George called me this morning. It was the first time I have heard from him in weeks. I miss George deeply, very deeply, but just can't deal with his drinking ways. George and I would be best friends if he were just sober all the time. I have tried to get him to come to AA with me, but he refuses. He says AA is a religious cult for the brainwashed. I worry about George's health.
George asked me to come to a cookout this weekend at the lake.
"We are having lots of beer and burgers," he told me. "I would like for my brotha to be there. Bring that woman of yours as well."
I told George I would think about it. We talked for a while longer about what was going on with the gang.
"That homeless woman is still hanging out down at the Piggly Wiggly," George said. "They won't let her panhandle though."
It made me think of Clara, the homeless woman, and how different her life could be if she just chose a different path. Clara is one of the unlucky ones without a family to take care of her. George has his mother to pay the bills and feed, house, and clothe him so he can drink with abandon. Clara has no one and must fend for herself.
"I saw Ferret yesterday," I told George, changing the subject.
"That nigga is crazy!" George said as he laughed. "He is still sleeping by the river and drinking beer all day."
"Yeah, I know."
I asked George if he thought his cousin, Monte, would let Ferret move back in. George said only under the conditions that Ferret take his crazy meds and quit drinking. That is not likely to happen.
"Am I going to see you at the lake Saturday?" George then asked.
"I'll think about it," I replied, knowing I could never go.
I love burgers and beer and the temptation would just be too great. I don't trust myself. I got off the phone with George and thought of my friend for the longest time. George and I used to have the best times together. We were the odd couple. An older middle-aged African American alcoholic had befriended this young, schizophrenic malcontent. Each day would find us on a new adventure with the gang accompanied by our standard props of beer and cigars. Sadly, I had to shut the door on that part of my life and can only live it in my memories. Strangely, I feel I am missing out on a good time by being a teetotaler. Hah! There goes that stinkin' thinkin' again!