From the February 1995 magazine.

Jumbo Shrimp and the Gift of Laughter

When I first entered AA, I knew I had to stop drinking even if it meant that I'd never be able to laugh or have fun again. With such grim expectations, I was greatly surprised when I went to my first meeting. To my amazement, it was full of happy, well-adjusted people who seemed to be having fun. They were so irreverent I was sure these people didn't have a drinking problem, and their good humor led me to suspect that many were mental patients, referred by a psychiatrist to meetings. After all, alcoholism was a very serious problem, and these AA folks were not taking alcoholism seriously.

My misunderstanding was compounded by people talking about having fun in sobriety. Everyone was planning and getting excited about an upcoming "sober party." The words "sober" and "party" seemed as contradictory as "jumbo" and "shrimp." I couldn't conceive of having fun without drinking. It helped when someone explained that AA had much more to offer than relief from drinking. He promised that I could become whole again and enjoy life without alcohol.

-- Don B.

East Rochester, New York

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