Not a member? Sign up now
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.