I Was Roofied (And I Was Okay)


I was roofied, and I still have a lot of questions about what exactly happened.

I took an early morning flight from JFK to San Diego, and was kind of tired by the time early evening PDT hit (aka bedtime for me). I was staying with John, a guy I kind of dated eons ago who was just a friend now, and was pretty excited to see him and catch up on life.

After burritos, I took a nap in John’s bedroom while he was in the living room on his computer, but got up when John’s friends came over. They were drinking, but I declined, still feeling pretty tired, figuring I’d save my drinking for the bar. We all got in my friend’s VW Eurovan (Hey, it’s California!) and drove to some awesome beer place. I didn’t like beer, but they told me they had cocktails too. No problem, I thought.

We had a big group, and John was several people away from me. One of his friends bought drinks for everyone, and asked me what I wanted. I figured I’d be as simple as possible at a bar that was mainly for beer drinkers. “Cranberry vodka.” His friend made a face, because really, who drinks vodka at a beerhall? Oh well.

Everyone’s beers were distributed and I was waiting for my drink. The friend came over and asked me what kind of vodka. I didn’t want to be too picky, so I said, “Whatever, just not the worst.” He asked if Absolut was fine, and I said yes.

I waited more. I saw the bartender on the other end of the bar, waving around a can of cranberry juice. Okay, good.

I got the drink and thanked John’s friend, apologizing that it was a hassle. He nodded, and we went back to the conversations we had been having with two different people. I sipped my drink. I sipped it again. I began to feel really tired, and thought, “This might be my only drink of the night.”

After a few more minutes of a little sipping and chatting, I felt even more tired, like I could barely stay up. I looked at my watch. It was only midnight in New York; I shouldn’t be feeling this tired. I hoped I could perk up — this was my one fun night out in San Diego before my conference began.

I leaned against the chair. I felt awful. Like I was going to pass out. Suddenly, I interrupted John’s friend to say, “I can’t stand. Something is wrong with me.”

I sat on a chair. Then they moved me outside. Someone brought me a glass of water. A bouncer hassled me, and told me I couldn’t have drinks outside. John’s friend tried to explain it was water, and the bouncer made him dump it anyway. I put my head between my knees. The bouncer thought I was drunk. John sat with me. His friends took turns checking in on me. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Maybe I’m getting sick?” I was slurring my speech.

John and his friends decided to leave to hit up another bar. “I think you need to take me back to your house. Something is wrong with me,” I told him.

He seemed surprised. “Are you sure?”

They took me back, and I leaned back in the front seat, eyes closed, desperately trying to stay awake for the short drive. John made up the bed on the couch for me and I fell asleep. I woke up 11 or 12 hours later and felt tired, a little strange. I headed out on a run, and tried to figure out what had happened that night. I didn’t feel sick, now that I was running, but…something was off.

I called my running coach, who is also a good friend. I explained what happened, and he thought something sounded weird too. I told another friend who I met for coffee.

“Girl, that sounds weird,” she told me. “Do you think you could’ve been roofied?”

I thought back…how I had thought it was weird someone I didn’t know was buying me a drink…how long the bartender took to make the drink…how I felt awful only after I began drinking my cocktail. Was it John’s friend, whose name I no longer remember? Or the bartender? I don’t want to believe that it was either of them — but what happened?

John and I talked about this a few months later. I mentioned my suspicion of roofies. “No, you were just tired,” he argued.

And I’d like to think that. But I generally am pretty good at sleep deprivation — I run ultra-marathons where I’m awake for 20, 30 hours on end, and don’t collapse in the same way. So I have trouble blaming it on a long day.

Since my visit to that San Diego bar, I am more cautious in a way I never was. I never put my drink down unattended (even though that wasn’t how I got roofied), and am wary of strangers buying me drinks. When things seem suspicious or weird, well, I don’t need that drink.

I’m lucky I was in the company of a trustworthy friend who took care of me, and I shudder when I think about what could have been.