Toothless Doug

I was about 4 years sober and met a guy at 3333 who said he needed a sponsor. I’m not big on sponsoring people, but I told him I could meet him on Saturday and asked him where would be good for him. He told me he lived at Metropolitan Ministries; a homeless shelter.

Now let me tell you about Doug. He used to be a school teacher, but he drank himself as close to “wet-brain” as I have ever seen. He was about sixty years old and close to six foot eight. He was bald and didn’t have a tooth in his head. He had huge lips — for a white guy — and they flapped so much when he talked that you could hardly understand a word he said. It took me years to make out what he was saying.

Except when he read. When he read from the Big Book he sounded like Laurence Olivier!

So come Saturday I went to Metropolitan ministries, identified myself, and asked for him. The guy at the desk said they didn’t have anyone there named “Doug”. I described him. “He’s real hard to understand. His name might be ‘Bug’ or ‘Jug’ or ‘Gug’…. He looks like Lurch with meth-mouth. You gotta know who I’m talking about.”

Oh, Hell yeah! He knew that guy! But he didn’t stay at the shelter because he didn’t have any money (there’s no such thing as a FREE homeless shelter in Tampa). He lived in the park across the street.

That is messed up, folks. All of us embellish our lives from time to time to make ourselves seem better than we are – but if the best you can do is tell people you “live in a homeless shelter” when you really “live in the park across from the homeless shelter” – you may have hit rock bottom.

I never did find him that day.

Eventually he showed up at Sobrenity — guys like him always do – but he actually got sober. He got a little apartment next door to Errol Smith. He became our maintenance guy.

One night – Sobrenity was at Skipper Road then – I was standing in the alley next to the meeting looking up. He came up and asked me what I was looking at. I told him: “There’s a full moon, and Mars is directly above it and Venus is directly above Mars. All in a straight line. Really quite beautiful!”. He was such a wet-brain that he didn’t do what anyone else in the world would have done: turn their head to see what I was talking about.

“Did you make them do that?!?” he asked in wide-eyed astonishment.

“No, Doug”, I smiled patiently, “It happens every couple of hundred years”. Still he didn’t turn his head.

“Can you change it?” he asked.

“No, Doug. I can’t move planets.” That’s the problem with wet-brains. They say such stupid things that it’s nearly pointless to talk to them.

“Well, maybe if you look where your feet are you’d find something you CAN change.” he said as he bent down and picked up a piece of trash by my foot. He put it in the can as he rounded the corner and I was left standing there with my mouth open, freshly schooled by a wet-brain.

You can’t make up stuff like this.


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5 Responses to Toothless Doug

  1. Jackie Ross says:

    Great…..I love it!

  2. Lorelie says:

    Toothless Doug may just be the lesson, we all need to be reminded of. Good luck with your book!

    • AsJimSeesIt says:

      Thank you, Lorelie. And yes, I’ve seen that God likes to teach me humility at the same time as my ordinary lessons by having them come from the most unlikely of people.

  3. Andio says:

    That’s priceless.

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