It was a long day at work. Mr. B emailed me to say, in Europe one would write the date: 31.1.13….. and I thought, holy … it’s a SIGN. (313 is my special number, with 13, 31, and 3 being the runners up… whenever I see the number 313, I think it’s a sign from the universe that whatever is going on at that moment, the universe is saying, “yes.” If I see a clock that says 3:13, or a number on a building, or a seat number… anything. And, one of my guiding principles in number favorites is also symmetry, so my second favorite time is 11:11.
you can’t get much better than 31.1.13 for a sign. It’s the accordion form of my favorite number, AND the symmetry!
Obviously, the universe likes the idea of this as a sobriety date. Clearly, it’s a good date for changing the trajectory of my life, in some major way. That, I really believe.
Then, this evening, A called from a bar around the corner to say she and K were there. It was K’s birthday tomorrow and they were having drinks and she was chatting up a single guy, and should she vet him to see if he might be suitable for me?
She offered to invite me to join them but then said in the same sentence “but you shouldn’t, I don’t want to encourage you to have a drink already on the first day of your new sobriety.”
I thought she was right, so I said I’d stay home.
On the other hand I was bored and this morning my therapist asked me why being sober meant I would have to give up opportunities to socialize.
Never mind the upshot of the conversation. The point is I found myself thinking, I’m going to go to the bar and order a non-booze beverage. Why can’t I? Sean had water two nights ago. I can too.
I rehearsed in my head how I would order. I still stammered. “I’m. I’m, I’m not drinking tonight? DO you, can you recommend some non-alcoholic beverages?” Stupid.
The bartender was pretty. She looked like an alien with short brown hair.
“Would you like, something like juice?”
Juice? What the fuck is JUICE? I felt like a child.
“yes, something sparkling and juice-like would be good. Anything you concoct will be good.”
What do sober people drink? I don’t even know what you call things. Sparkling? Do people say that?
I joined K and A. The single guy kept hitting on A, even though she already has a boyfriend. I mean… she is 28 and has this beautiful mature character and loveliness that turns intelligent men into fruit flies.
In particular, tonight she looked like an advertisement from an early 70s magazine, shiny black fabric draping low enough to be way suggestive but not scandalous, a cascade of silver pieces the size of thumbprints, jangling the light around her neck, and her cool glasses, and her hair which falls as straight as a sheet of glass, so it also bends the light around. It’s hard not to feel like a tree trunk next to somebody like that. But it was alright, because she reached her arms out at me like a toddler, scrunched her eyes, and smooched at the air obscenely when she saw me, and I felt lucky to be the recipient of a gesture like that from someone that sexy.
K seemed pretty sober. She was a little bummed to cede all attention to A, because she knew this guy and liked him. And A can have anyone, and already has someone. While K is single and has been for ever… She bitterly resigns herself to the idea that she’s “not for everyone,” because of her size. So she just turns around in her seat and talks to me while A bats away flies.
The bartender made me a concoction of pineapple juice and orange juice and sparkling water, and, she says, put some cardamom in there. It was delicious, especially because she tried to make it something kind of la-dee-da. The effort was sweet. I was completely at peace with not drinking.
A’s boyfriend has been having problems with the sauce lately. They had decided they’d be on the wagon together for 6 months, starting December 1, because of some inciting incident. A’s big thing is weed, but she was giving up drinking, too. The first few weeks she said M had all the resolve and she wasn’t as good as he was at it. She missed weed and thought about it, but M would say, “Sure I want a beer, but I don’t do that anymore.” And that was that.
I don’t know how long that lasted. Since booze isn’t her issue, A had a beer here, a beer there, which she felt was fine and she felt she was still doing her 6 months. Then she and M would drink a beer together and made new qualifying rules. It was all under control and fine. Except then M went out to the bar without her and accidentally had 15 beers and they had a big fight about it.
After that, they agreed M couldn’t go to the bar without her. As long as she’s there to say they’re going home, it’s fine and he’s fine.
Anyway. I guess she agreed to that rule. Relationships are a negotiation process.
She had to pick him up from the hospital last Friday morning. I got to work late. I got into the office and C said, “A wants you to call her.”
“What’s going on?”
“I don’t know. She had to go do something. She’s stressed out this morning.”
I called A and she jabbered at me that she needed me to do some of her work, which was nothing, and then told me “Mother fucker fell his drunk ass down the stairs and fractured his fucking skull and now I have to pick him up from the hospital and watch him for 24 hours and not let him go to sleep.”
Apparently the night before he had gone to the bar at 5pm, and she had begged him to come home because it was too early, the sort of story that is so familiar in certain circles, you don’t need to tell it.
A little while later she rushed into the office and said some more to me and C, and said our boss, obviously, could not know under any circumstances about the event because she couldn’t hear his mouth about it.
It’s strange. Our little marketing department. C, A, and I… we seem to be unusually dense with the substance issues. I wonder about our boss and his personality profiling.
C is the least of the offenders. Her shenanigans are normal college stuff. She’s managed to keep things respectable. But, even she chips in with an occasional face-plant story. So the three of us have something like a we-should-be-in-AA meeting every morning.
A doesn’t really have a problem with the sauce so much as with pot. She used to smoke every day. But admirably, she’s only had one slip since getting on the wagon in December. She drinks, but manages that just fine somehow. Still, she describes to me the loveliness of waking up on a Sunday morning, smoking a bowl, having a nice cup of tea and reading a novel in bed, as if it were something the Queen of England might do. It sounds utterly romantic, the way she describes it. In fact, I’ll bet you she does make it romantic. Knowing her. She was smoking every day, though, and more than anyone else, and felt it was probably not good, if only because it would give her cancer.
Her boyfriend is like me. A garden variety drunk. The kind that falls down stairs and cracks his head open and then calls her to come get him from the hospital in the morning, and then gets mad at her for making a big deal of it. Listening to the stories between the two of them is like reading straight out of the Big Book. He’s a drunk who doesn’t take care of himself or anyone around him. She’s a co-dependent who runs in circles around him to fix it, and resents him and worries about him and can’t do anything to fix it. Second verse! Same as the first!
Anyhoo. I dunno. The night was really kind of great. I didn’t get too obsessed with myself and my inadequacies. I had fun talking with K and A about M and shenanigans. I liked my cardamom laced virgin cocktail.
It was as if the universe decided to put a little special red carpet and awning out, for my crack at day 1, just to show me how much it approves.