"It's just stupid"
He was ranting but I let him go on.
"It's fucking stupid to always compare every day I'm sober to the worst day of my using. What the hell is that, anyway? Every day I go through life I should think back on the time I was curled up on the floor of my closet with shit filled underwear and lips blistered from my crack pipe?"
"Poetic" I murmured.
"Well?" He glared first into space, presumably at the conjured memory of whatever person he was actually angry with, and then at me, the lucky stand-in for the true target of his ire.
"What brought this on?" I decided to fish a little. What the hell, I had long ago found the answer to his implied question -- an answer which satisfied me quite well. Whether it would satisfy him was actually his problem, not mine.
"Oh I'm just sick of hearing people in meetings say that their worst day sober is better than their best day drunk, or whatever the hell that saying is."
I bobbled my tea bag and thought about how nice it was to be sitting down. Ever since I started working in a restaurant again I've developed a keen appreciation for a well made chair.
"Oh, are you playing at being inscrutable?"
I looked at him for a minute. "Number one: Good word. Number two: No. Number three: My available time is much more precious to me than it used to be. If you're going to be a di..."
"Okay. Okay. Sorry." He held up his hands and deflated a little, which meant only that he sat back and stopped looking like any minute now spittle would begin to fleck the sides of his mouth. In a much more reasonable tone he went on. "Well?"
I stopped bag bobbling. "You're deliberately being a literalist in order to pick a fight with an imaginary opponent based one part on your memory of something and another on the judgment of yourself you're projecting onto someone else. Someone who is not even here at the moment..."
His eyes narrowed then widened a little. "You...but... that's..."
I help up a finger. (No, not that one.) "Also, I understand feeling frustrated with certain slogans in meetings. Every so often it just seems like one will be in heavy rotation and it can get under your skin. Plus, I agree with you."
"In part. No, of course you shouldn't compare every single day of your sobriety to your worst day using -- the spirit of that sentiment is certainly not about dwelling on the darkest memories we have. Gah, that would be dreadfully maudlin."
"You've been watching BBC again."
"You always say 'dreadfully' after BBC'ing."
"Oh shut up. Did you want me to answer your question or not?"
"I'm not even sure exactly what my question was now, but yes."
"Then you can take my answer and reverse engineer it to whatever question you have which it might answer best. Because the answer is, this: Not always, but sometimes, and once in a great while, often."
"'Sometimes and once in a while often' what."
"We should compare a bad day sober to a supposedly 'good' day using, fairly regularly, and by that I mean once in a while, and when we're in very rough patches we should probably do it often."
I sipped my tea -- now a little too cold, damnit -- and gave him a hard look. "If you actually need me to answer that, one of us has been wasting the other one's time for well over a year now."
"You're much grouchier since you started working at that place."
"I'm not grouchier. I'm more to the point."
"Ah, that's what you're calling it"
"Oh shut... I mean... be quiet."