I keep thinking if I’m not the girl who shoots enough dope to kill an elephant, who am I? There isn’t anything
underneath all that. Honestly. And if there is, who the hell would want to find out what?
But I keep going to AA meetings anyway. Monday is Clean and Serene down at the Baptist church, Tuesday is
How it Works at the Catholic cathedral, Wednesday and Thursday are step study at the YMCA, and Friday is in
the ghetto. The ghetto meetings start at midnight and go on until everyone has had a chance to speak.
Sometimes they last all night.
Most people at all these meetings I couldn’t care less about, they’re so full of shit. They preach the miracle
power of "service" to keep a person sober, and then they don’t even bother to reach out to someone like me,
who obviously doesn’t have any friends and needs a little extra help. Do you know how many times people in
AA have condescended to me and taken my inventory and made me feel like a heel, and then pulled a stunt
where they turned around acted even worse than they called me out about? A lot. Almost every week there
for a while, but I smiled and took it in stride and told myself not to get a resentment because it was bad for
me. I guess after a while it built up. But they’re all like that, high and mighty liars all of them. Except for Jenna.
Jenna goes to a meeting every night of the week. And every night I’ve watched her chain smoke, drink diet
cokes, and reapply lipstick. Her best friend overdosed and she cried for weeks. She dumped her boyfriend,
got a new one, dumped him, got another. They all look the same, her boyfriends. Dark and old. Jenna’s only
20 and she’s always dating guys over 40. Makes me wonder if she isn’t living out some daddy issues. “Tissue
issues” Jenna calls them, when your hang-ups are so bad they make you cry. I mean, doesn’t she want
someone her own age?
I was always into younger guys. I can’t even begin to tell you how many virginities I’ve taken. Ten, at least.
Maybe eleven. I’ve struggled through premature ejaculation, impotence, you name it. Virginity plus being
drunk and high does not make for great sex. No way. One time a guy even put the condom on inside out. It
rolled right off and we couldn’t figure out where it went. Under the sheets, between the wall and the bed,
what? Then we realized, the damn thing was up inside me. Stayed there for over a week. No matter what I
did I couldn’t reach it, and I had my fingers as far up as they would go. Finally I had to go to the free clinic and
have them take it out. They gave me the number of Planned Parenthood, just in case something unexpected
happened. But nothing happened. I thought maybe I was barren or something. But then my kid came along.
Jenna’s had seven abortions, if you can believe it. I wonder what it’s done to her down there, like made it smell
funny or look weird. She doesn’t seem to have a problem finding a guy, though, so it must be functional. She
cries when she talks about the abortions. One time when they were cleaning her out she started laughing. It
wasn’t like she thought it was funny or anything, she just cracked up and couldn’t stop. Must’ve been nerves,
I think. I laughed at a funeral once. Some old lady friend of my mom’s had died. And there we were in church
and I just started laughing my ass off and I couldn’t stop, just like Jenna. My mom reached over and pinched
me on the arm, and I got so pissed I quit the laughing.
Most Monday nights, after the meeting, a bunch of people go down to Charlie’s for coffee and cigarettes. A
few kids who go in and out of the program know we’re coming and will hang around the street outside, trying
to sell us dope. One night I saw Jenna out there with Todd F., who’s famous for going to meetings just to find
people who’ll buy from him. Todd and Jenna exchanged a handshake, so she must’ve bought something, and
immediately a warm feeling rose up in my gut. I had to stop myself from tearing Todd a new one. But what I
really wanted was for Jenna to ask me to join her. I wasn’t sure what I’d say, yes or no, should I shouldn’t I. I’
d never seen Jenna on dope, but I imagined it all the time. Maybe she’d hit on me. Maybe she’d find some
guys for us. It’d been a long time for me. I wasn’t even sure I knew what to do anymore. After my kid was
born I went sorta asexual. I dress butch for no reason. Mostly because I’m too fat and too poor and don’t
give a damn about men anymore. Thanks to the baby weight, I’m the only fat junkie I know. That’s why most
people mistake me for an old-timer. Usually newbies look like Jenna, skinny and super-cool. It’s the people
with time that look like me, bored and sloppy and trying to blend in to the background.
Which is why, when the Friday night ghetto meeting asked for a volunteer to be their new treasurer, someone
nominated me. I needed to find a home group anyway, and it was the first time Jenna had ever looked at me. I
couldn’t believe she was finally noticing who I was. I only had a couple weeks clean, because of a few nights I’d
ended up down at the tavern with some buddies I used to work with, but since I hadn’t done dope I figured it
was a wash. I didn’t bother to tell anyone. They don’t need to know every damn thing.
So I was feeling pretty good about belonging to the same home group as Jenna, like if I hung around enough
she and I would eventually have a real conversation. But then last night after the meeting Becky N. told me
that Jenna’s leaving. I guess it just happened, she just decided to move to Los Angeles. Somehow I knew it
would go this way, just when I was getting close to being her friend. I just couldn’t imagine myself being that
Jenna is one of those people who don’t stay.
She’s done everything wrong, though, so the other home group members are worried. Got another boyfriend,
let him move in with her, now they’re going away together. She doesn’t even have a year clean, doesn’t have a
sponsor, doesn’t know anyone in L.A. The old-timers are sneaky as usual. They keep whispering and shaking
their heads behind Jenna’s back, but then to her face they’re all “Oh, good luck on your journey” and “Sounds
like a wonderful opportunity” and bologna like that.
They’re all fakers anyway.
One reason I always like Jenna was because her story is a lot like mine. Somewhere along the way she got
messed up. She got molested, lost her virginity, slept around for attention. Maybe it’s everybody’s same
story, maybe it’s the way Jenna tells it. She’s what the old-timers call “terminally unique.” And she acts like
the world is out to get down her pants. Old men, young men, women. Every old lady is a dyke staring at her
tits, every dog is gonna hump her leg. Thinks breast-feeding is a gross sexual perversion. I wonder about
that myself, because of a movie I saw once. Movies do that to me, though. I gotta be careful about what I
watch. I’m like Jenna—super impressionable.
Jenna owns a porno tape, just one. The kind that guys like, with jizz on the face shots and “suck me” talk and
whatnot. Jenna says she likes to be removed, a voyeur-type, but she can’t get off unless she has the sound
up really loud, so loud she’s afraid the neighbors in the next apartment are gonna hear. She only watches it
when she’s too drunk to care, which isn’t often since she started going to AA. And I only know all this stuff
about her because she likes to talk in meetings.
People call on her at almost every meeting, too, because of the way she can express herself. It’s really
entertaining. She has these thick black bangs that hang over her eyes, sort of swept to the side. She lets
them shake down every so often, then pushes them aside again when she’s making an important point. And
at the end of every sentence she adds a sad little whine, a groan almost, exasperated. “My ex is back in prison-
uh. And he’s calling me collect every other fucking minute-uh.” Jenna cusses a lot, but she makes it sexy.
The guys just drool all over themselves. It sorta justifies her suspicions. I mean, I’m drooling too, and I’ve
only done it with girls when I was blacked-out entirely.