My friend, Libby, invited me out with her lesbian pals to see their friend Claudia Allen’s new play at Victory Gardens Theater. Libby lives in Nashville, but she lived in Chicago for a time and we became friends while writing for papers owned by the same publishing company. Libby quit drinking shortly after we met and when anyone asked her why she quit, she’d give one of two clipped answers: “It was just time,” or “I just decided to quit.” Her answers annoyed me. She gave nothing away. I wanted a I-knew-it-was-time-to-quit-when answer I could apply to myself to confirm I was fine. That was thirteen years ago.
I drove to the B&B Libby and her partner, Nanette, were staying at and Nanette popped open a beer and offered me one.
“No thanks,” I said. “I quit.”
“Why?” Nanette asked, looking bummed.
“I was uncomfortable with the amount I was drinking,” I said. “And I was sick of the hangovers.”
“That’ll do it,” Libby said.
Nanette wrapped her bottle of beer in a piece of newspaper and chugged it as we walked to a restaurant down the street. Before we walked in, she scanned the sidewalk for a garbage can, sucked down the rest of her beer, and tossed the bottle in. The hostess at the restaurant showed us to a large table full of women. Libby and Nanette sat opposite each other and I sat next to Libby. After awhile I nudged Libby and said, “You quit drinking on your own, right?”
“Yeah,” she said. “I went to some meetings, but I didn’t like them. I know a lot of people who go, though. An old girlfriend of mine called me up to make amends once. It was two years after she dumped me. She told me she was sorry for treating me badly. She said she was young and selfish at the time and that was it. I never heard from her again. I don’t know what that was supposed to do for me. She just came out of nowhere and disappeared into nowhere. It was too little, too late.”