“Two men walk into a bar…” You know that joke, don’t you, with its endless variations? The one that is followed by a groan, often told by your beloved dad and uncles? Well, I have a different one to tell.

Two women walked separate routes in life: painful, exhausting, circuitous. One was a model-turned-realtor, the other a doctor. They knew each other once, although they were never friends, and then they were separated by geography and time. They never thought about one another again.

The doctor sits in a Twelve-Step meeting, less than a year sober, and sees a beautiful, older woman walk in. Surely this can’t be her old acquaintance, not here, not now. But the voice, the graceful walk…. She looks the same, yet older, but the doctor is older, too. She just can’t be certain, because that woman would never end up here, in a room full of people whose lives were made intolerable by drinking. Not her.

The tradition of anonymity separates them for a while. They respect each other’s space and never really talk. They nod at each other at meetings and in public.

The doctor is asked to help establish a Buddhism-based recovery group. At the second meeting, the woman walks in, and they can no longer avoid what they know.

Now, here is the story…

Two women walk into a bar after their meditation. Two members of the Buddhist group are musicians and that night they are playing in a band with two other non-drinkers. In a bar. A bar! The women are uncomfortable about this, about being back in a bar, but have faith that together they won’t feel too awkward with their Perrier and limes.

They hear music outside and walk into an outdoor patio adjacent to a ramshackle place that gives validity to the name “dive.” There is a small stage under an awning, and patio chairs scattered on a bed of gravel. The tiki bar features bug repellent instead of Mai Tais. Nervously, the women glance at the other patrons.

The punch line…

Two recovering alcoholics walk into a bar to hear four other recovering alcoholics play music, and find an audience entirely composed of other recovering alcoholics.

And I had a wonderful evening.

Maureen Hirthler
Bradenton, Florida


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