About a month into my sobriety, I performed at a wedding. This was the first wedding I had performed at since I made my choice to stop drinking.
After we had set up and were getting acquainted with the wedding party, the mother of the bride emphatically reminded us to partake of the food and drink. She was fairly insistent about the drink part. My response to her at first was no response. She repeated it a few times. My mind slowly concocted something along the lines of, “I’m driving tonight”. Her reply was just one beer won’t hurt you.
I really didn’t feel like going into the whole “I’m going to AA and my sponsor would disapprove” spiel. I came out of the experience a little frustrated and incensed. Did she just assume that the musicians would naturally imbibe? Do my long hair and tattoos scream “pour me a beer”?
As the photographer passed me, she casually said, “friend of Bill?” It took me off guard, being fairly new to the program and lifestyle. I looked at her in a confused enough manner that she clarified: “AA?” The dots connected. For those of you who may not know, William Wilson founded AA. “Friend of Bill” is kind of a secret code among AA members, a way to keep from coming right out and proclaiming that you are a member.
I relayed this story at a meeting one night. I described how I mentally prepared a set of stories to use when people asked me if I wanted a drink, anything from I’m taking antibiotics to the silly declaration that I am pregnant! An older gentleman who I have really learned to respect and have gleaned a lot of wisdom from chuckled at me and said, “you know what you could have said? No.”
Two things I take from all of this. First, “Friends of Bill” are everywhere. At first, I was almost embarrassed to admit that I went to AA. I practically scream it from the rooftops now! I am proud of taking control of my life and hope that I can give back. I meet folks every day that I never would have guessed that they go through the same struggles as I do. Second, a simple reply of “no” is a perfectly acceptable response to having a drink. I don’t need to justify why I don’t drink to anyone other than myself. My life has been enriched since I took control of it. We were taught as kids to “just say no”! That slogan has come full circle for me today.