This isn't easy for me to write or talk about. I feel ashamed, embarrassed, and sort of violated. But what I brought home with me from my 21st birthday celebration in Las Vegas was a lesson. It's a lesson that I feel like I need to put aside my shame and embarrassment for and share with others so they don't make the same mistake I did.
My dad planned the most extravagant 21st birthday celebration for me and my friend in Las Vegas: an exhilarating and energetic city full of shows, gambling, drinking, and partying.
But with the fun of all the drinking and partying comes some dangers and safety concerns.
It was our last day of the trip and we had been walking the Las Vegas Strip all day long, stopping at all the coolest bars for drinks and just taking in the vibrant and breathtaking views of the city. After bar hopping all day long, it was safe to say we were all feeling pretty tipsy. It was getting late so we decided to stop at one last bar before calling it a night.
We walked into the last bar holding our drinks from the previous bar and my dad left for a few minutes to go find a restroom. The bar was flooded with people and we noticed stairs in the back of the room where even more people were standing in line to access an exclusive club on the top floor of the bar.
One of the promoters of the club noticed that we looked interested in the upstairs club and walked over to my friend and me.
He was a young-looking guy, probably in his late twenties or so, wearing a suit with a name badge with his promoter name.
Doing what promoters do, he wanted to do all he could to persuade two young college girls to come up to the club. He raved about how the DJ played the best music, how it was a fun young crowd, and how he could get us in for free with free drinks.
Mesmerized by how fun the club sounded, my friend and I decided it would be the perfect way to end the last night of our Vegas trip.
We told the promoter we were in and he started to give us our wristbands for the club, then stopped. There was one problem. Our drinks from the previous bar.
He told us that we couldn't bring up any drinks that had a different bar's name on it and that it had to be a drink from that specific bar. Because my friend and I both had full drinks in our hands, he told us that instead of making us pour them out, he would just switch our drinks into one of the bars cups.
Being that we had been tipsy all day and just having fun and being careless, we let the guy just switch our old drinks to a new cup from that bar.
Before agreeing to go up to the club, my dad returned and I asked if he would want to join us too (my dad is cool and clubs with me). When I asked if he was up for going, he said he was pretty much done for the night and wanted to just go to bed because of our early flight back to Raleigh in the morning.
Realizing how late it was and how early we had to be up, my friend and I decided that it probably was best to just call it a night and head back to the hotel room.
We told the promoter we decided against going up to the club. He tried for a while to convince us otherwise but we stuck to our plan, finished the rest of our drinks, and headed up to the room to get some sleep before our early flight.
The next morning was like nothing I have ever experienced.
If anyone knows me, I'm a morning person. Especially if I have something important to do (a flight to catch, in this case), I wake up no matter how tired or hungover I am.
I remember my dad having to come into our part of the hotel suite multiple times and shake us awake. When he finally shook me awake, I remember feeling in a complete haze. It felt different than any hangover I had ever experienced.
I remember thinking, how am I this hungover? I've drunk more than I did last night and have never felt this hungover...
But I figured it was just the long weekend of celebrating finally catching up to my body, so I got out of bed and started to pack up to leave.
When my friend finally woke up from her coincidental deep slumber too, she told me that she felt like she was in a complete haze. I told her I was feeling the same and we both just shrugged it off, laughing at our miserable "hangover".
When the Uber had arrived to take us to the airport, I remember both my friend and I barely even had the energy to roll our suitcases down the hallway of the hotel. We kept saying to each other this was a hangover that we had never experienced before and that we both still felt pretty intoxicated.
When we expressed to my dad how awful we were both feeling, he told us that it was probably just Vegas catching up to us and that we would feel much better once we got some food and water into our systems.
While we waited for our flight to board, we stopped at a breakfast place in the airport. My friend and I sat at the table, barely being able to make conversation with my dad or each other.
We both sat there, slouched over, barely being able to open our eyes. My hands and body were trembling, and I could barely sip the water that the waitress had brought over to me. I felt like if I stood up, I would instantly collapse.
It's just a hangover, a really bad hangover...I kept thinking, trying to convince myself that I'd feel better soon.
Until my friend looked over at me and said, "something isn't right."
And that's when I knew.
I knew that if she was feeling as off as I was feeling, something must have happened. This was more than just a hangover.
Hearing and seeing the way my friend and I were feeling, my dad started to get worried. He asked if we remembered taking any sort of drug while we were away from him at the bar and we obviously hadn't...
Not knowingly at least.
He reminded us of the one promoter that we talked to for a while at the last bar we had gone to. But since he seemed like a nice guy and worked at the bar, we didn't think anything suspicious of him.
Since I was drunk and the night had been a little blurry, I could barely make out the guy's face in my head but I remembered I had taken some pictures on my phone from the night.
I pulled out my phone and start looking through my camera roll and I found a video I had taken of the promoter, my friend, and I.
"Oh yeah, this guy!" I said as I watched the memories from the night before. My dad was looking over my shoulder when all of a sudden he blurts out "OH MY GOD" and snatches the phone out of my hand.
My friend and I are so confused as to what my dad was freaking out about and he is replaying the video over and over again.
Without even knowing it, I had accidentally gotten video proof of the promoter slipping a roofie pill into the cups that he had transferred our drinks into.
Once we put all the pieces together, it all started to make sense.
The promoter roofied our drinks before trying to send us up to the club. But because we drank it and just went to sleep after, we were just now feeling the effects of the drug.
I felt anger and disgust at the promoter, but also towards myself. I never thought something like this could happen to me, I thought I was smarter than that.
Although there are roofie stories that have unfortunately turned out far worse than mine did, I wanted to share my story to prevent something worse from happening to someone else who could make the same mistake I did.
My lesson learned: never take your eyes off your drink and never give your drink up to a stranger.
I know this is something that is constantly drilled into the minds of young adults, especially girls, but I was fooled. This guy had the opportunity to drop a drug in my drink in the five minutes that my dad wasn't by my side. And he was successful with it.
Again, I am embarrassed and ashamed of what happened that last night of my trip. But more importantly, I am smarter than I was before.
Even if my story only saves one person from making the same mistake I did, it served its purpose.