A Story Called OH WELL… AA What the Hell (Reality-Logue 1)
On the day when a pleasant, giraffe-looking lady donning a Cheshire smile, walked up to me at my second AA meeting offering me a hug. I thought, “What is this weirdo after and why is she looking at me with that creepy smile?”
“Hi,” she said hugging me and introducing herself. I had come to the meeting with a woman whose number I had been given the day before. I never intended to really get involved with AA. I simply decided one day to visit a meeting because I had been having a hard time and the drinking was beginning to concern me.
Was my drinking out of control? I did not think so at the time. From my perspective, I had miscalculated and drank a little too much a couple of times. It upset my family so I decided to go to an AA meeting to show them that I was serious about not letting things ever get out of hand again. For me, it was a simple plan and soon everyone would be pleased and happy again.
I had given my car away just before I lost my condo so I had to take a public bus to make it to a meeting that was being held at a local hospital community room. I didn’t care. I just felt I had to get to a meeting; to prove that I was serious. Admittedly, I was just a tiny bit curious as to what an AA meeting would be like. AA meetings looked a lot like professional group facilitation from what I had seen on television and in a few movies.
“Who knows?” I tried to convince myself. “Maybe it won’t make me totally vomit.” I have never been a “meeting” person or one to work with groups. I’ve never enjoyed sitting around a lot of people that I do not know nor want to know. In this case, however, I had decided to make an exception.
When I arrived at my first AA meeting, I was not at all surprised. It looked like hell. There were a bunch of old, pasty, sick looking people sitting at tables. I wondered if a few of them were residents of the hospital. I wanted to turn right around and run right away. I felt very uncomfortable. The stories they were sharing would have been more enjoyable to read from an old volume of Poe perused alone in my room with Barber’s Adagio for Strings playing; perhaps with a brandy…or two.
There were indeed some truly hairy tales being told. In my heart, I felt quite a swelling of compassion for most of the tortured souls at that meeting. They had survived so much. A lady who was sitting right next to me had the shakes so bad that it frazzled my nerves. You could see that this woman was very, very ill. Knocking on Heaven’s Door, began to play in my head as I listened to her speak.
Some fat, pink faced man with white hair seemed to be the wise old sage of the table. There was no professional counselor or group facilitator at all. It seemed the attendees ran everything. That surprised me. The fat-faced guy was an ex cop who proudly said his name and, “And I am an alcoholic and a sex addict!”
That was the first time in my life I had ever seen and heard someone say something like that with so much conviction, glee and pride. Wait. That was the first time I had ever heard someone say something like that in my presence at all, ever. I wondered if Rod Serling was hiding somewhere or if I was going to suddenly awaken and say, “Damn! That dream was crazy as hell!”
All in all, though a little nutty, they all seemed like nice people. Many of the attendees said that they were so happy that they had found AA and that it had saved their lives. And I was damned happy for them too. Still, that meeting confirmed for me that I definitely did not belong at any AA meeting. As soon as the meeting closed I rushed up and out. That would have been my first and last AA meeting it if not for some guy pulling up beside me as I swiftly stepped up the busy avenue determined to escape. Fate can be such a life-bending gremlin.
“Excuse me!” I heard, but attempted to ignore. He was unrelenting. “Excuse me!” He drove right up next to me keeping pace with my determined sidewalk stride. I was so annoyed. I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye. “Do you have a booklet?” He asked while driving and holding a thin booklet up toward his car’s passenger side window. I stopped.
“Thank you,” I smiled with forced, tight politeness. “I don’t really need a booklet. I’ll get one later. I appreciate it though. Thanks again. Good bye!” I slung a string of illogical platitudes hoping to just make him happy and move him along. I made to continue walking, but he’d have none of that. This dude was on a mission. I just did not know it yet. (If only I had known!)
“No, it’s no problem. Here take this,” he insisted. Acquiescing, I reached into the passenger side window and took the dumb booklet. “I also want to give you a lady’s number…” he said scrolling through his cell phone. I was really annoyed. I did not want any damned bitch’s number. I just wanted to get as far away from everyone who had been in that deathly depressing AA meeting as I possibly could. I did not want to join their little club! It took everything within me not get really rude with the sickeningly helpful guy.
I was expecting him to eventually invite me to just get in the car and accept a ride from him. Most men always seemed to have their little tweeters in hand trying desperately to find new places to stick them. I was ever watchful of their machinations. I didn’t have time or interest to hear his game. I waited for him to try some line of crap on me. It piqued my interest that he didn’t. It caused me to entertain the thought that perhaps his motives were actually to be purely helpful. That was new.
His sincerity softened something in me toward him. I found it refreshing. I appreciate men who can just chill and actually behave as “people” instead of penises with bodies attached to them. This guy was being an authentic human being. He was about my age; pleasant on the eyes and as earnest as hell. I decided not to be rude to him; though I planned to toss that little booklet and the woman’s number straight into the trash when I made it back home. I accepted the book and the number.
“Thanks,” I offered.
“No problem,” he smiled. “I hope to see you at another meeting,” he said as his car began to roll slowly.
“Oh, you will,” I assured him through my lying teeth. I could not wait to get him off my tail and in the wind. He drove off smiling and satisfied with himself. I waved and stuffed the book and the woman’s number into my bag. If there had been a trash can anywhere near me, I would have chucked them on a dime.
It was going to be a really long walk for me to try to get home before dark. It was hot and I was walking in short blue jean shorts and a tank top for some strange reason. Why strange? I should have had my ass in a long shirt and coveralls considering the bruises on my arms and thighs that I had no memory of how I acquired. It struck me that I must have appeared at least as pathetic to the people at the meeting as they had looked to me. “Whatever!” I stepped up my pace, determined to get home.
I had planned not to drink again for an extended amount of time. I was unusually unwell and my family was looking at me with the most dreadfully sad and fearful looks on their faces. Actually, they would not really look directly at me at all. They sort of just looked around me as if the aura surrounding me was perhaps all they could bear to gaze directly upon.
I felt horrible, but I would make whatever it was that I had done up to them. I loved them. They knew that. They were, after all, my reason for suffering through that nauseating AA meeting. I wanted to assure them that I had gone to AA and that everything would be just fine. And that’s what I did. How would they know the difference as long as I did not have another bad night?
In a few days, however, I started entertaining the thought of buying a little something to drink. The thought unnerved me.
“No, you fucking idiot!” I told myself. I definitely did not want to perform an encore monkey-show which might even be worse than the last. Still, something in me considered risking it. The thought was like a pesky mosquito that not be easily batted off.
I took out that number the guy had forced on me. “Well, I may as well call and see what the hell this chick has to say,” I said as I dialed the number. It rang just one time shy of my hanging up.
“Hello,” I heard a pleasant voice from my cell phone.
“Hey…” I introduced myself and told her that a guy from the first AA meeting I ever attended had given me her number. She stayed on the phone talking with me for at least 3 hours. She was a professional, educated and very successful woman. She said she had not had a drink in 8 years after almost ruining her entire professional career in a 3 day long blackout. The part about not having had a drink for 8 years stood out to me. I wondered how or why she would just sit on the phone and feel the need to lie to a total stranger like that; but I didn’t say anything.
“But you ain’t got to lie to me girlfriend!” I thought to myself.
She invited me to go with her to a meeting the next day. I accepted. She came to pick me up the next day. I actually looked forward to the diversion of going to a meeting with this woman. She said that all meetings were not the same and that she was taking me to a women’s meeting. I liked that; no dicks to dodge.
The meeting she took me to was in a nice old Catholic church. It was rather large. I liked the building. As I followed her inside I could faintly smell coffee. There had been no coffee at the hospital meeting. I did not really drink a lot of coffee, but it was a welcomed aroma. The ladies were pleasant, kind and seemed sincere. I took a seat at the table that had a little knitted basket on it that said, First Step.
“Yes, you’re nice. I still won’t be joining your little club though,” I thought to myself as the nice ladies shared their stories and tossed dollars into the basket. Some of their stories were as sad as a basket of dead kittens. I wondered if this would be the theme of all of these meetings. As sorrowful as their stories were, many of them would wrap it all up with how very grateful they were for having found AA and how AA had saved their lives.
One lady actually made me feel like I was staring directly into the ass crack of death. She was yellowy- skin-over-bones with sunken in eyes and teeth that seemed to swim out and back into her mouth as she spoke. She said that she had been downing a gallon of straight vodka every day for years. Was that possible? I could not drink more than half a pint of vodka without getting terribly sick. My mind simply was unable to process how such a tiny little ol gal could guzzle up a gallon of vodka all by herself every day. But then, she did look like the undead reheated. She was only about 45 years old, but she looked like she was 65 pushing a hard 70. Hers was a face I had never seen before. It scared me. Wherever the fuck she was, I never wanted to go there. Of that I was certain.
“Fuck some damned vodka!” I thought to myself.
After the meeting the woman who brought me there led me outside with many of the other ladies. She introduced me to a few of them before walking a little distance away to speak with someone else. The giraffe-looking lady donning that Cheshire smile, walked up to me. I was not intending to be overly friendly to anyone because I did not want them getting any false impressions that I would be joining them. I don’t do clubs! I made up my mind right there and then to accept that they were being kind. They did not know me. I decided that their kindness could not be genuine and that I would just play along until they gave up their façade.
“Hi,” the smiling woman said hugging me and introducing herself. I noticed how all of these strangers felt so comfortable with just hugging and hugging me without even knowing me or asking me really. I only like to hug people that I know out of genuine affection. When strangers hug me it is hard for me to process. I think it has something to do with being a survivor of childhood molestation and later rape when I was a young teen. I have taught myself to leave my body in a sense, when strangers hug me, so it was no biggie. If it made them happy; hug away. The smiling, hugging lady began telling me a bit about herself. She said that she had not had a drink in 20 years.
“Again with the lying!” I thought to myself as she spoke. From my ol party-gal perspective, there was just no way that any grown adult who ever enjoyed drinking would just stop. Why? I could see why that moribund-looking yellowy child needed to cold-stop her roll, but this woman appeared to be healthy and doing alright. Still, she proudly stated that she had not had one single drop of alcohol in 20 years. My brain refused to even process that possibility. It was easier to process that they were just lying in order to be members in good standing in their little Alcoholics Anonymous club.
The nice smiling lady told me that she went to meetings just about every day during the summer. Being a teacher, she had the summers off and could spend all of that free-time “getting in her meetings.” Okay. I really thought that was weird. I wondered why she would need to go to so many AA meetings unless she had a really prickly porcupine-monkey still dry-thumping her back.
“Twenty years in AA and your ass can’t do any better than that lady? DAMN!” I thought. She told me there was another meeting in 2 days and she invited me to attend it with her.
“Okay,” I said. I had nothing better to do. She was nice enough. When she stopped offering to ride me to a meeting, I decided that would be when I would stop going. I thought, “Maybe this will be interesting after all.”
I have always been one of those tragically curious people who get a kick out of finding out how stuff works. I did want to stop drinking for a while; detox. The people were some of the most open and nice-acting people I had been around in a long time. So, I followed along.
(To Be Continued…Eventually.)