NOTE: The following was intended as a public-service message. Subtle and obtuse, yet still serviceably public. Point being: Even when you decide to ‘do the right thing’, and cut ethanol out of your diet, don’t expect bad shit to magically quit happening. Instead, ask yourself, I don’t know, ‘how’d I get through childhood without a drink?
Nancy Reagen already tried the ‘Duh’ approach: ®, as if the problem is as simplistic as remembering the correct word in your native language to decline an offer of supposed instant euphoria.
My story has no hero. The main character can’t even dial a phone number successfully. I always write in the first person, but in fact, this happened to some guy named ‘Ed’. Takes longer to type than ‘I’. Sue me
Ok, the book says: ‘when you start needing a couple beers at 6AM in order to face feeding your cats you may have a drinking problem.’
Denied! A drinking problem? Moi? ‘I drink, I get drunk, I fall down; No problem.’
Seriously though, last night (not for myself; for a friend) I checked on the net. Lists of questions you answer and then get the results. I rattled off the proper responses, hoping for a good score:
2) ‘Yer goddamn right!’
3) ‘Hell yeah!’
4) ‘Does the bear shit in the woods?’ … .you know, demonstrating my confidence and self-knowledge. Um..till I got the results:
“Gevalt! Walk, don’t run to the nearest AA!” (Or mebbe it said ‘run, don’t walk’, whatever.)
Anyway, I grabbed another beer or two, to pep myself up for a ‘Let yer fingers do the running’ jog.
The Yellow Pages. Bingo. 555-1212 or something like that there. They answered on the first ring
AA: Good morning sir, how can we help you? *I liked her voice. Supportive*
Me: ‘Um, I’m trying to stop, but I just can’t.’
AA: ‘Well, the first step is to want to, ha. Then call us. We’re your ’emergency brake’, if you want to put it like that. What’s your name, Sir?’
Me: ‘Yonatan, as in ‘Hi, I’m Yonatan and I’m an…’
AA: ‘Last name?’
Me: ‘I didn’t think you needed that.’
AA: ‘For the records, ok?’
Me ‘Fine, ‘Solberg, S O B L E R G’.
AA: ‘You’re not drifting right now, are you?’
Me: *seeing only empties on the floor* ‘No, I’m stopped, temporarily.‘ *checking pockets for loose change*
AA: And you’re off the road right now. Yonatan?”
I loved how she’d started calling me by my name. Thought about asking her hers, but who knows; maybe the staffers aren’t ‘anonymous’?
Me: Yes, Ma’am. Off the road.. and ‘off the wagon’, ha. Fer now.’
She didn’t seem to find that especially comical. I continued rolling:
Me: ‘Life and Death, but not serious’, ain’t that what you people say?’
AA?: ‘I hadn’t heard that. …Your address?
Me: *scratching my head* ‘Um..it’s a..
AA?: ‘That’s fine, we have it here in the computer.’
AA?: ‘Yes from a claim. A little accident a while ago..’
Me: ‘Wow. another detail I won’t have to confess to at the meetings.’
AA: ‘So, Yonatan, we’ll have somebody stop and help you in an hour or so.’
I couldn’t believe it. Damn AA. They’re there when you need their help. And I needed it. (Not for spelling though, dear reader, hope you noticed. And dead drunk at that.)
I said goodbye to my new angel, managed to find one last beer hiding in the fridge behind a long-empty milk carton, drained it into my tank, and laid down. On the floor, maybe. I don’t remember. Help was on its way. (No apostrophe.) I do recall getting WASHINGTON to ‘spell backwards’: “NOT, ‘G’, N.I.H. SAW..” But when I came-to, my cats were yammering. Out the door with the food-bag I ran… and then OMG!. No car.! Just a hole where I thought I’d put it. Fuck! (French expletive). Somebody stole my wheels! And now no beer to soothe the pain.
Homer Simpson famously called beer “The cause and solution to all of life’s little problems.” But I had a big one.
A short, indeterminate time later:
‘Stupid Yellow Pages. Always upside down when you need ’em’. This time I put on my reading glasses. The ones with the ‘broken ‘wing’, whatever. Ten minutes of ‘quality-time’ plus a soup-bowl of coffee had filtered through my addled brain along with a working hypothesis which my dear readers may already have guessed. Um.. wrong number, duh! Dammit, Counting ‘A’s is a job best left to the coherent. My phone conversation had been with AAA®, for Christ’s sake, not ‘AA‘. So…. all I needed to do was to call ’em back and locate my poor little Fiesta. I swung into action:
Me: ‘Hello. I’m Yonatan and I’m an alcoholic’. *old habits die hard*
AAA?: That’s a good start, Yonatan. I’m Cindy, sober for fifteen years and you can do it too. Let’s talk’.
Me: ‘Glad to hear it. Now where the Hell’s my car?’
Cindy: ‘How often do you have ‘black-outs’ like this, Yoni?’
Me: ‘Sorry, Cindi-le. No time for chat. This ain’t no party. This ain’t no disco. No time for fooling around. I need my goddamned car back. Yesterday.’
Cindy: ‘We all have anger we need to deal with. And forgiveness. Don’t forget that’.
Me: ‘Ok, Shit, I forgive you already. Where’s my wheels?’
Cindy: ‘A Higher Power is always ready to assist you.’
Me: ‘Fuck. I can do 120 in the damn jalopy even with the 1100 stock engine. Just tell me where it is and I’ll be there with my credit card.’
Cindy: ‘What Step are you working on, presently, Yonatan?’
Me: ‘Listen, lady. I’m working on stepping out my door with my mother-fucking car-keys and driving to the beer distributor. Is make sense?’
Cindy: ‘I remember when I felt like that. You know you can always call me when you have that kind of turmoil.’.
Me: ‘You don’t get it, do you? This morning I was a drunk-on-wheels. Now I’m a freaking slush with his thumb out. Next step’s the gutter, comprehende? Now connect me with your dispatcher, kewl?’
Cindy: ‘We’re all volunteers here at AA. I’m the only one in at present’.
Me: AA?! What happened to the third freaking ‘A’?
Cindy. ‘How often do you have episodes of ‘drunk-dialing, Yonatan?’
Me: *light goes on* ‘Oh, I’m so sorry, Cindy. My mistake. And I wish you only a lifetime of proud sobriety. See ya’ at a meeting sometime. I’ll be the guy looks like he walked the whole way there.’
The End, for now. ‘Cept that I’m still looking for my car. Bunch of low-lifes opened a pet-store out on the highway. Worth snooping around….
Wu: I’m not sure alcoholism is a fit subject for humour..
Me: It’s OK. I’m hiding behind Primo Levi and Mel Brooks
Wu: Keep your head down, just in case.
Me: ‘Hair of the dog.’