Three phases of my disease
By Bree L.


What it was Like

I wasn’t much of a drinker, maybe a beer over a week. Then, at 21 I became legitimate and asked my father what a knowledgeable drinker should order. 

“Haig and Haig Pinch, on the rocks,” he said. “That shows one knows what to order. Haig and Haig is expensive.”

I was dating a guy who liked to take me to places better than dive bars.  People in bars didn’t seem to drink but sipped with sophistication. The liquor didn’t come in bottles but special occasion glasses. Goblets for brandy and special glasses for wine. Whatever one ordered had its own designated glassware. I wanted that sophistication.

The Haig and Haig tasted like a mix between cough syrup and rubbing alcohol. 

“It’s high-grade scotch,” my father said, “Not cheap rye whiskey or beer, good stuff, impressive.”

The first sip didn’t impress me but before long the room started to soften just a bit and I became the prettiest girl in the room, sophisticated, with the funniest words. The Haig and Haig got better as well and it was time for another, on the rocks.  One wouldn’t want to dilute a good thing. I forgot about sipping.


What Happened 

The Boom Boom Room.

It was in the ‘70s, my husband and I were in San Francisco for some sort of medical something. You know, one of those deals where Drs must attend classes to keep up their medical license, a weekend thing. Fly in Thursday or Friday, go home Sunday. We attended a bunch of them. It was a quick getaway, tax deductible, short and sweet. Except there weren’t a lot of classes. It was time to party down, away from the kids and small-town restraints.

It was my white Russian phrase.  I’d passed the Haig and Haig period and loved those white Russians with lots of Kahlua, a smooth vodka and cream to coat my stomach.

Somehow, we ended up in the Boom Boom Room, late, not quite closing time but close. We’d done dinner, the meet and greet, then headed out into the wilds of San Francisco. My husband liked Dixieland. A taxi driver said the Boom Boom had Dixieland.

I don’t remember much about the music as Dixieland wasn’t a favorite, but I do remember the swimming pool, well not exactly a swimming pool. It had been a swimming pool in the ‘70s. When we were there, it was more like a swamp than swimming pool.  In and around the pool edge were plants in a quasi-tropical motif. In the pool was a raft and on the raft was a four-man band playing Dixieland, wearing red and white striped shirts and bow ties.  There was a sparse audience.

At the time there was a popular song called “Lay Down Sally” so I requested it . The bass said, respectfully, “We don’t know it.”

I couldn’t believe a viable Dixieland band in San Francisco would not know this popular song. I re-requested “Lay Down Sally” shouted from my side of the pool. I’d had a few drinks and an incredibly short memory, so I continued to shout out “Lay Down Sally.” After all, it wasn’t that hard a song to improvise. The band didn’t see it that way.

There was a short interchange, between me and the bass player as he plucked along and shouted back to me.

“Don’t know it.”

“Lay Down Sally.”

“Sorry don’t know the song.”

“Come on, play Lay Down Sally.” 


We were roughly escorted out of the Boom Boom Room.

I probably wouldn’t remember this but one day I was taking the #1 bus down California St. and saw the small sign on the hill. “The Boom Boom Room” at the Fairmont. That’s when it all came back and I knew amends were needed on some level. 

I’m praying for them and the woman I once was.


What It’s Like Now

“I’ve done all my amends,” my new sponsee told me. “I want people to know the realities of life.”

And I remembered talking with my sponsor working on my Fourth Step. My decision was how I didn’t owe anyone any blasted amends.  They owed me. All the injustices were down on paper, listed on my Fourth, father’s physical abuse, an ex-husband’s distancing. Some things were unforgivable in my mind.

My sponsor had patiently pointed out to me how much those resentments hurt me but never touched the perpetrator. Might these people be spiritually sick like the Big Book talked about? It took some arguing for me to see the fogginess of my thinking and how it blocked me from the “sunlight of the spirit.”  It took more than a couple fortnights for me to see resentments as blocking, but with time and willingness, I came around.

And now I had a chance to tell my new sponsee how destructive those resentments can be and if I truly wanted to not drink, resentments had to be addressed. Amends also have to be made, including my memories of the Boom Boom Room.

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