My best friend — let’s call her Ariel for privacy’s sake — was roofied while on vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands. We went to a local bar, ordered a couple of drinks, and perched at a table to wait for her Tinder date — let’s call him Eric. It was our third day on St. Thomas as well as our third day of drinking excessively.
Soaking in the sun during the day and partying with locals at night is our usual routine when Ariel and I travel together. Having gone on several “drinking vacations” with her, I’m familiar with the amount of alcohol she can consume and how she acts while tipsy, drunk, and completely shitfaced. I put her in a cab on her 21st birthday in Los Angeles, celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans with her twice, and partied until the wee hours with her on Miami Beach. Not to mention the shit we get into on Cape Cod…
As soon as Ariel saw her Tinder date, she eyed me the expression, “He’s too short.” But Eric had friends who accompanied him and soon we were surrounded by several tall and attractive men; a few blond surfer types, a grumpy guy with salt and pepper hair, and a lanky dude with a backpack. All of who were happy to get us beverages.
Although the bar was only half a mile from the resort, the crooked, thin road was unlit and unsafe to walk, as the majority of the way had no sidewalk much less a shoulder. The roads and infrastructure on St. Thomas are designed based on the island, wrapping around the topography like icing on a cupcake.
One, two, three beers were handed to me, while Ariel received a vodka tonic one after another. We knew better than to take drinks from strangers. But we were still in America technically, and we were traveling together — what’s the worst that could happen?
I didn’t see Ariel get up and walk away from me. She had been smiling and thoroughly engrossed in a conversation with a six-foot-tall, blond captain, and I had been talking to her Tinder date, Eric, the whole evening. I didn’t even realize we had been separated until I saw her stumbling towards me from across the bar.
Something is wrong.”
Just three words were needed for me to recognize my friend needed help. I’d like to say that when I realized she was in trouble that I sobered up, adrenaline kicked in, and I saved the day. I’d like to say that, but that didn’t happen.
On Ariel’s 25th birthday, she got blackout drunk. When it was time to go home at the end of the night, she stubbornly sat on the ground and laughed hysterically as her boyfriend, friends, and I attempted to carry her inside. Her words slurred, “I’m not ready to go home. It’s my birthday.”
We ducked into the bathroom so I could assess my friend and pee. She was fading quickly. Every minute that passed, she became less coherent. With her arm draped over my shoulders, we walked back out to an empty bar. It felt like a movie.
How long were we in that bathroom?
Where did our half dozen gentlemen suitors go?
What am I going to do?
Eric was just outside the bar and offered to drive us back to our resort. Even though I was drunk, my vision was blurred, and my friend was nearly unconscious, I knew that getting into a stranger’s car was a bad idea. But I also knew that time was not on my side.
Dude with a backpack: “You can’t get a taxi right now.”
Me: “What are you talking about? Yes, I can.”
Eric: “I told you to get away from them.”
Ariel: “Walk… home…”
I knew the backpack guy was lying but I also didn’t have a number for a cab saved in my phone. And, to be frank, I didn’t think I had the capacity to look up and call for a ride. Even when sober in the daytime, calling for a taxi on St. Thomas is a hit or miss.
I also knew that walking home wasn’t a possibility. So, with one guy telling me that a taxi wasn’t available and the other offering a ride, I stupidly put my friend in the backseat of a stranger’s car and buckled myself into the passenger seat.
Thankfully, Eric was our Prince who took us back to the resort. Although Ariel’s Tinder date, he and I had talked all night, developed a rapport, and something about him seemed safe. However, he could have just as easily taken advantage of the situation, as we were at his mercy once we were in the car.
I didn’t know it when I was outside the bar with him but the lanky dude with the backpack was the one who slipped Ariel something. After we had worked out some details, we concluded that Ariel had left the table to close out the tab we left open with our first drinks, which is where she must have consumed the roofie. Eric would tell us the next day that backpack man wasn’t his friend and he didn’t know why he was hanging around us all evening. He had also caught him hanging outside the bathroom after we went in.
Vacation After a Roofie
As fucked up as it sounds, I was afraid this would ruin the rest of the trip. But Ariel took the situation very well, which is mostly due to the fact that nothing terrible happened. She joked for the rest of the holiday about that night and told every other female tourist to be careful with her story.
I’d like to say that for the seven days that followed, we took no more risks and watched our drinks like hawks. Again, I’d like to say that but that’s not what happened. The truth is, we started vigilantly but then waned. We became lax, we trusted people, we made more stupid decisions. And, by the skin of our teeth, we survived.