Coffee, Cigarettes & Anonymity

….we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.  Does that include blogs?

12 and 12

I had only been in AA a few months. The topic was “what do you do instead of drinking?” I looked around me. Everyone at the table was smoking and drinking coffee from Styrofoam cups. I was the only one at the table not smoking, but I had the obligatory coffee cup in front of me. This was long before smoking was banned in most meetings.

As we went around the table I didn’t hear anyone confess that they had begun smoking and drinking coffee since coming into AA but, to me, it was obvious. Before the basket was passed at half time I had decided that not drinking would be easier if I started smoking. I spent the rest of the meeting trying to decide what brand I would smoke. It had to be elegant. I was an elegant drunk. I wanted a hard box instead of a soft pack. Maybe a brand that no one else smoked. Certainly not Marlboro. Everyone other person was smoking Marlboro. I’d need a lighter. I could be bothered with matches.

I didn’t hang around to talk after the meeting. I was anxious to get to Schele’s Market. I usually stopped there for ice cream on the way back to my apartment. That night I stopped for cigarettes. I spent too long examining the rows of cigarettes behind the cash register. The proprietor was growing impatient – even though I was his only customer. I finally opted for Players. I liked the box. I bought a lighter and a can of coffee.  After struggling a bit to open the box, I lit the first one on the way home. Didn’t inhale. Just puffed a little. Probably looked very awkward.

When I got home I smoked the second one in front of the bathroom mirror. I began feeling a little lightheaded. I smoked the third one the next morning with my coffee. I decided I was getting the hang of it and was ready to try it in public.

That night I went to the “Victory” meeting on McArthur Boulevard. I got my coffee and picked up an ash tray before taking a seat at the table. I waited until the preamble had been read before lighting up. I looked around to see if anyone noticed. They didn’t.

I smoked for three months before quitting. I chose January 23, 1984 (1-2-3-4) as my quit date. Like any good ex-smoker I immediately demanded that John quit smoking – and he did.

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Filed under Breadcrumbs, DC, Revelatory

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