As I took my seat, one of the two civilian volunteers present, an elderly, gray-haired man who appeared to be in his seventies, but who I later learned was only sixty-four, handed out a small pamphlet on the Gamblers Anonymous program.
“Good evening, everybody, and welcome to the Wednesday night Gamblers Anonymous meeting,” he said. “My name is Perry B. I am a compulsive gambler, and my last bet was on July 7, 1976. Please introduce yourself to the group the same way.”
“Hello, my name is Frank Milazzo, and I am a compulsive gambler, and my last bet was three days ago in the day room of my dorm,” claimed the first of us to speak up.
“I am David Scott, a compulsive gambler, and my last bet was on March 16 of this year,” stated the only black member of our group.
“My name is K-K-Kenny D-D-Del-l-laquila, and I-I-I am a c-c-compulsive gambler, too,” admitted the guy next to David, with a major stuttering problem. “My l-l-last b-b-bet was on August 3, 1998.”
“My name is Gary Goldstein, a compulsive gambler, and my last bet was on June 12, 1998, which was the day before I got arrested,” I said, already confident that date would forever be noted as the last day I ever wagered on anything.
“Tom L., compulsive gambler, and my last bet was on October 12, 1996,” revealed the other civilian volunteer, also a gray-haired gentleman, who was a good fifteen years younger than Perry B.
Other than stuttering Kenny, the other three inmates, including obviously myself, were attending Gamblers Anonymous for the very first time at Oneida Correctional Facility. After the introductions were all concluded, it was finally time to get the meeting underway, but not before Perry made a general statement about the program.
“Since Gamblers Anonymous is, in fact, anonymous by its very title, last names are not required,” he said, “so Frank M., David S., Kenny D., and Gary G. is all that is necessary for you guys during introductions.”
This meeting felt very authentic to me already.
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