I had to collect #1 from a new friend's house yesterday. I'd never met her Mum, but I liked her instantly. I could see us becoming friends.
"Cup of tea?" she asked, "or a glass of wine?"
It was six thirty. A perfectly reasonable time for a glass of wine.
"Ooh. Tea, please," I replied. (Obviously. Get with the programme...)
I could see the disappointment in her eyes. Not because she's a drunken lush and desperately wanted to open a bottle (I can tell that look by now!), but because of what it said about me.
I miss alcohol (and cigarettes) for their ability to create an instant bond. The tea or wine test - in my book - was a way of telling what sort of person you were dealing with.
I often used to employ the test with potential new friends. Those who replied 'wine' were, I decided, the fun ones. Grown up when required, but always young, wild and reckless at heart. The 'wine' responders were my crew. My posse.
When I replied 'tea' to the new friend, she thought 'responsible, sensible, straight....dull.' And that's not me!
I desperately wanted to say "Better not open the wine, unless you want to haul me out of here at 2am after having heard my full life story and seen my comedy version of a cabaret striptease." But I didn't want to scare her off completely.
Cigarettes were the same. I made some of my lifelong friends huddling in a garden trying to get the Zippo lighter to work at a party, or when banished to the smoking section of an office, restaurant, train or aeroplane (remember those days?).
What I miss by not doing AA (do you think I'm gradually talking myself round?) is a new posse.
And ex-drinkers are, in many ways, the best posse of all. (See Why Ex-Drinkers Rock! and Why Ex-Drinkers Rock Part 2)
I was reading a new novel (BUY IT! It's a lovely page-turner with romance, drinking, recovery, AA...what's not to like?) by Jane Green about an alcoholic and her chequered life called Summer Secrets.
The heroine, Cat, describes the people she sees at AA. It's a meeting she hasn't been to before. She says:
I know the people. I recognise the look we have, all of us who have lived a little too hard, partied a little too long, done everything a little harder, faster, longer. Addicts and alcoholics. People of extremes.
We are, as a group, often too fat, or too thin. We are too tanned. Our fashion sense is out there. But our hearts? Our hearts are as big as the ocean.
And that's us, my friends. You and me. The new crew.
Love SM x