A never-before-released short story I wrote a year or so ago. I had totally forgot about it, just stumbled upon it, and though I should release it.
And I Am An Alcoholic
by Aaron Goldfarb
Adam had been going to meetings for a solid month but had yet to speak. Every Wednesday afternoon at 4, he’d drag his ass to the YWCA basement, and just sit there and listen. He didn’t know if that was technically “allowed,” but these didn’t exactly seem like the kind of people who followed everything to the letter of the law.
Typically between seven and eighteen attended the meetings, drawing from a group of four dozen Adam would have estimated. There were nine of them at this week’s meeting. Next to Adam sat Cindy. She was only in her thirties but looked like she’d been around for Armstrong’s moon landing. The previous week, she’d told an unbelievably disgusting story about once having given a homeless dude a blowjob for a sip—just a sip!—of his booze. If Adam wasn’t repulsed enough, Cindy then went into graphic detail about the odor that blasted her face when the pulled down his jeans in that back alley. About the stray lint and mold—yes, she said mold!—caked onto his matted pubic hair. About how she thought she even saw a critter—a louse or a crab!—but how she went through with it any way because she had no other options. Fuck, just so she could have a long tug from his Early Times.
Thank you for sharing, Cindy.
Across from Adam sat a worthless blob of shit named Charlie. Charlie wore dusty overalls, flannel shirts, and starched stiff hats with a rope across the back of the bill and patches on the front face explaining what kind of veteran he was, if you knew how to comprehend those kind of things. He attended all the meetings, every single week, and always had a new, boring ass story to tell everyone. Last week he had told one about the time he drank so many “Blue Lights” while ice fishing that he’d passed out with one of his hands down the hole, only to wake up with severe frostbite. But, Adam quickly noticed he still had and was using both his hands and all ten fingers—one and five to drink the shitty Folger’s Crystals, the other and five to literally dunk a donut into the aforementioned shitty coffee—that the story didn’t hold much weight in Adam’s mind. This week, Charlie had already wasted ten minutes on another lame-o tale. Adam’s mind drifted during it as he inhaled the strong stench of chlorine from the swimming pool on the same level, listening to the shouts from some old lady Water-obics class, Adam just anxiously waiting for the next person to tell their stories as Charlie refused to stop gabbing in the way old people do. Going on and on about the time he chugged so much red wine he fell asleep in the audience during his daughter’s ballet recital. That’s what red wine—and children’s ballet!—usually makes you do, thought Adam. Yawn.
Thank you for sharing, Charlie.
Next to Charlie, amazingly, actually listening to his boring story, even nodding along in sympathy, was this dork Rob. It wasn’t quite clear why he attended these meetings as he seemed to have his shit together. All of Rob’s stories were predicated on the fact he’d once been a successful broker for J.P. Morgan. Vice President. Nice house. Nice car. Nice wife. Boring life. So he’d said. Until he’d gotten a homebrewing kit as a gift one Christmas and fallen in love with the hobby.
Soon, Rob was spending what little free time he had in the family garage brewing beer. He had little time but he had a whole lotta money and he eventually decided to quit his day job and open a craft micro-brewery in an abandoned warehouse in Orange County. Heroes & Villains Ales & Lagers he called it. Adam thought that was, admittedly, a cool start to a story, but unfortunately Rob’s stories never got more interesting than that. Each week was just another pathetic installment about how the brewery hemorrhaged his money, forced him to cash out (with penalties!) his 401K, lost him his wife and eventually his house, and left him with nothing…except to resorting to drinking himself blotto every single night on, you guessed it, his own beer that no one else wanted to buy in the first place because it was shitty beer. How circular. How boring.
Thank you for sharing (another shitty story), Rob.
“OK, who’s next? You ready yet, Adam?”
Adam looked around nervously at all the anonymous faces he knew more things about than any of his own family members, friends, co-workers. The sad faces of generally the same people he saw every single week, the same boring people with the same boring, shitty stories he’d now been subjected to for a month. He was beginning to wonder if his idea would ever even pay off.
“No. No. Sorry, no, Mike. I’m just not…ready…to share yet.”
“And that’s OK, Adam. With time. I’m still glad you’ve taken the first step to attend these meetings, though. That’s the most important thing. And I hope you’re learning that…we’re just like you. All right, all right, then who’s next? Perhaps you, sir. I don’t believe we’ve met you before, is this your first meeting…?”
“Uh…Shawn. Not yet, no. I’m Shawn. Yes, this is my first.”
“And…I, uh, am an alcoholic.”
Shawn wasn’t that old, or bad looking, but he looked like he had very recently been young and very good-looking. With a slightly receding hairline masked by a skilled haircut, nice clothes and expensive shoes, one could have never told that Shawn was an alcoholic. Alcoholics, they’re just like us! thought Adam.
“I grew up drinking from an early age. That’s what life’s like in a showbiz family. Uh, sorry, if you didn’t know, my father is—”
“Uhn uhn uh. No need, Shawn.”
“Right. Well, you’d have heard of him and you wouldn’t need IMDB, that’s for sure. There were always lavish parties around my house. Kids were treated like adults. And by that I mean we could do what we wanted. What was our maid Flora going to do when she caught me nipping my old man’s Cognac? Rat on me and risk losing her job, getting herself FedExed back to fucking Peru?! What caterer was going to stop me from guzzling champagne at my father’s 50th birthday party back when I was only 11? And risk out on a massive tip at the end of the night? No way. No fucking way.
“And it was no way for a child to be raised. My wealth and success were a guarantee I didn’t need to be good at school or sports…or life. I only needed to be good at doing nothing. And when you have nothing to do, boozing is the easiest ‘something’ to do. Soon I was drinking before school and after school. Sometimes even during. Vodka in my OJ carton. I’m not sure whether no one noticed…or no one cared. I’m not sure which would be worse.
“At age 13 I lost my virginity to a very famous child star who now is also in rehab—my pops was working with her. Now I was addicted to sex too. I know what you’re thinking: all horny little teenage boys are addicted to sex. Yes, I’m sure that’s true. But very few have the fame, wealth, access, and controlled substances I had. The stage mothers pimping out their daughters to me, just so afterward I might possibly mention to my father over dinner, ‘You know pops, I really think little Maddie could resonate with a family audience.’ Right, as if my family and I ever once even sat down together at the dinner table. Not once did we.
“By the time I reached my twenties, I was jaded. Nothing thrilled me any more. But, even worse, nothing scared me. And, when nothing scares you, you become a very scary human being.”
Shawn looked on the verge of tears, on the verge of truly breaking up. Adam watched and listened in, for once at one of these loser meetings, completely riveted. This is what he had been waiting for.
“Three months ago was the last time I had a drink. I remember…I remember I’d been drinking and smoking weed all afternoon by my pool…and all by myself. Not cause I wanted to, but cause I really have no friends. I was drinking martinis. And by ‘martinis,’ I mean straight gin with just a single olive…”
Adam smirked, audibly, but no one else in the room did.
“I remember being hungry, really craving a burger, but since help didn’t work weekends I had no way to easily get one. Of course, I have no idea how to cook. I don’t even really know how to go to a grocery store. So, what do a guy like me do? I decided to drive to the Chateau Marmont nearby. Who does that?! Their stupid burger costs like $50. I didn’t even change out of my swimsuit or put on any shoes, I just slung a towel around my neck and drove to the hotel.
“The valet said nothing because I always tip him well, and the bartender didn’t either, perhaps because I was being somewhat behaved for once, famished, just quietly inhaling my cheeseburger, wiping my greasy, bloody face on the beach towel still hanging around my neck, drinking more and more ‘martinis.’
Adam again smiled at the mention of ‘martinis,’ though no one else in the room did.
“I remember the bar beginning to fill up as it got later in the evening. Pretty people, beautiful people, successful, wealthy, famous people. Lindsey was there. That guy from Mad Men sat down beside me. I pretended like I didn’t know who he was, even though we’d met at an Emmy’s party a few weeks earlier. Soon we were doing coke in the bathroom.
“Eventually, women were surrounding us both. Skanks they were, pardon my…misogyny. But they were fucking skanks. There were always skanks around me, anxious to trade their attention, implants, and pussy for my money, drugs, lifestyle…access to fame.
“But like always, I’d soon grown tired with the scene and wanted to go home. But not alone. I was in no mood to be alone. So I picked out the three girls I wanted to have a foursome with. Yes, a foursome. You other men here probably don’t even realize the certain, how should I put it, depravity that a very elite group of men like me have access to. And which you don’t.
“Now, of course, none of these skanks have cars, certainly not ones I’d ride in, so we have to take mine. I may be wasted and making terrible decision after terrible decision, but somewhere in the recesses of my brain, there must have been one sober brain cell that doesn’t think: ‘Hey, drunk driving is bad,’ but instead thinks: ‘There’s no fucking way the valet will ever give me back my car in my current condition.’ It doesn’t matter who I am, doesn’t matter how much I tip him, there’s simply too much liability (and future bad press) for a hotel of this stature. So I come up with a plan.
“Like Ocean’s 11 the three skanks and I sneak into the valet parking lot and, after awhile, somehow find my car. Success! Only…one problem: how to start the fucking thing? Because who has my keys? Why the valet of course. All hope is lost. Until…I notice something. There’s a tow truck idling in the lot and, wouldn’t you know it, lucky me, the keys are in the ignition.
“I don’t really recall the specifics, but the skanks and I must have flipped my Porsche into neutral to roll it up onto the tow, and we were soon in business. I peeled out of the parking lot, the tow truck dragging my Porsche behind it, two of the skanks in the front of my tiny Porsche, the ugliest of the three—and, believe me, she was still a fucking “10”—I’d forced to ride in the trunk. I’d never driven a tow truck before, certainly not shitfaced, so I wasn’t used to the handling. As the tow truck sped out of the parking lot, the momentum sling shot the Porsche around behind it, taking out the valet stand. Luckily, the valets were inside so no one was hurt. Even more luckily…they called the cops on me.
“The police eventually found me in my master bedroom in the midst of transitioning from a threesome to a foursome. I’d left the front door wide open and parked the tow truck and Porsche right in my flower bed. According to the police report, I feigned ignorance, trying to claim I was actually a ‘highly successful’ tow truck driver, which I guess would explain all the women and the $3 million house. I don’t even remember saying any of that.
“I’m being sued by the Chateau and the three women, my license is currently suspended, and I’ll probably go to jail for a long, long while for driving two cars under the influence. It’s somewhat unprecedented, even in this vile city. Grand theft tow truck, I suppose.”
Again Adam smirked, thinking Shawn was trying to be funny. He wasn’t.
“But that’s all fine with me. I’ve actually never felt better because I haven’t had a drink since that terrible night—and I never plan to have another one ever again.”
The group applauded and shouted out encouragement to Shawn.
For once, even Adam joined in, trying the hide the huge smile on his face and the ideas swirling in his head:
“Thank you for sharing, Rob.”
Adam was slightly late in arriving to his blind date at the Thai restaurant on La Brea. His date Bridget was fidgeting with her iPhone when he arrived, an annoyed look on her face. Her gorgeous face. When he’d discovered fidgety Bridget’s profile on Match.com, Adam was smitten, even if her bio story was boring. He all but begged her to go on a date with him.
Email after email, she’d refused for awhile—until finally relenting after he’d suggested meeting at this particular pricy and trendy Thai restaurant. In his year of online dating, Adam had learned that suggesting a nice spot was usually enough to land a date, but never enough to land anything more. That sucked.
Before he’d even sat down, Adam apologized for being tardy, explaining that it had taken him forever to find a parking spot on the busy street, which it truly had.
“Well why didn’t you just valet it?” Bridget snottily wondered.
“Because…well, let’s just say, you don’t want to know what happened the last time I used a valet.”
Bridget raised her eyebrows, intrigued, as Adam took his seat and leaned in close, like he was sharing a state secret.
“So I was sitting around the pool, drinking a few martinis—and by ‘martinis,’ I mean straight gin and one olive, when I really had a craving for a cheeseburger…”
Bridget smiled, amused, subtly tucking her iPhone back into her purse.
“Which, before I go on, shall we order a couple drinks? Martinis for both of us?”
“Hi, my name is Adam. And I am an…alcoholic.”
“If you live in this city and you’re single, well, it seems you have to drink. Let me tell you, I’ve never been a particularly interesting guy. Smart and clever, maybe, but never interesting. Never been one of those guys with a so-called ‘great personality.” And I drive a real shitty car too. Not something like Shawn has. Had. Sorry, Shawn.”
Shawn nodded, “no problem.”
“I’d gone on countless dates. Internet dates, I couldn’t even meet a girl legitimately. One date a week or so. None of them were a success. At all. You know why? Because I didn’t have anything interesting to say. Whether you want to admit it or not, dates are entertainment for women. Dates are showbiz. You, the man, are the performer, and she is your paying customer. Although, you’re usually the one actually paying—hey, how’s that work?!
“So I decided to do something about it. I wanted to be one of those guys with cool, awesome, hilarious stories. A Tucker Max type. So I started going out and drinking heavily. Beers and vodka and shots. Whatever was put in front of my face, went down my face. Even Jaeger. And, I assumed, by simply doing that, by simply drinking a ton, that amazing things would start to happen to me. Crazy hookups and funny confrontations and maybe even a bar fight or two. Anything for a story, right? Then I’d finally be an interesting man with a few killer anecdotes to liven up any date.
“But you know what? None of that shit happened to me! Nothing happened to me, in fact, except I became the guy passing out and slobbering all over himself in the corner of the bar. That wasn’t helping my sex life at all. So I put those days to rest and devised a new…life strategy. With help from all of you.
“Last week, I had a first date with this girl Bridget. Gorgeous. In my past life, I would have bored her to tears. Talked about the traffic and weather and street parking problems in Los Angeles and gotten so drunk that…who knows. But now—this time—because I was following this new strategy in my life, she hung onto every single word I said, even laughing until she had hiccups.
“And, let’s just say, the night didn’t end until morning.”
Adam smiled, proud of himself, as the group applauded him, shouting out words of encouragement (“See, that’s what happens when you clean up!” “Way to date sober!” “Good job kicking the habit!”)
Adam couldn’t wait for his second date with Bridget.
Adam couldn’t wait to meet up with her at the bar that night.
Adam couldn’t wait to hear another AWESOME story from Shawn.
Thank you for sharing, Adam.
If you enjoyed this, please check out my collection of short stories about sex, the sexes, and sexiness in New York City, The Cheat Sheet.