AA Calling

This is some years back, I was headlining Acme Comedy Club with Jackie Kashian, a phenomenally funny lady and a hell of a drinking partner, especially Saturday late show that week. We were breaking records that night and taking as good as the bar could give (they were a staff that liked trying to find your outside range) while still maintaining barely enough coherence to perform. Tony ______ had come through town and had managed to get a guest set on the late show. He was a comic I'd worked with once when I was just coming into the lower ranks, a bit beyond his day but a nice enough guy. He booked a couple rooms in the dustbowl, lived a clean and sober life and evidently still tried to get work on stage here and there. Tony doesn't imbibe, big AA guy but that was fine with us. We had our own party going and it was going at full tilt. Tony was staring at us with a familiar mixture of pity and longing for a day gone by for him but otherwise his presence, like his set, was barely noticed. I'd tried to listen to his act but the mixture of Jagermeister and his lack of anything to say made it absolutely impossible He left at some point after he got off stage and we continued into our usual Saturday night last-show gutter, signing the green room wall with senseless drivel in permanent marker. Several months, maybe a year later, I got a call out of the blue from Tony. I assumed at first that he wanted me to work at his club. He said " I heard you quit drinking." Now, I had just quit smoking a week before as I was prone to do every six or eight months on a lark or an empty threat from a nonsmoking girlfriend and quitting smoking always required a temporary yet mandatory abstinence from alcohol. Tony had spoken with a comic I'd just finished working with who made mention of my not drinking and smoking. Tony, who evidently had been under the impression that I live in the same condition he'd seen me in that night so long before, called to lend the friendly hand of Alcoholics Anonymous. "I heard you quit drinking and wanted you to know... If you need any help..." I was confused at first but then my lip started to curl up as I put the pieces together. "I didn't quit, per se, I just...." "Well I'm just telling you, is all", he interrupted, "Cuz I've been there. I was a big partier too and I've been sober for (?) Years. So if you're having a hard time, you let me know. I'll give you my home phone number. You can call me anytime, day or night". I was a bit speechless. I wanted to say "Are you fucking kidding me?" but at the same time I was struck by his heartfelt sincerity, not to mention I still thought he was going to offer me work. " I haven't really quit, Tony, I just toned down a lot. You get older, you know...." Again he doesn't hear me." You know Bill Hicks? I was his sponsor for eight years! I sponsor lots of comics so if you need a sponsor..." This was beautiful. Now he was dropping names as though he were an agent with AA and trying to get me to sign with them. Maybe their numbers were down, what with drugs being all the rage and NA getting all the good names. Maybe a good old fashioned drunk was in demand. I took down his number when he offered it, thanked him and then paused one last moment to make sure no work was coming out of this call before saying goodbye and quietly hanging up the phone. I sat there for a few stunned moments, staring blankly save for the odd grin. How good are you when AA actually calls you! I don't know if I ever told Jackie about the phone call. I don't know if she knew there had been scouts there that night from AA and I wonder if she'd be mad that I got the call when she didn't. Don't take it personally, Jackie, I've been drinking a bit longer and have a stronger drunken point of view. Keep at it girl, they have your name on file.