This week’s HTYH is a continuation of Bud’s story: My long suffering wife finally allowed the judge to release me to her custody. I moved in with her and our two kids who had moved in with my parents. My father, a retired police officer, dealt with thousands of drunks during his long career and he was not sympathetic towards my alcoholism.


At a time when Dad most wanted peace and quiet he found himself supporting an unemployed alcoholic son, a daughter-in-law and two kids. We spent our evenings sitting at opposite ends of the living room glaring at each other. After about two weeks of impasse, a knock came at the door and a man whom I’d never before seen asked, “Are you Gallagher?” I said, “Yep.” And he said, “Did you write this letter?” I said “Yes, but who the hell needs you now! I’m out.” He insisted however that he should talk with me about Alcoholics Anonymous?

My most glaring character defect raised its ugly head when this clown started talking about AA. I was overwhelmed with suspicion. I began probing, “So what do I have to sign?” He said, “Nothing.” I said, “So, what’s the initiation fee?” He said, “It’s free.” I said, “What are the dues?” He said, “There are none.” I said, “How the hell can I get to the meetings? I haven’t got a car or a single dime for gasoline.” He said, “I’ll take you!” And that did it because I figured anybody willing to take a total stranger to a meeting for free must surely have an angle someplace or perhaps he’s some kind of a nut and I had to know what made him tick? So I said, “OK, I’ll go.”

On the appointed evening the man showed up precisely on time, in an automobile made that same year and that impressed me; off we went to my first A.A. meeting. I sat in the last row on the pinnacle of my pride and arrogance, daring the speaker to say something wrong. I thought to myself, “These clowns presume to know how I should live?” They know nothing about correct language, proper pronouns, verbs, or syntax and they’re telling me how to live?” But it was obvious to me if these clowns could stay sober so could I; “I’ll show them!”

From that night forward, for the wrong reason, I did one thing right. I didn’t take that first fatal drink of alcohol. And then the days turned into weeks that turned into months and my long suffering war department said, “Whatever you’re doing keep it up!” Finally six months elapsed and I still hadn’t taken a drink of alcohol when a visiting group and their speaker failed to show up. The chairperson was galloping around the room frantically looking for a speaker when he came to me and said, “How long you been sober?” I said, “Six months.” He said, “You’re it, you’re tonight’s speaker.” I had been instructed to say nothing unless called upon but this night I was called upon. I was number one on their hit parade. When they announced my name, I arose and faced my audience and said, “My name is Allen G. and I’m an alcoholic.” This was important because it was my first public admission to being an alcoholic, but I nevertheless didn’t believe it. I listened to other guys saying they were alcoholic, but I didn’t believe I was a ‘real alcoholic.’ I said, “I’m an alcoholic who has been coming here for six months. It has never cost a nickel, but I’m sick and tired of hearing people say, “I’m full of peace and serenity.” “I’ve heard that same crap until I’m blue in the face,” and I sat down. That room suddenly became the quietest room in New Jersey.

After the meeting, I found myself surrounded by long-timers and the shortest one said, “Listen, hot-shot, I believe you haven’t had a drink for six months but the quality of your membership and sobriety is less than desirable, or acceptable, and it needs improvement!”


To be continued…

The Waynedale News Staff

John Barleycorn

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