Nimue is Australian. A couple of Australian friends of hers are in town and they invited the two of us out for drinks last night. Cliff (I'll call him) has been here for a year and is attending college locally. I'm not sure why Matthew (also a made-up name) is here; he's probably visiting. This weekend is Cliff's last chance to relax and take it easy before school starts again. After that it will be "nose to the grindstone," full-time. Nimue was the one they talked to and she warned them that it might not be my cup of tea. She was right.
However, I did spend a few minutes with them before they left. I explained to Matthew that I couldn't safely drink, that I'd already had more than my share (Cliff already knew I was in A.A.). He understood immediately what I was talking about. Until about 10 years ago, he drank the way I used to. Then he decided, for whatever reason, to cut it out. He still drinks, but has no trouble controlling the quantity. At least so he says, and I have no reason to disbelieve him. Cliff is clearly not an alcoholic (something I already suspected); he had no idea at all what Matthew and I were talking about.
This is what put me in the frame of mind recalled by the chapter "More on Alcoholism."
... [O]ur drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.Not that I was thinking these things. It's just that I was in the same frame of mind during my discussion with Cliff and Matthew last night that I was when reading these words this morning. Somehow—miracle of miracles—the ideas in the Big Book have become an ingrained part of my reaction to thoughts about alcohol and drinking. Thank you, HP!
We... had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics.... The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.
... We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals—usually brief—were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced to a man that alcoholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better.
To finish about last night. While waiting for Nimue—what on earth did women ever do before bathrooms and mirrors were invented?—they asked me where they should go. I thought first of the Vertebrae Shanty, a place frequently by low-life (like me) and supposedly a great place to get drugs. I told them this and suggested they might want to go elsewhere. I thought next of Sharia Fettle, but they just tore that place down. Finally I thought of Banner Sky, which used to be a dive but has recently been all fixed up. Fixed up so well I've even thought of going there for dinner. That's where they wound up going, although I learned from Nimue today that it got to noisy, so they went to a nearby diner—no winer, beer or liquor of any kind—so they could have a real discussion. Obviously none of them are alcoholic.