What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas...or does it?
I never had a desire to go to Vegas. When family or friends would return from Vegas, the stories about their visit never really compelled me to want to go. My grandmother used to go every year or two it seemed. She’d come back with stories about gambling in casinos and about buffets, two things I couldn’t care less about. I’m not a fan of gambling my money away and I especially hate buffets. People my age would talk about crazy nights drinking themselves to oblivion. I just wasn’t impressed.
But when my friend Senecca called me up this past summer asking if I could be her guest on an all expenses paid, 4 day trip for two in the fall, I was all about it. Thrilled! A free trip anywhere with one of my closest friends will always get me hype. The day before the trip, we spent hours on the phone figuring out what we would wear, gassing ourselves up on how fly we were going to look. I decided to take this opportunity to wear some dresses I had in my closet that I never wear because they are too sexy for normal life. Well, at least I think they are. I have this one dress, a black and gold maxi with a plunging neckline, a high split and the back out. Girl! I saw it online, on sale, and thought, “Yes I’m going to be this fearless, confident woman and wear this in NYC or Dallas!” Yeah, right! In my imagination I’d totally kill it in normal life, but honestly when I think about wearing it I feel totally self conscious. So these kinds of dresses tend to collect dust in my closet and are pulled out periodically just to be stared at while wondering, “where am I going in this dress?” This time I said, “I’m going to Vegas! I’m going to wear this dress in Vegas!” Where else would I wear it if not Vegas?
By the time my plane landed I was stoked to be there and spend time with my friend. The weather was that perfect, dry heat that makes your bones feel good. The sun was that blinding kind of bright that makes the melanin extra rich. We in here baby!!! That first day we just walked around and ate, taking our time to settle in. “Tomorrow night we are going out!” We determined. Neither one of us are really about that turn-up life. We rarely drink, and when we do it’s usually just one or two. We really just like to be fly, take a gazillion pictures, and dance. That’s it. And we have a blast doing it!
We arrived at the establishment around 10PM and went straight to the rooftop. Senecca was rocking the sequin spaghetti strap top with the short shorts and heels and I wore my black and gold. Finally! First order of business, pictures and boomerangs. We like to get the pictures done first in case we sweat our hair out and makeup off while dancing. We must have been up there for 30 minutes taking pictures, inspecting each one. “Girl, that’s cute…now smile….get it…model pose…don’t hurt em now…beautiful!” We gas each other up so much that by the end of our mini shoot you could light a match and blow the place up.
We went down stairs and found a room where the DJ was playing late 90s and early 2000s hip hop and RnB and we cut the rug baby. “EEEhhhh! Girl you looking good you better back that thang up!” We had a solid 25-30 minutes of dancing before the crowd started pouring in making it super packed. We were pushed up against the DJ booth, dancing with each other the best we could until it just got annoying and hot. We decided to head back up to the rooftop to break for some fresh air and space. We were just elated though. We got some cute pictures in, we danced with full effort for about 25 minutes. It was a great night and we were just getting started! We are in Vegas baby!
We took a back staircase to go up 2 flights to the rooftop, single file behind groups of decked out ladies and Banana Republic type guys. I was walking in front of Senecca; she was a step behind me. Just a few more steps away from the rooftop entrance, I looked up and there he was staring at me. I’d guess he was at least 6 foot, slender with a 5 o’clock shadow and dark brown hair. He was going down, passing me on my left in the blue lit stair case. He didn’t blink. When he got closer to me, right in front he moaned, “Mmm, mmm, mmm.” As he passed me, my stomach dropped to the floor, my mouth hung open to cry out but my vocal cords became undone, incapable of producing sound at the presence of his left hand gripping my vagina. It was the longest second of my life, an assault in slow motion that unhinged my spirit. I couldn’t say anything, I just turned around and with all I had I shoved him. I wanted him to fall down the stairs and shatter his leg. My friend, having seen none of what happened, demanded, “What happened?” I yelled, “He grabbed my vagina!” Professional basketball players posted up in the paint can’t even pivot as fast as my friend in heels. She immediately went after the guy, “Oh hell naw.” She was preparing to fight a grown man, in heels, on a staircase. Talk about a true friend!. I yelled, “No, no don’t! He’s not worth it!” She was livid and did not want to listen. He totally deserved to get his behind handed to him and in that moment I wanted nothing more than for him to be in agonizing pain for his assault against me. But what? Huh? What, what would become of it? By this time the nothing of a man was so far down the staircase, there was no way we could catch up to him in our heels. There were hundreds of people in this establishment, how could we find him and if we did who would believe us? “So he can just get away with it?” She asked in frustration. We slouched down against the wall on wooden seating. I felt deflated as my vagina still throbbed from discomfort. Senecca was still burning, contemplating ways of how we could find him and make him pay for what he did. The few minutes we sat in silence felt like an eternity, I finally said, “maybe if I didn’t wear this dr——-.” She cut me off, “No, Angela! It is not your fault. You should be able to wear whatever you want and not be violated like that. No one should be able to touch you without your permission!” I couldn’t even believe I spoke those words. I couldn’t even believe I was even thinking that way. I was searching and searching for a reason of why this happened and instead of concluding that the man was a spineless, arrogant, disrespectful, abusive terrible human being I actually formed my words to blame myself for his actions. After all those years of speaking on this very topic, telling survivors of abuse that, “It is not your fault no matter what you’re wearing or how you’re acting sexual assault is never your fault,” I was going to blame myself. I was going to blame the dress. It broke my heart that I even fixed my lips to say that.
It was 11:15PM by the time we got back to the room. Senecca arrived barefoot having sprained her ankle during her high heels pivot. I spent the night beating back tears while praying that God help me put my heart back together. I won’t forget and forgiveness has been a process. That kind of thing stays with people. You heal from it, but the scar is still there.