Note: Read the original "My First Day of School" piece that inspired this ongoing Aristocrats-style series.
I will never forget my first day at Alcoholics Anonymous, although believe me, I've destroyed enough brain cells since then to try. I wouldn't say I have the sharpest mind anymore, but in my more lucid moments, I still recall how my hands shook as I approached the door.
For most people, Al-Anon might be a second chance, a new lease on life. I'd be lying if I said I didn't experience a bit of excitement, but what little bit I did enjoy was mostly trumped by fear.
I knew that while almost everyone attending that day would have a support system helping them through, I had no family ties. No one to offer me a kind word, and no one waiting for me when I would get out.
I was in no shape for this. My speech was still slurred, I couldn't walk a straight line, and my hands continued to shake uncontrollably. To make matters worse, my job prospects were steadily drying up, and a stint in Al-Anon wasn't exactly going to endear me to anyone professionally. Needless to say, as I was driven to the center that day, my heart was full of dread and fear. Still, I remember feeling determined not to get too down, assuring myself things would work out for the best.
As I walked into the building for the first time I was very nervous and thought about turning around and shuffling home. It took some courage, but I managed to convince myself that I was going to be OK and that all of my worries were simply in my head. After all, I was no chicken. I could face this head-on.
I found the room where my destiny awaited. I was in no shape for this. My speech was still slurred, I couldn't walk a straight line, and my hands continued to shake uncontrollably. But this was where I needed to be. Then I tried to compose myself and I walked into the classroom.
That moment seemed to stretch out for thirty years. I never expected to be welcomed with open arms, but these people stared at me with a mixture of scorn and derision. One guy waited until I took my seat, sat behind me, and snapped my suspenders. I tried to appear nonchalant by running my hand through my hair, but he proceeded to slap my coffee cup out of my hand.
I could not believe how mean these people were to me. If I were a little taller, I might have chanced a confrontation, but it was easy to see I was the shortest guy in the room, and probably in the worst shape. I tried to ignore it, but panic began to fill my entire body and I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. Not knowing what else to do, I ran out of the room as fast as I could manage.
I had no idea where I was going, so I just followed the hallway wherever it would take me. I remember losing control of my bladder as I ran past several classrooms. Stuff like that is part of the reason why I was there in first place.
I found the director's office, burst through his door, and tried to make him understand how vulnerable I was. To his credit, he tried, but I was totally incomprehensible. He grabbed me a glass of water and told me everything would be fine. He tried to calm me down by having me take deep breaths. Instead, the glass of water dropped from my shaking hands, covering my sneakers in broken glass.
I explained to him how mean these people were, and how I didn't deserve this kind of treatment. After about ten minutes of watery eyes and sniffles, he managed to get me to stop crying, and made me realize that I might be overreacting a bit. He handed me a tissue and I wiped away the tears.
For a brief moment, I thought everything might work out. But it was only a minute later that he told me he didn't think Alcoholics Anonymous was going to need a celebrity mascot, much less Michael J. Fox.
All "First Day of…" Aristocrats-style articles:
My First Day of School
My First Day at Prison
My First Day at the Cemetery
My First Day at Alcoholics Anonymous
My First Day of Senility
My First Day of Church
My First Day of School, Part 2
My First Day of Fat Camp
My First Day at the Circus