I have been to my share of AA meetings. Spent more than a couple of hours in smoke filled rooms listening to the tales of those in recovery and those who are still trying to recover. I have seen a man receive a chip for 50 years of sobriety and another for 5 years.
Some of those stories are just as sad as you can imagine. Tragedy and heartbreak bought and sold for two bits. Misery is a shared currency that can be traded and bartered for or so Jimmy Cox tried to tell me. Jimmy had all sorts of sayings. We used to laugh about it. One day we planned on using them to fill a book we planned on writing. It didn’t have to make us rich or famous. It just had to serve as proof of a life that actually meant something.
Jimmy didn’t have any illusions of grandeur. He was a simple man who had a simple disease. The biggest problem was that euphemism, simple disease didn’t quite illustrate just how badly it could fuck it up your life. Jimmy had learned the hard way that he wasn’t cut out to only have a couple of beers. He wasn’t someone who could walk away from the table. Some people can. Some people can ignore the piece of cheesecake lying in front of them.
Jimmy couldn’t. He used to say that it was part of his nature. There wasn’t any challenge too big for him to take on. He couldn’t find the man that was tougher than he was. And for twenty years he proved it. For twenty years he drank and fought his way through bars, restaurants, employers, wives and more than a couple of girlfriends.
In a different life Jimmy might have been an engineer or a teacher. In a different life he would have come home from work and not needed to take a shower. He had dark thoughtful eyes, a weathered, yet friendly face and a great smile. A fine sense of humor tempered by a fierce anger helped to round him out.