Coyote Ugly

The expat life is one of adventure, discovery, glamour, and...bumbling social ineptitude. And so, for the September edition of NorthSouthEastWest: Expat Dispatches, our ongoing guest-post project, our four expat bloggers are divulging their most embarrassing expat moments. 

Linda of Adventures in Expatland (North) demonstrates that a small vowel can cause big problems. Russell, who blogs at In Search of a Life Less Ordinary (South), discovers that wherever you are in the world, people enjoy a good laugh at the newbie’s expense. Erica of Expatria, Baby (East) writes of disastrous first impression that last and last and last. And finally, Maria who blogs at I Was an Expat Wife, reveals how her expat mantra of “try new things” led her astray.

I hope that you enjoy this month’s post by Maria Foley of and do check out all of the other posts. There are many, many lolz to be had. 


One night in Singapore, my friends and I went to a bar named Coyote Ugly.


That pretty much sums it up; that’s my embarrassing expat confession. Just typing the words makes my cheeks burn. As a fortysomething stay-at-home mom, if I’m going to write a sentence that starts with “I went” and ends with “a bar named Coyote Ugly,” the words “out of my way to avoid” had better be sandwiched in there somewhere.

  Coyote Ugly


For those of Erica’s readers who might not be familiar with the expression, “coyote ugly” is an adjective that describes a physically repulsive woman. Why, you ask? Well, a coyote caught in a trap will chew off its limb in order to escape. Apparently, a man who goes home from a bar with an unattractive woman and wakes up in the morning with his arm trapped beneath her sleeping body will chew that arm off to make sneak out without waking her. Delightful, no? 

The term spawned a New York City bar of the same name, and Elizabeth Gilbert — long before she hit the jackpot with Eat, Pray, Love — sang its seedy praises in GQ magazine with “The Muse of the Coyote Ugly Saloon.” That article, in turn, became the inspiration for the movie Coyote Ugly. (I’ve never seen it, but its promos featured a scantily-clad Tyra Banks prancing around on a bar, dispensing body shots and getting her freak on in an extravaganza of questionable taste that made me want to poke my eyeballs out with a sharp pointy stick.)


I’m tempted to end my story right there, but I promised Erica 700 words on the subject and I’d hate to let her down, what with her being so nice and all. So here’s the rest:


We’d gone to see a show and had just left the theatre when Babs (definitely the Alpha Female in the group) declared that we were going clubbing. I hadn’t gone clubbing since my pre-stretchmark days, but loosen up and try new things was my expat mantra, so I agreed to give it a go. 


When I walked into the establishment Babs had chosen, I noticed two things simultaneously: the large sign that screamed COYOTE UGLY, and the Asian dominatrix cowgirls undulating on the bar. I almost walked out again. Not because dancing on bars was illegal in Singapore — it was, although I didn’t know it at the time — but because the whole cheesy scene was so determinedly louche I couldn’t bear to witness it.


I repeated my mantra through gritted teeth, and plodded on. We ended up having a great time — $18 margaritas will do that — and danced (on the floor) for hours. Sometime after midnight I declined the drink offered by a very polite British sailor named Charlie, but I desperately needed a glass of water so I went to the bar with him and let him do the ordering. 


I was either too naïve or too hopped up on overpriced cocktails to notice that the crush of people around me had mysteriously receded, rather like a modern-day reprise of that Moses + Red Sea incident. I became aware of the hushed air of expectancy a second too late. Time seemed to slow down as I watched the bartender reach under the bar and pull out something metallic, which she pointed directly at me. My brain screeched RUN, but after all that dancing my feet were too damn sore to obey.


And then she shot me. With a steady stream of ice-cold water. 


The place erupted in applause as I gasped for breath. I was horrified to discover I looked like an entry in a middle-aged wet t-shirt contest. But I had to admit, in the steamy atmosphere of the club, the cold shower felt good. So good, in fact, that when I did finally get my glass of water, I didn’t need it anymore. I dumped it over Charlie’s head instead. 


He stood motionless for a moment, dripping water onto the floor, before shaking himself all over like a Golden Retriever. Grinning from ear to ear, he asked, “Feel like dancing on the bar?”


I glanced up at the nymphets languidly swiveling their hips, shrugged, and said — 


Would you look at that: I finally reached the 700 word mark! Now that I’ve fulfilled my obligation to the charming Erica and the rest of the NSEW gang, I’m going to call it a day. That’s quite enough embarrassment for one blog post, thank you very much.





Photo credit: M. Foley |