In Pursuit of Own Company at Bars

Aug 28 , 2021
By Kidist Yidnekachew

Some of us go to a bar to get a couple of drinks, either to unwind or to enjoy our own company. Not many people get this. They assume that people should not go to a bar, or even a restaurant, to be by themselves but to socialise. Enjoying one's company may as well be done at home, they insist. But this is not always the case. Such people want to save us from ourselves.

It is worse for women. A lady by herself at a bar immediately attracts the attention of some guy who often comes rushing to rescue her from her “loneliness” and offers a drink.

What happens if she refuses his advances?

No problem. He persists and stays there trying to convince her to drink. At some point, he may realise no means “no,” either in him or the drink. But he stays regardless, waiting for some kind of miracle.

Guys have the luxury of enjoying drinks by themselves without being bothered by strangers. Women are not as lucky. It is fine for a gentleman to walk up to me and ask if the chair is taken and if he could join me. If he is polite and when I explain that I just wanted some alone time, he could excuse himself and leave without any bitterness, the world would be a more livable place for women. But too many men often end up on my table without my consent and stay there even after I have made it abundantly clear that I am not interested in their company.

I encountered a similar incident in my neighbourhood recently. As I was walking past a bar, I heard someone yell my name. It was a neighbour of mine, an expat who does not speak Amharic but understands some words. There was urgency in her voice. I approached her and said hello. She invited me to join her.

“Sorry to bother you,” she said shortly after we sat down. “Could you pretend like we are friends and I was waiting for you? The guys across me are bothering me.”

I nodded my head and did what she asked. She had been through an ordeal. First, a guy came and sat next to her without even asking if the seat was taken or if she was expecting someone. He began to chat her up but while she understood what he was saying she pretended she did not, adding that she was busy. Then he called the waitress and asked her to bring beer for them.

“Did I ask you to buy me beer?” she responded angrily. “Did you ask if I wanted beer? I told you that I wasn’t interested and to leave me alone.”

He left for his friends afterwards. They talked about something and then the guy returned. They must have encouraged him to take another shot.

“So I got up and changed my table. Right at the moment, I saw you passing by and I screamed your name so you would rescue me,” she added, cracking a smile.

It is not hard to understand what she must have felt like. All I could offer was advice that sports bars, where we were, are magnets for these kinds of guys.

“I don’t know why people don’t respect your privacy and it's not only in places like this,” she said.

Once in a taxi, when she was looking for something in her bag, the guy next to her was following her with his eyes and nearly touched her bag. When she asked what he wanted, he just looked away. I cannot count the number of times someone took a peep at my phone while I had it out in a taxi. I can see them from the corner of my eye as their eyes follow my hand gesture, or feel them eavesdropping if I was talking on the phone. It is creepy.

It is in many of our cultures to have a lack of boundaries and fail to respect people’s privacy. We offer interventions when it is neither asked for by a person nor needed. It is just an invasion of privacy, of which many men are guilty.

PUBLISHED ON Aug 28,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1113]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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