Ok folks, to say my life is boring at times is certainly an understatement. In the past there were also times that I couldn’t understand why my life was in complete shambles either. Well, I knew why but I was in denial and didn’t want to admit it was because I was constantly doing drugs and drinking a handle of vodka a week. But I digress. Last night was one for the ages. There have only been a few nights in my life that were so absolutely crazy that if somebody were to tell me that it happened to them I probably wouldn’t believe them. Last night is one of those nights. I’d like to preface the story with an explanation as to why I was where I was last night. I don’t feel I owe anybody an explanation but I do want to clarify as my perspective on addiction and recovery can be quite unique to some people and in the recovery community, perspectives that are different than what is expected can be incredibly controversial on many levels. So please get through that part and then I’ll get on with my actual story.
Every Tuesday (for the most part) since the beginning of the semester, I do something that in the eyes of many recovering alcoholics/addicts typically frown upon. I go to a bar on campus and I have two or three beers. Now, before you completely lose your shit, please, hear me out. I don’t like sharing my more liberal views on recovery because one of my biggest fears is that other people in recovery might take it as “Oh, well somebody else still drinks so obviously you can be in recovery and still do that!” No, nope, nah, please don’t. What works for me may not work for other people. According to 12 step programs, addiction is a disease and I’m not going to argue that point even if I disagree with it. Meaning that with time, I do believe addicts can live normal lives without having to go to meetings 10, 20, 30 years after they’ve discontinued using. In some cases they don’t need to go at all. I will say though that for me, I just like the taste of a beer now and then. When I do talk to other people in recovery about it, it turns into a “Well, is it REALLY the taste or is it the feeling you get when drink it?” “I mean, why can’t you just drink a Pepsi? Pepsi tastes good too.” “If you drink a beer, you’ll have to start over and pick up a white chip/keytag again,” “If you have one, you never know where it’ll end. Is it really worth it?” Well, that’s up to me now isn’t it? My sobriety is not something I base on a quantitative measure, it’s qualitative. I don’t need a chip or a key tag to tell me who I am, how far I have come in my sobriety or the changes I have made in my life and a seasonal Pumpking Beer is much more tasty than a Pepsi. It just is what it is. I found that when I actually didn’t go to meetings, I felt better about myself because I wasn’t hating myself if I “failed.” Part of recovery is learning to love yourself and removing the shame, guilt and remorse that you felt while you were using. For me, if I relapsed, the shame, guilt and remorse was even worse if/when I had to admit to everybody in my NA group that I had relapsed simply because I had drank a beer or two.
So, I made a decision which worked for me and may not work for everybody. I decided to do some research on other types of recovery programs and I found that when I was using it was because I was trying to hide from something very painful emotionally and didn’t know how to cope with the situation or I was severely depressed and needed an escape. Making connections between my using and why was huge for me. So, in the event that I am feeling either one of those emotions or if I am in one of those states, you better believe I will be skipping Tuesday night and I will find something more productive to do. Again, this works for me. It may not work for you. If anybody actually reads this blog and would like to have a conversation about my perspectives, thoughts etc about recovery and my own journey feel free to comment.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s continue with my evening. I have been studying non-stop due to my incredible failure during my first exam in my Statistical Methods of Psychology class at UCF so being able to take it easy and do some people watching while enjoying my three beer limit Tuesday night was sounding pretty nice. My favorite bartender wasn’t there which was disappointing as she’s probably one of the only people who actually laughs at my jokes. No big deal, it’s always tough to tell if bartenders actually think you’re funny or are just trying to beef up their tip anyways so I just flipped through FB on my phone and kept to myself. It was a nice break from the hour drive home right after class and fighting 5:00 traffic. Now, this is where my typical 2-3 beer evening followed by me walking around campus for a few hours before I go home took an unexpected and hilarious turn down the rabbit hole.
Randomly, a rather attractive woman, let’s call her I dunno, Jessica? Sure, Jessica, who I assumed was a student came up to me and said something along the lines of “Can I ask you a really, really odd question? It’s probably going to make me sound weird and I’m so sorry.” I’m thinking to myself…weird? I can do weird. I’ve been cooped up for the past few weeks with my nose stuck in a book or staring at a laptop. Weird is good. I just said yeah, sure. So she asks if she can take a puff from my vape which she called a fruity puff box. I thought it was actually kind of funny. It was endearing to say the least. So, we got to talking and as it turns out she was supposed to graduate this semester with a Master’s from UCF but apparently UCF decided to change the requirements for her degree at the last minute causing her to possibly lose out on some very lucrative and prestigious job offers from hospitals all over the country.
As I listened to her story I did feel bad for her and I let her go on about the whole thing for a while. A good while. Actually a long while. To the point where it kinda started getting annoying. I can understand somebody’s frustration due to a situation of that nature. Absolutely! Sounds like it really sucks. She’d put her time in, she’d volunteered at the college teaching courses to undergrads, she’d done some very extensive research, published papers and in all reality she deserved to graduate this semester as she had been promised. I was actually really impressed with her accomplishments. So, after a while, I figured ok maybe she’s gotten it all out of her system. Maybe I can slooowwlly try and cheer her up! We just got our first “cold front,” meaning it’s actually not 90 degrees outside for once, it kinda feels like fall, we’re outside on a really nice evening and I can be somewhat funny on occasion so I was gonna bust out my best comedy act. It was time for stand up comedian Chris. Brace yourselves bar patrons.
It was excellent timing. Apparently, when your girlfriend goes over to a random guy at a college bar it’s appropriate to go and check on that friend if she doesn’t return after a good two hours. So, my new acquaintance Jessica has a friend! Let’s call her Brittany. Brittany comes over and introduces herself as well and brings a guy friend with her so now there are four of us. I am on fire by the way, we’re all cracking up, the tension is gone, boom. So much better now. Could it be that we’re actually having a good time? Phenomenal. I really needed this after the past few weeks of non-stop cramming and hardly seeing the light of day.
So after a while of hanging out and me nursing the same warm, stale beer for a solid two hours (I told you I have a three beer limit) Brittany and her “friend,” decide to head out and Jessica and I are sort of just hanging out. It was getting late and I knew I needed to head home. My BAC was way below the legal limit, I wasn’t impaired in any way at this point so I was safe to drive. Time to hit the road and get Jessica an Uber. Sooo why is Jessica following me to my car?
Jessica. Stop. Let’s get you an Uber and we’ll just stay right. Here. Right here at the bar.
I’m not exactly sure how this happened. We just sort of kept talking and I was enjoying the conversation. It was drizzling outside and it was kinda romantic. I’ve been single for a while now and with everything going on in my life as a caregiver, being in recovery, dealing with school and everything else I sort of put the idea of being in a relationship on the back burner. It never occurred to me that I was essentially trying to get rid of a very attractive, very single, very intelligent woman. Idiot. So I figured ok. I’ll give her a ride home. Chivalry is not dead! I am quite the gentleman.
It was a pretty long drive, longer than I expected but all good, I am a gentleman after all and I was enjoying the good company. Then out of nowhere, Jessica tells me about her boyfriend. WTF? Eh hem..come again? Not only does she tell me about her boyfriend but she continues to tell me about said boyfriend and my spider sense begins to tingle. Ok, it wasn’t a tingle it was a fucking marching band. She was not happy in her relationship. Shit. I don’t have time to entertain such foolishness. Nothing ever good comes out of these situations. Maybe five years ago when I was ten years dumber than I am now, maybe I would’ve succumbed to such stupidity but all I could keep telling myself was “There’s some poor schmuck out there who definitely doesn’t deserve this, just drop her off and get the hell out of there.”
That was plan A.
Now, I’ve never been in the military but I love all things military and there’s a pretty common quote used by the armed forces that goes along the lines of “Make sure you write plan A down because when the shit hits the fan you’ll need it to clean it up.”
I should’ve written it down. I definitely should’ve written it down.
She’s really, really hinting here. Body language, facial expressions, syntax, speech, everything is saying “C’mon Chris! I’m not happy in my relationship and you know it…just kiss me already!” You don’t need to be an empath to figure that one out, my car reeked of pheromones.
Uuuuughhhh fml. Ok, we’re pulling into her neighborhood. Ok, keep talking. Keep it nice and light, stay off the subject of her boyfriend. If you don’t talk about him, you don’t talk about relationships, don’t talk about relationships it’ll diffuse the situation. Perfect, Chris you’re a genius. Whew, almost there, drop her off and get the hell outta there. Awesome. Once we get into her neighborhood we get into a pretty heated discussion about which TV show is better. The Office or Parks and Recreation. Now, I’m sorry but regardless of the situation, I can’t let somebody say that P&R is better than The Office. It’s just not. So we’re sitting in the parking lot going back and forth as to why our show of preference is better, tit for tat and all of a sudden she shoves her head between her legs and says “OMG my boyfriend is walking around the parking lot!”
Then her phone rings.
It’s her boyfriend. He’s wondering why she’s not home yet when she was supposed to be home an hour ago. So, he decided to look for her in the parking lot of their apartment complex. Jesus Christ, does he have some sort of super powers? I mean, it’s a giant apartment complex and we weren’t even close to her actual apartment. How in the hell was he only 20 yards away from us? Now please keep in mind, nothing had happened between the two of us. I admit, it looked bad and the situation was grim. None of this should have happened and I felt a deep regret for what had happened already but not nearly as much for what was going to happen.
She panicked. She said her Uber was about to drop her of any minute now and gestured for me to drive away. It was so terribly obvious. The second I started my car her boyfriend turned and looked dead at me. Any idiot can hear a car start in their phone and hear it from a stones throw away in a parking lot. So, I did what any intelligent, not guilty of being the other guy in an affair with a man that I’m about to come in contact with guy would do.
I just drove her right up to her apartment where he was waiting for her. No big deal right? We had nothing to hide so I’m sure he would be totally understanding of the situation and keep a level head.
Right. Well, he came up to the car obviously in distress and yelled at me asking me who I was. I responded with “Oh, me? I’m Jessica’s therapist.” Seriously Chris wtf is wrong with you? The look on his face was like something I will never forget. Half confused and halfway beyond what the human limit of hatred can fully comprehend. It was not exactly how I hoped it would go.
Luckily, his attention shifted to her as she still hadn’t gotten out of my car!! Why I don’t know, she just sat there in the passengers seat, puffing on my god damn vape like she didn’t have a care in the world. Had she lost her damn mind? Get out of my car!! Ironically what I was yelling in my head, he was yelling out loud along with a few other things that might or might not have been in a language from this planet. It was all sort of jumbled together. She still sort of just sat there and then she slowly got out while I’m sitting there thinking “Please don’t hit my car, please don’t kick my car, please don’t keep yelling, please don’t cause a scene, for the love of God would you two just go inside??” Then he draws his attention back to me and keeps asking me who I am. Really guy? What do you want me to say!? So I just said that his girlfriend was having a shit day and we met and were hanging out. It was completely plutonic and we were having a fun time and that I’m gay.
Yup. I’m gay. It was popped out. I choked, I don’t know why I said it really, it’s not like it would’ve helped that much at this point. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I’m obviously not gay but I felt so bad for this poor guy. I mean, what the hell was I supposed to tell him? Your girlfriend isn’t happy, you guys haven’t had sex in over three months, you don’t meet her needs, you two should seek counseling together but it’s probably too late for that and you dropped the ball best of luck?”
I’m really not sure if he even bought it or not. Tough to tell and at best I could probably get away with being a bottom bear or at least that’s what I’ve been told. I felt terrible, minimizing all the bullshit the LGBT community has to go through and I’m just laadeedaaa oh, yeah btw, I’m gay! Ugh. I don’t think this night can get any worse. I really don’t.
The anger was now boiling over and I was pretty sure she would know that I had just told a whopper of a lie. I mean we had been hanging out since 4:00 in the afternoon and it was bordering 10:00 at night by this point. I had a rude awakening when the very sharp reminder that I hadn’t even made the slightest hint that I was even remotely interested in her flew back at me when she came over to my side of the window and said “OMG you’re gay?”
How?? How did this happen?? I just wanted to have two Pumpking Seasonal Beers at my favorite campus pub after a long day of studying and number crunching and instead it’s 11:00 at night and I’m at an apartment complex over an hour away from home trying to defend my fake homosexuality to 1.5 complete strangers.
It was time to hit the bricks, shake rattle and roll, stop drop and roll, put the fire out, turn on tune in and drop out, time to just disappear. Sorry Steve Carrell, I tried to defend your honor but this time Parks and Rec probably won.
I said my goodbyes, best of lucks, rolled up my window and got the hell out of there whilst looking at two very confused, very angry and probably very soon to be single individuals in my rear view mirror.
I’m just happy that UCF is a very big campus. I think next Tuesday I’ll probably skip my weekly beer ritual and let some time pass before I go back.