The XX Factor

To Commenters Angry Over “Drugged”

Dear Commenters,

I’m sorry I offended so many people with my response to ” Drugged” (Friend or Foe, October 12 ’09 ). Reading through the comments this evening-as I tried to make sense of the outpouring of fury-I was struck by how many readers seemed to be hearing echoes of date rape or sexual abuse in “Drugged’s” story. I have to admit, I did not think of that at the time. There is no evidence in her letter that she was a victim of a sex crime. And I believe that if she had been, or thought she had been, she would have alluded to it in the letter. All we know is that something she drank caused her to pass out. Moreover, had I believed for a second that she’d been assaulted, I would have responded in an entirely different manner.

It seemed to me that, by the time “Drugged” called, she was out of physical danger and simply frightened and upset. This doesn’t mean that she did not deserve sympathy-only that her friends were not being asked to sit vigil as she hovered between life and death (in which case, yes, they definitely would have needed to be there, no matter what the hour). Why am I so sure she was out of danger? Not only did she place the initial phone call, but there is no mention of her having her stomach pumped-only that she was in the emergency room and, presumably, being watched, in a safe environment, by medical professionals.

I suppose part of me suspected that I wasn’t getting the full story, and that colored my answer. Why? The fact that “Drugged’s” friends were described as “angry” the next morning made me think that there might be a back story we weren’t hearing. I’m not suggesting that the writer is lying about what happened. But possibly she has asked favors like this more than once or twice in recent years. Otherwise, there is no reasonable explanation for why her close friends would be anything less than sympathetic for what was, by all accounts, an awful night. Unless they’re simply nasty people. Which, in turn, begs the question: How did they become “Drugged’s” best friends?

I know many of us assume we would jump out of bed after that call. But how many of you would actually , honestly get out of bed and get dressed at 4 a.m. and drive to the hospital to keep your close friend company while she recovered? And it is not really clear what she is recovering from. It’s hard to tell from the letter. Some of you would be there no matter what, I’m sure. But definitely not all of you, in every circumstance, for every friend. At least if you’re being honest with yourselves.

I was being intentionally flip in suggesting that girl friends are best when your cat is sick, etc. The point I wanted to make is that there are limits to what you can ask of people who are not related to you. (Or, at least, you can ask-but you might well get a “no.”) I don’t actually believe that commiserating over sick pets is all close friends are capable of-far from it. Apparently this little joke did not translate. I’m sorry about that, too.

Finally, to those calling for my dismissal, all I can say is: If you don’t like the column, don’t read it! I sort through scores of letters in search of ones that will provoke debate on the site. Apparently, this one has done exactly that. So maybe I’ve done my job, after all.

Sincerely, Lucinda (aka Friend or Foe)