This is what my aunt said to me, sometime in June of last summer, right after she told me she was buying me a new computer. It was a big deal (and still is), because the old dinosaur of a laptop I was using was slower than plate tectonics.
It was also a big deal because I had been cheating.
Not a lot--probably a .750 of vodka every couple of weeks. But it was enough to be what it was--cheating. I did it for a while and enjoyed my new computer and tried to convince myself that I deserved to celebrate every once in a great while (read: every two weeks), and reward myself for staying out of trouble (for the time being).
Meanwhile, my aunt was rewarding me with perks like this because she thought I had been honest and up front. I would certainly tell her about any relapses, right?
Well, my plan was modified after the very first moment of indiscretion ...
... I simply stopped counting.
I refused to quantify my progress by recognizing the one month mark, or the two month mark. That would have been tricky. That would have made me feel bad.
That would have been lying even more than not saying a word.
If I didn't talk about it, I felt like it may just go away as a problem and I could move on to more important topics like adding new clothes to my wardrobe or buying a new guitar.
It wouldn't be until September that I would come clean--after I broke four ribs and didn't know about it for a week because I was pouring a liter of Smirnoff down my throat every day. But, like I said before, that's a story for another day.
I just know that as I sat in my aunt's SUV as we left the house to go pick up our new computers, that I felt a huge bundle of guilt strapped to my shoulders.
Enter the good spirits of my guardian angels.
They (she) love(s) me whether I'm good or bad. But if I've been bad, they're (she's) going to make me feel extra guilty about it, for sure.
I got another present. Another perk I didn't deserve at the time.
As we left the house in Mattapoisett and took a left out to the main road, what should be sitting out on the lawn of a neighbor's house with a free sign on it but a very nice, simple, well-built computer desk.
It's times like these that this practically atheistic man looks up at the sky and says a barely audible, "thank you."
It's the least I could do.
And so, I, F. Alex Johnson who had his poor aunt wrapped around his little finger, while occasionally lying by not saying a word, got a gift. And damn if it didn't make me feel like a heel.
It made me feel like I was acting in a movie, and the set that was built all around me had been constructed for the story, and not my actual needs.
And that's what day four's story is about. It's about how, when you're doing the things that you know you are supposed to (ie: staying sober), then you can let a few things pile up around you. You can let the clutter accumulate for a while, because you know you're being honest. And whatever is there, is there for a reason.
I'd rather have a cluttered desk filled with papers and CD's and pens and pencils and cups of water, a hell of a lot more than a spotlessly clean desk--sanitized daily--with a perfectly ordered and premeditated assortment of items, representative of a life lived in a lie. Because all the messy habits of a sober mind are nothing compared to the destruction and chaos a perfectly placed rocks-glass filled with vodka can do amidst a landscape of superficial order.
I hope you enjoy this entry as much as I did.
Thanks for reading and listening.
F. A. J.
PS: I almost forgot. It took me two weeks but I'm finally down to 212 lbs.
Thought I'd let you know.
For those of you just joining us, my goal is to reach a respectable 190 lbs. by the end of September.
Yeah, I did the math too.
Not even a little.