I have a drinking problem. I’ll be the first to put my hand up at the front of the classroom while old Teddy Smythe’s rubbing one out under his desk at the back.
The problem for me is that I don’t see anything wrong with having a few drinks. However, I do see something wrong with a having a few drinks when a few drinks aren’t enough anymore. When a father rapes his daughter. When a mother burns her son with cigarette butts. It’s an illness. People like that need serious help, they don’t belong in AA meetings and they sure as hell shouldn’t be thrown into prison.
Why did you want to quit drinking, then, if you don’t see much wrong with having a few drinks? I hear you ask.
I used to drink every day and I got bored with it. It’s a bit like kitting, drinking is. You start a winter’s jersey, a stripy little number that’ll catch people’s attention at the bar. And then you knit and you knit and you knit. You watch Baywatch and you knit. You have a few whiskeys and you knit. And it’s the same pattern over and over again: green stripe, yellow stripe, red stripe (if you’re going for the Jamaican-let’s-go-for-a-doobie-on Mama Africa’s-balcony look), or pink stripe, grey stripe, white stripe (if you’re going for the look that says ‘I’m so shy and innocent but I want you to stuff your cock into my tight arse as soon as we’re done drinking these ten Springbokkies I ordered and you’re paying for’).
Let me explain. I can be extra visual after one of Mrs Patel’s hash joints:
My ‘knitting pattern
Beer (x2 / x3)
Write (whiskey / vodka and OJ / red wine)
My ‘stripy little number’
Sunshine haze /
sunny side up haze /
golden shower /
tossed salad /
See, I don’t know what look I’m going for here. The old cliché stoned chameleon on the kitchen counter, or the crack whore stumbling out of a bush onto the N2 between Cape Town and Khayelitsha at midnight?
Let me be honest, the AA meetings didn’t help. Let me rephrase that: The AA meetings I attended didn’t help. I went to quite a few. After the water-into-wine escapade, I went to another one a few doors down.
I might as well have taken off all my clothes and walked straight into one of X-Art’s studios (WARNING: Don’t google X-Art if you’re at work):
I introduced myself and explained my reasons for wanting to quit. It was what you’d expect it to be. All eyes are on you, you get the odd nod of understanding, a tissue dabbing at tears here and there, you know, all of those gestures of understanding. These people were a bit more understanding than those attending Bronwyn White’s meetings, and I couldn’t spot one drunk in a crowd of about seven.
Everyone got their chance, and I must admit that some of these people were doing the right thing by going to AA meetings and talking about their problems. One of the women said that she became so frustrated at not being able to quit that she started cutting herself on the inner thigh every time she took a drink. Until she hit a vein and almost died, had it not been for her seven-year old son who called the paramedics.
One of the guys, an Adonis named Josh, told us that he was well on his way to become a professional rugby player, “…but the Demon Drink had other plans for me. I ended up on the streets of Green Point, selling my body for a couple of bottles of Old Brown Sherry and cheap red wine. A BJ and a finger up the bottom for a bottle of OBS, and a BJ and a fuck for two bottles of red. I didn’t need money. I’d forgotten how to eat.”
Right, I thought, this is it. These guys are going to help me quit. I have no doubt. I never want to forget how to eat.
Later, in the feedback session our ‘ritual leader’ for the evening, an ex-hippie calling himself Rainbow, asked a weird question: “Right, time to get physical. Dolorez, could you please take off your top?”
“Okay.” I have nice breasts. I know what a man likes, and I don’t mind showing them off now and again. “Could you tell me exactly why, though? Because, and I’ll be honest with you, I don’t take them out for just-because reasons.”
“In our meetings—” Rainbow scratched his beard and very dramatically “—we share our deepest secrets, Dolorez. Having intercourse bonds us physically. Here we blend the mental and physical to become whole again. I call it the … Healing Circle.”
“You just made that up,” I said.
“No, I didn’t,” said Rainbow.
“Yes, you fucking did. What was with the pause before … what do call it again?”
“The Healer’s Circle.”
“Ha! That’s not what you called it the first time.” I was bouncing on the balls of my feet now.
“It’s the same thing. It has many names.”
“A bit like Jesus, then?”
“Right, let’s see if the old Holy Trinity feels like helping you out tonight. Josh, did Rainbow just make that up?”
“Liar. I can smell a lie a mile away. I’ll buy you a bottle of Smirnoff, a bottle of Kahlua Cream and a bottle of red—of your choice—if you stick your finger up Rainbow’s arsehole. If you can use more than one finger I’ll buy you a bottle of spirits, again of your choice.”
“Dolorez, please. I’m not … that way,” Rainbow said.
“What do you mean, Rainbow?” Josh asked, a slight frown accentuating his I-will-fuck-you-up jawline.
“Gay,” Josh finished Rainbow’s sentence for him. “You meant gay, didn’t you?”
“No, no, no.”
“A moffie, Rainbow? A fudge packer, perhaps? Don’t worry about it, my friend, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, Rainbow.”
Rainbow’s sigh of relief sounded like first rain hitting the hot Sahara sand. Everyone else’s breathing sounded like distant thunder.
“What bothers me is you claiming that intercourse brings us together. But there’s still one piece of the Healing Circle missing. Do you know what that is, Rainbow?”
“Oh, dear God. Please don’t tell me it’s you and me.”
“You and I, Rainbow. You and I.”
It wasn’t long after that when everyone shuffled out the door, except for Rainbow and Josh, of course.
We told Josh we’d wait for him at the Thirsty Camel where I got absolutely trashed. We all did, but the truth is I couldn’t keep up with these guys. They were nuts.
I woke up the next morning next to a lock of hair so black, I thought it was still midnight. Mrs Patel curled one leg over mine and pulled off the covers. She had on a stripy jersey.
Pink, grey, and white.
I cupped one of her breasts and fell asleep again.
AA meetings, eh?