Mary Bartlett : Stop Justifying Unacceptable Behavior

I met this man when I first moved to LA and most of my initial contact with him was because of his close friend, who became my boyfriend. He was really welcoming and I didn’t know a lot of people.

Shortly after we opened Honeycut, I went to Portland Cocktail Week and was hanging out at the House Spirits party with him and my then boyfriend, among others. The friend asked if I wanted to go outside. I assumed we were going out to smoke a joint and went with him.

He was drunk and tried to kiss me. I pulled away and he held me by my shoulders. I was turning my head and saying that I wanted to go back inside while he tried to make out with me.  He got his mouth on mine and his tongue in my mouth for just a second but it didn’t get very far. I reminded him that I was dating his friend, who was right inside and he told me that my boyfriend would be going back to New York and that the two of us would both be going back to LA. It felt like he was trying to set up something sexual in the future, the whole time holding me by my shoulders while I tried to get away. After a few minutes, he eased his grip and I walked inside quickly.

I told my boyfriend. I’m sure that I wasn’t very articulate about it based on his reaction at the time and also our recent conversations. My boyfriend told me that our friend was really drunk and that he had a bad marriage.

The next day, the friend approached me and said that he was really embarrassed. He said that he had been really drunk but not so drunk that he didn’t remember what he had said. He apologized and we also talked about it two weeks later but when I talked to him about it three weeks ago, he had completely forgotten what he did to me.

When I talked to the friend’s wife last week, she asked how all of us could keep being friends with someone who did that to us. For me, I think part of it was that I had just moved to LA and I didn’t have any close friends and that my career wasn’t established in my new city. I think another shitty reason why I let it go and became friends with him is that until the last year I let people treat me worse than I would ever let anyone treat a friendEven as I write this, I have to remind myself what he did to my friends in order to feel like speaking out is worth it.

I wish I had spoken out at the time so that maybe he wouldn’t have had the chance to do what he’s done to my friends since that time three years ago. Honestly, though, I don’t know if anyone would have thought it was a big deal.

I waffle between being really sad and being really angry. I’m having panic attacks and wake up feel terrified. I still miss him as my friend and if anyone else had done these things to me, I would have confided in him. That’s part of what makes this so difficult.

But I’m so tired of accepting that part of being a successful woman is ignoring when more successful men make you uncomfortable or assault you. I’m also tired of allowing my friends to justify the completely unacceptable behavior of their peers just because they don’t want to have to take a stand and don’t understand that what we’re looking for is merely safely.

I really hope we get something positive out of this. I think an open dialogue will move us forward because I don’t really think any of us want our industry, based on hospitality, to be so inhospitable to half of us. But even if we don’t move forward and we don’t get anything out of it, I’m glad I’m sharing my story because I don’t owe secrecy to someone who has betrayed my trust and the trust of the people I love. Though it’s not my priority and not my responsibility, I truly hope that he & his family get better.

Mary Bartlett