Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
Thursday, May 21, 2009

Asshole Practice


Alcohol Abuse Counseling Group: Level 2 Significant Risk - Session 3

I sat out in the car until 9:57 AM, electing to wait until the last possible moment to enter. I went inside early last time, and after several hours of sitting in a room full of uncomfortable strangers discussing confessional topics thick with shame and reproach, I'd fled with urgent haste. This time, I intended to minimize the time I spent in group therapy.

This was an error. With only twelve chairs and ten victims present, I was left with two seating choices: wedged between a fat guy in a Daytona 500 shirt and a hippy clad in visibly moist sandals, or on the end next to the narcoleptic woman with bulging eyes and a constant wheeze.

I chose the end. I chose the old lady.

I detoured to the refreshment table and poured some gutter coffee into a tiny styrofoam cup, dusted creamer and sugar into it, and reluctantly sat beside the terrifying crone.

Ten minutes into the session, I saw people snickering in my general direction. Turning my head to absorb this curious and disconcerting phenomenon, I spied the old lady's head, nay, her whole body, tilting towards me. A distant observer might say she was about to take a nap on my shoulder, but I deemed it more likely she'd fall completely off her chair and shatter her osteoporosis-riddled frame directly upon me.

Our session leader, Dr. Victor, witnessed this slow motion catastrophe in progress and saved me from the need to act.

"Nancy! Earth to Nancy!"

She snapped back to vertical posture, albeit slouched, and blinked rapidly, slowly gaining awareness of her surroundings.

"Sorry... it's my... anemia... the medication... it..." She trailed off, mentally vacating to visit the dual hospital/carnival minstrel show playing 24/7 in her feeble mind.

"Stay with us, Nancy." Victor continued his monologue on the medical effects of cirrhosis.

Five minutes later, the giggling began anew. I looked, knowing I'd see Nancy's dishwater blond hair descending once again upon me. There she was.

"Nancy! Please, Nancy, have some coffee!"

Thanks again, Dr.Victor. Two saves in a row.

I spoke up. "Doc, do you have any folding chairs with seatbelts?"

"Okay, okay, be nice, Steve."

Dr. Victor was already cautious with me. At the first session, he'd remarked that Alcoholics Anonymous has grown exponentially in recent years. He illustrated this by showing the 2003 AA chapter book and then the 2009 edition. The recent one was easily seven times the thickness of the earlier book. I made a crack about churches using AA to lure sadsack addicts into Christian indoctrination. This caused the session to stray into a heated half hour long theological debate.

So Dr.Victor encouraged participation from everyone but me. He'd be perfectly happy if I stayed quiet. I think everyone there shared an unspoken agreement that keeping the Steve hush hush was to the benefit of all.

Having me speak up to belittle the medically afflicted woman could only be a precursor to me fucking everything up again.

To tell the truth, I couldn't imagine why this woman was there. These alcohol classes are mainly for people trying to regain their driver's licenses. Everyone there was a recent DUI bust. This woman can't even maintain consciousness, and she wants to drive?

I kept silent.

I'm trying to imagine her drunk. It's not working.

Back in reality, Dr. Victor passed out maps displaying how many meth labs were busted in each of the fifty states during the year 2005.

"Doctor, excuse me for interrupting, but what relevance does methlab density have to drinking and driving?"

"This is about addiction of all types, and the damage done to individuals and society as a result, Steve. If I may continue?"

I harrumphed.

An hour later, my seventh cup of coffee swill had me jumpy and anxious. I desperately wanted to tap my toes or crack my knuckles, but I didn't need to stack another method of annoying people onto my already impressive resume.

Dr. Victor put on an old VHS tape of hospital patients mumbling depressing testimonials. Everyone's attention was fixed forward, and as a result, there was nobody there to catch Nancy when she finally fell.

Except my shoulder.
5:49 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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