Friday, September 28, 2018


There is a story I’d been meaning to write down. This is as good a time as any to do it.
When I started working at my current job 14 years ago there was a guy that kept cokes in the fridge.
He and I didn’t get along very well, and I found out over time that if a coke came up missing from his cokes, he would know about it and get upset.
I could hardly believe this guy kept count of his cokes, and if I took one he would know.
So, being the jerk that I truly am, anytime I wanted to get under his skin I just took a coke. Within 24 hours he would be about to blow his top over his missing can of coke. And over time he began to accuse me, which I always categorically denied.

But one day after taking one of his cokes I got sloppy and left the can in my trash can, which I always avoided. He found it, matched up the lot numbers and went to the manager.
The manager called me into the office.
“Are you taking his cokes?” he asked.
“No sir” I denied it.
“Well, he has a can from your trash can with the same lot number”
“Same lot number? I don’t know how lot numbers work. I got that coke at Walmart.” I lied.
“Steve, if you are taking this guy’s cokes, please stop. You have no idea how much grief its causing me”
So I went back to my desk. I sat down and about two minutes later the phone rang.
It was the Bedford Police Department.
“Mr. Renfro, your son was spotted walking home from school, and he went into someone’s garage and took a six pack of cokes from the cooler. We have him surrounded in a creek bed, and we cant get him to come out. We are about to turn the dogs loose on him. Can you call him and try to persuade him to come out”

I couldn’t believe it. Does anyone think this was a coincidence? He was suffering for my sins. Or to put it into NA Traditions speak, it was “A loving God as he may express himself in our Group Conscience”. God was expressing himself in my Group Conscience, and I never took another coke after that.

We are seeing the same thing with Judge Kavanaugh today. He is paying for the sins of Donald Trump, whose transgressions were swept under the rug in 2016. That fired up the #METOO movement.
And now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Funny thing though. He and I got along better as the years went by. He doesn't work there anymore, but I still see him regular. 
I see him at my NA Group.
In fact, I'm his sponsor. Ain't that something?

Monday, September 24, 2018


I used to go to The Peppermill with my buddy Dominick. He was a Sicilian born madman. We would go to see his favorite band "Little Green Men".
 Anyway, one night there was this girl there that wanted to dance….no, she wasn’t a girl, she was a woman. I was 40 years old, and she must have been 60 and that would make her 80 now, but she was wearing something tight, and 80 is the new 60, and that’s what I am now, so all things being equal the numbers work out OK.
But its not like I had a choice here. She wanted to dance with ME. And NO is not a word we use around here. It started out OK, but then she wanted to dance SLOW with me to FAST songs, and she kept nibbling my ear, and she smelled really good and I asked her what she was wearing. She said it was “Oil of the Satyr”, and that was a little freaky, and she said something else that is more or less unprintable, and about that time Dominick said it was time to go.
I didn’t want to go.
But Dominick was my ride and it took 30 minutes for him to take me home, and another 30 minutes for me to get in my car and go back up there, but it was 2:15 and snowing and there was no one left there except a couple mullets in the parking lot.

I’ve kept one eye out for her for 20 years now. I’d know her if I saw her in a minute.
JD Salinger wrote “"Probably for every man there is at least one city that sooner or later turns into a girl. How well or how badly the man actually knew the girl doesn’t necessarily affect the transformation. She was there, and she was the whole city, and that’s that."”

And I guess The Peppermill Lounge, for me, is a nameless 80 year old woman wearing Oil of the Satyr.

Friday, September 21, 2018


Brad is my most loyal friend. I remember the night I did some acid and I dropped him off at a house where his girlfriend was babysitting. It was just down the street from her house. I took Brads car and went the The Outpost for some pinball and Air Hockey. I was supposed to be back to pick him up at 11:00. Well, as acid trips go, I lost track of time, and it started snowing.
Snowing in Texas!
Big white fluffy flakes coming down, tickling my nose, and eyelashes, and soon my town was blanketed in the glorious stuff, how wonderful snow is! But when you aren’t used to it, its kinda blinding, especially at night. Every twinkling light is magnified like 100 times, and reflected off the snow like a million times, blues and greens and finally I completely grok Van Gogh. So I reached over and pulled Brads glittery big sunglasses out of the glove box, the ones that he would wear when we would cruise the loop in his Ford Pinto with the Quad turned all the way up, and during "Funeral For A Dead Friend", and play keyboard on the dashboard with his eyes closed, blissful, while we begged him to put his hands back on the steering wheel and drive before the song came true for all of us.
I put them on.
Much better! And it was about that time I remembered something about needing to go pick Brad up somewhere. But where? It was right on the tip of my tongue. Where was Brad?
Oh, snap, Brad Huff is at his girlfriends house!
So I went to Lisa’s house, parked the car, sledged up the hill through the wonderful snow to Lisa’s door and rang the bell., and stood there in my glittery glasses while Lisas mother opened the door.
“Hi” I said “I’m here to get Brad”
‘Who?” Lisas mother asked.
“Brad. I dropped him off here a couple hours ago where Lisa was babysitting”
About that time two things hit me.
One, Lisa’s mother suddenly recognized me, even with the sunglasses. I was the guy in Lisa’s diary that was never supposed to be within 100 feet of Lisa again according to her father.
Two, I hadn’t dropped Brad off at Lisa’s house, I’d dropped him off wherever she was babysitting.
I really don’t remember how that encounter was resolved, but the next thing I knew I was tumbling down the hill in the snow to Brads car, then I was driving down the street, and Brad was running alongside the car in the snow, I was rocking his sunglasses, stars were falling, falling, falling from the purple sky, the world was big and full of light, the air was crisp, I had found my most loyal friend, and tonight, tonight, tonight was going to be fine for a while.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Dr Death

I call my dentist Dr. Death. He is a great guy. He looks just like Kramer on Seinfeld. His assistant, Candi, is an Exotic Dancer down at Fantasy Fox. While he has my mouth wide open he will say things like "Candi, bring me the big black hook" and I just crack up. There is no big black hook, not that I've ever seen. He’s just messing with me. Sometimes I crack up so bad in there that we have to stop all the dental stuff till I stop laughing. I wish there was more to tell you about Candi. We’ve never really gotten past the rinse and spit stage of our relationship. One day Dr Death was going to do a little work on a tooth without numbing me. He needed to remove a little "interference", which is a technical term I know all about because Doctor Death tells me everything about what he's doing while he is doing it. This has earned my undying respect and unflinching trust. I know enough about dentistry to do my own root canal. Certainly I know enough to do yours. “I’ll just lightly buff out that little bit of interference” he said “Let me know if you feel any pain”. The instant the drill touched down was like lightning had struck that tooth, and my left leg shot out as I gripped the chair. My survival instinct took over and I jammed my tongue onto the drill which embedded the drill into my tongue, but also prompted Doctor Death to stop the drill. Even with a drill lodged in my tongue, I couldnt help but laugh. He looked down into my face and grinned. “”You felt that?” “”Ike a ‘ofoker, ‘og” I said "’og, whudda ella oowie oo ow?" which means "Doc, what the hell do we do now" and he said "Hang on while I put it in reverse". "Brrrrreeee" went the drill! It worked like a son of a bitch Man, I just cracked up. Thats how you get a drill out of a tongue. I really wish there was more to say about Candi.

Monday, September 17, 2018


I see him every few weeks. For ten years I see him.
Bumming change at Lisa’s Chicken. Crossing the Belaire Parking lot at a fast clip.
He’s a fast walker, he is.
Mostly skin and bones too.
Unshaved. Rough around the edges. Dirty pants.
So skinny his mother might not even recognize him.
Even a guy like him probably has a mama somewhere , a momma crying out “Lord have mercy on my babys soul”.
For ten years I see him, rough on the edges, same shirt, same pants, same hard look.
Same hard look, but timid in a funny way; harmless, hopeless, shy like a dog thats been whipped.
Always walking fast, like he’s got someplace to be. But one look you can tell he has no place to be.
No place to be.
I get the feeling sometimes that I know him. From back in my using days.
If I add fifteen pounds to him, yes, I might have known him fifteen years ago in some game room in Arlington, or that shack out in Rendon.
It makes my heart hurt a little to see him, for ten years, when I see him.
But I don’t dwell on it, its just part of the routine, like the guy that used to hitchhike all over, or the lady on her bike that worked at Carls.
I hardly even notice him any more.

But then Saturday morning I’m at the red light at Bedford Road and Brown Trail, lost in my meditation, lost in my routine.
And there he is. Ten years I've watched him walk
But he is not walking.
He’s on a bike. Zipping across the parking lot.
My heart just swells. I feel lifted. He’s moved up.
The quiet gift of everyday life to see this.
I remember when I was on a bike. Four (4) years I was on a bike.
Who knows? Maybe he’s got a job.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll see his bike parked outside the group, the way mine was 10 years ago.
We do recover.

Most of us do not live a life of monastic rigor. Our days are full of jagged edges and jangling moments. But most of us do have quiet routines that inform our lives. We rise each morning and greet our day in the same fashion. A first cup of coffee, a glance at the paper, a certain way we bathe and prepare for our entry into the day — these do not change. They are the rituals by which we shape our days. But we do not value them as rituals. To us they are the ordinary — sometimes comforting, sometimes mind-deadening — activities that give a familiar sameness to our life. Far from honoring them, we pay them no heed. We see them as routines, not as paths to awareness. My time in the monastery taught me otherwise. To be sure, the monks lived a life of deep sacramentality and prayer, and that was the true source of their spiritual vision. But the mindful practice of their spiritual exercises spilled over into the way they carried on their daily affairs. They were present to nuance, aware of the space around events. A cup of tea, a meal partaken, a moment shared with another — all commanded their absolute focus. They had tuned their spirits to a fine and subtle sensitivity, and nothing passed unnoticed or unhonored.”
~ Kent Nerburn, Of Coffee Mugs and Monks in Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life (New World Library. 2010)

Thanks to David at Live and Learn

Friday, September 07, 2018


July Fourth with Donald! Baseball, hot dogs and fireworks.
My nephew Donald is a sweet smart boy. He is into keychains. He wants to know all about your keys. He inventoried mine.
“Whats this key Uncle Steve?”
“That’s my mailbox key”
“Whats this key Uncle Steve?”
“That’s my friends mailbox key so I can pick up her mail”
“Whats this key Uncle Steve?”
“Thats the key to the front door of my NA group”
And so it goes, through all my keys.
“That’s the key to my car”
“That’s the key to my work”
“That’s the key to my friends apartment”
“That’s the key to the safe”
‘That’s the key to the Post Office box.”
We’ve reached the end of the keys now. Donald is deep in thought.
“Uncle Steve, where is the key for your apartment?”
I’m gobsmacked. How did he do that?
“Wow Donald, you don’t miss much do you. I left that key with my friend Laura so she could clean my apartment while I’m gone.”

I told him what the combination to the safe is down at my NA Group. It will be interesting to see if he remembers it when I go back to visit.