When I Think: “My Fellow Alcoholic Is Being an Asshat.” (or, No Cookie For You!)

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TyRANTosaurus Margo!

  The conclusion of the Tale of Mr. Crush will have to wait till tomorrow (hint: it did not end happily.  Shocker, right…?  Who could have seen that one coming?).

      Right now, I need to Complain.  About something that is Disturbing My Serenity.  I have a Resentment, but it sure as hell is not a resentment that I can share in AA.  I can’t share it with my friends outside of AA because most of them don’t know I attend and probably wouldn’t understand anyway.  I will not share it with my analyst because it is too trivial to spend money discussing. 

      So that leaves you!  Lucky you!  Nothing is more fun than listening to a Random Internet Blogger snark into the void.

      I know that nobody is perfect and we are all human and we all have character flaws blah blah blah.  And in AA, I know that everyone in the room has earned their seat.  And I know that some, as they say, are sicker than others.  And I know that I’m there to work on myself and help other people and not criticize and judge them about things which are none of my business.  

      But.  But. 

      You know what drives me nuts…?

       It’s not the crazies.  It’s not the Holy Rollers (fortunately, I go to meetings where they almost never show up).  It’s not the Big Book-thumping AA Taliban (ditto).  It’s not stupid fights over coffee

      It’s the young guy–and I’m sorry, but the Awful Truth is that it is almost always a guy–who shows up, raises his hand, and then complains bitterly about how the counselor at his Rehab Center is an asshole.  About how the rules of the Rehab are too strict.  About how the curfew at the (private, expensive) Sober House is too early and they’re threatening to kick him out if he breaks it again.  About how they won’t let him have his adderall.  

       It’s the guy who is my chronological peer who complained that he is in a homeless shelter for the first time because his parents finally, finally, finally followed through and stopped supporting him financially.  They sent him to three different colleges and supported him financially all his life.

      The one who complains–actually complains, like whines–that his wife kicked him out and won’t let him talk to his kids until he Gets It Together.  He’s Angry That She’s Keeping Him From His Own Children!  He acts put-upon. 

       I listen to stuff like this and I never say anything because I am not there for that and it’s not my place.  Emotionally, I can usually just let it go.  

       But sometimes it really pisses me off…and I have done enough fellowship to know that I am not the only one.  

       Hey, buddy!  I want to scream.  Do you know how lucky you are to be able to go to Rehab?  To detox under medical supervision?  To have an entire fuckin staff of addiction experts at your disposal to help you salvage your young life?  And you’re going to whine that they gave you the chore of sweeping up the cigarette butts from the porch three times a day? 

        Hey girlfriend!  Yeah, you, damn Brooklyn hipster who’s complaining that sobriety means losing your nightlife.  You’re blacking out all the time and puking by your bed, but you’re not physically addicted…yet. Do you need a Q-tip to dig the wax out of your ears?  Can you hear what the older people are saying about what it’s like to drink vodka in the morning in order to stop the shakes?  Yeah, I know they’re geezers, but they’ve been out there, okay, they’ve done the research, the reconnaissance.  They know about that of which they speak.  Do DTs sound like a party to you? Throwing up blood?  Cirrhosis of the liver?  Sounds pretty crummy to me.  And yes, you’re cute now, but see that babe over there who is only ten years older than you and looks like Margaret Thatcher?

       And you, young guy whose parents finally put their foot down and cut off the money.  I detect a distinct tone of peevishness in your voice.  I’m sure that the homeless shelter sucks.  But did you ever stop to think at how badly you had to hurt your parents to make them cut you off?  Do you think that making that decision, knowing that you would end up in a homeless shelter, was one of the most painful, excruciating things that they’ve ever done in their lives?  Do you think that your mother has laid awake many nights, staring up at the ceiling and asking herself How did I fail as a parent?  What should I have done differently?

       ALL of you ungrateful assholes who still have family who love you…who care about you and want you to get better…don’t you hear the people in the room who are estranged from their children, estranged from their siblings, estranged from their own parents?  People who have been sober and responsible for years, and have really gotten better, and would give anything to re-establish relationships with their loved ones?   But they fucked it up so badly when they were drinking, and hurt and exploited their family so terribly, that even now nobody wants anything to do with them. 

       (Man, I am an imperfect person, but I give myself credit for this much…when the U.S.S. Miss Margo went down, I was the only passenger on board.  It was very, very important to me that I not be the sort of addict my father is.  Or, to use another metaphor, at least I had the principle to fall on my own fucking grenade.) 

      You think getting sober is hard now, when you’re still relatively young and healthy and there are still people in your life who care?

      Imagine how hard it’s going to be when you’re older and sick and you’ve burned your last bridge.  Imagine how hard it’s going to be when you no longer have any reason to get sober for

      Half the time, I think that the bravest person in the room is that 62 year old schizophrenic black homeless dude with 48 days clean.

                       *                        *                    *                  *

    And oh yeah–before I forget…

    Happy Anniversary, Stephanie.  

Meet Mr. Crush

      Oh boy.  This is going to be a fun one. 

       I can’t decide what to call it.  “Romance is in the Air?”  “The Emotionally Needy Top?”  “Emails of Passion?”

       I have a new client.  Haven’t been working at the Secret Job much the past two weeks because, as you know, I’ve been focused on Keeping My Shit Together.  I’ve only seen a few regulars I am totally comfortable with–who do not drain me emotionally or psychologically.  

        New Client is the sole exception.  I need to think of a moniker for him…I think I referred to his in my “I Haz $?” post as Sad Dad, but that is kinda disrespectful.  Don Juan?  No, that’s mean.  Let’s call New Client…Mr. Crush.

        Mr. Crush saw my ad and sent me an email.  It was a good email, so I wrote back requesting more information about what it was, exactly, that he had in mind.

        Mr. Crush told me, respectfully, what he wanted us to do.  

        Alas, what he wanted was not on Miss Margo’s Menu of Services.  I wrote him a polite note informing him of this, suggested another woman I know who I thought might be better able to accommodate him, and thanked him for his interest.  Adios! 

        Mr. Crush responded: I’m sorry to hear that.  I am very interested in seeing you.  Perhaps we could work out a compromise.   Would you be willing to meet me at (public park) to talk about it for, say, 30 minutes?  I would pay you $60 plus cab fare.

         $60 to listen to a dude try to talk me into doing something that I absolutely will not do.  Shit, when I went to bars, I had to do that all the time, and I wasn’t getting paid for it, either.  

           I wasn’t doing anything else that afternoon to make money, so what the hell?  I hopped in a cab and went to meet Mr. Crush.

          Mr. Crush turned out to be a pretty nice, cool guy.  Despite the literate and respectfully-toned letters he’d written me, after I told him “no” and he offered to bribe me to talk me into saying “yes,” I was honestly expecting a scumbag.  An educated scumbag. I was just going to listen to the scumbag with a polite smile on my face, nod, say “No, sorry, really wish I could help you.  Thanks anyway,” and go back home with the cash.  

         Mr. Crush was not a jerk.  I could tell that he did something creative because of his slightly weird brown glasses frames and the cut and color coordination of his clothing, which was professional but neither conservative nor hip nor flashy.  Eclectic?  I wish I could describe it better.  He had a sense of aesthetics that was off-beat, like an artistical person.  

         He gave me the money upfront and bought us both a refreshment.  We made small talk and then got down to business.

        “How long have you been topping and seeing pros?” I asked.

        “Since my divorce three years ago.  I never did this with my wife.  Once I was single again, I decided to try new things.  I try to date a little, but it’s hard to find time between all my work and when I have my kids, I want to be with them.” 

         Then: the negotiation.  What he wanted was not obscene or repellent to me…it was just outside of my boundaries.  I said a lot of no, sorry, can’t do it.  He didn’t whine or ask me WHY NOT?, he just kept calmly compromising.  Concession, concession, concession, all on his part. 

         Finally, much to my surprise, we reached an agreement for a session.  That session bore only a faint resemblance to the one he originally wanted.  Still outside of my comfort zone…but just a bit.  I knew that I could do it and not feel violated or bad about myself afterward.  And all my instincts told me that Mr. Crush was safe–he gave me references, two forms of ID, and he wasn’t asking for anything that would put me in a physically compromising situation. He wasn’t going to tie me up or take my vision away, for instance. He let me take photos of his face and his ID with my phone.

         Ultimately…I agreed.  We set up an appointment.

         “Excellent,” he said, lighting a cigarette.  “Would you like me to have some wine or champagne available when you come over?”

          “No thanks. I’ll bring my own water.  I certainly don’t mind if you have a drink, though.”

          “Oh, I don’t drink.  I’M IN AA,” he said.

           I tried to keep my face completely normal.

           “Good for you,” I said, as casually as possible.  “How long since you quit drinking?”  (I avoided the word sober because that is a word I almost never hear people outside of AA use.)

           He’d been sober for several years.  I won’t say how many because I feel that would be a violation of his privacy.  

           So: that weekend, I packed my bag o’ swag and went to his apartment.  We did the session.  He was true to his word and did only what we agreed to do.  He did not push or even humbly request me for anything more.  I did not enjoy the session itself, but at no time did I feel threatened, upset, offended, or frightened.  I gave the best performance that I could–I always do.  And he’s paying me a lot of money by any objective standard.  I respect that and try to earn my wages. 

          It was rather exhausting for both of us, so after cleaning up and collecting my things, I hung out with him on his sofa for half an hour, listening to jazz and making small talk.  He was intelligent, pleasant, good company.  I wasn’t attracted to him, but I didn’t dislike him at all.  

           I cabbed it back home, fed my animals, and hit the sack.

           I did not expect to hear from Mr. Crush again.  I expected Mr. Crush to be a one-shot deal.  He’d enjoyed himself and seemed pleased and content afterward, but come on…the session was such a modified, watered-down version of what he really wanted, I naturally assumed he’d find another person to meet his needs next time.  

        You can see where this is going.  Can you see where this is going, gentle reader?  Yes, I know you can see where this is going.

       To Be Continued

        P.S.  I know I have unread email in my email box.  I really appreciate it (assuming, of course, that it’s not mean hateful hatemail), and I intend to get to it soon, but I am still trying to stay off the internet and Work On My Shit.  Thank you for your patience. 

Postcard from Resort A.A. (Wish You Were Here!)

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Update July 3 6:15 AM:

     It only took two hours.

     First, it was a lesson in gratitude, and I am not saying that in sarcasm.  I will never feel self-conscious about my little architecturally bizarre walk-up apartment again.  The floors are slightly uneven (if I sit in my computer chair and lift my feet off the ground and be very still, my chair will start to roll to the left.  Very Seinfeld NYC-esque), the kitchen, inexplicably, has non-functioning drawers, and there are no windows in the living room.  However, at least it has houseplants and birdies and pretty pictures all over the walls.  This babe’s house was straight out of Jacob Riis (google images it), and that’s all I’m gonna say.

      She did have cats.  Several of them.  Friendly creatures all, who wanted to demonstrate their approval of my visit by rubbing themselves all over my legs, lap, and backpack as I worked.

       Nice Lady showed me the laptop her son sent her.  I’d assumed he had bought her a new Acer at Walmart or something.  As usual, I was wrong.  

       When I fired that baby up, about a million “program updates are available to install” immediately filled the screen.  Dude, I thought I was bad about upgrading to the newest version of Adobe Flash.  Nice Lady’s computer was running a version of Microsoft Windows that I (mercifully) hadn’t seen since I was an undergrad.  It was a version of MS Windows that had The Blue Screen of Death. Remember that blast from the past?  Wasn’t that great?  


      “Can I offer you some tea?” asked Nice Lady.

    Turns out that she already had an email address–some “Puerto Rican handyman” set it up for her a long time ago, but she had never used it.  I took a look.  It contained nothing but 3,000 pieces of spam.

      “What’s spam?” asked Nice Lady.

      “The electronic equivalent of junk mail.  Ads, mostly.”

       She peered at the screen.  “Netflix sent me a message?  But I canceled my membership with them.  Why would they do that?”

       I told her to forget it and ordered her to never go to that website or check that email address ever again.  

       Then I set her up with a nice Gmail account and made Google her home screen.   I was going to make it a Yahoo! account because I was worried that the nested Gmail format would confuse her, but ultimately decided that the flashing news reports and rotating images and headlines on Yahoo! would confuse her even worse.

       I made it as bomb-proof as I could.  Her email addy is her name, the password is the names of her two oldest cats, she is permanently signed in, and when she “clicks on the internet” (I moved the Internet Explorer desk icon into the very middle of the screen and pushed all the others as far away as possible), it takes her right there.  

        Then I sent her an email from my phone: “Hi Nice Lady!  Welcome to your new email!”

         It appeared in her inbox.  I showed her how to open it and reply.

         “thank you miss margo. you are a good friend,” she typed back.

          I felt my eyes getting wet.  It wasn’t from all the cat hair, either. 

          I’ll be back soon.  I need to spend a little more time concentrating on keeping myself well.  

                       *                           *                             * 

 Yours truly is still on an Official Leave of Absence, but in the meantime, consider this a postcard from the luxurious, fun-filled resort of Hotel A.A. (aka “Bill Wilson’s Reeducation Camp.”)

     My reprogramming seems to be going swimmingly.  This evening, for instance, after the beach party and luau, I am going to Help Another Alcoholic in Need.  There was a very nice elderly lady at a meeting who shared that she was feeling tremendous anxiety about computer technology.  Specifically, she needs to get an email account in order to receive information and updates about some services she uses.  She does not have an email account and does not know how to get one.  Her son, who lives in another state, bought a laptop for her, but she does not know how to use it.  She is terrified of handling it, as if she found a boobytrap bomb or landmine underneath her piano. 

         Someone suggested that she go to the library and consult a librarian, but that vexed her even more.  She said that she wanted to put up a flyer on the bulliton board at the grocery store offering to hire someone to help her out, but she didn’t know what to write on the flyer.

       I approached her after the meeting and offered to come over to her apartment after work and set up her internet and email account for her.  I said, don’t stress, it’s super easy, I’ll show you and write down all the step-by-step instructions and you will learn it in ten minutes (I am basically a computer moron, but I still taught my Mom how to do stuff like cut-and-paste and download email attachment jpegs).  

         Nice Lady was so happy that she hugged me and called me an angel. I’ll remember that the next time I’m, you know, giving some dude a swirly at the Studio or something.

         I’m about to go over to Nice Lady’s apartment right now.  My primary concern is that she isn’t going to have access to a ISP Network, which means that she’ll have to go to the Starbucks on her block (which will freak her out) or piggyback on one of her neighbors’ internet.  She lives very close to me–if her computer can pick up mine, I’d give her the password and let her use it.  It’s not like she’s going to download a ton of pirated HBO tv specials and communiques from Al Qaeda and illegal porn. 

        My task is simple, but I anticipate that it will test my very sanity.  This is how you turn it on.  This is how you click Microsoft Explorer (I am not going to show her how to use Firefox or Chrome, fucking forget it). No, wrong side of the mouse.  This is where you type in “gmail.” I could be in Nice Lady’s apartment for hours.  I must put on my best “Can I help you, Lady?” public servant hat.  I have a very patient personality, so that should help.

        I am telling you this, my friends, because I am trying to be honest. I do not want to be one of the persons who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.  I want to develop a manner of living which requires rigorous honesty.  That is why I am telling you that I might want to beat my head against a wall before I get this Nice Lady’s Email set up.

       Salutations from Resort AA.  WISH YOU WERE HERE!

       Miss Margo

      (P.S.  I know that I am inviting a shitstorm of hateful hatemail with this post, but if you can’t get that IT IS GENTLE SATIRE, you need to chill out, man.  Yeah I’m making fun of the preamble but I am still going over to this Nice Lady’s Apt to help with her internet.)