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Twisting all the bad things into good

Apr 12, 2012


 Like everyone else, I am going to die. But the words – the words live on for as long as there are readers to see them, audiences to hear them. It is immortality by proxy. It is not really a bad deal, all things considered.
J. Michael Straczynski

             SUNDAY. 9/12/10

            There was no group therapy on the weekends.
            Instead, we attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

            This was our Sunday Service.

            When we entered the cafeteria, the dually diagnosed alkies were already there, as were two former alkies who would be leading this meeting of the mad minds. One of them was an overweight Italian guy on crutches. His overweightedness was not really a word, and it was also not quite enough on it's own to necessitate the use of crutches, but it couldn't have been good for his knees, especially the one in the brace.
            As for the other guy, before he even said a word, it was obvious that he was as Irish as he was miserable.
            This should be inspiring.

            Due to the "anonymous" part, I won't use their real names.
            Damn. Why didn't I think of remaining anonymous when I started writing about my most humiliating and shameful moments?
            I'm sure that, on a subconscious level, it had something to do with the possibility of future royalties and the inevitable sex that must follow self-publishing an ebook after giving up on finding a real publisher.
           I wonder what my pen name would have been?
           Dirty MacDirtbag, maybe?
           Fuck it. It's too late now.

            The Italian starts by saying,"I'm Nicky the Knee, and I'm an alcoholic."
            Hi Nicky.
            He reads the AA Preamble with as much passion as a devout Catholic's husband who has been dragged to mass and recites the Apollo's Creed on auto pilot while he is really praying that The Saints are going to cover the 6 point spread against The Lions that afternoon. After the gambler asks Jesus for a sign,  he remembers a story about lions mauling Christians in the Coliseum, so he decides to let it ride on The Lions.

            This time, history does not repeat itself.
            The Lions fall to The Saints.

            He loses his bet...his car...his house...his children...his self respect...and his left pinky.
            It's a sad story that is probably more appropriate for a different kind of anonymous meeting.

            As for this anonymous meeting, Tony Manuzzi, I mean, "Nicky the Knee", continues reading.
            "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking."
            Yeah, that's not gonna happen. Let's see how I do with keeping off the pills and the powder, and possibly even the pot, before I start considering not drinking a Blue Moon every once in a.....while.

            "There are no dues or fees for AA membership."
            In that case, let me put my wallet back in my pocket. Oh wait, it's with all my other personals that I was stripped of when I was brought here against my will, another event that seems like ancient history.

            Nicky then introduces the Irishman.
            Let's call him, Fergus O'Flannery. 
            That sounds Irish to me.
            So does his accent, so his moniker fits.

            Fergus tells his story. He mentions how he used to drink at Daniel O'Connel's in Boca. I used to frequent this same pub. When I'm reminded of the many good times I had there before the pills took over, it made me really want a Guinness. 
            What I don't want, ever, is to have to drink a bottle of red wine as soon as I wake up just to stop the delirium tremens long enough to get out of bed and get ready for work. After his Burgundy breakfast of champions, he would make himself a mixed drink for his ride to work. His mixed drink consisted of tequila mixed with a Big Gulp cup. Hearing this made me want to fucking vomit.
            That seemed excessive even to me.
            At least this got him through the morning. When lunchtime came, he would go to the bar and drink shots of vodka. After he got off work, suffice to say, he didn't hit up L.A. Fitness.

            All his story did was convince me that I wasn't even close to being an alcoholic. Sure, once I started drinking I never wanted to stop, but I never drank straight tequila, sorry, tequila on ice, out of a cup the size of a small trash can.
            At least I would have had something to vomit in.

           Maybe it's not AA's fault.
           Even when I went to a few Narcotics Anonymous meetings in high school, I felt the same way.
           When my friend got arrested with weed during our Senior Year, I decided to be supportive and attend a few meetings with him. It had nothing to do with the fact that it was my weed he got busted with. When I heard stories about guys losing everything they had because of smoking crack, I didn't really feel like a druggie for spending fifty bucks a week on a bag of pot that I had no doubt been shorted on by the friend who sold it to me.
            It was clear to me that I didn't have a drug problem and that I never would.
            As I sit in the mental health facility that I was sent to because of my drug problem, I realize that Collin, or whatever his name isn't, is an idiot.
            He starts to talk about choosing a higher power. 
            I find it interesting that we get to choose our higher power in some kind of deity draft. Wouldn't that kind of negate the " higher power" part if it was up to us?
            Then he says, "My higher power is not God. I don't believe in some guy up in the sky with a beard."
            Does anyone over the age of 7 or who is not burned out on acid really believe that God looks like Jerry Garcia? Does this guy not think that God would have the Patron Saint of Five O'Clock Shadows have Him clean shaven by three? Oh, I forgot, God exists beyond the limitations of time and space, but somehow still has facial follicles. And who says God is a man, woman, or any kind of physical being?
            What is this guy's higher power, the Notre Dame leprechaun?
            "My higher power is my deceased mother", he says.
            Believe what you want, but don't try to convince me that if there is no God, clean shaven or not, that your dead mother can hear your Serenity Prayer.
            I started to think that perhaps I was being a bit harsh towards the guest speaker, so I diverted my attention towards the dually diagnosed alcoholics from the other wing, so I could stop myself from being so judgmental.
            What a bunch of fucking losers.
            They were in worse shape than any of us.
            Maybe Sparky wasn't bullshitting when he said crack saved his life by helping to stop boozing.

            It was interesting how they all stayed on the left side of the room, and we all stayed on the right.
            It felt, at least to me, like how a sports team becomes closer when they are in the presence of their opponent.
            If this was some kind of cross town inner city rivalry football game, the South County Psychos would have destroyed The Delray Drunks.

            Naturally, I would have been MVP of the All South County Game.
            I would have raised my trophy, topped by a guy in a straitjacket , over my head, and held back tears of joy as I gave my speech:
            "First, I'd like to thank Ferguson's dead mother. Then I'd like to thank my own mother, who is still alive, and my father, who, less than a week ago, I thought was dead, but Ferguson's dead mother answered my prayer that it was all just some kind of bad dream that I would wake up from. I'd like to thank them for not disowning me and for giving me another shot at a championship before I retire. A lot of people, including myself, thought I had suffered a career ending injury. But I'm back. And maybe I'm not a role model. Maybe I'll never be invited to speak at or even attend a 12 Step Meeting. Maybe I'll never be anyone's hero. Maybe I'll never be the patron saint of ...whatever. Maybe I'll never be anything but a cautionary tale about unfulfilled potential like some child actor who peaked at the age of ten, but I wouldn't bet against me no matter the odds. Whitney Houston sang, "I rise and fall, yet through it all, this much remains, I want one moment in time, When I'm more than I thought I could be"."
              I ramble on.
              "That kind of moment can flood an entire life with meaning and wash away the regrets and replace them with something better. I don't know what that is, and maybe I never will. But it is worth searching for. And if I do find it, well, then I wish you all my kind of luck. May Ferguson's dead mother bless you all. Thank you."

            The crowd would have went crazy, if they weren't already.

            I would have done it.
            I would have been great.
            Even if it was only for a moment.

            That would be enough.

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