It's no secret to longtime Fat City readers and listeners to Central Standard Friday (tomorrow's show, by the way, is all about the restaurant scene in Lawrence, Kansas — tune in!) that I stopped drinking a long time ago. Yes, I occasionally miss a nice glass of wine with dinner — who wouldn't? — but for me, it was one of the few smart decisions I've ever made in my life. Some people just can't successfully handle the devil's brew, and I'm one of them. It wasn't really that much of a struggle to quit cold turkey — not like tobacco, which has been my weakness for decades — and I was even able to pick up some shifts as a bartender, without a bit of temptation, for several years after getting sober.
Shortly before I graduated from college, I enrolled in and passed the professional bartending course at the National Bartending School in Indianapolis. Glamorous it wasn't, and for all but one of the class sessions, we were mixing "cocktails" with colored water. (The theory: Why waste good liquor on a bunch of yahoos who are going to spend more time washing glasses anyway?) In the last class — a week before our final examination — we made complicated cocktails with real booze, like a pousse-cafe (for which I never had a request), and exotic fancy cocktails, like a Scorpion Bowl. Since we also got to taste the cocktails, I sampled everything until I passed out and was sent home in a taxi. You could say it was an omen of things to come.
That brings me to tomorrow night's annual "Recovery Reading" at the Writers Place (3607 Pennsylvania, 816-753-1090) where local writers affected by addiction (either their own struggles or those of family or friends) can share new or old work. The speakers include Phyllis Becker, Liz Gilbert, Judith Towse Roberts, Maryfrances Wagner, Susan Whitmore, Janice Yocum and me. I'm going to discuss "The Myth of Mocktails" (with samples, I hope).
Tomorrow's reading concludes with an open-mic opportunity for audience members to read their work on the theme of addiction. A reception and a chance to visit with participants follow; donations are encouraged: $3 for Writers Place members; $5 for nonmembers.