Neon signs plugging beers and better times illuminate the only visible signs of life through the windows of the Hunan Garden, across the street from the 6th & Cedar bus stop in downtown Saint Paul. As the current transit station for our fair capitol city, I imagine a temptation for many a recovering alcoholic is inherent, since you can’t go anywhere in Saint Paul without traveling through this junction. FYI, it’s soon to be replace by the Smith Ave. Transit Station.
One evening, what seems like years ago, yet only months, I felt strong enough to venture into The Garden before heading back home to the halfway house. Armed with only a black trench coat, my copy of Angels & Demons (which I just learned, and expected, will become a movie in 2008 featuring Robert Langdon, our fearless symbologist from The Da Vinci Code.
Really craving the company of the bar atmosphere, I felt strong enough in my sobriety that I could sit with my book, reading glasses parked on my nose, studying the exotic lexicon Dan Brown is known for, sipping club soda. A fine young lady across the bar kept eyeing me while text messaging someone. Noticing her noticing me, I played with my eyes behind the glasses, always keeping attention on both her and the book. Something told me she’d come over, and she did, to sit next to me, but with two other men. I think it was an excuse to get closer.
We ended up talking, sharing text messages under the table as she smoozed the older gentleman buying her drinks. I bought her one strong drink as well, and wanted to buy more, but I was short on funds. The old guy (relatively) kept buying, so I just let it happen. At one point, I knew she was leaving with me; where to, I had no idea, since I lived in a halfway house, populated with men, where woman are tolerated, but not allowed to spend the evening.
Her passion shown through when at one point I was messaging her feet at the bar while she winced. It felt good to know that a beautiful young woman, such as Darla V., could be aroused by a man twice her age. It wasn’t until she got up to leave that I knew the wrong I’d promoted.
Darla stumbled. She had grabbed my hand when the other gentleman had left for the bathroom, looked at me and said, “Let’s get out of here.” Nodding my head, batting my blue eyes, I responded with a resounding, ‘Yes!’ But when she stumbled, I felt pangs of guilt for contributing to her intoxication. Being of sober mind and body, I switched to protector mode.
At this point, I knew enough about her that she admires strong older men. Being as sober as I’d ever been in my life, I knew I had to act quickly, yet subtly. I had to get her car keys. How does one meet a total stranger at a bar and convincer her in the short distance to her vehicle to relinquish her car keys so as to drive them home. Please remember that at this point, Darla has no idea that I’m sober. The bartender has been my ally all this time, serving me club sodas at first, then switching to cola when Darla drank rum & Cokes with me. Bartenders know and respect when a man wants not to drink at all, and will serve them for free most times.
My mind, being clearly present, went into overdrive. How do I get these keys away from her? I knew how: Use your charm. I simply explained that I didn’t want her to find any trouble this evening simply trying to get home. All I wanted was for us to leave downtown for a friendlier environment. I pulled out all the stops, things I normally would use to seduce a woman, but now I knew I was doing God’s work. The only agenda was for her not to drive home. I felt guilty, since I’d contributed to her intoxication, and even encouraged it. Now it was my turn to step up to the plate and make sure this fine young lady made it home safely tonight.
I got the keys! “Take care of my baby,” she begged. Since she lived in Hudson, WI, across the border, she didn’t want to go home. She gave me directions to a friend’s house not to far from downtown. Her directions, as I’ve learned from drunker days, have often led to a cop stop. Sure enough, it almost came to that. We were driving down Summit Ave. when she realized she didn’t know where she was and asked me to make a U-turn. I smelled, ‘drunk friend directions’, getting me pulled over. Just as this happened, a cop appears coming the opposite direction towards me just before I make an illegal U-turn. I stop in time to make it into a left turn, and the cop passes. Hiding my fear of being arrested for driving without a license, I turn to her and explain, “I know where you want to go. Let me take you there.”
We arrive at Robin’s house. There are many young people doing all kinds of recreational things. Actually, it was very tame, but I noticed that Darla was having a problem with pot smoke. Long story, short, she confessed to me later that she’d been through a six-month religious-based recovery program (probably Teen Challenge) for marijuana addiction.
It didn’t stick. She started lighting up trees faster than a forest fire. When she started rolling them in the apartment, I put my foot down! I told her, “This is my sober house! Can you imagine what would happen if a sober friend came over, found a pot seed, then relapsed? You never asked, and I never gave permission. Don’t bring that it in here.” Oh, my God, she was pissed. It was like she was told she can’t smoke weed in her own home.
Then I drank. It wasn’t long after this incident that I’d decided that I could have a drink and be normal, just like Darla said. Oh, God, I was buying into her belief: that she’s cured and so am I. All this time, my boss at the Pizza Joint is not calling me back for hours. Since he wanted me for morning openings, and Darla was working late night hours at bars, and crashing at my place, I started pushing the limits of sleep. Waking with a hangover was all so familiar, but being sober for seven months, I’ve learned that the body and mind play a cruel game of cat and mouse in the waking hours. It begs the question every morning, ‘Are you really sober?’
This feeling, like many others of my brothers can attest to, basically sucks! I mean, it’s bad enough to have using dreams, but to wake completely sober and feel hung over is just a cruel way of saying, “You’re never going to be normal again, ever.” I get it. I also get that my friends, family, and former lovers, will also never accept me as normal ever again.
So, why not got to a bar where nobody knows you?
Okay, I laid down the ground rules, then broke them. .
Then I lost my job, not for drinking, just hours dropped off.
She started spending more time here, sleeping mostly. The pot took all of her energy out of her. She just slept off of the time. My so-called sober house ended up being a flop-house for her. I catered to her, made her breakfast, lunch, wonderful dinners. But there was always this one thing that was more important to her than anything else: weed. If she couldn’t find it, she’d get pissed. When she was high, she was never fully present. It ended up where she simply slept here, that’s all.
This screwed up my schedule, since I opened at the Pizza Joint. She’d get in at 3:00am, then snore all night long. She ended up so high that she couldn’t function in bed. Then, she’d get pissed that I wouldn’t let her roll her joints in my apartment.
It ended with a text message: “I’m being evicted.” She never replied. I always thought she was a taker, not a giver. My only regret is that I never taught her that it was so obvious.
As far as June W. is concerned, she will always be the ideal woman for me. However, it’s clear that she either doesn’t realize that, or feels so strong that she can get past her the love of her life. I don’t know what she wants in life. All I know, is that I’d love to spend the rest of my life with her.
There is one other issue: My ability to pass on the Wax family name to a male offspring. I can’t do that with June, since she’s had a hysterectomy. I didn’t mind when I married her, and I don’t mind now. But, one has to ask, “Am I supposed to pass on the Wax family name?” Three sisters, one boy. Two brothers, two girls. No Wax men to pass on the family name.
Am I supposed to find a young woman, and finally father a child? Is that what I’m supposed to do? I love children, and I’d love the opportunity; but, I don’t see his mother in my minds eye.
Some commenter asked me about asking my friend to be my sponsor. I have to say, I’m burnt out on sponsors; either that, or their burnt out on me. I’ll get back to you on that. The bottom line is that he as better is a sponsee brother than a sponsor.
How did she disappear? I simply told her, in a text message, that I was going to be evicted. She never called back. She’s a taker, not a giver. This was a life lesson.