True Stories: Alcoholics Amorous

Getting laid at AA can take more than twelve steps.

By Jenny Tucker

Don't get me wrong — I love alcohol, but if it were a guy, someone would have called the cops by now.

Since we hooked up, a year into high school, it's been nothing but a heartbreaker. I've been forced to rewrite my own rulebook again and again, lowering the bar to accommodate sexual indiscretions and sexual assault, shrugging off with a steely c'est la vie incidents that nice girls would take to the police.

Because alcohol has stuck by me. Old faithful. Who else sat by the river and held my hand with each new teenage disappointment? Who assured me, you don't need those people anyway? And not many other suitors would give you an approving nod when you left the house with a half-bottle of vodka shoved down the front of your stockings.

I finally broke it off with booze when it created a scene at one of those fine free-champagne-for-women establishments. It humiliated me in the men's toilets, ruined a few evenings, and then ran away, leaving me sans underwear in an alley.

No relationships for the first year. Ha!

At last, the truth barged through my buffer of denial: this shit was only endearing me to creeps, pervs, and women who wanted to use me as a yardstick for their own behavior. With relief, I took myself to the nearest AA meeting and threw myself at the mercy of those attending. Among their barrage of sound advice for the recently alcohol-bereaved? No relationships for the first year. Ha! Laughable words for an attractive young girl on the rebound. Laughable.

On arrival at each new AA group I took a seat in the circle and did an automatic scope of the room, unable to help myself. It's not just me. Newcomers are constantly having to change meetings when an ill-advised affair with some irresistibly rueful roué results in them both needing to share about it. But what's an alcoholic to do when people in the real world come bearing vices? And there's something noble to be said for a person dragging themselves through the gruelling twelve steps of self-improvement. One non-alcoholic lady confessed to a tabloid mag that she'd attended AA meetings specifically to meet a husband with "goals, determination, strength, and backbone" — a man who wouldn't cheat on her in moments of alcohol-induced weakness. Preferably somebody who wasn't attending by court order.

One wintry evening, under the yellow glow of the kitchen lights, I met his eyes over a plate of sponge cake: Steve. Beneath the customary hangdog pallor, he looked like he'd stepped out of an aftershave ad, and thus, I imprinted on him like a duckling wrenched from its mother. In a polite gesture that was all reformed-boozehound humility and that betrayed no sign of the coked-addled manwhore he must once have been, he stepped back from the baked goods, while I swaggered on and selected the choicest cake, as if to confirm: "Yep — I'm new, I'm cute, and I'm destined for a wake up call."

It wasn't the sexiest of scenarios, in a frigid church hall that smelt of death, but since the ambience was unlikely to improve once the meeting kicked off, I gazed upon him unwaveringly and let the trestle tables fade to grey.

There may have been great revelations that night; I wouldn't know. I spent the hour surreptitiously staring at the bit of leg between his pants and sock, looking forward to the serenity prayer at the end, when I'd get to hold his hand. Afterwards, he washed up my mug and the air crackled. My world suddenly flooded with promise: he wore cozy sweaters; he washed mugs; we would bring sobriety sexy back and then settle down somewhere in a small country town — once I'd finished fiddling about with my career.

The next week, I sat pertly on the chair next to him, shoulders back, trying not to shiver after slipping off my coat to reveal my outfit. When it was my turn to share, I carefully omitted any incidents involving alleyways or date-rape drugs. In turn, he mentioned he hadn't expected to be thirty-three and single. Game on! I sipped my chamomile tea triumphantly. Hang on to that humble do-gooder resolve for as long as you can, Steve.

"Watch out for the men!" my sponsor thundered over a double espresso when I reeled off the calamities of my week. "Whereas female alcoholics are promiscuous, men are often impotent... so when they sober up they realise they've got a dick again." Coming from an immaculately coiffured lady in a pashmina, it was a startling revelation. So there was always hope.

Commentarium (18 Comments)

Feb 16 10 - 1:54pm
JV

I hope this doesn't mark me as too big a prude, but I was about to write Nerve an angry note until I saw how this article ends and that the subhead is misleading. AA is too important a process to risk celebrating it as yet another place to seek hot sex. It's nice to read about a growth experience that comes from not fucking.

Feb 16 10 - 5:27am
KB

What I got from this article: thirteenth stepping. Thank you for enlightening me. That's amazing.

Feb 16 10 - 10:47am
js

loved this

Feb 16 10 - 11:10am
ct

This has little to do with the most common face of 13th stepping-- creepy "oldtimers" in their 40s and 50s who think they're still the same age they were when they stopped, and are always reaching out to "help the newcomer"....women in their 20s who think they've found a mentor or someone who "really cares about their sobriety" until the sexual harassment starts.

Feb 17 10 - 1:54am
np

This was great. Thank you.

Feb 16 10 - 3:02pm
Name

"...while I swaggered on and selected the choicest cake." The phonetics of this sentence made my stomach turn. I imagine the narrator lisping it, and am so repulsed that I cannot finish the piece.

Feb 16 10 - 5:29pm
Dan

Loved this one.

Feb 16 10 - 6:35pm
Name

A big disappointment. I wanted Jenny to get laid more than she wanted it herself.

Feb 17 10 - 7:38pm
rem

I didn't think this was promoting AA meetings as a place to hookup. It was about this author discovering the new place sex has in her sober life. Nice read.

Feb 17 10 - 8:20pm
Anon

Jenn, what about Tradition 11?

Feb 18 10 - 11:38am
TFT

Since I was involved with a recovering alcoholic I found the rule "no relationships in the first year" to be very helpful in my decision whether or not continue any contact with this person. I want her to get well and it was driving me crazy to lie to her to feed her fantasy world. Now I know that cutting off communication punkt is the best thing for her and I.

Feb 18 10 - 2:35pm
AB

really strong writing, although for me, the wheels came off in the last few 'graphs.

Gonna check out the blog

Feb 20 10 - 8:21pm
BR

Jenny, I congratulate you on your recovery! In 1998, my wife(we divorced a year later), began attending AA. W/in a week she began her 13th step with my boss at the time. The 13th step takes place more often than people realize! She never got that myself,our children(7&10 at the time), & most of our friends did not have a problem w/her recovery BUT the affair she was having. So the 13th step, in our case, was much more harmful than her addiction issues.

Feb 22 10 - 3:17am
Dani

I wondered about tradition 11 too! - "Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films." Has AA really not updated that to include "television and internet" or "all forms of public media" like other programs? Doesn't matter: "practicing these principles in all our affairs" should cover that. Nerve should be on top of this too; I wouldn't be surprised if they've already gotten a note from AA asking them to please respect anonymity even when the author doesn't.

Of course, Tucker might not even be her real name ;) It's probably better to assume that it isn't rather than assume that she is violating her own anonymity. And I could be wrong; maybe AA is squarely behind people using their own names online, and is only really concerned with people outing others, or celebrities outing themselves and then falling off the wagon.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading this. I've heard many stories from friends in early AA recovery about being thirteenth-stepped as well as of becoming enamored of the hottie across the room and bewailing the hottie's refusal to hook up. Or ending up bewailing the fact that they did! It's natural, like the way people chain-smoke and chug coffee at first; a lot of people switch addictions, jumping to nicotine or overeating or sex addiction, as the one they were using starts getting taken care of.

May 24 10 - 2:31pm
Jack C

Loved this...as a 26 yearold male in recovery...sex is my biggest "ahhh" it was very easy drinking...beinvg young and good looking and lots of sparetime, it is driving me crazy. "wanna get some tea?" Haha, can so relate.

Nov 20 11 - 8:29pm
Estella

It's imperative that more pepole make this exact point.

Nov 21 11 - 2:51pm
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