Erin and I had been living in a tent in Hagley Park in Christchurch, NZ for about 10 days. We had been flooded out of our tent and forced to seek shelter from the torrential downpour under awnings of various public buildings for at least half of those nights, and we were beyond exhausted. (That is a whole other story altogether that may be somewhat too embarrassing to fully disclose just yet.) I had been maxed out on my credit card with no money in my checking account, and we weren’t going to be paid from our one day working gig for another four days. While my American bank had extended the cap on my credit limit, I really didn’t want to plunge myself even further into debt, but by this point we had no choice but to get a hostel. The night before had been particularly rough, and we had abandoned our tent after waking up in a pool and our sleeping bags were not going to dry by nightfall this time. Weeks of frugal spending and money tracking were abandoned and just like that, my financial responsibility crumbled. We decided that if we were going to stay in a hostel, we were going to go big. This included a run to the store for a six pack of beer and a quick stop into Dominoes for not one, not two, but three pizzas. A hot shower and warm place to stay called for celebration, and we were going to revel in it as much as possible.
Somewhere along the way splitting a 6 pack turned into each getting our own 12 pack. As we ventured out to get our pizza and beer, we met some fellows who lived next door to the hostel. Fergus was his name, and he and his two friends were travelers from Ireland. We made introductions between swigs of Jim Beam while Fergus invited us out for a night on the town. I was in my sweats and the thought of beer and pizza on the couch was overwhelmingly appealing so we told them we would think about it, and continued on down the road. Fergus and one of his friends came sweeping into the hostel lounge at about 11 later that night, soused from all day pre-gaming and ready to go clubbing. They found us in our sweats on the couch, surrounded by greasy pizza boxes and beers in hand. “Heyyy ladies! You ready to go out!?” Erin and I glanced at each other. We were pretty comfortable and had just started a movie. “Come on! Go get ready! We leave in 5 minutes! Throw some heels on and you’re good to go!” Fergus was practically yelling at this point. Neither of us had heels as we were living out of a bag and most importantly, no matter how much we did or did not want to go out we still had no money. I made sure to point these little details out to him. “Nah!” his friend chimed in with a wave of his hand, “Don’t even worry we got you covered. We’ll take care of you!” and with a quick bound he was at our couch, draped over my armrest. I took a moment to consider this. We could always go to the bar, let them shout us a couple of drinks, and leave. On the other hand, if we went with them we would have to go get ready, and then if we were at a club they would want to dance with us. I was in no mood to be dry humped by a drunk stranger on the crowded dance floor of some club. “Come on,” Fergus bellowed, “you’re lettin’ America down! I thought you all were cool! You have a reputation to uphold!” By now Fergus had joined his friend on the other armrest of our couch and we were stuck in some sort of drunk Irish sandwich. I thought about this for a second, and then I remembered exactly what that reputation is. “Our reputation? Aren’t Americans girls reputed to be easy?” This elicited an exuberant, “No! Well…yeah. But we met this American girl once, she was real cool! Kinda easy. Anyway, whatever we’ll pay for the cab and we can walk back later it’s like 45 minutes away.”
They tried unsuccessfully to flatter us into joining them for about 20 minutes and then continued on their merry way and left us to our midnight movie and gorging. Let me tell you, I was perfectly content with our decision. I’m not one to turn down free stuff, but there is always a time and place. I’ll admit to the slight ego burst that came with getting guys’ attention even after living in a mold infested tent for over a week, but as I sat there licking the grease off my fingers the dark side of my gender’s advantage to me; it makes me more than a little bit sad that the media message our country spouts out to the world showcases American girls as slutty and easy to talk into bed. I’m sure we couldn’t have looked all that appealing. Those boys had only seen us with our hair in an unwashed bun and unflattering sweats, yet they still tried to get us to go get drunk with them simply because we were American girls, and you can almost always get lucky with an American girl. Well go on and find yourself someone else, and while you’re at it give me another slice of pizza and hand me that remote; it’s time to break some stereotypes.