“How did you spend your New Years’ Eve?”
That is apparently the question of the day.
Expectations on New Years’ Eve are that you will either go out and get tanked or stay up ’til midnight and watch the ball drop in Times Square (whether in-person or from the comfort of your living room). Or both. Yet if you ask, most people don’t drink, don’t get tanked, and go to bed early and sleep in the next day. So why are we always thinking that “someone else” will do all this irresponsible nonsense?
The easiest way to stay sober on New Years’ Eve is to do what I did — spend it attending an “Alk-A-Thon”. It was a New Years’ Eve celebration held by AA members in the next town over, complete with mass amounts of food, a band, at least a hundred people in attendance, a speaker’s meeting, and of course, no booze.
Since I managed to do my hair and makeup before I went and even changed my clothes, I got A LOT of attention from people who must have expected me to show up with no makeup in scrubby jeans and a ponytail. I also finally got my contact lenses (YAY!) so I was sans-glasses for the first time in going on three years, which felt AWESOME. I smiled a lot and cleaned up well, I must say.
[Next up really needs to be some attention to losing weight and getting back on the Atkins program. Imagine the glee that the Square-Jawed NP will experience once he sees that I’ve upgraded to contacts again — if I were to get skinny too, I think he’d be so chuffed with self-congratulation, he’d nominate himself for the Nobel Prize in Medicine!]
Since I am still without a car, I went with my defacto sponsor LC and her new “boyfriend”, a fellow AA member who is still fairly fresh in his sobriety.
Now, before I go on, let me say, I have several problems with LC’s new “boyfriend”. For instance, he comes across as moochy. When we arrived at the party, we were all expected to bring a dish to pass (or a snack food) and I brought chips and dip while “they” brought a crudite platter together. I know LC bought it, so he was mooching along. Also, when they passed the basket, the “boyfriend” hesitated to put a buck in the basket and LC ended up paying for both of them. That did not get past my notice. Now, maybe he’s just broke at the moment, but it seemed decidedly out of balance considering this is only their third “date”.
LC has a couple of years of sobriety under her belt, she still comes across to me as being fairly fragile when it comes to relationships (she admits she still struggles with codependency). I also happen to think there’s a reason that dating a fellow AA member, especially from your own home group, is frowned upon. What happens if you break up? Are you going to never go back for fear of seeing the ex? Yeah. Bad idea. Always put your own sobriety first! Isn’t that what they say?
I’m still fairly new and even I get this.
The alleged “boyfriend” also comes across to me as being fairly phony, telling stories and talking out of his ass most of the time. I have a sharpened sixth sense for bullshit, and this guy had it crawling all over him. Then there was the inappropriate flirting he did with me. If he’s dating her, and she’s in the same room, you’d think he’d have the good sense to realize such behavior (no matter if it’s completely innocent) isn’t cool.
Plus, some of the stories he told indicated to me that this guy has a LONG history of bad choices and having various girlfriends who were imbalanced in some way. That along with the usual lifetime of poor decision-making that goes along with anyone in the AA program rang my red-hot warning bells.
I said nothing to LC, and decided to just ignore it for now.
Enough ragging on the slimy boyfriend. Back to the Alk-A-Thon.
The one we attended was terrific — like a big wedding reception without the wedding (and without the booze).
I wandered around and chatted with a few people, found a few people I knew from my own group, and I ate a TON of good food (the banquet table spread was tremendous!). LC and the “boyfriend” ate nothing but salad, but of course I went for everything. Pulled pork, spaghetti and meatballs, sausage, goodies, desserts — hey, I’m in no position to turn down free food! And it didn’t suck, either!
So, yeah, I had some fun.
I entertained myself in quiet moments by looking around the room and imagining what these peoples’ drunkalogs would be. Two attendees looked just like Jesse and Badger from Breaking Bad, so I had some fun watching them bobbing their heads to whatever music they heard in their heads. It was too cool.
Then, watching LC and the ‘boyfriend’ canoodle, I found myself looking around the room and asking myself if there was anyone there I would consider dating. Pickings were slim. Either young punks like the Jesse and Badger doppelgangers, or old men and a few younger men with their wives in tow, or middle-aged men who looked like their poor lives had been put through the wringer. Then, after much searching, I saw one somewhat ‘normal’ looking guy about my age — only one. When I asked around as to who this man was, turned out he was one of the musicians from the band and — amusingly enough — the ONLY person who was not an alcoholic! HAH! If that doesn’t prove that I have spooky instincts about such things, I don’t know what does.
Parts of the Alk-A-Thon were admittedly strange. Without any social lubricant (such as alcohol), people really kept to themselves. When the band played, almost everyone ignored them and just kept talking. Even though there was a generous dance floor, nobody danced (except the handful of children who were there with their parents). When the band finished a song, nobody clapped (except me) which felt bizarre — and when they completed their set, nobody said or did anything. With no alcohol being bandied about, there was no crazy behavior, no unfettered dancing, no off-key singing with the band, and no late-night revelries. Thus the sober party broke up early at 10pm.
I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself that the party would be better with more booze… haha… but didn’t dare utter that joke thought out loud. I don’t think such humor would be all that appreciated among such serious partygoers.
I admit, I often feel like an outsider. Having given up getting drunk way back in my 20’s, I don’t have any problem passing on the alcohol at any party; I’d honestly rather have a soda. (Really!) But for these folks, it’s just not the same at all.
Plus, compared to the other AA members, my experiences have been pretty tame. Most of my problems were around prescription pills and NOT alcohol (yet I make sure to say “drugs and alcohol” when talking about myself simply so I don’t insult anyone) so I’ve never had the same problems as most of them — convicted of felonies, hardcore drugs, ending up in accidents with DWIs, and having several bouts of jail-time or in-patient rehab visits. In contrast, most of my problems have been tame and successfully kept on the QT. In all actuality, I have very little in common with most of them; I try to not talk too much since I’m always on my guard to not say the wrong thing.
Unlike others, I guess I don’t look at AA meetings as locations to scout for potential mates. Seems to me most of the people in the program are, for lack of a better way of putting it, like struggling “patients” whose illnesses are serious, the prognoses grave, and the fight for their lives ongoing. Basically, I don’t see them as love objects but as people with some pretty serious problems.
Which isn’t to say I don’t think some of the folks in the rooms are pretty cool. Some people in the room are pretty badass. Tough as nails, with decades of sobriety and a deep commitment to the program. A few others are very zen; the program works for them, so they pay back by remaining involved. Still others are fragile, damaged people clearly struggling every day, leaning on the 12 steps in a literal manner, the way a religious zealot memorizes bible verses without fully understanding them. They seem to live and die under the belief that repeated exposure to the words themselves will create a kind of magical transformation within their souls. I have to be very careful around them.
LC in particular really seems affected by my apparent ‘progress’ within the program which appears to add an undeserved gravitas to whatever I say. When I get cynical or apathetic, or even when I’m joking around, she seems to take it a bit too close to heart, and sometimes I inadvertently bring her down. I need to remember that and approach any “advice” carefully. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility.
So I’d say the Alk-A-Thon was a success. I’d do it again. And considering that if I hadn’t gone there, I would have just stayed at home and gone to sleep, I’m still not complaining.
So all in all, not a bad start to 2014. Let’s all have a great one!
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
― Alfred Lord Tennyson