HERE’S TO YOUR HEALTH

This week’s HTYH is a continuation of Scott’s story: I grew up Jewish in the Bronx and my Hebrew name was Schlomo. I wanted to escape being Schlomo, I wanted a Schlomo operation and have Schlomo surgically removed from me as soon as possible. I started hanging out with apprentice car thieves–I got paid a dollar for my first heist. Dad was a bartender who believed he was a loser because he never made over 10,000 dollars a year. I agreed with him, I thought he was a sap, a sucker, a yo-yo, and a schlemiel. A schlemiel is a person who butters his bread and then drops it on the floor butter side down—it always lands butter side down. One day the bread landed butter side up and the schlemiel told his Rabi, “I’m no longer a schlemiel because on this day my bread landed butter side up.” The Rabi said: Not to worry, you’re a schlemiel; you only buttered the wrong side of the bread.

Although, I agreed dad was a loser, making a dollar for stealing a car or, stealing cars and crashing them into each other for fun isn’t the fast tract to financial success either. In hindsight, I can clearly see our parents loved us. My brother and I never went to school with torn clothing nor did we ever miss a meal. It’s hard to imagine how my parents accomplished that on 10,000 dollars a year? I once heard an A.A. sponsor say that the more of the fifth steps he has heard the better his own childhood got and it’s the same with me. I made over 80,000 dollars last year and my children did go to school with ripped clothing and they did miss meals, so who am I to judge? My parents did the best they could with what they had to work with.

Even with a loser image hanging over my head, I had lofty goals and expectations and by the time I sobered up, I had reached, or surpassed, all of them–even a book on the bestseller list. I had acted in a Broadway play, directed a film, a TV show and I had a director’s studio in NY City.

My first fourth step inventory with an A.A. sponsor showed me a true picture of the damage my alcoholism had caused. Sometimes new people want to do their fourth step piece-meal, but I prefer to look at the whole sordid picture instead of one piece at a time. For the first time in my life, I was able to see the monumental wall that I had constructed to run my head into.

I went to a long time sponsor for instructions on how to proceed with my fourth step and believed there were things “he” needed to know about A.A. and how a moral (truth), inventory should be done. He was a kind, gentle, loving man and he listened patiently while I told him all about A.A. and how my moral inventory should be written. He knew that I was more like a fish doing its final flop on the deck of a fishing boat rather than an A.A. guru, but he listened patiently while I explained it to him. Little did I know that this was going to be my last chance to be an authority, blame others for my corrupt character, or blame my parents for my alcoholism.

For most of my career as a practicing alcoholic, I was convinced that people were talking behind my back and at the bitter end, people started “thinking” behind my back and I knew what they were “thinking.” People do think behind our backs, but it’s a hard thing to prove so we prove it to ourselves by accusing them of what they’re “thinking.” We see two people together and say, “I know what they’re thinking,” if they don’t stop calling me a shiftless skunk, I’m going to wait for them to fall asleep and set their head on fire.

To be continued…

John Barleycorn

The phantom writer of the column "Here's to Your Health". This writer is an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and therefore must maintain anonymity. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer