Raising the Bar

Used 2013-01-09 Group Therapy Al K Hall Anonymous alcohol

What kind of messed up freaky blogger friend am i? The kind that will set up a meeting with me in a bar! It’s a long story but not really.

While on Christmas breaks back in the States i went to a bar for the first time since i can’t remember when.

Not that i’m afraid of bars– i’m more sure of my sobriety than i am of many things in my life–but the thought of spending 4 hours trapped in a room full of people acting like i did when i was drunk is the opposite of appealing. Still, this time i was hanging with my oldest and best friends, one of whom is my sobriety hero (having been on the wagon for well over 20 years), and it was a sports bar so i could watch pro football on the big screen if i got bored and plus of the 7 of us there, only 2 were drinking beer.

i had a great time. i wasn’t even tempted to drink and i was still able to joke around with my buds like i used to in my drinking days. While i have a hard time being sober around acquaintances, i learned i can have a blast around people who know the real me.

To top it off, i met a reader! L / Working On It / 1jaded1 happened to be driving past the city i was in on her way to her home city, so we emailed each other and she googled her way to the bar. i felt bad asking a reader working to stay sober to meet me in a bar, but it was a calm afternoon and she and i only had the briefest of exchanges before she had to hit the road again. Still, it was so nice to put a face to the name and to meet someone who has been such a big supporter here.

All in all, i’m kicking 2013 off right!

Used 2013-01-09 Drunk Bar Rag Al K Hall Anonymous alcohol sobriety recovery

Drunk Bar Rag

What do you think?

What’s your position on those of us in recovery going to bars/lounges? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below and join the discussion!


About Al K Hall

Like a battered drinker or a punch drunk boxer, i am here for another round. For those of you who don’t know me, i’m a semi-professional writer on the rocks and a non-practicing alcoholic (if after 30 years of practicing, you still can't do something well, it's best to just give it up). For those of you who do know me, thanks for stopping by anyway and where’s the ten bucks you owe me? Welcome to my Bar None. A hole in the wall where we can hang out and trade the kind of stories you swap only when you’ve had one too many and either can’t find your way home or are afraid to. Hell, it’s cheaper than therapy and plus the pictures are prettier. Here we’ll crack open bottles and jokes and ‘last call’ are the only dirty words you’ll never hear. Pull up a stool and make yourselves at home.

Posted on January 9, 2013, in Alcoholism, Lessons in Recovery, Recovery, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. inthesameboatla

    My SMART counselor advised against going into bars. He said “You don’t go into a barbershop unless you’re getting a haircut.” But I didn’t think it was a big deal to go into one. In my first year, I would go to a bar quite often after my 6-month milestone, because it also served as a restaurant where I liked to eat dinner. I was friendly with the bartenders and they were very supportive, serving me club sodas instead of beers and margaritas. But I do not visit them anymore, unless a friend wants to go or there is a social function there. There is nothing more boring than sitting alone in a bar, not drinking. It’s pretty boring, even if you are not alone. I can’t stand it unless I’m with very interesting people. Playing video games is time better spent. Maybe I’m just getting old.

    • It’s true that this wasn’t a Bar in the strictest sense of the word. “Lounge” might be a better term as they serve food and there are mostly tables (i don’t remember even seeing a proper bar). Plus i was there in the afternoon, not evening, on a Sunday (not weekend) so all the other patrons were there for the football on the big screen. i think i wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if it had been a Friday night near the university. Also, one thing i miss about the States is bar food, and i had me some awesome nachos. Next year i may go back for the chili cheese fries.

      As for going back to the bars here in Yeaman, i don’t see that happening. The reason we hung out in the States was to catch up, the reason people hang out here is to get drunk and i just don’t feel like hanging out with that kind of crowd.

      Keep coming back, brother,

      AL K Hall

  2. There are bars, and then there are BARS. This one had food, right? Or no? Anyway, I say that just because you go into a McDonald’s doesn’t make you a hamburger, so while I think it is wise, like Boat reports the counselor said, to avoid them if possible, it’s not necessarily true that you have to 100% stay away if there is a real reason to be there other than drinking. Like Boat mentions: food, games, people you love. I personally hate going into bars — the atmosphere is not one I like anymore — but if I had dear old friends like you had in one of them, I would go, too, as a kind of rare, one-time deal. I think that is a part of being “just right-sized.” I think you’re good if you are not going in by yourself with no other reason, like eating or meeting a good old friend, to be there. There might be an issue with that, eh? And no meeting acquaintances, either! That might lead to too much temptation to lubricate the conversation.

    How cool is this to figure out? “While i have a hard time being sober around acquaintances, i learned i can have a blast around people who know the real me.”

    You used to drink a shitload around those guys, too! I am sure that they love being able to see the real you being the real you with the real them (lol) and *not* drinking! Wonderful all the way around, and no one is scared that this time might be the one where you fall over the edge. Or, at the least, no one is REALLY hungover because they were trying to keep up with you, haha.

    I’m glad you got to see Working On It, too. Good stuff, all the way around.

    And, well, knowing the state you were in, it’s kind of hard to avoid bars, haha! In that part of the country, there are, like, three on every block for crying out loud!


  3. Hi Babe!

    Thanks for the comment. Yeah, like i mentioned in a comment to Boat, it wasn’t a real bar, nor was it a real bar situation.

    As for the guys’ being more relaxed, Ronnie left a comment on my last post where he makes reference to that, so it was a very relaxing afternoon for all involved.

    Keep coming back,

    AL K Hall

  4. Well I think this post was pretty funny-meeting up with a reader as you did-what a hoot!
    And you said only 2 out of the 7 of you were drinking beer. What were the other 3 drinking, cause I know you and 1 buddy were drinking club sodas?
    And I still occasionally join friends in a bar, and it’s fine. I just eat more! Nachos of course!
    Did the bartender have any interesting mocktails to offer, or was there a section on the menu for designated drivers? I ask because I’m writing about that now for a local magazine-an article on mocktails, although I hate that name. I’ve spoken to a couple of bartenders to get their take on non-drinkers in bars. I appreciate when bartenders are thoughtful about non-drinkers. The ones I’ve spoken to would absolutely be willing to pay a premium price for a delicious tasty drink. Soda and lime can get tired fast.

    • Hi Dudette!

      All of us were drinking Pepsi products with free refills (i was drinking diet Mountain Dew; i love it and we can’t get it in Yeaman!). i didn’t ask about the mocktails as they had free refills on the soft drinks. The last time i had one was at a Mexican restaurant where i had a virgin margarita and really enjoyed it. Have fun with the article and i hope you’ll show it to us somehow when it’s done!

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  5. “What’s your position on those of us in recovery going to bars/lounges?”

    *stifles alarm bells*


    In our household this particular issue is still a little raw, but in theory I do agree with Mrs. H up there — i.e. “food, games, people you love” in a non-real-bar setting. You’re in control and the rest of us have to trust that.

    • Hi there!

      This was definitely not a stereotypical bar, but i do understand your point of view. When i called my mother, she asked if i was going to be OK or if i wanted her to pick me up (my friend going to the bar was my ride for the day) and then when i got back to the place we were staying at, m daughter (15) hugged me a longer, harder and more often that night than usual.

      Strange because, for me, i knew there was no way in hell i was going to drink that day. It wasn’t even “on the table”. i forget that my mental resolve not to drink is invisible to others. Thanks for your perspective, Luddy, always eye opening!

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  6. Happy 2-Year Soberversary, to you dear_________!!

    I can’t bear to type “Al” there, because to me, it is not “Al” who has been sober for two years, it’s the “real you.” So stick your real name in the blank there. 🙂 Not that “Al” is not a part of you who has also been sober. I know it is just a pseudonym, but he’s also representative of an aspect of personality, the one who was always a bit of a pill about drinking — stubborn about it and in denial. I guess I should congratulate Al separately, though, because he has found sobriety along with ________.

    Al, thank you for coming to your senses and listening to the personality in the driver’s seat, _________, and finding sobriety along with him. “All of you” (lol) are a walking miracle, evidence that change CAN come to a person, and even later in life!

    I am so happy that you have found a renewed life in sobriety.

    Only Forward!
    “Celeste” aka _____________ (my real name)

  7. It was so nice to meet you in person. I didn’t even think of as a bar. You are a great blog friend and don’t you forget it! You are a straight up guy! Day 20 for me. It is usually the Shit and this time is no exception. Something nasty always happens and today was no exception. I’m sober though. I’m going to email you. L.

    • Congrats on Day 20! Woot! One day at a time. i’m sure you know i still think it’d be easier for you if you found any kind of support group, but it’s just the friendly nudge you’ll get from me and not any kind of high-pitched preaching.

      Keep coming back, my friend,

      Al K Hall

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