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So I’m Beachside in This Tiki Bar…

So I’m Beachside in This Tiki Bar…

So I’m Beachside in This Tiki Bar…


Beach Bohio Palmas Del Mar…


So, I’m beachside in this tiki bar and a huge tumbler of chardonnay goes by; the waiter can barely carry it. The thing is so big and heavy, the liquid shifts side to side in his hand like waves –  coming just to the top of the frosted glass without spilling. Kim sees it too, and gives me a look. The waiter carries it to a table by the railing and I lean out to see who the recipient of this bounty might be. It’s a handsome man, sitting alone and he reaches up to grab the glass with both hands.


I’ll admit my salivary glands have kicked in, like someone rang a bell…


Self Help…

The wine looks really good to me. Ice cold. My brain registers the memory of the taste. I think to myself, “These are the times that try men’s souls,” and I smile because after that thought, a barrage of self-help inspirations start playing in my mind…


Tito is busy telling a story. He’s saying that Puerto Rican men have a saying, “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” I’m listening, because Tito is funny and the story is sure to include a tale of his wrongdoing – it will involve the drinking of  rum, late staying and a salsa dance with a stranger in a red dress…


But I am also processing. It’s what addiction professionals call “your sobriety toolkit”. Mine is opened on the splintered, choza floor and I am digging through it like a plumber with a water spout or to use a “beachy” metaphor, a sailor with a hole in the hull – you get the picture. Mayday. SOS.


The thoughts start coming in unbidden:

  • There’s no way you can drink wine in front of these two, so what’s the point of thinking about it? Listen to the funny story, Mare…
  • It’s super hot outside and the cold wine will warm fast and taste like vinegar
  • And you’ll get sleepy
  • And headachy
  • I play it through to the inevitable conclusion: do I need to list the consequences?
  • And then, I play the scenario through to the positive end.


It all happens in a nanosecond. What a world, what a piece of work is my brain…


This is what the women in my group sessions at Sanford House are talking about. The times when they ask for practical advice to prepare for something they know might be hard on their sobriety: a graduation or a wedding or a vacation in Puerto Rico with tiki bars serving giant flagons of white wine on every vantage point on the beach.


We all need our personalized, sobriety toolkits. I take a swig of my ice cold, gassy water and look out to the vastness of the sea. It is hot and wet and we are all laughing – almost carefree. I don’t say it, because Tito is still waxing, his accent like a song, but I think it, “Life is good. Really good, and after all I’ve been through, it’s easier for me to ask for permission. I have exhausted the asking of forgiveness…”


Today I’m not drinking because permission was not granted…


Kim and Tito – life is good…

How come you’re not drinking?



The vastness of the sea…


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Comments (14)

  1. Avatar
    Jun 9, 2016

    Why did you put my picture instead of yours??????
    Yours was great…..oh Mare…..

    • Marilyn
      Jun 9, 2016

      Because I was showing the people who were NOT giving permission and because my pic came in sideways…

  2. Avatar
    Jun 9, 2016

    Best ever M

  3. Avatar
    Jun 9, 2016

    How come you're not drinking?
    I have far too much to DO and wine makes me lazy!
    Love this! So proud of you, mommy!

  4. Avatar
    Jun 9, 2016

    Ok, this post triggered me, not to drink, but to comment. First, so glad you and Kim are basking in the beauty of P.R. I meant to tell you how gorgeous and happy you both looked in another photo, so please accept the compliment now. Seeing Tito brings back so many memories for me – mostly in Kim’s condo in Beaver Creek. Isn’t it wonderful that Kim and Claudio have always had a beautiful place to enjoy life – Woody Creek, Beaver Creek, Puerto Rico? And they love to share it with their friends – thanks Kim! Marilyn, I have said it before but I will say it again. You are a far more interesting, kind, engaging woman sans that jug of chardonnay. I know because I knew you then and I read you now. Wine drowned out the best parts of you so add that to your sobriety toolkit. And please tell Tito I said hello and never forget “BREAKTHROUGH ON SKIS”!

    • Marilyn
      Jun 9, 2016

      THANK YOU. For reading, for your comments, for your friendship. And Tito is a certified blast.

  5. Avatar
    Tommy Z
    Jun 9, 2016

    Great and honest post. Also it m
    ade me intensely envious – I love that tiki bar and wish I was there!

    • Marilyn
      Jun 9, 2016

      I’d never been there before! Kim and I have always walked past it while on our afternoon beach hikes, so it was so much fun – and Tito is, well, TITO…

  6. Avatar
    Jun 9, 2016

    M. I never was a big beer drinker….. I preferred more civilized drinks like single malt scotch.
    However, in the islands, on hot days and copious amounts of fried foods, I would watch the Corona’s go by and decide life was not fair.
    On the other hand, I would have probably missed the entire experience if I had the first beer. R

    • Marilyn
      Jun 15, 2016

      Life ISN’T fair Richard. But life is good. And you are right that one beer leads to a slew…

  7. Avatar
    Jun 10, 2016

    Undying love
    It was all there
    Tied in a neat pink bow
    Ways to show they cared
    Carefully placed blooms of yellow in a sea of green
    Connected to give me a place in this world
    Hours upon hours of labors of love
    The most jagged edges when combined have meaning and beauty
    Spelled out to identify me as a part of a whole
    These acts enough to bring me to full tears
    Not aware the treasure that awaited
    Cotton and lace medley with blue and ivory
    My awkward ways washed away in those fabrics
    The same look given twice so we can show the world
    We are our own family and belong together forever
    Glistening eyes from my younger me across the room
    Softly stroking leather crafts and books
    The one with fill in the blank the most treasured
    Knowing it was touched and held by hands before ours
    Treats for her and for me
    With blue ribbon wishing for the day to be rejoiced
    Star books, star cupcakes to ease the party of two
    Dad’s quote engraved in a necklace
    One always worn by a word I long for with three
    His tie turned into a headband and wristband
    Striped cross-bag filled with things only this mom would know
    Perfume that awakened my senses of a long ago memory
    The last box still sitting awkwardly again a hospital wall
    This box contained my dreams, my memories, my life
    All put into one long cylinder
    The one present that was a direct line from here to heaven
    The one present where my past and my present hold hands
    Quivering with the unknown both in the skies and on the ground
    Silence was the sound of this festive occasion
    Shoulders rising and following with intermittent sniffles
    Tiny but far from invisible droplets crying out love
    In the most sterile of four walls nothing could be better
    Or I thought
    Until I heard it
    The laughter, the sounds of their voices
    Etched permanently in my mind
    The We love you said with room in their heart
    A year and a half of pain, sadness and love intertwined
    Build and bonded around
    Undying love

    • Marilyn
      Jun 15, 2016

      Oh dear Ellie. If only my birthday present could be – MORE LAUGHTER and less pain for you and Evie. Less sadness. If we could erase the mindless distance. The kindless isolation. We all know that keeping people apart doesn’t harden their hearts or wave a wand of forgetfulness. Remember in Sleeping Beauty when the evil spell made the whole kingdom fall into a coma? Love. Love happened and they all woke up and there was a wedding- a joyous party. And love broke the spell. There are no princes here – not even love’s true kiss or the opportunity for a touch. But there is love and it will triumph. So help me God.
      When you look through that one long cylinder, into the heavens – think about those who love you truly. Our time to dance will come. And say “hi” to your dad for me. I miss him. I miss you dearly.

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