Sunday, March 20, 2016

Fight or flight? Flight

After the meeting today, I went up to this guy who had shared about going to a meeting somewhat randomly while he was out of town and then having the opportunity to commune with a newcomer. He had told it beautifully, and I engaged with him on the topic.

I said something that set him off, and he started talking. It quickly became clear that I had unwittingly placed myself in the grip of a dogmatist. He started talking about how there were people who came to meetings that weren't really alcoholics, but were really just heavy drinkers, as was described in AA's Big Book, and they weren't really alcoholics because blah blah blah blah blah. And I was looking at the clock, feeling annoyance rise from deep within me as my Sunday slipped away from me listening to this guy who felt a need to share his authoritative wisdom. I was saved by someone telling us that a steering committee meeting was about to convene, and I made my way to the bathroom.

I know damn good and well whence comes my aversion to this kind of person. I won't even say it.

Thursday night, I was at Local 506 for a friends and clients meeting of a law firm with whom I am friends. I saw this grey-haired lawyer holding a beer talking to a buddy of mine and I said to myself, "he looks familiar, I'll bet he knew dad." So I went over and talked to them and my friend introduced us and, sure enough, he knew dad, and told me he had a story to tell me.

So many years before, in the early 90s, he had been returning from the beach through the sleepy, moss-hung town of Maysville with his family when he saw a barefooted guy on the side of the road with a pillowcase over his shoulder, thumbing a ride.  At which point in time he says to his wife "That was Mike Troy, I gotta go back and pick him up." To which his wife responded "Are you crazy? We have 3 kids in the car, there's no room." But he picked up dad anyway.  Apparently dad and his then girlfriend had had a tiff of some sort and dad set out to make it home using only feet and thumb. In any case, for the lawyer and his family, the ride back to Chapel Hill passed more quickly and easily than it ever had before, as my dad regaled the kids with stories and jokes of this, that and the other.

So there you have it. If you were subjected to a lot of my dad, he was overbearing and ultimately unbearable, because it became apparent that he was incapable of listening to others, because he knew the answers to everything already. If, on the other hand, you saw him only rarely, he was almost a magical figure, because he always had another story to fill the gaps.

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