Me: Hey, thank you for meeting me for coffee.
Him: Sure, sure.
Awkward minute of silence
Me: So ... I believe I owe you an amends.
I wait a moment, half expecting some sort of response. All I get is more silence. I think to myself, "Well, maybe he's not going to make this any harder than it has to be, but obviously he's not going to make it any easier, either."
Me: When you and I ran into each a couple of weeks ago, you know, I think ... you made a very neutral, even helpful statement, and I just kind of bit your head off. I'm sorry, that's ... that's not cool, I don't like to be that way. So I apologize. I want to make amends. If there's anything I can do to make that up to you ...
Him (sharply): That's what this is about? That's why you called me and asked me to meet you?
Me (taken aback): Well ... yes. I wanted to make a face-to-face...
Him: You don't think you could have just said this on the phone?
Me: I ... no. I mean, yes, I guess. But I just always think in terms of making amends, you know, face-to-face whenever ...
Him: You know, you're supposed to wear the program like a loose blanket. You don't have to be such a...
Me: Oh please. Who the hell came up with that loose blanket thing, anyway? I think people just say that when they want to make excuses for not doing the deal.
He looks at me sharply but I'm on a roll. Righteous indignation and guilt and grief and more resentment against this guy in a messy tangle in my gut.
Me: You know what else is a loose blanket? A fucking shroud. Did you hear about ...
I name someone in AA who just died -- possibly OD'd -- earlier this week.
Him: Yeah. I did.
The cafe is by a fairly busy street. We're at a table on the sidewalk, and a truck roars by, silencing us both for a minute, like God ringing the bell signaling an end to Round 1 and sending us back to our neutral corners.
Him: You sponsored him for a while, didn't you.
Me: Yeah. Yeah, I did. At the beginning. For a while. Like, 3 years, actually.
Silence. We drink our coffee for another minute or two.
Me: What were you going to say? I don't have to be such a what?
Him: Nothing. Skip it.
Me (getting a little louder): No. What? Say it. Say what you were going to say.
Him (matching my escalating volume): No. Never mind. Skip it. Look. Fine, fine. Apology accepted.
I open my mouth to say something, and close it. He looks at me, looks away, takes a deep breath and stares into space. We drink our coffee for a couple of minutes. Someone we know from meetings walks by, waves. We wave back and smile as if we've been having a lovely chat.
Me: Great. Well. This has been fun.
Him: Right. Yeah.
Me: Let's do this again next time I snap at you.
Him: No, that's ok. Just call me and ... whatever. Leave a message or something.
Me: Right. Yeah. Whatever.
He stands up, puts his cell phone in his pocket, picks up his keys and his coffee. Hesitates for a moment. Sticks out his hand. I half stand up and shake it. He walks away.
I think to myself, "I swear to God, if I could do this stuff any better, I would." Then I sit there a bit longer, and laugh a little, because I realize if that's true for me then it has to be true for him, too.
I finish my coffee and leave, feeling, with that thought, somehow a little better about the whole thing.