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Grapevine : July 2011
The other one--liner I've gotten to hate is, "If you wanna be an old- timer, don't drink and don't die." I cringe when I hear that one. Getting old is bad enough; I'm not looking forward to dying just yet. Sometimes, an old-timer might share at a meeting where they're so- ber longer than everyone in the room put together. It's a little awkward. But, believe me when I tell you that I have never forgotten what it felt like to be a newcomer. Yeah, I know, you get up in the morning and you're a newcomer all over again ... kinda sorta ... but, not really. We've all heard that other gem of a line, "Who- ever got up earliest today is sober the longest!" This one sounds good, in theory, but honestly, we don't always feel that way, do we? Let me just say that's not what this old-timer feels like. I can't speak for any others. Last night, I drove from Me- nifee, California to Escondido, in San Diego, which was about 100 miles, round trip, to speak at a meet- ing. Wonder of wonders, no one fell asleep. Over the years, I've toned my story down so it's no more, "Hi ho Silver! It's the sober Lone Ranger!" stuff. I'm not speaking to impress anyone. I'm just trying to carry the message. I don't care if you forget where or who you heard it from, as long as it did something for you. I stuck around AA rooms to learn how to get real, be real and stay real. Honest to God, some people find out you're sober for 36 years, all you can hear is the gasping, oohing and ahh- ing all over the place. It's embarrass- ing. I have to remind myself, I didn't do this alone. I do not like being put on a pedestal, it's too far to fall. I try to focus on recovery and stay away from a drunkalog. I never plan what I'm going to say. It's usu- ally pretty easy now, since I've been sober long enough to actually dis- cover and remember my story. My story used to change a lot in the first ten to twenty years, because things I had long forgotten kept coming up. I think we call it clearing away the de- bris of the past, or peeling the onion. The last ten years or so, there haven't been any forgotten memories that I've remembered, thank goodness. I keep going to AA because there'll always be newcomers, and I need to hear and see them. My hor- mones are no longer in overdrive, so I'm not checking out the guys. Okay, okay, once in a great while I do, but mostly just for the fun of it. Also, it's safe because everyone figures I'm too old to feel anything. Hah! Besides, I'm happily married. But, really, I no longer have to justify what I do. The good news is that anyone can become an old-timer if they're willing to be willing to change and follow some direction. One thing is for sure: Nothing changes if nothing changes. Ann S. Menifee, Calif. 54 July 2011