“Hello everybody. My name is Tom and I am
About half the group was noticeably overweight, while quite a few others were very thin. This is a good place to meet women.
Am I going to OA meetings under false pretences? Not really. I am indeed a binge eater, one who is quite capable of packing on 10 pounds over a lost weekend of nonstop eating. My story is a common one and everyone here has heard it many times.
“I am just a fat man trapped in a thin man’s body.” Several people nodded knowingly. We’re all fatties here, no matter what we actually look like.
I decided to tell my bagel story.
“I happen to like bagels. So I go to Broadway Bagels every day and buy an “everything” bagel. Just one. If I don’t limit myself, I could go through a dozen at a sitting.” Almost everyone is smiling.
“So then, I think to myself, why not buy two everything bagels – one for today and one for tomorrow? That way, I’ll save myself a trip.”
Everyone knows what’s coming next: how I ate both bagels as soon as I got home and went to store the next day and bought four… and then eight the day after that….
When I finished, almost everyone was laughing. I mean, all of us could do the math.
After I sat down, I looked around and saw several good looking women in the audience. The tall very thin women are anorexic. They may have once been overweight, but many have been painfully thin for years. One woman, in her mid-twenties, who was five-foot-nine and weighed one hundred fifteen pounds, had told me that she goes into a panic if she gets even an ounce over that weight. I’ve heard variants of that story many times.
A very good looking guy, maybe in his late twenties stood up to speak.
“My name is Barry and I am an overeater.”
“I am not only an overeater. I am an alcoholic, a drug abuser, a compulsive gambler, a hoarder and a clutterer. My only saving grace is that perhaps because I am also a workaholic, I have been able to hold on to my job.
‘I’ve managed to put away a large pizza, a Junior’s cheesecake, and two six-packs in one evening. I’ve been evicted because my apartment was a fire hazard and I’ve gone bankrupt twice. So when I hear all your stories I ask myself, “Who am I to judge?”
Barry went on to talk about how hard it has been to deal with multiple addictions, and how he has come to accept that only complete abstinence can work for him. And that this realization made him so much more accepting of the challenges that the rest of us face.
When he finished, he got a heartfelt ovation. He bowed his head modestly and sat down Even I was touched by his frankness and wondered if I could ever let it all hang out the way he had.
Next up was an angelic young woman who immediately got everyone’s attention.
“My name is Mary and I am an overeater and a sexaholic.”
“You know eating and sex are very similar activities. They’re both physical. They’re both social. They involve the senses, and they can be engaged in alone, with another person, or even with whole groups of people.
“I am so compulsive that I’ve had sex on subway stations, in movie theaters, in restaurants, and even during a church service … but not in this church.” Most of us laughed.
This amazingly innocent looking young woman went on to tell one lurid tale after another, some involving celebrities, politicians, and a couple of religious leaders. When she finished there was stunned silence.
And then, one after another, we stood and began clapping. I saw tears flowing down her cheeks. It must have been tremendously difficult for her to have revealed so much of herself. Finally she sat down. After the applause ended, there was complete silence.
Even though I had to be at least twice her age, I couldn’t keep fantasizing about how nice it would be to make love to her. What’s that tag line for the New York State Lottery ad? Oh yeah, “You never know.” Dream on, Tom.
I can’t recall how long it took until the next person spoke, but I do remember the end of the meeting. After the closing prayer, Barry, the young man with the multiple addictions made a beeline for Mary. She smiled at him and they began to chat. It was nice to see them together.
I left the church and walked across the street to my car. It was a beautiful summer evening, and was just getting dark. I watched the traffic lights along First Avenue, one after another changing from red to green. Then I looked back across the street at the church and saw Mary coming out. I was surprised that she was alone. When the light changed, she crossed First Ave., saw me and waved.
I told her how touched I was by what she said and she thanked me.
“I’m headed uptown if you’d like a ride.”
“That would be nice.”
“You know, I’m sort of puzzled about something. Would it be OK if I asked you a question?”
“Well, as soon as the meeting ended, I saw that guy with all the addictions rushing over to talk to you”
“Do you know him?”
“No, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him before.”
“Well I’m sort of curious. He seemed really anxious to meet you.”
“Yes, I noticed that.”
“And I saw the two of you talking. So I was kind of surprised that he didn’t at least walk out with you.”
“Yes, that was a little strange. One minute he was really friendly, and then, very abruptly he said he had to go and went rushing off. I think I must have said something to upset him.”
“Yes! He had asked me how long I had been a sexaholic. I told him I had been having sex since I was 11. He seemed very sympathetic.
“I said that I would always be a sexaholic, but like any addiction, you need to deal with it every day of your life.
“Then he smiled and said, ‘Yeah, tell me about it!’
“And that was just before he suddenly walked away.”
“Really? Can you remember what you said?”
“I said that I have been abstinent for two years.”