In P.B. the hotter you are the easier it is not to care

Fifteen intimate strangers

It seemed I was well on my way. I felt…popular. My Myspace page was constantly blowing up with comments from new friends, refreshing my memories of the outrageous things we’d said and done the night before. We joked about absinthe shots and the weird guy who fell through the glass table after trying to dance on top of it. We giggled hysterically as we filled memory gaps lost to intoxication.

I saw these people at parties. The girls welcomed me into their social circles. They hugged me, swearing that we were great friends. We all vowed to spend the summer parading the beach together.

Loads of people made promises about the glory of my upcoming two-one.

“Okay, well, we have to all go out on your birthday,” they chimed.

“Your birthday is gonna be so rad!” my friend James (not his real name) assured me. “We’re gonna rage like we’ve never raged before!”

I was certain that I would not face the horrible scenario of not having people to go out with on my 21st birthday. This was P.B., after all, a town where a person would hit a bar dragging an oxygen tank, if necessary. My birthday would land at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend. Who was going to stay home?

But as the big day approached, I faced a bleak reality: San Diego, especially P.B., is a town full of flakes. There is no such thing as making plans. If you throw a party, people who say they’ll make it won’t show, and people who say they won’t show, do. Everything is done spur-of-the-moment. This behavior clashed with the tenets of Southern etiquette that still lingered from my childhood. In the South, it’s extremely rude to back out of plans. You are expected to either keep them or call in advance to cancel. But the people I knew in San Diego didn’t give a damn about my plans. Whatever was good for them was the only thing that mattered. If I wanted to be a P.B. girl, I needed an ultra-laid-back attitude or I’d be considered uptight and dramatic.

I never could become nonchalant. I only pretended. When a friend and I planned on doing something one weekend, I knew it would never happen. I could repeatedly phone, but it would be in vain. Yet, I never spoke a word in opposition. I never called these precious P.B. friends rude, self-centered, or unreliable. And when my birthday came along, I never revealed how hurt I was when the dozens of friends who’d vowed to make the night unforgettable seemed to have other plans, to scatter, maybe, into the depths of the universe. Nobody apologized or even remembered that I had a birthday coming up. Unlike middle school in Tennessee, the P.B. popular kids didn’t even tell me they were going to be busy. To them, one day I would just magically be able to enter the bars and it wouldn’t occur to them why.

This city that I wanted to blend into was populated with lost little lambs — brainless, coked-out, cleavage-baring little lambs— unable to think or care a single footstep ahead of their four-inch wedges. Everyone, it seemed, had the attention span of a toddler on crack.

On May 27, hours before midnight, when I would turn 21, I fought the urge to bury myself in the sheets and cry until my birthday passed. I called a few friends. After enough borderline begging, I convinced Yolanda (not her real name), her husband Darren (not his real name), and Janet (not her real name) to go out with me.

Janet was a 24-year-old Georgia gal. She was book-smart but seemed as naïve as a Sunday-school girl. When she drank, she did so continuously until she was either purging or naked with someone who would take advantage of her; she was a date-rape waiting to happen. Men were drawn to Janet, though there was nothing remarkable about her appearance. She had a cute-but-quaint round face and a short chestnut bob with the tips touching her chin. Her body was petite and pear-shaped. No, it wasn’t beauty that attracted men, but the fact that Janet was such an obvious disaster. When it came to standards, she had none. Even in my drunkest, sluttiest moments, I was a hundred times more selective. She’d bang anyone who gave her the time of day. But there was innocence to the way she did it — she was like a child manipulated by pedophiles. Janet’s men were the worst kind.

I legally entered the doorways of a bar on May 28, 2006, around 12:30 p.m. The bouncer looked at my ID, smiled, and said, “Happy birthday.” I wanted to kiss him. It took only one Long Island iced tea to make me forget about the people who’d stood me up, including James, who I’d seen with his crew at another P.B. bar that very night. By the second Long Island, I was posing for goofy pictures and throwing darts with Darren, happy with the three friends who had come out. By my third or fourth, we had company.

Janet had invited a boy named Tony (not his real name) she’d met online. Tony was short, standing at about five-foot-six, with short brown hair, a five o’clock shadow, and goofy big ears. He looked as if he’d stepped out of Jersey Shore. Tony was accompanied by a friend. I paid little attention to both of them because I was focused on getting hammered, assuming that I wouldn’t have an appropriate 21st birthday if I didn’t.

After the fourth or fifth beverage, my memory of events gets spotty. The next thing I recall is falling flat-faced onto the sidewalk — wearing heels had been genius. Suddenly, Yolanda and Darren were gone and it was just Janet, Tony, his friend, and me crammed into my tiny living room. I sat on the cheap loveseat, the friend sat in the circle futon, and Janet curled up with Tony on the carpet; he had his tongue down her throat. A happy couple for the night, they stumbled into my roommate Bianca’s bedroom.

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Great article! Takes me back to my own PB days. Good luck with finding yourself.

Hey everyone! Thank you for reading! This is Maggie (the writer of this article). I'm also an author/ blogger. Feel free to check out my website if you want to read more stuff or add me on facebook at :)

This was very, very interesting. I'm from the East Coast, so I understand the flakiness inherent in SoCal natives all too well.

However, what I found most interesting is something that could be very controversial. Near the end, you describe what can only be called female-on-male rape.

"As I maneuvered myself on top of him, I watched him slip in and out of consciousness. I continued anyway." This is the exact situation in which many men get arrested, when the roles are reversed.

I understand this was a tell-all, but you seriously just admitted to committing a rape. Despite that, I'm not here to criticize you (again, honoring the spirit of the story as a tell-all).

This was the most fascinating part of the story to me. I've never read about that kind of situation before, although I've assumed that theoretically it could happen with a woman as the aggressor. I look forward to your next story, in all sincerity.

Gotta agree... a male who "maneuvered himself on top of" a semi-conscious woman and proceeded to get it on would be pilloried. Nobody would rest until he was hunted down, locked in a cage for years, and branded with his scarlet A.

Thanks so much John! Yes, this was years ago and it was a very bizarre time in my life (This took place years ago). This story was definitely meant to document a disturbing experience. Thank you for reading and there will be more in the future.

Nice to see another first-person autobiographical cover feature from Maggie Young - been quite awhile since your (excellent) "Phony Navy Wife" cover story!

Writing is not bad, still with the limited outlets for writers in this town it's a shame to give voice to someone who has nothing remotely profound to say.

I really enjoyed this tale, too. Thanks for writing.

The problem with this article is that it negatively stereotypes women who frequent the bars in Pacific Beach as "skanks," drug users, drunk drivers, and people who are incapable of having "real friendship." I'm a female, white collar professional (think: accountant, dentist, whatever) who goes out in Pacific Beach regularly because (1) it's walkable, (2) it's affordable due to several great happy hours, and (3) there are plenty of taxis to hail at the end of the night. I've met some interesting, successful, intelligent friends at bars in Pacific Beach (yes, they were women!). Perhaps it's just that the author couldn't see through the tunnel vision of her stereotypes, and her obsession with coolness, to notice that the crowd and the neighborhood can't be so easily pigeonholed.

I am also a white collar professional who has resided in Pacific Beach for over 8 years. While I do admit that many of the senarios described do exist, they are not the norm and are easy to avoid. Pacific Beach is a wonderful place to live and stories like this one only perpetuate the negative stereotypes of this community.

What I don't comprehend is the writer's lack of insight into how she became so stupefyingly shallow. I have no patience for women that are hung up on their looks, then blame society for making them that way. Perhaps if she admitted to being caught up in this dangerously empty lifestyle only because she was an alcoholic and it kinda went with the territory. . .or that as a child, she was told relentlessly she was worthless. . .that would explain embracing this vacuous lifestyle.

There are plenty of places you can go where people won't judge you by your looks and you can make connections that are meaningful and substantive. This writer is not dumb. . why didn't she pick better places to hang out? And has she had any kind of epiphany about the utter lack of importance being hot is in the big picture of life?

I think going through a "wild youth" stage is OK and can be fun (although I can't say I would condone slurping vodka while driving).

What surprises me in PB is that there are people in their 30's and 40's still living that kind of lifestyle - I don't think that can last forever.

I read the article and thought it was great and well written, I was hooked and wanted to know what happened. I also wanted to give an opinion about Pacific Beach and your constant reference to Southern Californians and their supposed flakiness and superficiality.

I was born and raised in San Diego, though I grew up in a humble, small beach town. I HATED Pacific Beach and hung out there very few times, and I will tell you why- it did not feel like San Diego. I realized more and more that it was actually a place full of Americans from other states running away from and wanting to find themselves in a party beach environment that they themselves have made larger. This story is emblematic of what I am talking about- you arrived with insecurities and like thousands of others, drank away your problems and issues, acting out to find yourself. The few times I saw girls/men acting like you, I felt embarrassed for you and it also made me never want to return to PB, and I love the beach! You immersed yourself in a superficial microcosm with others just like you, and immediately pegged it as Southern California lifestyle.

PB does not represent San Diegans, nor Californians, nor the San Diego lifestyle. Some may agree or disagree, but that is my opinion.

Coming from the writer, to answer a lot of questions and comments, this story took place when I was 21. It's actually based on a piece of a book that I wrote with a much larger/deeper story. But in a nutshell, I was 21 when this took place. I was a baby. Remember how important being pretty and cool was back then? By no means am I condoning that mind frame. I'm just bringing attention to its reality. Thanks for reading, everyone! :)

Thanx for explaining...i also agree with some of the other comments: your writing shoes a lot of your use of analogies. other than your lack of insight into physical appearance, your other insights are really quite excellent..

Maggie, I think you need to be more careful about your historical comparisons: "I felt that this must've been what it was like to be black after the Civil Rights Movement." You have no idea what it was like or what it is like to be of color or assume what it feels like. I think rather than use a comparison like this, you might want to examine your white privilege and perhaps use a narrative that better describes yourself in the context of your own life as a young, white woman. I think the comment is a poor choice and rather insulting in conjunction with your story. I understand the hyperbole and your frame of reference, but it is worth investigating alternatives and reading some Richard Wright, Dorothy Cotton, and bell hooks on white privilege.

Great read. Those comments about you "raping" that Navy Seal are ridiculous. They are not looking at the context of the evening. Everyone knows that P.B. is the place for hook-ups. You can get me drunk and take advantage of me anytime! u is fine!

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