(Courtesy of Reservoir Road Literary Review)
When you sit down in a group meeting, the first thing you do is look to your left and then to your right and reassure yourself that you aren’t as fucked up as the people on either side of you, but you don’t really know better one way or another because nobody has shared anything yet. You haven’t decided if you want to cut yourself open and let the rotting corpse from within spill out onto the floor when it’s your turn to share or if you are contented to remain a voyeur and watch everyone else bleed in front of you.
Unfortunately, you don’t get to pick the poison you get to absorb and inevitably, the stories and the story tellers drone on and on about how God has forsaken them or, better yet, god was testing them and they failed this time but they know next time will be different, but you know, deep down, it won’t because when the cravings come, god is nowhere to be found, but the devil understands the need for solace and comfort, and I believe that any friend of the devil is a friend of mine.
There comes a point in the meeting when the claustrophobia closes in and the incessant droning around you presses down on you and holds your head underneath the bowl of Holy Water and you can’t break the surface to catch a breath and when you finally do, you yell “Jesus” under your breath and your phone lights up with a list of cheeses you may like and stores that sell cheese not far from the basement of the church you find yourself in on a Tuesday night, and if you hurry, there is still time to get cheeses and maybe a nice bottle of wine to go with it because, deep down, you know the meetings don’t do anything for you in the first place.
And then you think of the baby Jesus and the baby cheeses and realize that Jesus is just another name for gruyere because you have never seen god but you have experienced rapture in an immaculate grilled cheese sandwich when stoned, so maybe my phone is actually my sponsor and pointing me in the direction of God far from the hypocrisy of the church basement because I can never get past the sixth step, which claims I am supposed to be entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character, but if I was born with this defective character and the bible says that I was made in god’s image, then he, too, carries these same defects that I have, and rather than wasting time listening to others drown in their self-righteousness, I could achieve enlightenment over a grilled cheese sandwich.
And then I realize I’ve been sharing this whole time and they question me about if I’m still using or if I’m using at this very moment of introspect and I want to say I’m high on life and high on cheese and that the real problem with religion is everyone wants designer cheeses made specifically for them when we really need a fondue for the masses that could hold us together and bind us and as I reveal this, I’m being shouted at for being disrespectful and stoned by the group that doesn’t hesitate to cast the first stone because I have violated the sanctity of the space and I refuse to let Jesus into me since religion has done nothing for me or my issues, but I would invite Jesus in to sit and have a grilled cheese sandwich with me so we could discuss how fucked up his father must have been, and when I think about the childhood Jesus had, knowing his father’s issues, it was no wonder he thought his father had forsaken him in the end because I know my father has forsaken me and I’m a lot older than Jesus was when he died and I can’t make peace with my father, so I sympathize with him.
Over lunch, we could create our own twelve-step plan but instead of steps it would be twelve cheeses with the first being Swiss because it was the holeyest and it would appeal to the Holy Ghost so there would be at least three of us at the initial meeting, and we could all commiserate and share how our relationships with our fathers drove us to our respective addictions.