Have I told y’all about my friend Lenny? Lenny is 81 years old. He’s been in recovery for almost 20 years, so if you do that math that means he sobered up in his 60’s. That’s a pretty good run for those of us in the program. Plenty of folks don’t make it that long. I certainly never would have.
Lenny is a crusty old guy who says what’s on his mind and refuses to suffer fools for long. Lenny was present for my very first meeting and was the person to present me with my first year sobriety chip. He’s retired so he goes to a lot of meetings. I mean, A LOT. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that he goes to more than one a day. My guess is that Lenny’s sobriety isn’t tenuous, it’s just become his social circle, you know? He’s well respected and well liked amongst drunks and civilians alike.
I attended a morning meeting last week and Lenny sauntered in with his usual pomp and circumstance. He bee-lined to the seat next to me and naturally I was delighted. As we made our morning greetings a woman I didn’t recognize sat next to Lenny. She was well dressed and attractive, probably in her early 30’s. She sat tone faced and stared straight ahead as we waited for the meeting to begin.
As Lenny took notice of her, I knew he would offer a greeting. “Hello! Smile, honey, it’s only gonna get better!” he chirped. She looked directly at him and coldly replied “It is inappropriate to tell a woman to smile”.
Oh for fuck’s sake. Thank God Lenny is hard of hearing. He tried to read her lips but looked at me brightly to translate. I looked directly at her and warmly addressed Lenny. “She says good morning!” He grinned back and her and nodded his head. She looked cooly at me and I smiled back. What I hoped my silent smile conveyed was this: REALLY!?!? This is your moment to make a point? You’re gonna see to it that this old drunk is WOKE to your agenda? I was furious at her for what I saw as an attack on my old friend, albeit unbeknownst to him.
And then I realized I was judging her as harshly as she was judging Lenny. Maybe she was struggling with her sobriety. Maybe she hates dirty old men of which Lenny could certainly qualify. Maybe she’s tired of fighting the Patriarchy at every level. Maybe she’s just a stone cold bitch. I don’t know. What I do know is that she wasn’t going to change Lenny by alerting him to current political correctness. Just like she wasn’t going to win over this liberal nasty woman with her astute assessment of Lenny’s morning greeting.
After the meeting I looked for her. I’m not sure what I was going to say, really. Maybe I wanted her to know that I get it, I do…that I’m on HER side but sometimes you just gotta pick your battles, sister. She was long gone though, reminding me that ultimately we’re all on our own journey.
I helped Lenny out to his truck and smiled bemusedly as he called me “sugar”. Sure, I’m a feminist, but more importantly, I’m a human being and sometimes being kind beats being right.