Directed by Blake Edwards, a public relations man who likes to drink falls in love with a secretary he gets to drink with him; but they both become alcoholics and struggle with their drinking problem.
At a bar Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) asks a man if the woman he is recommending has class. He finishes his drink and calls up Betty, asking the bartender to hit him again. He says his friend told him that she likes to have a good time. He invites her to a party his agency is holding on the yacht of a prince. He makes the date and drinks some more.
Joe is waiting in a motor boat with other women and sees Kirsten Arnesen Clay (Lee Remick) get out of a car and come running over. He says this is number seven, and they can cast off. She gets in the boat, and he says she is late and that she was supposed to wear a cocktail dress that is more revealing. She closes her coat, and he sits down and says they can go. During the boat ride he looks at the other six woman who seem similar to each other.
At the yacht Kirsten gets out, and Joe goes after her. Mr. Trayner (Jack Albertson) says Joe must be the new man from the agency, and he introduces himself and his secretary Kirsten. Trayner looks at the six women and says they are fine.
At the party a belly dancer circulates inside. On the deck Joe offers to buy Kirsten a drink, but she says she does not drink. She notes he is the new public relations man and asks what happened to Eddie. He says he quit because he did not believe getting dates was part of public relations. She asks if it is. He says the name for it is not public relations. She says he does it well and walks off.
Later Joe in the motor boat counts four girls and says two are missing. Trayner with Kirsten says the others aren’t ready to leave. The boat takes off.
Joe takes an elevator and sees Kirsten sitting behind a desk. He knocks on the glass wall and waves at her. He comes in, and she says Trayner is not here. He says they should get to know each other and offers her a “peace offering.” She puts on her coat, and he says they are going to be working together. She says he needs to please Trayner, and so far he is happy with him. She sees no reason for him to please her. He says it is peanut brittle, and she says she hates it and leaves. He learns the cleaning woman does not like peanut brittle either and throws it in the waste basket.
Kirsten and Joe get into an elevator going down that is crowded. He asks her what special qualifications she has that allows her to sit around all day and chat with her boss. Others get out, and he says she writes a few personal letters that typists who make less than she does type while she spends half her day reading a book. She says that reminds her that she forgot her book. They go back, and the elevator operator says she always carries that book. Joe says her special qualifications are that she is pretty. The old lecher likes to have her around to look at and lean on when he gets drunk like he did last night. She slaps his face and leaves the elevator. After a pause he follows her and apologizes for what he said. He came up here to be friends, and he was going to ask her to have dinner with him. She laughs at the peanut brittle and says he must be the silliest man she ever met. He says they can forget it, and they go in the elevator. While standing behind her, he makes a face at her. He walks by her and says good night.
Outside she catches up with him and says she thought he wanted to have dinner with her. She has a board meeting until 7:30 and would not have time to change; it would have to be some place that is casual. He knows a place she will like and says he will meet her at Place Pigalle at 7:30. She says okay and walks away looking back.
At the restaurant Kirsten tells Joe about how her boss treats her and gives her proprietary hugs. She realizes he is right. He admits he had no business saying that to her. He asks the waiter to hit him again with another drink and indicates he does not want her to hit him again. She laughs. He asks what she has against booze. She does not see any point in it. He says it makes you feel good. She says she already feels good, and she does not like the taste. He asks what she does like. She really likes chocolate. He goes to the bartender and comes back. She thinks they should order, but he says in a few minutes. He notes that her name is not American and suggests that accounts for her being hard to get along with. She says down the coast at San Mateo is the Arnesen Nursery that is her family’s. She couldn’t take it but says her father is a wonderful man. She kept thinking to herself that she is pretty, and she was unseen in the desert air. She says that is from “Grey’s Elegy.” He asks if she got that out of the book, and she says that was from a previous volume. He looks at her book and sees it is the World Library of Great Literature, Volume Je-La. Her father gave those to her when she graduated from high school and told her that if she read them all, it would be the equivalent of a college education. The waiter brings her a chocolate drink, and he persuades her to try it. She tastes it and says it is good. He says they call it Brandy Alexander. She drinks some more.
A taxi stops, and Joe gets out with Kirsten and tells the driver to wait a minute. She says he was right about the brandy because it made her feel good. He asks if she will ask him up for a cup of coffee. She says some other time and suggests they walk down to the bay. He pays for the taxi.
On a dock Joe is drinking out of a bottle. Kirsten says it must taste awful. He says anything worth having must be worth suffering for. She likes to watch the water and expects a sea monster to come out and carry her down to the ocean caves. He says her parents were a club act in old-time vaudeville. They are in come classy joint in Vegas now. She asks if they are good. He says they were on Ed Sullivan a couple years ago. She asks if he did not like that kind of life. He says no because he wanted something steady with class like a Trayner drilling account. She tells him not to hate himself for something he has to do for his job. He wants to be a public relations man, not a pimp. His job is supposed to be advising people how to relate to the public, how to make the good his client does known and help him find ways to do good and benefit others as well as himself. He says he is going to tell the agency. He apologizes for burdening her, and she says she does not mind. He says a short story is that a man meets a girl who is nice finally after many strategic blunders, and he manages to get a date. They walk down to the bay where he gets loaded and cries on her shoulder like a baby. He asks if that is some lover. She enjoys being there with him, and he helped her avoid her apartment for a long time. That is an accomplishment because it is the roach kingdom. She says if you don’t leave food out for those roaches, they don’t let you in the building and change the lock on the door. Sometimes she comes down there at night alone to look at the water just to keep from going home. He warns her she should not come down there at night alone because it is crawling with oddballs. She says they walk by slowly and stare, but they don’t do anything. She does not know why. He takes another drink. She says she dreamt one night that they murdered her. Her father came and took her body home. He talked a lot, but she could not hear him. She says the funny thing is that her father does not talk. He used to talk to her mother at night quietly. She says they used to toast in Norwegian to be together in heaven. After her mother died, he became even more silent, almost as if he had gone with her. She quotes a poem about gathering rose buds when you may. He nearly finishes the bottle, and she notes it is nearly two. He points to his bottle and says time does not exist in the ocean. She says it will in the office tomorrow. He drops the empty bottle in the water. She quotes the poem about the days of wine and roses not lasting long. They look at each other, and she says they should be getting back. He nods.
Rad Leland (Alan Hewitt) comes into Joe’s office and says Trayner has been trying to get him all morning and has been praising him. Joe says he couldn’t make it this morning. Rad says the Prince is so pleased he wants to have another party tomorrow night. Joe asks if he can talk to him for a minute, and Rad sits down. Joe says he realizes that the Trayner arrangements need to be made from time to time, and Rad guesses that he would rather not. Joes realizes it is part of his job, but it makes him feel dirty. Rad does not blame him, but he does not know what he can do about it unless they put another man on there. Rad says some of the boys don’t mind that sort of thing. Joe says it is not that he can’t do it or that he won’t do it. It is the first account of any size that they have given him. Rad gets a flash and calls Nell to get him Roger Acton. Rad says if Roger goes along, his problem is solved to everyone’s advantage. Joe says he does not want to be complaining. He just started on that account and is concerned that Roger might take a dim view of this. Rad assures him that he will admire his integrity. Rad answers the phone and talks to Roger who asks if it is the same deal as with Eddie. Rad talks to Roger using advertising terms.
Joe brings two bags up stairs and tells Kirsten he is sorry he is late, but he was very busy. She comes and takes one of the bags. He says he got a new account. She learns he is off the Trayner account and calls him a man of principle. They go in her apartment. He says he may wish he was back getting girls for Trayner because this new guy Ballefoy drinks with both hands. You can’t keep up with him nor communicate. He looks around and asks if this is the roach kingdom. She says he is feeling good tonight. He says she will catch up because he has all the makings for Brandy Alexanders. He gives her a chocolate cake with chocolate icing. He has Scotch and soda for himself. He sprays the corners and cracks to get the cock roaches. He explains that he did not quit the Trayner account. He just indicated he found it distasteful, and they took him off it. He even apologized for just hinting and asks what she thinks of that. She says at least he hinted; most people in his position wouldn’t even hint because they would be too insecure. She hands him a drink, and he toasts men of principle. They hear a knock, and she opens the door. Dottie (Maxine Stuart) asks if she is spraying in there. Kirsten says yes. Dottie says she should not do that because it stirs them up and makes a mess. She says they don’t destroy anything or bother anyone. You lock up what you don’t want crawled over. Several other neighbors come out and complain about the spraying. They are angry, and Dottie says they are all going crazy. Joe hides the can behind his back and says he is sorry as he backs into the apartment with Kirsten who closes the door and laughs. She says he undermined the entire basic metabolism of the building. She says she warned him and can’t stop laughing. She says he had better grow a beard and move out of town because the roaches saw him. The word will spread, and if they ever track him down, he will be a goner. He laughs with her and kisses her.
At night Joe and Kirsten arrive at Arnesen’s Nursery and park the car. They go to the front door of a house, and he says she looks gorgeous. Ellis Arnesen (Charles Bickford) opens the door and greets her. She knows it is late, but she brought someone by to meet him. He invites them to come in. She introduces Joe Clay who shakes his hand and apologizes for waking him up. Ellis invites them to sit in the kitchen, and she says it is daddy’s favorite room. She wanted Joe to meet him and says she does things on the spur of the moment and hopes he doesn’t mind. They sit down at the table. Ellis asks how she has been, and she says that is his way of reminding her that she did not call him this week. She has been very busy. Ellis asks Joe what kind of work he does, and he replies public relations. She says it is hard to explain. Joe says his job is to help his client create a public image. He gives an example with a corporation that does something that benefits the public or could be conceived to be beneficial. His job is to see that the public knows it. Ellis asks what if the corporation does something bad. Joe says theoretically they don’t; but part of his job is to help his client to find ways to operate in ways that the public would approve. Ellis asks what if the corporation makes a mistake, and it turns out bad. Joe says then he tries to make it look not quite so bad. He says there is more to it than that, and she says it is complicated. Ellis says he does not understand that kind of work. He stands up and asks Joe if he loves his girl. Joe replies that he does very much. Ellis asks Joe if his parents live in San Francisco. Kirsten says his parents are in show business and have a wonderful act. Ellis gets a cup and says this girl had a fine mama who taught her to be good and come home early. He knows she remembers those things. These days girls think they have to live in town. Joe says she is the finest girl he ever met. Ellis pours coffee into the cup, and Kirsten stands up and says Joe and she have to go because they have to work tomorrow. Joe says they hated to wake him up. Ellis tells Kirstie he is glad she came by, and he holds her shoulders. She says she hopes he likes him, and Ellis says it takes time to find that out. Joe and he say they are glad to have met, and they shake hands. She suggests they could see the greenhouse on the way out. Ellis turns on the big light for them and says goodnight and stays in the house. She opens the door to the greenhouse, and Joe says he goofed that one. She says she was so nervous, and they kiss. Ellis comes back to the door, sees them kissing, and turns out the light. Joe tells him that Kirsten and he were married about two hours ago. Ellis does not say anything and closes the door. Kirsten tells Joe that she would like to go to a nice place and have a drink.
Joe carries a bag and goes to her apartment. He finds her taking care of the baby and says he brought the groceries. He says he brought her a crazy lotion for her skin she loves to bite, and he kisses the baby’s belly. He says he has to get to work and says Ballefoy is having a bash tonight for some of the boys. He asks if she would like to go. She says she would love to, but she has to get up so early. He says he has to be there and will be late. He kisses her goodbye, and she asks him to call her as he goes out.
At the party Ballefoy (Tom Palmer) tells Joe he sees that he got the dame from Harper’s Bazaar to show up. Joe says he thought they could use her for the Covington Farms fashion layout. Ballefoy says to tell them they can furnish them with whatever they need to get in as solid as they can. He admits he has an ulterior motive, and he is distracted by the women serving in sexy costumes. Ballefoy says that Covington likes personal publicity. Joe says he has to understand that building an empire out of chicken fat does not automatically make one a public figure. Joe says he got his picture in specialized magazines, but Harper’s Bazaar is out of the question. Ballefoy says it is Mrs. Covington, and Joe calls her a hay-raker. Ballefoy reminds him they are rich, and she wants her home, garden, and Picassos. Joe says he may get her best-dressed cow, and Ballefoy says it should be in full color. Joe finishes his drink, and a woman dances with him. He asks for another drink.
Joe gets out of a taxi and pays the fare. He picks some tulips from the apartment garden and walks into a glass door. He goes in another and laughs. The elevator door closes on the tulips. He unlocks the door and sneaks in. Kirsten is singing a lullaby to the baby. She tells him to be quiet. He says it is two in the morning, and he has been working all day and gets shushed. She says he has been working his elbow. He admits he had a drink with the people and says that is part of the job. She thought his job was to advise them. He says Ballefoy wants him to drink with him. She says if he has confidence in him—but he interrupts and says he has confidence that he would do almost anything. He notices the tulips are not on the stems he is holding. She takes his coat. He realizes he seems loud and comes home to her who is cold sober. He feels her disapproval. He says if she wants to sit up waiting for him, she can have a couple of blasts too so that they can have some laughs. She says she is not supposed to because of her milk. He says they have milk in bottles and cans, and she is going to ruin her shape. He says she acts as if she is the only woman who ever had a baby. He was dragged around by the scruff of his neck on midnight trains. He was eating peanut butter. He says kids have to learn to be people. He tells her to get a bottle and some formula because he wants to have a ball. He tells her not to shush him. If he is too loud, they can close the damn door. He slams the door closed, and the baby cries. She goes in to take care of the baby, and he pours himself a drink. She comes back, and he asks how he could do a thing like that. He asks what is the matter with himself and goes in to see the baby. He smiles and nearly cries. He comes out of that room and tells her she is right that it is stuffy in here. She pours herself a drink and puts her hand on his shoulder. She says the Norwegian toast and drinks. He turns to her crying and says he is sorry. She holds him to her.
A secretary answers the phone and says he will be here soon. Joe comes in, and she tells him to call Ballefoy. He asks for coffee, and she says it is not hot. He tells her to bring it as it is. He sits at his desk and pours himself some water and starts shaving with an electric razor. Rad comes in to talk. Joe says it was Debbie’s first birthday, and he celebrated with Kirstie last night. Rad says he hung one on. Joe says he can talk. Rad says it would be best if they took him off the Covington Farms account. Joe says he and Ballefoy get along, but Rad says they are letting Ballefoy out for drinking too much. Joe says he can adjust to the new man. Rad says they planned to put him on the Campbell Cherokee Tool account. Joe says he would be in Houston half the time. Joe realizes it is a demotion, but Rad does not call it that. Joe says he thinks he understands. Rad hopes he does and goes out.
Kirsten tells Joe not to feel bad. Joe says it is not Rad’s decision. They are drinking, and Joe goes to get another bottle. He says he thought he had three bottles, but there are only two. She says he does his job. She says he has to remember that not everyone is honest. He calls them bums.
Joe is visiting an oil field in Texas and meets Charles Dean who invites him to a barbecue on Sunday.
Kirsten is watching cartoons on television as she drinks and smokes. Little Debbie calls her, and Kirstie comes to her and says it must be too noisy. She tells her to sleep and goes back to drinking.
Joe calls from Houston and talks to Pop about Kirsten. He knew she was drinking some but did not know it was like this. He asks him to take good care of them and to tell them he will get there as soon as he can. He goes back to his table and drinks, asking for another. The other two men look worried about him. Joe says he has to go home on the 11:30 plane because his wife got drunk and set the apartment on fire.
Joe and Kirsten see men take furniture away. She asks if something could be rebuilt, and he says the frame is burned. She says if he wasn’t going to Houston so much, this would not have happened. He says he won’t be going to Houston anymore because they fired him. They look at each other.
Joe walks on the street and looks at himself in a window.
He comes into the apartment and asks Debbie to step out as he tells Kirsten they have to talk about something serious. She asks what, and he knocks the beer can out of her hand. He says he is sorry. She asks what is the matter with him. He was going into a bar, but he saw his reflection in the window. He wondered who that bum is, and then he saw it was himself. He takes her to a mirror and tells her to look at both of them who are a couple of bums. She pulls away. He asks if she knows why he has been fired from five jobs in four years. He says it is not office politics or jealousy but booze. She says they have a couple drinks, but he says no; they get drunk and stay drunk most of the time. He looks around and says they live in a dump. He admits he is a drunk and that he does not do his job. He got fired, and he can’t get a job now. He says they should have looked at themselves a long time ago because they have turned into bums. She goes to him and says she loves him. He replies he loves her too. He holds her face and says they have to face this please. She says they just won’t drink so much. He says he has a plan, and they have to do it and make it work. They are going to get sober and stay sober. He says they will go to her father and convince him that they mean it, and he will give them enough money to get off the ground. Then he can go back to the old place, and they will see that he is sober and take him back. He asks her if she is with him because if they don’t do it now, it will be too late. They have got to make it work. He asks if she is with him, and she says she is always with him. He repeats they have to make it work.
At the nursery Joe is bringing trees to Ellis who is putting them in a truck. Joe asks if there is a town near there with people like them. Ellis tells him to bring one more tree. Joe goes to get another tree and asks Kirsten if she is in for life. She says she has been there nearly a month, but he says it feels like he has been there ten years. She says it seems to agree with him. He asks if she likes boys, and she says she loves them. He puts the tree down and has her run with him and jump into a haystack. He says all his life he wanted to do that, and she calls him a poor city boy. He never understood the purpose of haystacks before with their crazy smell. She likes the softness and puts her head on his shoulder. He says he can’t remember them being like this before. She says only after a couple drinks. She asks if the other is better. He can’t see how it would be and kisses her.
At night Joe comes in and sees Ellis drinking a beer. Ellis says there is no harm in one beer or two or three. Joe says it is a matter of how much and washes his hands. He says Saunders said he would pay him Monday. Ellis says with Saunders it is always Monday and then Friday. Ellis reminds him of roses Joe delivered to Mrs. Michelle two months ago. He says she phoned in a big order today and said she liked that nice man who delivered them. Joe says it is all part of public relations. Ellis asks Joe if he wants a beer. Joe notes he is starting to trust him again. He says no thanks and goes upstairs to see Kirsten. He kisses her neck and says it is tasty. She tells him to have some more. He says not now but that they have been good the last couple months. She agrees they sure have. He says they have been much too good and kisses her. She is too beautiful to be so good. He admits that being good is better than being bad, but being too good is worse than death. She says there are times when she agrees with him. He asks if she would like to sip a teeny-weeny bit. She asks where it is. He tells her not to interrupt him as he strips off his jacket. He dances like a stripper and shows her a bottle taped to his ankle under his pants on both legs. She rips the tape off. They are sitting on the bed, and she says they shouldn’t. He says a little drop in the privacy of their room will not be known by anyone. He asks for her cooperation, and she cannot refuse someone who dances so divinely. She rips the tape off his other leg. He says there is another one in the greenhouse in the fourth pot on the fifth table, but then he says fourth pot, third table, fifth row. He gets two glasses from the bathroom and comes back to the bed. She pours the drinks. She says he is depraved, and he says flattery will get you everywhere. He calls it magic time and drinks.
Later during thunder and rain Joe is jumping on the bed. She tells him to shush. She puts a pillow on the floor and tells him to step on it and then another. They get back on the bed. Ellis puts on his robe and knocks on their door. Joe has his head under the covers, and Ellis calls to Kirstie. She says he must have had a nightmare. Ellis asks if she is all right. She laughs and says she is fine and tells him to go back to bed. He goes back to his room. Joe laughs and says they are fighting. She pours another drink that finishes the bottle. She says it is all gone, and he says he will get the other one. She says her daddy will hear him. Joe says he will go out the window to the tree. They get the numbers mixed up.
He goes out the window and climbs down the tree to the ground. He climbs over a picket fence in the rain. He goes into the greenhouse and closes the door. He counts four rows and three tables and goes to the fifth pot. He digs with his fingers under the plant but finds nothing, emptying the pot. He tries another pot that is also empty. He does not put the plant back. He starts over by counting and then tries several pots in a row. He gets more frustrated and pulls out more plants from their pots. He overturns a table. He goes to turn on the light and falls out the door into the rain. He comes back and destroys more plants, asking who took it. He says somebody stole it, throws more pots, and overturns another table. He is crying and falls on the ground and sobs. He starts laughing when he sees the bottle. He grabs the bottle and drinks from it while lying on his back.
Kirsten goes into her father’s room, puts her hands on him, and tells him she is as drunk as a Scot. He gets out of bed. She says she is plastered and tries to put her arms around him. He says dirty Joe brought whiskey and tells her to get back in her room. He tries to take her out, and Debbie (Debbie Megowan) comes in and calls to her grandfather. He tells her to go to bed, and Kirsten tells her to get out of here. Debbie goes to them, and they try to keep her away from them. He takes Kirsten to the bathroom and tells her to get in the tub. He turns the shower on her.
Joe is in a straitjacket in a small room with no furniture screaming and thrashing around. Two doctors and a sheriff deputy look in the caged window at Joe in the corner. They open the door, and one doctor prepares a syringe. The two doctors try to hold him, but Joe bites one. They call for Ed to help. They hold him down and give him a shot. Then he calms down.
Joe pulls himself up to the caged window and sees Jim Hungerford (Jack Klugman) who passes him a lit cigarette. Joe says he feels rotten. Jim introduces himself and says he asked for help. He is from Alcoholics Anonymous.
In an apartment Joe asks Kirsten to please read the AA book. She refuses, and he says Jim said the AA meetings are terrific. They are a bunch of alcoholics trying to keep each other sober, and it works. He pleads with her to read the book because it makes sense; but she says no. She wonders why he let them give it to him. They must think he is a bum or something. He says he asked for it. He must have needed help because he was in the hospital. She says he did not belong there. He says he passed out in the middle of Mission Street. She says he had too much to drink, but that does not mean he is an alcoholic. He asks what is wrong with going to a meeting. He asks what they could lose. She says he can go if he wants to, but she is not going. She says she is not an alcoholic, and she refuses to say that she is. She will not ask for help in something that is just a matter of self-respect and will power. She will not get up in front of a bunch of people and degrade herself. She knows she can’t drink because it gets the best of her. So she will use her will power and not drink, and that is the end of it.
Joe and Jim are walking, and Joe asks if they have time for a cigarette. Jim asks if he is nervous, and Joe admits he is scared. Jim puts his arm around his neck and encourages him to face the people. Joe says he feels embarrassed about standing up in front of those people and saying he is an alcoholic even though he admits that he is. Jim says he has heard them saying it night after night, and he says it is a big step forward. Joe says he has been going to the meetings for four months and has been sober ever since he started. He says that Kirsten has also stayed sober, but she has never said that she is an alcoholic. She claims she can do it on will power alone. Jim asks Joe if he can.
At the AA meeting Jim is in front and introduces himself and says he is an alcoholic. He is chairman for the night. He qualifies himself by saying that he drank too much too often for too long. He welcomes them to the weekly meeting, and he reads the definition of AA from a booklet. It is a fellowship of men and women who share their experiences with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees, and they are self-supporting through their contributions. AA is not allied with any sects or institutions and does not engage in controversies nor endorse any causes. Their primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Jim introduces Joe for his first talk at an AA meeting. Joe comes to the front, and they applaud. He gives his name and says he is an alcoholic.
Joe goes upstairs and into the apartment. He sees an empty bottle on the bed, but no one is there.
Jim arrives, and Joe lets him in. Jim says he should have called sooner. Joe says it has been two days and two nights. He was afraid. Joe says he told the police. He says he can’t see how this is happening to them. He pours coffee for both of them. He says many drank more than they did, but they are not alcoholics yet. Jim says it is a lottery, and he lost. Joe asks how. He asks if there is any way to find out before it is too late. Jim reminds him how he told them about Kirsten’s obsession with chocolate candy when they first met. A perceptive psychologist might have told them then that she was a potential alcoholic; but neither would have believed him, and he might have been wrong. He asks how many strawberries does it take to start an allergy and which is the one that gives you the hives. Jim says alcoholism is an illness, and it is hard to diagnose it until you have it. Joe asks why she left, and Jim says she wanted to drink. Joe says she could drink right here, and she should know it. Jim says he is sober, and it is no fun to drink around him. His sobriety would accuse her. She would be miserable because she lost her playmate. Jim warns him not to be surprised if she finds another one. Joe says she loves him, and he does not understand that there is no trouble between them. Jim says there wasn’t any trouble. For a long time booze was an important part of their relationship. If she keeps drinking, and he doesn’t, they have to find a new way of relating. Joe finds it hard to believe. They always knew that they were in love, and there was no doubt about it. He says they had something, and things like that just don’t evaporate. Jim asks Joe after he tore up her father’s flowers what he did with the bottle. Joe admits he drank it. Jim notes he did not take it back and drink it with Kirsten. Jim says there is a time in the lives of alcoholics when the bottle is god, and no one matters more. Joe realizes he knows it, but he can’t believe it is happening to him. He says they were in love for seven years and asks if love is love. Jim does not know. He was drunk for twelve years and has been sober for fourteen years. He believes they are two different worlds. Joe prays that God will keep her safe. Jim asks if his little girl is all right. Joe says she is with her grandfather. Joe answers the phone and learns that Kirsten is in the Shore Motel. He says he will be right over and hangs up. He tells Jim they told him that she arrived there drunk and has been drunk ever since. Jim asks Joe if he wants him to go with him, but Joe says no. Jim suggests he take his car and gives him the key. Joe opens the door, and Jim reminds him that if he is not sober, he is not worth anything to her or anyone else. Joe agrees and leaves.
Joe arrives at the Shore Motel and is directed to her bungalow. He parks and knocks on the door. He goes in and hears a television cartoon. He sees Kirsten sleeping on the bed, and he turns on the light. She moves some but does not open her eyes. Joe turns the light off. He turns off the TV and kneels down by her. She says she wants a drink, but he says he does not want one. She says she does and drinks from a bottle. He asks her if she thinks she is ready to come home. She looks at him and sees who it is. She asks what he wants. He says he wants his wife, and she calls him “sober Joe.” She asks what he wants to do with her. He is hoping to take her home. She drinks some more and says she likes it here. She says her friends are here; he has his friends, and she has hers. She tells him to have a drink, but he does not move. She says she forgot and that it is a shame they are out of milk, coffee, tea, and orange juice. He wishes she would just come home, but she says no. He says she laid in a good supply, and they could take it home. She says no. She says he has his friends and does not need her. She puts her arms around him and tells him to kiss her. He does, and she says she tastes like gin. She remembers he never liked gin. Now she is alone, and she likes it. She sits away from him on the bed and says now he does not like the taste of her anymore. He sits on the bed and offers to get her some food so that she won’t get sick. She says she does not care. He says he will be back, and she tells him not to bother. He goes to the door, and she says she is lonely. She asks him to have a drink with her, but he says he can’t. She is lonely. He will stay with her, but he can’t drink. She tells him not to do her any favors. She says he is too good to have a drink with her and asks what they did to him. She asks if he is a man anymore and asks if he can hear a woman calling him. He says he hears her. She asks what he is going to do about it. He says they have their own little apartment. She denies that and says she is never going back there. She wants to be where people live and does not want his holier-than-thou do-gooder boy scouts with their hot coffee and cold feet, those who don’t have the guts to take a drink. She tells him to go away. She doesn’t want anybody. She says she wants a cigarette, and he offers her one and lifts her face up. He puts it in her mouth and lights it. He tells her to keep the pack. She says it is community property and offers him half of her gin. She looks at him and says she is not coming back there because he is too good. There is no bore in the world like a goody-goody. She falls back on the bed, and he takes the cigarette from her hand. He pours gin in a glass and drinks some, sitting on the bed. She sits up and pours him some from her bottle. He kisses her and drinks some more.
Later Joe is in bed with her and reaches for the bottle on the floor and finishes it.
Joe comes out of the motel room and falls down the stairs. He staggers to picnic tables and sees people in canoes. He sees a liquor sign and runs over there. He knocks on the glass door. A man turns on a light and tells him they are closed. He keeps knocking, and the man tells him to get out of here before he calls the cops. He pulls down the shade. Joe says please and moans. He looks in the window at the bottles, breaks through the door, grabs a bottle, and runs out, falling on the ground. The man tells his wife he will handle it. He says he likes booze, and he will give him all he wants. He pours liquor on Joe’s face and laughs.
Joe is strapped to a table and is sweating. Jim kneels by him and asks who he is. Joe says his name and asks what happened. Jim says he took a drink. The first two days he was here he thought a green man was chasing him with pruning shears. Joe says he has to get up and find his wife. Jim tells him to let her stay with her dad for a while. Jim says he has to stay sober even if it means staying away from her. Joe says he loves her. Jim says he should show her an example of how an alci can beat the rap. He asks if he can do that.
Ellis is in the greenhouse, and Joe comes in. Ellis says he told him before not to come here. Joe says he has something important he has to talk to him about that means a lot to him. Ellis walks over to him. Joe asks if Kirsten went out somewhere, and Ellis says she went to the movies. Joe asks if she is okay. Ellis asks if he came to talk about her, and he says no. Joe says he came to square accounts with them. He confesses that the $500 he loaned them to get started again they spent mostly on benders. He admits he stayed drunk as long as the money lasted and that they lied to him about that. Joe knows he worked hard for the money. Ellis says he started his daughter drinking. Joe asks him to listen. Ellis says she never drank at all when she lived here with her mother and him. He says Joe started her, and he tries to strangle him. Joe gets free and asks if he is nuts. He asks what he is trying to do. Ellis walks away and asks where she is. His girl has been gone three days. She went off with another bum, not the same one. She always says goodnight to her dad and that she will be home early. He says he will leave the light on for her. He always turns it off in the morning. Joe thought he told him that she was getting better. Ellis says two weeks ago she was in the hospital three days sick from drinking. Joe asks if he can tell her how well he is doing and about the new apartment. He will take her back any time she wants. Ellis says she won’t listen. Joe says Debbie cries for her. Ellis says then she would get drunk for sure. Joe does not know what to tell Debbie. Joe says he is thankful that he is working steady and that he is sober. He is starting to pay him back. He offers him a check for $500 and says he will pay for her hospital bill too. Ellis says no. Joe says he will pay her board for staying there, and he will pay for all the potted plants he ruined. Ellis says he does not need for him to do that. Joe says he does not understand because he needs to do it for himself. He leaves the check and walks away. Ellis cries and puts his head on his arms.
At night Kirsten is walking on a street. She goes up steps to an apartment building.
Inside Joe puts Debbie to bed. He hears a knock and opens the door. Kirsten asks if Debbie is asleep. He says it is after eleven. She does not want Debbie to see her. He says she does not look so bad. She thanks him for trying; but she knows how she looks when she is sober. She asks if that is enough to make a person drink. He hugs her. She has not a drink in two days, and he says that is wonderful. She says it wasn’t easy. She wanted to try to talk to him; so she thought she would try to deserve it as a sort of penance. He says she would be surprised how much fun you can have when you’re sober when you get the hang of it. She asks if he has the hang of it, and he thinks he does. He asks her to believe him that it is the greatest. She asks if it would be wonderful if they could go back to the beginning and start over and get excited over a chocolate bar. She wants to come home. She knows what he is thinking. A lot has happened with many detours. She says they were nothing because she never gave anything out of herself to them. She thought they helped her from being so lonely; but she was just as lonely because love is the only thing that keeps you from being lonely, and she did not have that. Joe says a little girl is asleep in there who would love to wake up and see her here. All she has to do is say the right words. She does not know if she has them. That is why it took her so long to get here. She says the world looks so dirty to her when she is not drinking. She does not think she could stop drinking completely like him. He says she could. She knows that she really doesn’t want to. He turns away. She wants things to look prettier than they are. She knows she could be all right if they were together, and things were like they used to be. She needs to be loved, and she gets so lonely that she can’t stand it. He says he loves her and turns back toward her, but he says he is afraid of her. He is an alcoholic, and he can’t take a drink. He is afraid of what they would do to each other. He says if she would just say that she would try. She knows it sounds crazy, but she can’t stand the idea of never having another drink. He says if she just took it one day at a time, but she says she can’t. He asks if it impresses her that he has been sober for more than a year, and he is delighted to be this way. He is working steady. Debbie and he are going to get a decent place again, and it is all because he is sober. She nods, and he says there is plenty of room. She says he is strong and that he can help her now if he only had it back like it was. He asks if she remembers how it really was. He says it was her and him and booze in a threesome. He says it was great while it lasted, and she says they can have it back that way again. He completes her thought, if he would drink with her; but he says he won’t drink with her. She would not ask him to drink with her, and she would control herself. He says she can’t control herself because she is an alcoholic like he is. She says no. He says they were a couple of drunks on a sea of booze, and the boat sank. He got ahold of something that kept him from going under, and he is not going to let go of it. He says if she wants to grab on, she can; but there is no room for a threesome. She walks away and looks out the window. She says everything looks so dirty. He asks her to try it for one more day for Debbie and asks her to come look at her. She cries and says she can’t. She says he had better give up on her. He says not yet. She thanks him and says goodnight. He tells her to take care of herself, and she goes out.
He calls her name but does not open the door. He looks out the window and sees her walking down the street. Debbie comes out of her room, and Joe picks her up. She thought she heard him call mommy, and he says she must have been dreaming. He takes her back to bed. She asks when mommy is coming home. He says mommy is sick, and she needs to get well before she can come home. She asks if she is going to get well. He says he did and kisses her hand and forehead. He tells her to go to sleep, and she says okay. They say goodnight to each other, and he closes her door. He looks out the window and sees the light for a bar flashing.
This drama portrays a young couple who enjoy drinking together and become addicted to alcohol and begin ruining their lives. He finds that Alcoholics Anonymous helps him to stay sober after one relapse. This story reflects an era when drinking was quite popular before the use of marijuana and other drugs began to spread in the youth culture.