Scenes from an American Diner: A Story in 26 Parts
of us have had our lives touched in some way by the disease of
addiction. Be it a loved one, friend, family member or even ourselves
no one is immune to the impact of this devastating illness. This story
is dedicated to all of those people, especially the ones who have found
recovery through the 12 step fellowship.
Another Tuesday night, another beginner's meeting, another argument. It was all too familiar and yet, not. Reality was always in attendance, chasing away the tedium.
"So if part of why I used in the first place was to say a big 'F you' to whoever then why am I willingly engaging in a program in which I'm constantly being told what to do?" Scott asked, showing a fry into the corner of his mouth. He'd taken to grazing food off the plates of whoever had ordered. And because they were older, or because they had money enough, or because they felt sorry for him- or perhaps because of all these reasons- they'd let him.
"It's 'in which I'm constantly being told of what I should do'. I think..." Stew corrected him, then furrowed his brows as he questioned himself.
"Don't be a grammar Nazi," Ted dismissed him. "at any rate, the whole thing's that we addicts don't take very good care of ourselves. Left to our own devices, we self destruct."
"And when you let another person in, they almost always want better for you than you want for yourself. So they gonna give you better directions," Greg said, clasping the straw he was sucking on between clenched teeth.
"How do you do that?" Scott asked, bewildered. He'd been seeing it more and more since he'd been hitting the meetings daily, and it bugged him.
"Just, freakin', saying what each others thinking all the time- shut up!" he pointed a threatening finger at Stew before he had the chance of correcting him.
Stew closed his mouth which was poised to revise and smiled.
"It's all the same," Greg laughed. "You hit enough of these things, you get used to the lingo." The young man adjusted himself, his strong shoulders raising his butt above the bench and then placing him back down. His dark skin stood out against the silver color, making him stand out even more than he already did as a black man in a predominantly white town in suburban Pennsylvania.
"When I first started, I accused everybody of trying to recruit me for a cult," Ted said, a wry smile on his face as he recalled his angry protest.
"Good times," Stew laughed.
"The dogma, the stupid phrases they say over and over again like 'H.A.L.T. or K.I.S.S. or one day at a time- it all actually means something," Greg continued, unaffected by the interruption.
"And here's the one we're on now," Stew said, taking the cue, "Good. Orderly. Direction. Listening to somebody who has your best interest at heart, in spite of wanting to tell everybody to shut the hell up. That's the program."
"Take me for example," Ted chimed in, "I'm calling my son over and over again like an all-out stalker just because this guy's telling me to. Because I trust that he knows what he's talking about" he said, waving a hand at Stew.
"He's still not answering?" Stew asked.
"I assume he's screening the calls."
"This is your step work?" Scott asked.
"Yeah. You're young, though. You'll have a better time of it- less damage done in a shorter lifespan. All the more reason to get a hang of this thing before you end up like one of us."
"And why am I taking advice from you old guys, again, if this is what your experience has brought you to?" Scott asked. He couldn't help but taunt the men, it was too fun.
"Because they know what they're talking 'bout," Greg said, his eyebrow raised. "Respect your elders."
"Besides, look at how well it's served you so far," Ted said, turning his hand to him as if he were a model posing next to a sports car. "Wearin' t-shirts, putting on weight- you almost look human again."
"Plus, it is a little easier to just do what somebody tells you to," Stew said. "The hard part comes later when you have to actually live your life."
"You people don't help with that stuff?" Scott said, feigning shock.
"Nope," Ted said, "sure don't."