What It Feels Like to Be Roofied

It was a horrible, surreal experience, but it could've been much worse

(Photograph by Twenty20)

Here's what happened: My date and I met at a popular local pub which had pretty good food, just in case a miracle occurred and we wanted to continue our date into dinner. He ordered a vodka tonic and I ordered a glass of pinot grigio. Halfway through my generous glass of wine, I excused myself to go to the ladies' room. My date decided to come with me, and we walked to the restrooms together. I finished first and waited a moment, not sure of the rules of common courtesy. But after a few minutes, I felt like I was taking up space in the narrow hallway, so I headed back to our table.

He wasn't there—and because the date had not been going particularly well, I thought, for a minute, that he had left. It happens. But, after another minute, he returned to the table and we resumed our conversation. After about ten minutes though, the conversation trailed off. I noticed beads of sweat popping out on his forehead, and his movements seemed increasingly shaky. I was feeling a little buzzed myself, like I'd had two or three glasses of wine, but I hadn't yet finished my first.

We ordered an appetizer to share, but while we waited for it to be delivered to our table, we completely lost any desire to eat. He ordered another vodka tonic, because, hey, if you feel lousy and slightly over your limit, why not? He insisted on ordering a second glass of wine for me, but I left it on the tablecloth, untouched.

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My date quickly downed half of his second drink, and after a minute, he said, "You now, I'm not feeling so great. I think I'm going to go home." We left some cash on the table and walked to the door.

Soon, he seemed to be having trouble navigating the sidewalk, and I was surprised that I could feel so buzzed from one glass of a mediocre pinot. When he gave me a quick hug, his skin felt cold and clammy, and his body was shaking.

I walked a dozen yards to my car, unlocked it and climbed in. As I sat waiting for my head to clear, I began to feel worse and worse. The best decision, I thought, was to try to get home immediately. It was the middle of January, in Montana—not exactly a great idea to be out in the elements when you're not feeling your best.

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Taking the back streets, I drove slowly, and by the time I pulled up to my front door, I could no longer hold my head up. I turned the engine off and leaned my head forward on the cold steering wheel, taking slow, deep breaths. My door was less than 15 feet away. Just three steps up. Then, key in the door. Home. Safety. Warmth. Bed.

Twenty minutes with my head against the steering wheel became 40. I was sweating profusely just like my date, and feeling dizzy and weak. It seemed impossible for me to move at all. I didn't know what was happening. I'd never heard of a sudden-onset illness that could affect two people simultaneously.

Finally, I realized that I wasn't safe in the car. I took a deep breath and opened the door, slid both feet to the ground, then slowly worked my way around the car, leaning heavily on it for support. Taking another deep breath, I lunged to the porch, crawled up the steps and across the porch to the door. With a shaking hand, I put my key in, turned the lock and fell into my living room. I pulled my body across the floor, kicked the door shut and laid my cheek on the cold hardwood floor.

After an unknown amount of time, I felt horribly nauseous. I dragged myself to the powder room, pulled myself upright and hung my head over the toilet. I threw up, violently, and then I threw up again, and again. I think we can rule out MDMA, or ecstasy. Believe me, I was not experiencing euphoria.

Several hours passed without my awareness, but, finally, my body pressed against the cold floor began to shiver. I had no muscle coordination—walking was definitely out of the question. With effort, I dragged myself to the couch and pulled an afghan over me.

When I woke up, my head felt as if it had been inflated with some noxious gas. "A headache" doesn't come close to describing the feeling. I cranked up the heat, climbed into bed and slept.

This awful experience caused me to review my own actions that night. After all, it's not like people are roofied by strangers every day in this popular drinking establishment in my small college town. We'd certainly have heard about it—so, I don't think that avoiding this particular bar was the answer. But, if I could do things over, I would.

I wouldn't have left my drink unattended, returned to my table and finished it. Secondly, we both drove ourselves home that night, clearly impaired, and that is a very scary thought. And third, I wish that I had driven to the emergency room, just blocks away from the bar. I knew that my symptoms couldn't be from food poisoning, since both of us were sick and we hadn't eaten anything. But being roofied was the furthest thing from my mind, and likely, his. What middle-aged couple who meets on a popular dating site expects to be roofied? So, it was only with hindsight that I put together what must have happened.

It was likely a vicious prank played on me and on my date, by a group of rowdy college kids partying at a nearby table, but the truth is, I'll never really know.

I ran into my date a few months later, and, surprise, he didn't remember me or what had happened. I wish I could say the same.

Tags: dating