There were about 200 prisoners at the meeting. I've never seen so many tattoos in my life. It felt like a nightmare at first. I'm sitting facing them and there is this huge black guy right in the front row scowling at us. He just sat there like a caged animal ready to pounce as all the inmates came in yelling, pushing and swearing. It was deafening as they all sat down whooping and howling. I said to myself...I'm gonna die here. Just then the big black guy got up and just tapped his finger on a table and the whole place was quiet. I thought, he must have been the guy who like killed like 10 cops so everyone 'respects him'. He then turns around and says, "May you all shut the fuck up and join me in the Serenity Prayer?"

This is part of an email I received from an old friend who finally gave up the bottle, with the help of AA. I asked his permission to share what he wrote, with slight editing on my part. Since I have been a witness to his journey, I've heard many stories I keep in confidence. This one touched me because despite my friend's usual macho bravado, I know how easily he gets scared. I also know how difficult each of the twelve steps has been for him. That being said, it is during the dark times we need laughter more than ever. Also, too many times, perhaps you can relate to having been in situations where later you wished you had responded differently. If ever there is a quote I want to borrow someday, it will be the question above.

He came up to me at the end of the meeting and shook my hand. It was three times the size of mine and my neck was at a 90 degree angle looking up into his huge nostrils. He said, " Hi man, my name is ________ and I'm an alcoholic." Then he said, " I dig what you said, especially that shit about your ex-fuckin'-wife. Man, she fucked you over dude. I woulda killed her but you did the right thing by coming into AA." He then told me that he was in the program for 10 years but got in a "little trouble" about 2 years ago when he swallowed 400 mg of Percocet and washed it down with a quart of Jack Daniels. He said something about his girlfriend and his little brother and how they both are dead because he got real "stupid" with them. I asked him when he's getting out and he just said, "when God wants me."

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