May Not the Gods nor LeVar Burton Smite Me

My Minoan grove recently took on a promising new student, which, on paper, is awesome. He’s passionate, sincere and eager to learn, all of which rocks, but there’s a catch: He knows fuck-all about Greek mythology. This is a bit of a handicap when attempting to work within a Pre-Classical Reconstructionist framework.

And y’know, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve had to say “Pre-Classical Reconstructionist framework,” I sure would have a nickel. But I digress.

Myths are ultimately stories used to teach. They’re almost always allegories for events of historical significance or explanations of natural phenomena, and while they may not be 100% accurate play-by-plays of the enterprises of the Gods themselves, they do give insight into the Gods’ personalities and spheres of influence. As far as religious reconstruction goes, a good grasp of a given culture’s recorded myths is a requisite, so once I realized New Guy wasn’t up on his Greek myths, I went running off to pick up a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, which, I figured, would give him a good foundation in the subject. After all, it’s a classic, and it covers the basic Who’s Who, as well as all the Who Did What to Whose What and Why.

Alas, I forgot that Mythology is not the liveliest of manuscripts:  Upon cracking the book open, his apartment immediately filled with dust and the odor of vintage clothing. He did wrestle through a couple of chapters, but then broke down and confessed that a) the book just wasn’t grabbing him, and b) he really wasn’t much of a reader. And this is the part where I quit breathing for a bit.

While our agrarian European forbearers were most likely illiterate, contemporary Witches are, as a demographic, combat bibliophiles. In fact, the trick is usually getting new students to stop reading long enough to deprogram them:

“So, what books on Witchcraft have you read?”

“Everything Silver RavenWolf has ever written, and a translation of the Sumerian Book of the Dead that my friend Ash and I found in the cellar of an isolated cabin.”

From an optimistic perspective, New Guy is a blank slate — we’re not going to have to beat any biases or misinformation out of his head, which will save us a lot of time and effort. At the same time, and while the traditional method of transmitting knowledge is orally, and in a perfect world New Guy would come over and sit at my feet for hours on end as I told the tales and sang the songs of Our People… we both have day jobs. Plus, if he’s going to end up an initiate, he’s going to have to demonstrate a measure of independent thought and action — which means doing research on his own, which means reading. Which he doesn’t like to do. And which I can’t do for him.

I can, however, make the reading material more entertaining. Setting Ms. Hamilton aside, I regrouped and broke out the big guns:

Minoan BooksPlease note the terra-cotta moonshine jug. If that alone doesn’t give him a healthy appetite for the mythological printed word, I’m handing him off to the Unitarians.

As a side note, I called a local bookstore while trying to track down one of these texts and had the following conversation:

Me: “Hi, I was wondering if you could check to see if you have a particular book in stock.”

Bookstore Dude: “Sure. What’s the title?”

Me: “Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes.”

Bookstore Dude: “Yeah, that sounds like Zeus.”

Unfortunately, he did not have the book. But you know what he does have? My heart.

 

As the World Turns and the Pendulum Swings

Me: “I’M NEVER SPEAKING TO DOUGLAS AGAIN.”

Alan: “Okay.”

[a few hours pass]

Me: “Douglas and I made up.”

Alan: “Cool.”

[the next morning]

Me: “DOUGLAS IS A HEARTLESS SOCIOPATH.”

Alan: “Ah.”

[that afternoon]

Me: “Douglas is a true friend.”

Alan: “Mmm.”

[two days later]

Me: “DOUGLAS CAN CHOKE ON A BAG OF DICKS.”

Alan: “Huh.”

[the day after that]

Me: “Douglas and I are going to a timeshare presentation and pretending to be a couple so that we can win a free toaster.”

Alan: “La.”

[moments later]

Me: “WHAT ATROCITIES DID I COMMIT THAT AN INFERNAL VARMIT AS VILE AS DOUGLAS SHOULD INFEST MY UNIVERSE?”

Alan: [not even pretending to pay attention]

Me: “…”

Alan: [still no response; possibly asleep]

Me: “I should call Douglas.”

Fin.

That Was the Theme of My Heroin

The best part about dining out with sober friends is that we’re rowdy and raucous and hilariously unfiltered, and as such the rest of the restaurant patrons assume we’re drunk, until they glance over judgmentally and suddenly realize we’re all drinking water. And then they get really confused, at which point our work there is done.

Such was the case Wednesday night, when a group of us descended upon a local eatery to feast upon their unspeakably good pizza and make the other diners uncomfortable. My buddy B. and I had just finished loudly debating which one of us has the most passive-aggressive mother (he won), when F. launched into a detailed description of the colorful patients she encounters at the rehab where she facilitates weekly support meetings.

“The heroin addicts are a bit of a challenge,” she admitted. “It’s almost as if they’re daring everyone else to be more addicted to something than they are. It’s like, ‘My drug of choice was… heroin.'” She glared defiantly for effect. “Like that.”

The way she said, “… heroin” got stuck in my head like a bad pop song, and now I want to throw it into casual conversations, similar to the classic “that’s what she said,” or how my friend K. sometimes responds to random observations with, “That was the theme of my prom.” For example:

“The weather report said to expect freezing rain.”

“That was the theme of my prom.”

“I was so sad when Glee ended.”

“That was the theme of my prom.”

“Bangs or no bangs?”

“That was the theme of my prom.”

So yeah, I basically want to do the same thing, except with, “… heroin.” Granted, I never went chasing the dragon myself, but I’m a big fan of bewilderment in any form, and I’d really like to see this turn into a cultural meme:

“I think my antihistamines are wearing off.”

“Really? Because I think my… heroin is wearing off.”

“I couldn’t find my car keys this morning.”

“Well that’s weird, because I couldn’t find my… heroin this morning.

“Would you like to sample an appetizer?”

“No, thank you. Would you like to sample… heroin?”

I ran the concept by Alan, who smiled sadly and left the room, so I’m starting to suspect this is one of those times where nobody is going to understand my non-traditional sense of humor. But you know what? I’m totally okay with that. If no one laughs when I say “… heroin,” I’ll just do what I always do in awkward social situations and scream, “I’M IN RECOVERY” until people just give up and pity me. After all, as professional alcoholic W. C. Fields once quipped, “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshitheroin.” And that, gentle readers, was the theme of my prom.

Indentured Service Work: A Resentment Survival Guide, Part the First

You know how, in some countries, you’re expected to serve one year in the military when you turn 18? The same thing happens in recovery, except instead of being trained how to efficiently murder people, you will be coerced into joining a committee. When this occurs, you will wish you had been born in one of those other Utopian nations, because then you’d have the knowledge and skill set to efficiently annihilate everyone else on the committee.

It will be pitched to you as “service work,” which could be interpreted as volunteering at a shelter of some sort, or maybe finding foster homes for disabled kittens. This is incorrect. The reality of the situation is that you’ll end up sitting around a cramped table and arguing semantics with a group of other addicts and alcoholics who think Robert’s Rules of Order is a controlled substance — that is, it won’t be able to hurt them if they never pick it up in the first place. Once you have been installed as a committee member, you will find yourself involved in planning a fundraiser, which in turn means you will be instructed to get the old-timers’ money. This will make you feel like you are supposed to put together a scam to take advantage of the elderly. That’s because you are.

Old-timers are men and women who have been sober longer than you have been alive. Some of them stopped drinking right before Prohibition and still carry a grudge about this. Also, they have money: Enormous piles of gold bullion that they keep in special silos, in which they swim every afternoon. Scrooge McDuck is a good example of an old-timer.

Speaking of Scrooge, old-timers do not want to part with their money, and they will find every possible thing wrong with your fundraiser so that they do not have to contribute. The fundraiser will be scheduled too early in the day, or too late at night, or on a date that’s not good for them, or they’re allergic to whatever food you’re serving, or they don’t like the music, or they don’t like that there isn’t any music, or they don’t understand the theme, or the theme is too basic, or they don’t know who’s running the fundraiser, or they do know who’s running the fundraiser but are not speaking to them, or they’re offended by drag, or they’re offended by bad drag.

You may be wondering what drag has to do with fundraising. Let it be known that if you are a sober gay and/or lesbian person, drag has everything to do with fundraising. If you do not have at least one drag performance at your fundraiser, then the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous will rise from the grave and take all of your money away. It does not matter if your fundraiser has nothing to do with AA; it could be a fundraiser for a Moderation Management resort and day spa, but if there’s no drag, the vengeful ghosts of Bill W. and Doctor Bob will phase down through the roof of your venue and steal your cashbox, and then the old-timers will be so pissed off at you.

So, drag. Seventeen queens will volunteer to appear at your fundraiser. Only three will actually show up, and one of them will perform to a song that was playing in the background on that fateful day in 1929, when one of the old-timers awoke from a blackout to find himself on the cold, concrete floor of a Tijuana prison, and that’s when he realized his life had become unmanageable, and how could you not know this, you monster? Great, all the old-timers just walked out.

Despite the obstacles, and the boycotts, and that one tweaker chick who will accidentally set all the bake sale tables on fire, your fundraiser will inexplicably bring in some cash. Hooray! You’ve been of service and paid your dues, right? Oh, my boozy little rumhound, how wrong you are. This is only the first of many fundraisers, all of which will culminate in (drumroll) The Annual Event.

To be continued…