On my way home from the subway tonight, a hipster approached me on a bike. A nature hipster. Weather-appropriate wilderness gear, attractive crow’s feet from time spent snowboarding or windsurfing or some such thing. “Hey,” she said, “Is there an AA meeting somewhere around here?” Rather than stop her bike while she waited for my answer, she rode in a tight circle. A playful and carefree nature hipster and recovering alcoholic.

“I don’t know,” I replied, thinking happily of the cold, cold gin in my freezer, the clink of ice cubes in the cocktail shaker, the sound of them gently cracking as I poured in the room-temperature vermouth, swirled it around, poured it out–

“There’s a lot of churches,” I said, trying to helpful. Helping lost citizens is one of my favorite activities. The further away they hail from and the more insurmountable the language barrier, the better. “Where are you supposed to go?”

She named an intersection a block away. “Well, you’re here,” I told her. “There’s a Baptist church on the next block, but it’s not on the corner. So maybe that’s it.”

“Oh, it must be!” She thanked me and rode off.

I’ve had two fine encounters with twelve-step programs. The first occured when I was a college freshman and volunteered to staff the college Women’s Center one night a week. This was back when I thought feminism was a cool new thing, before I realized that what was actually oppressing me was thinking about being a woman all the time. Staffing at the Women’s Center later came in handy when I stole their copy of Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York for a term paper in a class called “Mothers and Daughters in Jewish Tradition and Culture.

The Women’s Center rented out space to a weekly Narcotics Anonymous meeting. This meeting happened to coincide with my staffing slot. So instead of doing whatever it was I expected to do at the Women’s Center (record who borrowed this month’s copy of Ms., hand out pamphlets on date rape, sign people up for the all-female nude life drawing class) I helped recovering drug addicts gather art supplies to make get well cards for whichever member of their group had relapsed that week. The leader of the group was a manic and adorable gay man who would unsolicitedly tell me the latest NA gossip during the cigarette break. “Our treasurer just OD’d and now he’s in the hospital. He wiped out our entire treasury to buy drugs, but we’re just glad he’s alive, you know?”

I liked the recovering drug addicts. They were more fun than the feminists.

Shortly after I got out of college I was walking in the West Village when I saw what appeared to be a fabulous street party. Attractive, interesting looking people were lounging on the stone steps of a church known for its politically stimulating events and concerts, smoking. The men were sexy–a little lost, a little bruised, more than a little odd. Just how I liked them then, and like them now. “What’s going on here?” I asked one of them.

“This? This is an AA meeting.”

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