Biography: Author unknown, “Calculating the Costs”
(p. 396, 3rd edition.)
They Stopped in Time
“A retired Navy man looks back over twenty years of drinking, to add up his A.A. ‘initiation fee.'”
This man’s sobriety date is unknown. But since he likes calculations let us do some calculating, based on what he tells us in his story, to find out when he came into A.A.
If he entered the Navy at the age of twenty-one, not long after the United States entered World War II, say early 1942, and served twenty years in the Navy, he would have been forty-one when he retired in 1962. The heading on his story refers to twenty years of drinking, but he talks about twenty-five years of drinking (he started serious drinking at eighteen) so he must have entered A.A. two years after getting out of the Navy, i.e., about 1964.
Lack of funds and young age kept him from drinking much before the age of eighteen, but he was quite inventive. Beginning when he was fourteen he displayed alcoholic tendencies. He started to steal wine from the family jug, siphoning it off one drink at a time so it wouldn’t be missed, and saving it up until he had about a pint so that he could get drunk. “Even at that age,” he says, “I had learned that one drink was not enough. I had to have enough to get drunk on, or what was the use?”
He points out that his initiation fee was at least $10,000. All alcoholics pay a high initiation fee to enter A.A. But as this alcoholic points out, “Incalculable are the intangible initiation fees that A.A. members have paid, the sick, sick hangovers, the remorse, guilt, broken homes, jails, and institutions, and the mental anguish in general that has been generated over the years.”