A Fellow Drunk, Secrets and Sobriety

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Lorna Kelly, The First Female Sotheby’s Auctioneer, Died in June of 2016, SOBER …

This post, originally posted to my former blog, was written as a document. I had this exact conversation with a drunk, in person, to his face. And he told me to fuck off at the meeting.

So I came home and wrote down what I had said.

It wasn’t until he read these words for himself, did he get indignant, and send the Pitch Fork crowd after me, saying how terrible I was that I wrote about him, broke his anonymity, which I categorically DID NOT, by NOT mentioning his name at all in the piece, and that I had adversely affected his sobriety. Only he would have recognized the story was about HIM specifically.

He never approached me on that I wrote any of this, nor has he said a word to me since, not that he deigns to speak to me in public, anyways. He could not bear to speak to me because I was right. But he sent enough people to my blog to tell me that he was mad at me and that I had broken his anonymity. Which I Did Not…

So I shut down the blog and moved it here. And that FUCKER sees me in meetings now and does not even acknowledge that I am sitting a mere ten feet from his chair. Nor does he, in any way, make mention that he read the blog or has anything to say to me in public. Because he knows I was right and that HE is a PUSSY …

Lorna Kelly once said, in her wisdom about alcoholism,

“Only You know what you do in secret…”

The Book says, that at some point in your sobriety, the only thing that will stand between YOU and a DRINK, will be your Higher Power.

The Book also says that, the obsession of EVERY alcoholic is this …

“That one day, we will be able to drink normally like other people.”

The Thursday meeting did not disappoint again, tonight. One of my friends spoke. What goes on in Vegas, is supposed to stay in Vegas. Well, we know tonight, that adage is not really true.

All it takes is a shot of tequila while standing in a pool at an expensive hotel on the strip. Take a sober man, put him in a POOL with his fellows on a business trip, far from home, disconnected from his sobriety, and hand him a shot !!!

At first, he tosses the first magical elixir SHOT into the pool, much to the consternation of his fellows, so they hand him a second SHOT, this time, he downs that shot, and is off to the races. One shot devolves, from that expensive Hotel pool on the strip into seedy hotels off the strip, lots more alcohol, girls, and illicit drugs.

Thank God he had the presence of mind to STOP. He takes himself to the airport, a few days short of completing this business trip, and pays $2500.00 for a plane ticket, and comes home.

Straight men, in the corporate world, have it really bad because we heard him say that the corporate world is COLD, and that MONEY is COLD.

14 months ago, that few night slip, took place.

Thank God, 14 months later, he is sober.

At the end of the meeting, the 12 step rep got up there and handed the chip.

Surprise, surprise, a man I know well, got up and took that chip.

Many years ago, a man came in. Reticent, and Unrepentant. At that time, I was not as sober as I am today. And what I did not know then, I would not figure out, what I did not know, until I was on the other side, looking back at it, right now today.

Nonetheless, one night, after a meeting, I sat with this man, and gave him the speech. Told him what I was doing, and how I work with others.

Needless to say, he did not want what I was selling.

And to this day, he still does not want what I am selling.

You can only WHITE KNUCKLE it for so long. Because eventually, YOU are going to drink again. My gay friends, in the rooms, have not much love for me, because they all think I am a bit mental, and crazy, and they are, and have been, the most judgmental about my personal appearance and my presence in meetings.

For the whole of my sobriety, I have watched people. I’ve listened to them talk. And I know what they are doing, and what they are not doing. I know, many things about my friends, that they don’t even know about themselves, until they drink again.

My particular friend, has been white knuckling it for a long time.

Here was a SURRENDER that was YET to happen…

My friend is a member at the Monday meeting. And for the last many months, he comes in, shakes hands perfunctorily, and sits down. For the last many months, he has been more OBSESSED with a light switch on the wall, rather than paying attention to reading the book, that we have been reading religiously for the last 14 months.

He is more concerned with that fucking light switch, rather than his sobriety.

Because he is the guy who shuts the switch, turns on the switch, and when to flip the switch.

He’s been doing this for months. Now I recognize that behavior, looking back at it, because I heard many times before, that if you are disconnected at meetings, that you really need to reconnect, at your own peril.

Over the weekend last, he thought to himself, and he said this to the room that,

“If I had a drink, one drink, in SECRET, nobody would know …”

Well, God knew. And He knew as well.

Stubborn pig-headed queer men are the bane of my existence. My gay friends don’t want to know me, and they are fixated on topics that I have already walked through myself, but over the past year, these are the same men who shunned me and snickered at me, while I was in my cups and at my worst, mentally and emotionally.

My friend took a drink, in secret, hoping nobody would find out.

FAIL !!!

I may not have been as sober as some think of me today. But the good God’s honest truth is, I am still sober, and I did not drink, even in the worst of my personal hell over the past year, I stuck it out, white knuckling it, as I figured this hell out for myself.

Because nobody wanted to sit with me nor help me …

Yet, I have the presence of mind at meetings to pay more attention to my friends, than on my own self. I read the book, I share from my heart. My straight friends are A LOT more supportive in the grand scheme of things, than my gay friends.

Somewhere, deep in my consciousness, now that tonight took place, that the warning signs were there all along. I had seen them materialize. I knew what they looked like, now on the other side of an intentional SLIP.

Lorna warned me, warned us. Because this man was sitting in the same West Island Round up when she spoke those words to us about the Secrets we keep to ourselves and having to guard our secret moments, we keep to ourselves.

More than once, in her share, she said and I quote …

Alcoholism, is like a snake, slithering through fine china and wine glasses, across the table, at an epicurean feast fit for a queen, is always there. And on the second night of that feast, a fellow lady at the table suggested to her that she drink, to “enhance the pasta dish,” and in that moment she had a choice, to DRINK or NOT to drink.

She put down her fork and knife, put her hands in her lap and said the Serenity Prayer to herself. Thereby avoiding a slip at that table.

The day after, she had an emotional breakdown in her room thankful that she had God in her corner and that she knew what to do in that moment of choice …

She did not drink that wine, and was sober until the day she died almost a year ago, in the Thirty something sober range….

The Book of Forty is closing. The Book of Fifty is about to be opened.

I know God is in my life because my spiritual directors, Spencer and Randall kept me on that connection every day.

I am sober and made my Statement of Faith the other day in my Inventory …

Monday I will be Fifty … And I will be SOBER…
I wrote this on Friday before my birthday July 31st, which was a Monday this year.

There is a God and I am not He.

Some of my friends are not so lucky.

The Book says, an alcoholic Will Drink Again. Lorna said that We must be diligent in our secret spaces.

And Mother Teresa said to Lorna, on her sickbed that…

YOU MUST PROTECT THIS SPECIAL GIFT … (read Sobriety)

Part TWO of this story … If You Want What We Have …

This afternoon, I got up and went to do my shopping. And I ran into Canadian Tire to purchase that light switch, to give to my reluctant fellow who drank again. It is just a simple light switch you wire into the wall.

Before the meeting, I ran my stupid idea past two very sober men, who I trust with my secrets and thoughts. They both agreed I was barking up the wrong tree, because we all agree, my fellow, really does not want to be sober, because he has not even admitted to himself that he is an Alcoholic, and that he is powerless over alcohol and drugs. And he has no desire to be Honest with even himself.

I sat on my idea for the whole meeting.

A fellow I know very well spoke. He’s just a few years ahead of me at nineteen years. He said that once we come into the rooms we begin doing good things for others, which makes us feel good about ourselves.

And we build Self Respect.

Self Respect IS important, because once you build self-respect, in sobriety, we really don’t want to fuck that up. He also mentioned honesty and willingness to do something good for ourselves now that we are sober.

He is fifty-five years old, and I just crossed the fifty mark myself. I know him, but I don’t HANG with him, nor anyone from his crowd. But I see him often, where I hit meetings, and he is consistent in work and ability.

I sat outside with my sober men before the meeting and watched people I know, from the meetings I HAD been going to approach the door. They would walk past me and not even acknowledge I am standing there, except I say their names out loud, as to say, I acknowledge you, even if you don’t ME

They don’t want to converse with me before or after the meeting. It is like I don’t even exist in their spectrum of who they talk to, before and/or after.

Many people in the rooms are like that. They will shake your hand and exchange pleasantries, but nothing beyond that minimal effort to look sober.

Is that all about ME or all about THEM ?

I don’t know. I just know that people (certain people) really don’t care for my brand of sobriety nor honesty in my observations of them, or the fact that I am sober a good while, and many of them are not.

After the meeting I approached my light switch fellow, and made MY PITCH.

I explained the light switch I had purchased and why I was giving it to him. I told him that he wasn’t paying attention to anything, because he sat in a meeting and read THE WHOLE BIG BOOK cover to cover, and decided to drink again …

WHO DOES THAT ???

I know he does not think highly of me at all, being Queer like me. But I am not a Queer like many of the other Queer men I know in the rooms. And I said that to him, prefacing my remarks. He wasn’t buying what I was selling.

In closing he looked at me like I was from Mars, after handing him the light switch and made my sales pitch and replied, I don’t know what to think about this.

I hugged him and walked away.

Not sure if that little TOOL will do anything for him, but I offered a last salvo to tell him that I was paying attention to HIM and his stupid choices, because obviously, he wasn’t paying attention to anyone or anything. And I told him so.

I encouraged him that he really needed to start paying attention …

I said these words to another drunk. He balked and turned and walked away. A few days later, he reads my blog and get indignant and sends the Pitch Fork Crowd after me.

Hence, here we are safe, protected and away from prying eyes…

Wednesday: Playboy

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A Young Donald Trump on the cover of Playboy Magazine, 1990.

When my family moved into house number two, in Miami, when I was in second grade, it was a serious upgrade from our two bedroom duplex in Homestead Florida, where we first hit land when we moved from New Britain Connecticut to Florida, in the early 1970’s.

In 1992 – When Hurricane Andrew ran over Florida, Homestead Florida was wiped off the map. It was like a nuclear bomb had gone off and destroyed everything, and I mean EVERYTHING.

It took more than ten years to rebuild that city to what it is today.

Anyways …

My brother and I went to-day care after school for many years, until the day I staged a revolt in the bus taking us there, and I demanded our private bus driver to take me home. That day I got a key from my mother, and she went back to work, full-time, and I became my brother’s keeper for the rest of my life.

We were, what you could call, “Free Range” kids back then.

We knew how to go home alone after school, open and lock doors, in relative safety.

We had “neighbors” back then who paid attention to everyone else’s kids, because we usually wound up, in someones family room or back yard climbing trees and such.

I was more interested in family secrets. My brother did not like nor love me, because my father bred that kid to hate me from the word Go.

I spent every alone hour rifling through every little secret my parents had to themselves.

And I realized that what my parents SAID in the open and the Scripture they preached so vehemently, was NOT the same as what they did behind closed doors, namely, their bedroom door.

You would have thought my father had a Degree in Theology. The way he preached.

I HAVE DEGREES IN THEOLOGY AND WORLD RELIGIONS TODAY, IN FACT…

My parents lived a secret life, that nobody knew about, except me. However, I did overhear, one night, them discussing their sex life with the neighbors, whose daughter was a friend.

Back then, pornography was alive and well, (in the early 1970’s). It had been around a while, because my father had box upon box of porn stacked in a closet in the garage. Over the years, I did a lot of reading. I was in grade school. By the time I hit the sixth grade, I had already figured out what side my bread was buttered on.

I relate this story about Hugh Hefner.

There were, back in the hey day of the Great Miami Beach, big hotels, with huge chandeliers in their lobby’s, the family visit past time, was to drive up Ocean Drive, and Collins avenue, to peer inside those hotels as we drove by.

There was, also, a Playboy Dinner Club on Miami Beach.

My brother and I were so lucky one night, when my father took the family, my mother included, to have dinner in said “Playboy Club.” The women were beautiful, in their skimpy outfits with their bunny ears and powder puff tails. That’s about all I remember of that night.

I wasn’t interested in women.

My father’s reading habits were varied. For the rest of my years, through puberty, my father left pornography in the bathroom, where he would indulge.

They thought their secrets were safe, they weren’t.

I don’t think they really thought that their kids would indulge in a little smut every now and then while we contemplated our navels sitting on the toilet.

Never … Ever …

Along side the Reader’s Digest, was Playboy, Hustler and a little magazine called “Variations.” This happened to be my favorite smut. Because it included stories about men.

My father came home from the Viet Nam war, in the 1960’s with a skeleton. I was named after that skeleton, and for the rest of my life, my father abused me mercilessly, telling me that “I was a mistake and should never have been born,” even knowing that he had named me after a soldier he loved, who was killed in that war, and when he came home and had his first son, he named me after that soldier in honor of him, only to turn around and beat me senseless every chance he got.

My father, being the good father he thought he was, one night, took me to The 94th Aero Squadron restaurant, alongside the Miami International Airport, to give me my Birds and the Bees talk.

That restaurant still exists today. I have a link on my desktop to the webcam atop that building, to watch jet liners take off and land.

I was approaching puberty you see, and he thought it wise to give me a hand up, while with the other, He Beat and Abused me Severely.

The closer to homosexuality I got, the harder the beatings got as well. Because on the Down Low, he was reading Gay Porn, and I had come to believe that if it was good for my parents, then it was good for me. And if they could do something deviant, (I did not know what deviant meant back then) I could do something deviant too.

And everything would work out for me.

Well, it didn’t.

I had ample years to prune my puberty tree. I knew before I hit junior high that I was gay, but I had to “Play it Straight” for the cameras. Girlfriends, Prom, Dates, you get the picture.

I never once, openly admitted I was Gay. Not Once. I never said those words to my parents. But by the way my father abused me, and my mother allowed it to happen under her watch, they both knew, whether I said those words or not.

“Mom and Dad, I’m Gay.”

I think we can all agree, that every pubescent boy growing up from the early days of Playboy Magazine, till today, probably credits Hugh Hefner with their first orgasm, or quite possibly, their first wet dream.

There was, back in the day, a radio show, that I used to listen to late at night, on my little transistor radio, with the little single ear piece. Back then, on the radio, there were these, what I like to call, “Alternative Variations” on the dating game phone call in shows.

Back then, gay was done in secret, at night, under the cover of darkness, because God forbid, someone find out that you were gay, or that gay even existed, “In community!”

My father gave me the ammunition to build my secret life, that he was living. The same secret life, behind closed doors, and behind my mother’s back.

My father would never admit, to his grave, that he leaned Gay, while “Playing it Straight” for the cameras and the progeny he spawned.

When I hit twenty-one, my shrink, a friend of the family, had taken me aside and gave me some sage advice.

This is what he told me to do:

I want you to go to the local Gay Bar. Park the car, and go inside. Sit down on a stool and relax. Have a drink, hell, have two drinks, and see what happens. He also told me that alcohol was going to be the lubricant that was going to magically make me acceptable in the gay community of Miami. That was the WAY IN …

My alcoholism had already taken off by then. The first night, I was legal to drink, the race was on. And my alcoholism grew to steroid proportions.

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I moved to Orlando to be Gay because thats where every gay boy comes Out of the Closet and also, in Orlando, every gay boy worked at Disney World.

Which was TRUE.

My twenties, were a blur. Alcohol, Sex, Drugs, Irresponsibility …

Until the years that I began to work for Todd. A year before I was diagnosed with AIDS, 1993, through until Todd and Roy moved to San Francisco, in 1996.

I was twenty six when I was diagnosed with AIDS. My family did not want to have anything to do with me, and to this very day, they don’t have anything to do with me.

I got sober on August 23rd 1994. That lasted until my fourth year of sobriety.

I had a two-year window to learn everything that Todd would feed me, in learning how to survive AIDS, what to do in case of emergencies, and those PEARLS of wisdom he dropped into my life.

With Todd gone from my life, I could not keep it together. People in sobriety were very mean. When I spoke at that meeting at three years sober and was told by another alcoholic that “They did not condone people like me and that I needed to go away and not come back” my fate was sealed and my slip was not far off in the distance.

On my thirtieth birthday I legally changed both my first and last name.

EMANCIPATION…

In my thirty forth year, I moved from the United States to Canada, SOBER.

So here we are, mere weeks after my fiftieth birthday this past July …

On December the 9th, 2017, I will hit Sixteen years of Sobriety.

Hugh Hefner is dead. And Probably every boy with eyes to see, has probably, one time or another, thumbed through a Playboy magazine.

As Catholic as my parents were, and as staunchly, they believed that homosexuality was a sin, punishable by death, pornography was part of our house hold. My father left it out to be consumed. And I did.

I don’t know anything about my brother, save we grew up in the same house. He went on to marry and have three kids. And going on thirty years now, he’s never said a word to me edgewise. I don’t know him, nor his family.

And the last time I saw my mother, was on New Years Day 2001, in Miami Beach, for all of twenty minutes while my father waited for us to visit, while the car was running, parked in a fire zone, in front of the building I once lived in.

When I moved to Montreal, my mother cursed me saying that “If either one of them got sick and died, that nobody would call me nor tell me where they were buried.

I never spoke to my mother again, but three times, in the past sixteen years.

Last Summer, 2016, I called my mother to tell her that my cousin Carol had died.

Her response …

“You were a mistake and should never have been born.”

You know, at forty-nine years old, those words still stung. It took me months to get over hearing her say that to me AGAIN. Having heard those words come out of BOTH their mouths for the whole of my life.

That’s my truth about Hugh Hefner and Pornography.