If it wasn’t for that judge, I never would’ve went to my first meeting. And I should mention that isn’t a credit to him, it’s blame. Seemed like cruel and unusual punishment. Just my opinion. I, for some reason, thought there was one meeting that everyone went to. I didn’t know there were meetings all over town. I guess it makes sense, more convenient that way. Maybe this city is full of degenerates like me? With that in mind, I picked the worst meeting, in the worst place. All with the hopes of it getting canceled. Or discontinued altogether. A possible loophole.
It took me nearly an hour to find my way into the basement of that abandoned church. I was about to give up when I caught a glimpse of the folding chairs circled up through a gap in the wall. Now I wouldn’t be able to rest on my effort of having shown up, and had to find my way into the area where the meeting had already begun. I eventually made my way to a set of large double doors. The big steel kind you find at gymnasiums, and these were severely rusted, no surprise.
I had to throw my full weight into them, which bursts me into the room. A man in the group about my age, stops talking as everyone else has taken notice of my arrival. After a brief, awkward moment, they all turn back and he resumes. I casually make my way over to a cheap, plastic folding table, for what I hope is strong coffee. As I’m pouring it, I consider trying to add a little booze from the emergency flask in my pocket. Probably not worth the risk for someone new. Next time.
Glancing over my shoulder, I try to spot an open chair in the circle. Soon I notice what must be the leader of the group bringing one in for me. Giving him a nod as I walk over, I sit down reveling in the accomplishment of my attendance. Most people wouldn’t have come here. They would’ve turned away at the sight of the place. It’s more haunted house than church.
I stare up at the ceiling while continuing to pat myself on the back. Not exactly waiting for my turn to talk so much as not listening to the others as they take theirs. I notice that there’s only about a half dozen light bulbs working down here, and I count another 20-30 that have burned out. How did they start meeting in an abandon church anyways? There’s perfectly fine churches on every other block. I start examining the members of this group, wondering if they’re rejects.
Soon they’re all staring back at me. I start to think I was asked a question and wasn’t paying any attention. Finally, it dawns on me that it must be my turn. So I start telling them what ails me, not having a clue what ails any of them. Hopefully this is an AA meeting at least, and I will get credit. I might not be in the right place, as I’ll imply several times throughout my story. But this is just an attempt to get confirmation.
“Hello, my name is…” Wait, Isn’t this suppose to be anonymous? Why do we start by saying our names? I’m not going to do that, and they’re all going to just have to deal with it.
“Yeah yeah, I’m an alcoholic. Whatever. The point is I haven’t had a drink in 36 hours, and it’s pissing me off. I rode the bus here, but I don’t want to talk about that,” I say, gauging their reactions.
“Except to say I was about to kick everybody’s ass on that bus just for riding it. Oh am I in your way? Well you’re all in my fucking way! I’m blocking the door? I can’t stand by the door? But these people won’t move back! There’s all these empty seats back there, and I’d like to sit down! Can’t get through! Then there’s the strollers, that’s fine. But do you have to take up five seats? Five?! Two or three I can understand. The entitlement, oh my god. It’s like the other day, I’m walking down the sidewalk, and going the other way are two moms. Both with the double-wide strollers, and they’re walking side by side. They see me coming a mile away, but do they make any room? Hell no, I’m forced into the street. So good to know that kind of inconsiderate behavior is being passed on. You think the kids in those strollers are too young? Trust me, they notice. They pick up on it. Soon they’ll become the snotty little shitheads pouring your coffee, and expecting a tip for it. They’ll be taking your customer service calls, and putting you on hold for no reason. Just to delay not helping you longer. Gets them through their day.” Now I’m starting to lose my nerve.
“I don’t know if I can do this. I mean what’s the point really? It’s not like I’m never going to have a drink again. Is that really what we’re shooting for? Because it’s unrealistic. You know what, fuck it,” I take out the flask and have a hearty gulp.
“Anybody else?” I ask, offering it around the room. All I get back is looks of shame and disappointment. The group leader calmly approaches me. I’ll be kicked out for sure now. Or jumped by the rest of the group. That’s fine by me. I’d welcome it today with the mood I’m in. Then something else happens. He leans over, puts a hand on my back, and quietly explains that he’s going to sponsor me personally. Also I’m forbidden from bringing liquor into one of his meetings again.
“If you’re curious what I’d do about it, just try me,” he whispers. I actually respect the fact that he just threatened me in what is supposed to be a supportive environment. Different strokes I suppose. After that, he informs the group that it’s time to conclude this meeting.
As I go to leave I’m following a few chatty fellas. Getting to the doors they stop, turn around, and block my exit. A brief panic grabs me, my fur goes up. Like a dog that shoots its mohawk up on its neck when it’s ready to attack. Then they join hands, and one offers me his. They’re praying. This is how they conclude every meeting. I take his hand and fall in line, waiting quietly to leave. I’m the first one out the door.