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October 1957

Why We Slip

BECAUSE I AM POSSESSED of a generous share of patience, tolerance, understanding and gullibility, I have become the Community Wailing Wall, since my advent into the ranks of AA.

My broad breast has been deluged with more tears than an undertaker's "Lending Handkerchief," and my coats go to the cleaners so damp I am sure they think that I bathe with my clothes on. . . .

I have become an expert on slips--not the kind the ladies wear--but those very mysterious slips occasioned by an alcoholic brain "jumping time."

I'm the type guy that a vast host of slippees run to with the sixty-four-dollar question: "Why, oh why, did it have to happen to me?"

Ladies and gentlemen, I have the answer--acquired after great study, research, and personal observation over a long period of time. It is my intention to reveal this secret to the world through these pages; it will be my great and undying contribution to AA, to which I owe so much.

I will defer the announcement of this world-shaking revelation until the final paragraph. . .for one thing, I want to recite a typical slip that once came to my attention and was largely instrumental in the formulation of my conclusions.

It happened in Miami--as anything is most apt to do. I was on vacation and making the old Lincoln Road AA Clubhouse my daytime hangout, when a call for help came from the San Juan Hotel.

The Club custodian asked if I would take care of the call and I gladly accepted the invitation. After all, Miami is no place to become lax.

On arriving at the hotel my knock was answered by a man whose length, breadth and thickness indicated he was from Texas. My indicator was right--he was.

I inquired as to whether he was the one who called and if he was having any trouble with his hooch consumption. He assured me he had made the call and that he had "a room full of trouble."

I did not understand his remark because he was not too drunk (he was standing up without holding on to anything) but then he invited me into the room and I got a better insight into his difficulty.

The room contained two single beds. One drunk had passed out on one bed and two were dead to the world on the other. On the floor, reclining blissfully, was another--and an over-stuffed chair contained still another. From the bath came the unmistakable sounds of still another with a well developed case of dry heaves. On the dresser was an assortment of fifths in varying degrees of depletion--far too numerous even to estimate. The magnitude of the problem that confronted me was terrifying, to say the least.

I explained to the Texan that I had not come prepared to undertake a wholesale job--that I was primarily a retail sober-upper.

He assured me, however, that I need only concern myself with the occupant on the first bed. This young man, he told me, was ripe for AA--he knew what it was all about and was all ready to be wrapped up and delivered.

"Where did he get all this information on AA?" I naturally inquired.

"From me," he replied. "I've been a member for eleven months but I'm having a little slip." (Why is it always a little slip and never a big slip?)

I told him I would do the best I could for the youngster but meanwhile I asked him to tell me about his slip--and I herewith relate the lamentable tale he told to me:

"There's not much to it," he began. "I saved up six hundred dollars and then I rode up here to the hotel and engaged two rooms--one for my wife on the next floor and this one for myself. I did not want to disturb her. Then I deposited the rest of the roll--five hundred, to be exact--with the desk clerk so I could not get rolled. I had of course held out a hundred so, I then went to a package store and bought sixteen fifths and had them delivered to my room here. Then I went to a bar for a drink and I invited these boys to come back to the room with me and then I had the slip."

In this story the good Texan told me I got a glimpse of the truth--which I will now reveal; and my subsequent study of many, many cases has convinced me beyond any reasonable doubt that my scientific findings are well based.

So brace yourselves--here comes the answer to the sixty-four-dollar question:

The reason we have slips is because we still want to drink.

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