Buddha celebrated his 20th AA anniversary the other day at our home group meeting. As is traditional, he started by telling us how he became a drunk.
“I was married and we had four children, twin boys and then two girls a year apart. My wife was a kindergarten teacher, I was coaching high school football, and we had a little catering business. Nothing big, just dinners for twenty or so people. We had a big house in downtown Buffalo. We lived on the top two floors and used the basement and the ground floor for the business.
“This was right after the second World War and we were doing very well for a
young couple. Then my wife and two of my children were killed in an automobile
accident. I went to pieces. I abandoned what was left of my family; I turned the twins over to my inlaws.
I sold the house and this was my first drinking money.
“It didn’t last long. When I had to work I would either drive a truck or cook. I had jobs
all over the United States. I’d panhandle, I’d ride freight cars. This was not too long after the Depression and a lot of men still rode the rails.
“One time I was going from Reno to ‘Frisco, on an overnight freight, and when we got into the ‘Frisco yards the next morning I found out somebody had stolen my shoes. But it was okay. The railroad detectives found another pair of shoes for me.
“I met all kinds of people. Like my friend Jimmy, Jimmy Morris. He was completely different from me. I was from the city but he had grown up on a farm. He was picking cotton before he could walk.
"I met Jimmy in the K.C. yards. He knew Kansas City and he told me there was a mission downtown that was celebrating its anniversary. Everybody was welcome and there’d be lots to eat. We went downtown and it was like he said, lots to eat, with lots of regular town people there, too.
“After a while the minister in charge said that if we’d stay and help a bit he’d let us sleep in
the mission that night. And in the morning he’d give us plenty of food to take with us when
we left. Well, it was November. We thought it would be good to have a place to sleep indoors so we agreed.
“He took us out in the kitchen and you never saw so many dirty pots and pans in your life. And all the dishes – no paper plates or plastic knives and forks back then, it was all good stuff that we had to be careful with.
“We washed dishes until five o’clock in the morning, and then we slept until seven when the minister sent us on our way.”
Budda joined us in laughing at himself. Then he said, “I like to talk about the funny times so I don’t have to remember the bad times.”
He was quiet for a moment, reflective, then went on: “Funny things always happened to me, even before I started drinking. Like the time in the movie theatre, back in Buffalo.”
“This was before we were married. My then girl friend, my future wife, wanted to go
to a movie about a bunch of drunks. I wasn’t alcoholic then, this was back when we were still in college. I forget the name of the movie, but it was supposed to be a pretty good movie.
"We had something to eat first, dinner in a restaurant. Then we went to the theater. They wouldn’t seat you during the last half hour of the first showing, so we stood in line in the lobby, waiting to get into the second show.
“Now, I had had a couple of beers with dinner and pretty soon, standing there waiting, I had to use the restroom. I went, I came back to the lobby, and I got back into line next to Nancy, my future wife. Pretty soon I started to feel a breeze; I had forgotten to zip up my fly.
“That was no problem. I just stepped up closer to the woman standing in front of me and got myself decent again. But when I took a step backward her coat came with me. She was wearing one of those big fox fur coats women wore then, and some of the fur was caught in my zipper.
“I couldn’t just rip the woman’s coat loose and maybe tear out a big hunk of fur. I tried to get closer to the woman so nobody could see me fiddling around but I couldn’t get too close, if you know what I mean.
“I didn’t know what to do. By now Nancy, my future wife, was gone. She didn’t want to be seen with me. Finally the guy with the woman in the fur coat saw my predicament and he said to her, ‘Take off your coat.’
“She asked him why in the world she should take her coat off and he told her, ‘BECAUSE I HAVE TO TAKE IT INTO THE MEN’S RESTROOM’.”
See also: Buddha's Chistmas Tree"