Bob brought two cups of coffee over to the table and set them down.
"It's so good to see you. What a nice surprise."
"It is good. I'm just glad I still knew where to find you."
"Yeah, every year for the past 23. It's not my every week meeting, but tradition is tradition right?"
She laughed, "Yes, it is. 'Tis the season after all. So tell me, how are you? How is your wife, sorry I can't remember her name..."
"That's okay, you don't have to try. She left me a few years ago."
"Oh! I'm so sorry!"
"No, that's okay, it was a good thing for both of us. She wanted something that I just wasn't able to give her."
"What was that?"
She looked a little shocked until Bob started to laugh, "That really is it. She married me to make her parents mad, nothing like a recovering junkie to worry dear old dad, but then when she found out that I would always be a recovering junkie she wasn't as enamored. She really wanted me to hit the anonymous part of Narcotics Anonymous heavier. 'Do you have to tell everyone?' Well, yes, actually I sort of do, that's my pact with sobriety."
"I totally understand. I once dated a man who asked when I would be over it so I could start drinking again. Like there was a time limit. When I told him never he just couldn't wrap his brain around it."
"I knew it was over when she scheduled a party for this night. She knew I went to this meeting every year and decided it would be the perfect test. I told her I would be there after the meeting but I wouldn't miss the meeting. She was not amused. Then we were out shopping and ran in to a friend of mine. As we were talking about how long we had all known each other he made the mistake of asking her if she was the woman in my rock bottom story."
"Oh yes. She was not amused. And then she was really angry that I tried to tell her that it wasn't an insult. That the woman in the story was actually really lovely and kind. And that it would have been sort of romantic if she had been..." Bob blushed just a little and cleared his throat, "anyway, she wasn't happy that I counted 'junkies, thieves, lowlifes and whores' among my friends. And she was really mad when I told her I was a junkie and a thief myself and the only thing that had kept me from being a whore was a few months, I would have done whatever it took to get a fix. And then she really lost it when I told her that she would be surprised what most of her 'upstanding' friends would do for money if push came to shove."
"Ah yes, it's always nice to be warm and safe and sober and have no idea what depths you will sink to."
"And to know that I preferred the company of those that had made it out of depths to those that stood on high and looked down, it was over. Honestly it never should have started but you know junkies, we don't always make the best decisions.
Okay, well, that's me. Divorced, still sober, still leading the Santa Claus is my higher power meeting. How about you?"
"Still sober, still single, new job which is why I tracked you down. I need a good meeting here locally and I thought you might know of one."
"I know a few. Are you looking for NA or AA?"
"I generally go to NA. Most of us in NA are AA as well, but you don't get as much cross over the other way. And for a bunch of alcoholics I've found them to be a little judgmental towards us druggies." She laughed a little nervous laugh, "That sounds awful doesn't it?"
"Maybe a little." Bob smiled, "But I understand. I think a lot of people are still clinging to that 'I would never' piece. For the most part true rock bottom alcoholics and junkies don't have that. We know we would. And have. And if we aren't careful we would again. So what else? What is the new job? You were acting last time I saw you right?"
"Yes, I was, that's how long it's been. Not as much call for my talents since I hit my 40s." she smiled a wicked little smile, "Did your wife know you were friends with such a distinguished actress as well?"
Bob leaned back and laughed loudly, "No, though one time we saw a movie of yours playing at that little place on 43rd. Or I should say, we saw the window flyer, she wouldn't have wanted to go in and watch, but I almost told her I knew the lead actress."
"Which one was it?"
"I think it was Study Hard 3."
"Ah yes! Part of the Bad Teacher series. I got an AVN for that, you know."
"I do know actually. I might have looked you up a time or two online to see if you were okay. It worried me a little when you started in that industry. Hard to keep your sobriety when it's all around you."
"It wasn't as bad as you would think. A lot of former users. People got sober in the 80s and 90s and it sort of became a thing. And then when the HD filming started you had to be in much better shape. Using wrecked your face and body so people stopped. Now steroids are probably a bigger problem than coke.
Anyway, I stepped behind the camera a few years ago. And from that I started teaching acting classes."
"I know, right? People don't think of us as top notch actors, and for some that's true, but I worked with some great talent. And with my previous background all I did was act so it fit. And yes, before you ask, they know exactly who I am, where I came from and what my background is so I'm not trying to hide anything."
"We're only as sick as our secrets."
"Exactly. And I have none. So I'm as healthy as it gets. But I do need a new meeting. I might be healthy but I'm still not cocky."
"Well, you could check out my regular meeting and see how you like it. You know, if you wanted to try."
"Why, Bob, are you blushing?"
"I might be. Okay, here it goes, I know with our history it might be weird for you but I would never forgive myself if I didn't at least ask. Would you like to go out sometime? For more than after meeting coffee I mean. Not just a sobriety check in but an actual date?"
"I thought you'd never ask. I've been waiting years, you know, for you to figure it out."
"Figure what out?"
"That it really is a great romantic ending to your story. And then Mr. and Mrs. Claus got sober and lived happily ever after. Or at least after Mrs. Claus stopped hooking and became an award winning porn star and Santa spent a few years with the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas."
"Oh I've missed you, Mrs. Claus."
"I've missed you too, Mr. Claus. Let's not waste another 20 years okay?"