FOR WOMEN ONLY
Author: Aimee Dearmon
Fitted out in camouflage from head to toe, the man burst through the double doors with such momentum his shirt flapped out behind him.
“Sorry, sir. This is a women’s meeting,” cried a voice that sounded like it was coming through a telephone receiver.
“Shit!” he spat and turned to leave.
A giant square of a woman with a shaved head sprang from her seat. “Hold on a minute, sir!” she called. “If you really need a meeting we can open it up. Come on in and have a seat.”
She tugged at the hem of her rainbow T-shirt as she addressed the woman with the tinny voice. “Sylvia, this is a women’s AA meeting, but anyone who really needs one can attend it. That’s the rule.” She turned back to the man and pulled out the chair next to her.
His drab green combat boots slapped the tile floor as he trudged across it scowling at no one in particular, and flopped into the seat.
A young girl with shocking pink hair finished the opening statement with “what you hear here, who you see here, when you leave here, please leave it here.” After a chorus of “here, here”-s, she asked, “Is there anyone here who has a problem that may be hindering their sobriet—“
“I do!” the man cut in.
She cleared her throat, “Okay. Not to embarrass you, but so we can get to know you a little better, will you tell us your name?”
“Charlie, alcoholic here.”
An enthusiastic chorus of “Hey, Charlie,” rang out in unison.
“Hey. Thanks for letting me in. My ol’ lady just left me screaming and raising hell. Had the kid all riled up and squalling. I really needed this meeting.”
His chair screeched out behind him as he got up and strutted like a peacock over to the coffee counter. “That woman sure can pitch a bitch, you know what I mean?” He poked his dirty finger through a plate of cookies, destroying the attractive arrangement, picked one out and popped it into his mouth. He slurped his coffee and let out a sigh as he walked back, sat down and tilted his chair back on its hind legs. He stuffed another cookie into his mouth.
“So,” he said, his mouth full, “She’s gone.” He dropped into his chair and washed the cookie down with some more coffee. “Guess that makes me a single man. Any of you girls feeling lucky?” he grinned.
A few of the women exchanged looks.
“Aw, c’mon. I’m just joking, just lightening it up a little in here. Jeez! No sense of humor.” He took another loud slurp from his coffee, and then returned to his balancing act.
“Okay, then. I’m kinda glad you broads are here.”
A grumble travelled through the group. The big woman held up a hand and gave the ladies a let’s-be-patient-with-the-poor-drunk look.
“What is it about you women? I mean, Yack-ety, yack-ety, yack,” he said, his hand opening and closing like jaws. “They have all kinds of medicine out there, stuff to make your grow hair, stuff that puts you to sleep, even stuff that makes you horny, but they haven’t found a damn thing that can shut a woman’s mouth.” Then, in mocking falsetto, “Oh, you don’t like my family, how come you never want to be around my family?”
“Uh, excuse me Charlie,” said the pink lady. “What does this have to do with drinking?”
“Well, I have to drink at least two beers just to make it through Christmas dinner with that bunch.” He lifted his camouflage cap and scratched his balding head with the same hand.
“Anyways, she complains that I hate her family, so her baby sister comes over. Beautiful girl, a blonde. You know, blond hair automatically raises a chick’s status from hot to smokin’, right?”
He eyedballed a young girl with long, golden hair and grinned. She cringed.
His tore his eyes from the blond and glanced around the room, coming to a dead halt at the pink lady’s steely glare.
“What?” he asked.
Shrugging, he continued. “So, I took baby sister for a ride on my Hog, you know, my Harley. Righteous bike; Softail Duece, black. Anyway, we get back, I open the door and a glass flies past my head and crashes against the frame. Her baby sister hauled ass.” He shook his head. “There’s no way we were gone for four hours.”
One woman took advantage of a brief pause in Charlie’s rant. “I’m Hannah, and I’m an alcoholic.” After a five-minute rundown of a harrowing experience, she sighed, “I was afraid I’d relapse.”
“Relapse? I just relapsed the other night,” Charlie interjected. “I even puked! The beer was green, man. Some cheap shit no-brand stuff. Makes me hurl every time. You’d think I’d know better, wouldn’t ya?”
“As I was saying,” Hannah said, glowering at Charlie. “I’m sober today with the help of AA. With that, I’ll pass.”
“That’s great, great.” Charlie clapped his hands a time or two. “I’m Charlie. I’m an alcoholic.”
A tired, ‘Hey, Charlie’ went up in discord along with a single, “Oh, good gawd.”
Again, he addressed the young, blond girl. “If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me?” He slapped his thigh. “Really, though, is there anyone here would like to go to a swap meet with me? You know, a motorcycle swap meet? I got a couple of tickets.”
“Charlie, may I remind you that we are here to discuss our alcoholism and that there is no crosstalking?” said the pink lady.
“I was just asking. Jeez. Is this a women’s meeting or are you all a bunch of lezbos?”
With that, the large, square woman with the shaved head and rainbow T-shirt rose, grabbed a handful of Charlie’s camouflage shirt with one hand, his belt with the other and propelled him through the double doors. One of the doors stuck open offering the rest of the women a view of Camouflage Charlie tumbling into the street.
She threw the deadbolt after him. Then she turned around, dusted her hands and said, “Now, then. I’m Geri and I’m an alcoholic.”