Call Me By Your Name …

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I bought the book. It is sitting on my bedside table. I’m part way into the story. And I broke my own rule about first reading the book, before seeing the film.

There are films, that I have seen, from this particular genre, over the years. Each one of them evoke particular emotions and feelings. As I began reading the book, the other night, one particular emotions was drawn to the surface.

It has happened in my life, that feeling of crossing the divide into love, for the very first time. Happenstance, if you will. Once, when I was nineteen. And on another occasion, when I was just a bit older.

It was the Summer of my 19th year. My mother was in a resentful battle with her sister, miles away. My mother, ever the bitter bitch, forbade me contact. I ignored her.

Her battles were not my battles. And her resentments were not my resentments. Just to be clear, I never carried forwards the hatred that my parents carry to their graves.

But I digress …

I flew home to Connecticut for a few days. One night there was a party. Drinking ensued.

Yukkafutz …

Yukkafutz, is a 2 gallon mason jar, with a cup of sugar at the bottom, all kinds of fresh fruit, and on top of that, ice. Followed by 2 gallons of Vodka.

The top is sealed, and the jar is covered with a towel. Everybody in the drinking circle takes turns shaking the bottle, as the ice melts, the sugar melts and the vodka infuses the fruit, in the jar, the jar eventually ices over …

Everybody has a straw.

The jar goes around and around until the vodka is gone. Another cup of sugar is added, more fruit, and more ice, and another 2 gallons of vodka follows.

By the end of the second round, everyone is pretty plastered.

There was a particular man, at this dinner party. Blond hair, tanned physique, I did not know if he was gay or not. All I knew was that, he was not going to drive home drunk, and that eventually he would end up in my bed that very night.

Hell, I wasn’t sure if I was gay either. I’d never acted on my sexual orientation up until then, not even with a woman. I mean I’ve kissed a girl, but that is as far as my womanly education went.

We drank, and hooted and hollered. As the night wore on, I moved closer and closer to where he was sitting, until I was practically, sitting on top of him. With teenage lust in my heart.

I took his keys from his pocket, and I hid them where neither of us would find them until we at least sobered up, by the next morning.

As darkness fell, people who were staying, went to bed. Others left, quietly, by car. Alas, my man friend, was not going anywhere.

As the house grew quiet, I pulled the sofa bed out, and my friend took the sofa, off to the other side of the room. Not knowing quite sure what to do, I followed the guidebooks, that my father had left for me to read.

I will never forget that night, as long as I live.

We saw each other over the next few days before I had to return to Florida.

Our parting was as bitter-sweet as Oliver and Elio.

I kept that secret for more than two years. Nobody knew that I had slept with him that night, under my aunt’s roof.

That was, hands down, the boldest thing I had ever done in my life up to that point.

Gay men, of my ilk, of my day and age, had a particular philosophy. One, that it only takes three drinks to turn a straight man gay, and Two, some believed, that a coupled man, was more of a hunt, than a single man.

Meaning … The hunt was much better, if you could bed someone, who was already dating, or involved with someone else in particular, if you did bed that man, you win the grand prize.

On top of my medicine cabinet, to this very day, sits a bottle of OBSESSION, by Calvin Klein. A memory of an act I perpetrated, long ago.

I had two room mates, older than me, in that year. We had three friends, who worked at the Tragic Queendom. Charlie, Dustin, and David. Charlie and I were riding the hobby-horse, until he left from his contract season. Dustin was gay. David, on the other hand was straight.

David was terribly attracted to the scent of Obsession.

Every time he came to our apartment, I would douse the bathroom and my pillows and sheets with Obsession. My devious plot, was to bring David, over to the dark side.

After a night of drinking, and a little concentration of Obsession, I put my plan into action. That was the one and only conquest I ever attempted, in my life.

David swung…

Let’s just say I was in heaven for about a week. Floating above the clouds, because David was particularly good-looking and sweet.

My bedroom was in the back of the apartment. One of my room mates had the Master Bedroom, just inside the front door, of the apartment. My third room-mate had the middle bedroom off to one side.

One afternoon, I came home from work early, and walked into the apartment. As I walked in, I noticed that my room-mate was entangled in his sheets with someone.

That someone happened to be David …

Unbeknownst to me, my room mate decided that he was going to bed David too, behind my back. Color me surprised !!!

That was a particularly bad scene, to say the least. I had to continue to live under that roof, until I found someplace better. I never spoke to David again.

Gay men, of my day and age, had no scruples. They would stab you in the back, in the blink of an eye, if they felt they could get one over on you.

That would not have been the first time, in that particular time period that I got burned badly, by another gay man. Because it happened more than once.

I was a stupid naive gay boy back then.

I wasn’t the backstabbing kind of boy, and I am not that kind of man today.

Call me by your name, and I will call you by my name …

Elio, Oliver, Elio, Oliver …

Thursday: The Way We See the World

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I thought it was bitterly cold earlier today. Well, tonight it got even worse. We are sitting at a very frigid (-19c/-30c Wind Chill) tonight.

I had a conversation with Mama about Christmas earlier, and had some time before I had to head out again. And instead of walking to a bus stop, I called a taxi.

We have what is called a Taxi-Coop. One Number, taxis any time, anywhere …

Well, that isn’t right. I called the taxi company and gave them my address, and the woman on the other end says to me … Your address doesn’t exist. I can’t send you a taxi.

WHAT THE FUCK ???

Then I gave her the closest corner/busy street/location which is a block away.

She found that address (read:Location) which is on the same street on which my building sits.

Fuckity fuck fuck fuck …

I walked outside, and there was a taxi waiting for me outside my building…

How it got there, I don’t know. But the driver had my name.

Mischief Managed.

Speaking of Mischief Managed … I bought a limited edition Harry Potter …

I SOLEMNLY SWEAR I AM UP TO NO GOOD … Winter Jacket 

I did not, at first check on their shipping policy before I ordered it. But if their website is correct, Winter may be over, before I get my jacket.

UGH !

Only thirty people showed up for the meeting.

The take away … If I don’t change the way I think, the world around me doesn’t change either. Some people need to be knocked down a few pegs to see just how insignificant they really are in the grand scheme of things.

Because some Alcoholics have problems of gradiosity and entitlement.

Another man, with some significant time, was on shaky ground tonight. Once again, i was reminded, just how hard I work to stay stopped.

At least now, as a friend said to me before the meeting, I am maturing in sobriety. Keeping it simple is how I do it. I still do service that keeps me mindful of where I came from.

Sobriety is a long haul proposition. And if you haven’t READ the BOOK, we suggest, very highly, that you READ the BOOK.

Osmosis does not work in this case. You can’t suck up sobriety by just sitting in a chair, night after night. At some point, THE WORK will commence.

It is almost Christmas. Misery is right around the corner.

Alcohol makes the world go round, during the holidays. And if we aren’t careful, we might find outselves, holding a glass of champagne bubbles, and once we reach that point,

ALL BETS ARE OFF…

There are EIGHT shopping days until Christmas …

 

Saturday – Triggers

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It is written, in The Book, that:

At some point, the only thing that will stand between you and a “Drink/Drug” will be your Higher Power …

Because I straddle the lines between fellowships, I can speak to both arenas, with clarity.

The Saturday meeting, is usually sparse in attendance. But we sat a small group.

It seems, that even in sobriety/clean time, nobody is immune to the occasional mind fuck that takes us by surprise, when we least expect it.

When the weather gets good, and terraces are open, folks congregate on sidewalks, and they drink/drug and shoot the breeze. And I can tell you that, within 50 feet of where ever you are, in Montreal, someone is “smoking up.”

The Tams opened up a couple of weeks ago. This is an institution here in the city. At the foot of Mount Royal sits a park with a huge statue and obelisk. On Sunday afternoons, people congregate for “The Tams,” (read:Drums).

I enjoy this Sunday event. I hit the Mount Royal Metro and walk up to the park, at the foot of the mountain, I participate in the frivolity and drumming. Law enforcement usually tends to stay away, even though folks smoke up and play their drums and dance.

This came up in conversation on the way home tonight.

After a while, one tires of the drums, and so we take to the trail, and climb the mountain up to the Chalet House at the top. It is an afternoon event. When it is nice outside, one makes use of every hour of sunlight and warmth.

I went through the leftover topics from Thursday night, because the chair could not stay, so that left me to chair the meeting. A friend showed up and the topic I had picked came up in conversation before the meeting, so I went with it, which lent to the hour’s conversation that took on a life of its own.

The day I reach my geographic endpoint, I was given a choice between a joint and a beer. It wasn’t a trigger moment, It was a what do I do first moment.

When I put down the drugs finally, in my rehab house, a month into clean time, a friend offered me a joint, which I calmly declined. I never touched pot again.

When I moved back to Miami, it really wasn’t an issue. The drink was an issue still.

I lived alone, and had few friends, so triggers were almost non existent.

When I moved here, clean and sober, I was warned about certain facts.

Only twice, in early sobriety, was I hit with serious triggers, that were substantial.

One was on Jean Baptiste Day, the first summer, I was sitting on the pier at the Old Port, and folks were double fisting beer, I had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Along with quitting drugs/alcohol/AND cigarettes, I was attempting impossibility.

They say quitting smoking is as bad as quitting heroine.

A few months in, like I said, I was at the Old Port, in a celebratory, atmosphere, and watching folks drink and drug around me, I got thirsty and I wanted to smoke.

I was told that if I had a choice between a drink/drug or a cigarette, that the cigarette was the lesser of the evils.

I maintained my sobriety. But I walked off the pier and bought a pack of smokes, and that was that.

When I met hubby, the first job was to cleanse this apartment of the take out containers strewn all over the apartment, to get rid of 300 beer bottles stacked on the balcony, and to rid the apartment of his old drug paraphernalia.

Little by slowly, we returned the beer bottles, and over the next few months, I got rid of the rolling papers, the rolling machines, and left over baggies.

Over the long haul of sobriety, alcohol was something we avoided. But how can you avoid pot, when your neighbors smoke up, they deal in the hallways, and on every corner and alleyway, folks are smoking up outside ?

I don’t often think about smoking pot or drinking. But I dream about both incessantly.

I either drink or drug in my dreams, and I have conversations with the folks who were there, that I never got to speak to, in the end. And that all takes place in my head, when I am sleeping. And usually I wake up with a sick feeling and the residue of those dreams.

Sometimes, and it is often, at the end of a sleep period, I go into a dream, and I see it, smell it and feel it, I know I am dreaming, and sometimes I carry the dream out of dream state into waking up.

This drink/drug dream situation is common among folks getting clean and sober.

Which usually facilitates, a beating ones self up for even considering using, a feeling that we HAD INDEED drugged or drank, then a hurried call to someone close or to our sponsor, and then a tenth step in addition.

The other night, I was coming home, and I passed the alley way next door, and some kids were smoking up, and as I passed them to the building, the thought came …

I JUST WANT ONE HIT …

When was it ever just one hit ?

As quick as it came, the thought left, and I came home.

Some folks who are new to us, have problems with filling drinking/smoking time with something more substantial. Like calling others, or getting out of the house, or even, hitting a meeting or just doing something new.

Problems such as, “Oh, it’s Friday night, I should smoke up.” or “I am feeling down and stressed, let’s smoke up,” or “That exam is done, let’s celebrate, let’s go smoke up.”

Triggers and slipping are very prominent with many folks.

Those of us who came once, went back out, and then returned again, can attest to these things, quite clearly.

Another problem we see these past few years are old timers, going down the drain.

Old timers are one of two people. ONE, they are engaged and going to meetings, and maintaining fellowship and are IN The Work. Or, TWO, they are disconnected, they stop going to meetings and they avoid fellowship, because the young people, and those in the mid range aren’t connecting with them.

Once they disappear, the forgone conclusion is that it is highly likely that they would drink again, or use again, never return, and end up DEAD.

Over the past few months, we’ve seen it time and time again, old timers who just disconnect and end up down the drain.

It is sad, but entirely avoidable.

But I’ve heard from some old timers, how they are lacking in fellowship and are hitting meetings, filled with young people, but the young people don’t connect with them.

So it is falling to those of us in the mid range, to try and help them, by creating connection.

The One Certain Truth about those early first 100, and even Bill W, himself, the connection of one alcoholic and these days, one addict, with another is of prime importance.

The Connection between two suffering souls.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

I work to keep in contact with the old timers in my social circle, even though I call them and encourage them to return to the fold, many of them are resigned to self isolate and bemoan the fact that they are old and they believe they they are unwanted.

This is also entirely false.

These are some of the things our population is dealing with today.

It all begins with prayer and meditation. Hit those meetings. Find a Home Group, Get Connected, Find a sponsor, and sit down and get right into The Work, right away.

Because these things will save a life, even if they don’t see it now, eventually they will, because they stay clean and sober, in the long haul.

In the end everyone left a little bit stronger, after the discussion we had.

And we even had a five minute meditation, which was new for us.

It was a good evening.