say. "We're taking her to Hoag." We dashed off to the emergency room with her, where we suffered the suspicious looks of the doctors. GHB, they say. Two hours later, she was as good as new—but couldn't remember much. That guy I thought was her friend? She only met him earlier that night at another bar. I don't know if he dosed her; I don't know for certain anyone did. (This just in: while we were dealing with her friend outside, she spent time in the bathroom with a random guy. Did he dose her? Did they engage in consensual drug-taking, or was he a predator sensing blood in the water?)
Since that night, every woman I've told the story to has a near-miss dosing story. So I was wrong: it happens all the time, apparently. The whole night got me to thinking: I found Candy attractive earlier in the evening, before she got blotto. Clearly when she was unconscious, whether from drink or drugs, she was off-limits. But where on that continuum (assuming consensual alcohol intake only) would I have said no to her attentions? And if it's all but a sliding scale between well-lubricated mutual seduction and rape, how different am I from the doser?
We know what the law says. "Rape," as referred to by the California Penal Code, Section 261, includes: "Sexual intercourse where a person is prevented from resistingby any intoxicating or anesthetic substance or any controlled substance, and this condition was known or reasonably should have been known by the accused."
Fine-print readers will say that means no consent is possible when someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Under this strict construction, a buzzed 24-year-old data processor is just as off-limits as your 17-year-old neighbor: they both can beg and plead for your manhood, but if you give it to them, you're a rapist.
Of course, if no one ever had sex under the influence, the whole "go forth and multiply" thing never would have worked out. How would Lot have impregnated his daughters if they hadn't gotten him drunk first? (Genesis 19:33-36.) How would you have lost your virginity? Raise your hand if you would have lost it in a timely manner without alcohol.
Now just the guys.
That's what I thought.
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While the law is all about black and white, the real world is varying shades of gray, with some pretty blue and green thrown in, just like the ocean on a stormy day. But I digress. If you're a man of the world, you've been faced with variations on the good vs. evil debate that challenged Larry "Pinto"Kroger (as played by Tom Hulce) in that existential classic of the '70s, Animal House. A woman who clearly wants you has passed out in mid-make out or even during sex. "Fuck her. Fuck her brains out," argued Pinto's evil side. "Suck her tits; squeeze her buns. You know she wants it. . . . Look at those gazongas. You'll never get a better chance."
Of course, like Pinto, your good side wins out because it's really an easy call when they're passed out. No gray there at all. You put them to bed, make sure they're on their side so they don't choke on their own spew, and sleep chastely on the couch. Hold their hair back if they do vomit, bring them aspirin and pizza in the morning, and hope they'll thank you later.
Someone more philosophically and ethically grounded than yours truly (is there a Jesuit seminarian punk rock philosopher with a photographic memory in the house?) will have to discern the difference along the moral continuum between raping someone after drugging them, fucking them while they're passed out, and buying just one more round for the drunk girls who are getting more and more friendly with each shot of Jägermeister. Of course we know the answer we don't want to hear: don't have sex with someone you wouldn't trust to drive your car. Don't have sex with someone (dare I say it) who wouldn't be doing this but for that nice bottle of Merlot or those two vodka tonics. For those of us who might rarely have first encounters without mutual lubrication, the ethical debate proves difficult.
Fucking dosers. Making me question the very nature of getting laid. Dosing is sexual terrorism. So be careful out there, but please, for the sake of my sex life, not John Ashcroft/Patriot Act careful. Because if we stop having one-night stands under the influence of consensually imbibed drugs and alcohol, the dosers win.