Monday, December 04, 2006

Lindsay Lohan Joins A.A.

"I'm a drunk," my father explained to me in the late seventies or early 1980s. "Alcoholics go to meetings. I don't go to meetings."

His response was to my inappropriate confrontation that he had a problem with alcohol. Of course, my drug use and partying ways were not part of the conversation. He was being confronted to discuss the impact his drinking had on his family and his health. I was not there to discuss my opinions about my cocaine use of the same era.

I know that he attended at least one AA meeting, and he had a copy of an AA book in his living room when I visited one Sunday. I have no idea if he read it, or if he attended another meeting, but he certainly did not stop drinking.

I later learned that his drinking was really none of my business and it was quite obvious that he didn't care what I thought about it. He drank himself to death and in 1985, his body finally expired. He was fifty-one, but looked much older. Well, he looked dead actually.

During planning for his memorial, the funeral director asked if we wanted to designate a charity to receive donations in his honor, in lieu of flowers. "Of course," I said nobly. "Let's have people donate to Alcoholics Anonymous." This seemed the perfect charity, because they might have saved my father's life.

"AA doesn't accept contributions," the funeral director said.

I was flabbergasted! A thousand questions flew through my mind: why would they refuse contributions for the work they do? where do they get money to do their work? do they need money to do their work? what do they do? how do they do it without money? why would any charity refuse donations? But I asked none of them.

I must have looked befuddled because the funeral director offered: "It is against their tradition to take money from people outside of AA."

This confused me even more; but, I smiled and nodded my head as if this made sense, which it didn't, and he continued: "Thee are charities that do help alcoholics."

"Well," I decided. "He died of liver failure, let's donate to the liver foundation."

"Very well," he said. "And how about the church restoration fund?"

I agreed. My father and I had both grown-up in Mission Hill and the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, with its twin spires rising to the sky, is a Boston landmark we were both lucky enough to have in our neighborhood. Mission Church (the nickname for OLPH), was undergoing a much-needed renovation that required a million dollars (and this was back in the days when a million dollar was a lot of money).

I rarely think about that conversation with the local funeral director about AA. It was brought to mind last night when I saw this:

"Lindsay Lohan attending AA meetings: publicist."

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actress Lindsay Lohan, who has been a frequent target of the tabloids for her partying ways, has begun attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, her publicist said on Friday. . . . (more)

Everyone knows that the second "A" in "AA" is anonymous, and this press release hardly seemed anonymous. So I googled "aa tradition" and the first link brought me to a page that includes this piece of information:

11.- Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as A.A. members ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us.

Sound pretty anonymous. It also appears that maybe AA doesn't want to be exploited by famous people trying to make a buck. But, after all, Lindsay Lohan has never been anything but a famous person trying to make a buck. I guess her publicist issuing a press release with Lindsay Lohan's picture and her public pronouncement of joining AA is not really what people in AA are supposed to do. Maybe her publicist didn't know this. Maybe Lindsay Lohan doesn't care what impact she has on AA. Maybe Lindsay Lohan figures she can now make her bucks off the reputation and work of AA.


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