For our latest essay series, we are inviting men to share a story, an episode, or an experience that involves women and drinking. We hope you will enjoy reading these stories as they appear each Monday.
By Timothy Gager
I. My younger phase: I drink, you drink.
We have so much in common. I drink, you drink. We talk between sips, go home and pass out. There are dysfunctional symptoms in each of us which give us excuses to drink as much as we can. This is the point in my life where I can only date women who drink. It is a good cover—if you drink, you can never tell me to stop. All I ask is that you take care of yourself, so I don’t have to drag you across the parking lot when you pass out after I stay too long. Oh, and no wetting the bed and no throwing things at me. These are not high standards, but if you choose to accept them we might have a long and miserable relationship.
Afterthought 1: Usually I outlasted most of these types. My drinking was always far worse than theirs.
II. Intermittent phase after early phase fails: I stay sober, you stay sober.
We’re in this together baby! Sounds very much like sharing a common cause but in reality it is because I need to stop drinking. I need to say, hey, I’m a good boy if I can date a good girl. Looking back, I’ve had a few of these women, but I wasn’t serious about staying sober. I hurt a really nice churchgoing good girl because I needed to go on a bender. My friend had killed himself and I self-destructed. I dumped the good girl and proceeded to meet a fine couple and break up their engagement. I met the happy couple on the roof of my apartment. They were waving beer bottles at me and invited me up. Later, I told myself that it was her–that she was unhappy with the potential marriage, but I knew it was me.
Afterthought 2: Those women were so nice they wanted to be great friends after the post-traumatic stress disorder wore off.
III. Getting older phase: I drink, you stay sober.
This type of girl involves a lot of convincing that my drinking isn’t a problem. It also helps that her difficult recovery involves an untreated sexual acting out on her part. This sounds rarer than the two phases above, but it’s actually not that rare. I dated a fantastic woman who was in recovery for five years and she had no idea about how I drank. Even her experience being around recovering alcoholics didn’t help her figure me out. Sex was great; anytime, anywhere, in the car, on the floor, slamming more against a door. It was Green Eggs and Horn.
On Thanksgiving, a few years ago, I took her to a party where I drank all night. When we went to bed, before I passed out I told her I wished I could take the bottle of scotch to bed with us. A few days later I was alone in that bed for months.
Afterthought 3: Besides sexually acting out, many individuals in recovery have OCD. The rituals, the counting, the need for order combined with a full blown recovery; the instances of OCD become progressive. The woman above was attracted to me when she discovered I had laundry OCD. When I discovered my washing machine had a compartment for the fabric softener I was very disappointed.
IV. Current status: I stay sober, you drink or you don’t drink—it’s all good.
As of January 18, 2011 I’ve been sober for 75 days. What you do with alcohol is fine, so drink, get messed up, use socially, go to town; better you than me. I’ve gone out on a few dates during those 75 days. AA tells people not to date because it allegedly messes you up. It’s a sin. Fine, I’m a sinner.
On dates, I’ve been totally honest. One woman tried to pull her wine glass away from me when I confessed. She is a fabulous woman. She’s a writer and her writing is so good, I’m embarrassed that I even attempt the craft. It was the first time I’ve had a sober first date and it was great, but there were other obstacles for us that didn’t involve my or her drinking.
Another woman and I hit it off recently. We’d text back and forth such things as, “I’m happy” or “I’m so glad we are doing this.” She is an AA member and they must have gotten to her. That’s the only way I can explain it. They must have thrown her in a room, shined a light in her eyes and made her confess to Thirteen-Stepping me. It ended…damn AA to hell.
Afterthought 4: The ruling on the field is, AA dropped the ball. The referees are under the hood: “Upon further review the potential couple moved too fast, the man might potentially trigger the female to start drinking and drugging, but also the potential pair weren’t compatible in bed, in age and in some other areas. The call has been overruled, AA keeps the ball and everyone involved should keep coming.
Timothy Gager is the author of eight books of fiction and poetry. He is recently a sober person living on www.timothygager.com.