Monday, November 29, 2010

Modern Times

There’s a bunch of men hanging around the church parking lot after the 12-step meeting, it’s an acceptable November day and they’re in their thirties to their sixties. They know each other pretty well; have gone through divorce and job losses, the birth of children and the death of parents; they get together for a few minutes’ chatting once or twice a week.

During the meeting it was mostly women who shared about their lives, about their husbands and boy friends who do or do not drink, and how they’ve been working at acceptance at best and rejection at worst. One woman in her 40s is leaving her husband of 17 years. The man has been in and out of sobriety but mostly out, and after all this time she’s decided it’s time to go. She’ll be moving out in a week or two, her sister has a spare room and there are no children, thank god.  But she hasn’t informed him yet, she plans to have The Talk in a couple of days, and it’s going to be hard.

That’s what the men standing in the church parking lot are talking about now, how they were told, because each of them was, in one manner or another, sometime in their varied pasts.

“I got a letter,” a 50-year-old with a year round tan. “I was at Fort Benning and she sent me a letter saying it was over. I went nuts, asked for leave and it was denied which thinking back was a good thing. I was still drinking back then. It coulda gotten ugly.”

“Phone call,” said another. “I had the feeling she had made a list and was reading it to me. Her mom was with her.” He shakes his head. “Her mom really disliked me. She never once said my name. It was always ‘him’.”

Heads nod. Two men who’ve officially quit smoking light cigarettes.  One’s wife left him recently, announcing her departure with a brief text message on his Verizon Droid 2. Another recalls that his 18-year-old son was dumped by his girlfriend after an exchange on Yahoo Messenger.

Three of the guys exchange looks. One starts humming Roberta Flack and the two others join in, “Hey, that’s no waaayy to say good byyyyyyye…”

Then they get in their cars and return to work.

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