Craft water

December 7, 2014 § 34 Comments

Newsflash: It’s damned hard to quit drinking.

In addition to all of the other wonderful symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, after putting down the beer mug for a couple of days everything starts to look like a tall, frothy, Racer 5 IPA. My coffee. The bike stand. The toilet bowl. That street person pushing a cart and asking me for a dollar. They say that all of this has to do with the fact that I’m an addict, but that’s not true.

I’m not an addict, I’m a drunk. Addicts are people who have a handle on the fact that they’re addicted, whereas a drunk is just a deadbeat who can’t stay out of the gutter. Drunks have to work really hard, up their game, and get their self-awareness going in order to graduate to addict level. So AA is out for me; I can see my first meeting already.

Head addict (after my 57th meeting): “So, would you like to say something?”

Me: “Yeah. I got a question.”

Head addict: “Go ahead.”

Me: “How come I’m hanging out with all you addicts?”

So I’ve pretty much despaired of improving enough to reach addict status. There are some dark curtains that I just can’t bear to peek behind. Instead, I’ve decided to simply stop being such a worthless fuggin’ drunk, and, as noted above, it’s hard. However, I’m developing some workarounds and am laying them out here in the event they might be useful for someone out there, in other words, for me.

First, since I don’t think I’ll ever get my act together enough to become an addict, my goal isn’t to quit drinking. To the contrary, my goal is to drink, and to drink four shit-tons and half an assload. I’m making plans to drink so much beer that it will make all prior bad decisions, terrible hangovers, and legendary family embarrassments look like Drosophila malanogaster compared to the Death Star.

That’s not all, that’s just the start. After I descend into the endless drunk from hell I’m going to really turn up the gas by going on a 14-day bender. I pledge to start drinking as soon as I get up and to not stop until I’m in jail or dead or both. People will say in later years when someone’s bragging to them about the night before, “Yeah, sounds like you pulled a Wanky.” It will be the gold standard for self-destructive, alcohol-addled misbehavior resulting in the devastation of entire city blocks.

However, in order to pull this off I need to get into training, and as cyclists all know, training requires a kind of committed asceticism. In other words, to do this with maximum effect I need to completely detox and purify my body so that I can hit it when it’s defenseless and unable to respond, kind of like when I show up and register at those kiddie races and whip ass on all the three- and four-year-olds. This phase of the plan is already working, but it’s going to take time get really clean enough for this maxi-bender to have maximum effect. A long time.

Second, while I’m purifying my body, which is my temple, before I pillage and ransack it, I’m setting a clear and immoveable date for this off-wagon leap which will be longer, deeper, farther, and atop more nuclear-tipped land mines than any wagon-offloading in the history of drinking. The date for this? Tomorrow.

Third, in order to make this as spectacular as possible, I’m taking a vow to not have a drop of beer today. In fact, following through on that very simple vow has been difficult since I took it a couple of weeks ago, especially since I’m such a dedicated liar, and especially since the oath was sworn to myself, the person who I can most easily deceive and never be the wiser. Yet as I get through each today without a drink it only prepares me better for the glory and happiness that awaits me tomorrow, when I’m gonna drink all the beer in the South Bay as my fuggin’ warm-up.

Fourth, the only way to keep from drinking today is by relying on friends, and they’ve responded in a variety of subtle and overt ways. Some have texted, some have Facebagged, some have called, some have come over in person. Some have joked, some have spoken in earnest, some have shared their experiences, some have encouraged, some have challenged, some have implored. Today a buddy offered this with regard to hanging out in bars–“If you spend enough time in a barbershop, you’re eventually gonna get a haircut.”

Each and every friend has made my resolve strong enough to do the only thing I have to do before I go on my bender: Not have a beer today.

While I was riding yesterday and complaining about how everything looked like a yummy IPA, including the Pacific Ocean over on our left, my buddy was telling me about his Thanksgiving in Ohio, about all the great food, and about what a good time he’d had.

“They have a ton of great craft beer in the Midwest,” I said.

He looked at me. “You know what they have in the Midwest?”


“They have a ton of great craft water. Really good stuff, hand brewed, various flavors and varieties, and it goes great with pretty much everything you’ll ever eat.”

“Craft water?”

“Yeah,” he said, peering steadily at me. “Craft water. And that’s what you need to develop a taste for.”

The ride continued for a few hours until we were both extremely tired and hungry. As we rolled through Abbott-Kinney we could smell the food. “Man, I’m hungry.”

“Me, too,” he said.

“And I’m thirsty,” I said.

“Me, too.”

Then I broke. “Dude, I’m gonna pull over and have a beer.” I fell apart just like that, all the miserably hard work and effort and fatigue and irritableness and depression lunging up in ecstatic happiness as I contemplated my first cold beer.

My buddy looked over at me. “No, you’re not. Not on my watch.”

We continued home, so it looks like I’ve ticked another today off the calendar. And in the meantime, please pass the craft water, the one with hints of minerals, overtones of PVC pipe, and a slightly arsenic-y finish. Yum.



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§ 34 Responses to Craft water

  • Sandy Hackney says:

    Well…I wish you the best in whatever path you are on. To me, no matter the truth of your many humorous asides on IPA and your love forthwith, etc., you are without question a very, very decent man, father, husband…as to a cyclist – jury out. Bravo!!

    (Still…there is the Psalm that says, “Wine to gladden the heart.”)

  • Jeff M says:

    Congrats on hang’n tough, brother. The road to sobriety is endless.

  • Peter Schindler says:


  • Good work, Wanky. Love you, man. Today is the best day to not have a beer.

  • Tom Paterson says:

    Pure refreshment, especially after a hot, sweaty ride, and also totally useful in various social situations– including avoiding haircuts, when the gang is hanging at the barbershop.

  • Well, I don’t think I have ever met anyone who was sorry they quit drinking. And as far as the AA thing goes, you may want to give it a shot before you dismiss it entirely. It isn’t all about what AA can do for you as much as what you can do to help others.

    And such a one as you could do a powerful lot of helping.

    As anyone can tell by merely skimming my Booger, I am no stranger to a wee nip now and then. And yes, I am also no stranger to the Meetings.

    But man…coming in from a scorching summer run of fifty miles and grabbing that cold frosty and chugging half a bottle in one dose…


    I don’t know, Seth. ‘Tis a struggle indeed, me lad, a fearsome struggle.

    And wouldn’t you know it? All this preaching has made me thirsty…

    • fsethd says:

      I’m very, very sorry. Very!

      I will use AA and any other tool out there if I can’t do it on my own. Many of my friends and riding buddies have used it to great effect; my brother got sober thanks to AA shortly before he died.

      My mom, who’s a psychiatrist, once said that AA is about the only long-term effective treatment for alcoholism that she has seen over her career of more than four decades.

      So all options, as they say, are on the table. And yes, fermented recovery drinks are the single best antidote to ride fatigue. Preach on!

  • nealhe says:

    Hello fsethd-san and All,

    It sounds like a date that will live in infamy.

    Wishing you good luck …. you’re going to need it.



  • Jeffrey says:

    The best craft water comes straight out of your garden hose…..

  • sibex9591 says:

    Knowing how much truth there is everything you write, I suspect there must be some truth behind this. One those lines that is both easy and hard to draw.

    When BB first checked in to rehab and AA, we were like “Whaaaaaat?” Let’s do the math, every time I get together with BB we hammer beers. Fortunately I didn’t get together with him but for two or three times a year, however only I was the fortunate one. Turned out BB pounded them pretty often. RIP BB

    Then there is Douche Bag Dan. Another person whom I pounded beers with and again only the few times a year I saw him. Some times those dates overlapped with BB. Again apparently DBD just continued this habit more often, and eventually lost everything including his life. RIP DBD.

    So what side of the line? If you can enjoy a couple beers and stop, are you on the right side? What if you do that every night? still?

    I don’t know the answer, but I do know that if I don’t stop and buy beer to put in the fridge, then there isn’t any to drink, and then I don’t have a couple. Still really, what side of the line?

    So, you need a break, then more power to you, and kudos for letting your friends help you. DBD never ever recognized he had a problem. BB knew it, he just lost the battle.

    • fsethd says:

      Thanks. And you’re right about the correlation between buying beer and it then being available in the fridge. Anyway, for me it’s not about living longer, it’s about not living with the consequences of habitual drunkenness. If the two overlap, great, but we never know when it’s our time until, of course, “it’s time.”

  • Can you try having a list of friends that you promise to call/text when your really want a drink? Contact one, let them talk you out of it. And, as an added bonus, catch up with a buddy!

  • AA says:

    I’d say try the hard stuff. Get with the big boys! And I’m not out for you!


    • fsethd says:

      I’ve been drinking nothing but the hard stuff; calcium and other minerals seem to be part of the water supply here in LA.

  • 900aero says:

    I have given up alcohol a few times, usually when in training for something. Its hard at first but then the changes become the new way of doing things and you start to wonder what all the fuss was about. As the guru of management theory Peter Drucker said: culture eats strategy for breakfast. In other words, all the strategy in the world won’t help if you can’t make small changes in your “culture”. This is the hard part in giving something up. You’ve recognised it, acted, now just see if you can stay the course and keep a steady hand on the tiller.

    Two small thoughts which may or may not help:
    1) You really can get some crazy, high end water if you want to pursue it. Fresh from Norwegian fjords etc…..more expensive than beer, waaaaay more. Maybe focus your energies that way.

    2) I too enjoy beer and as a self-limiting step, only drink beer after mowing the lawn. So, perhaps you need to get a garden?

  • Crashgybe says:

    I’m more concerned with the weights and measures of this escapade. Long tons and short tons I am familiar with, but shit tons need to be accurately addressed. I presume they will be measured using the american standard and not the metric standard, even though most cyclists prefer the metric. Of course using the metric standard of shit tons will result in a greater quantity of beer, but at smaller individual measures. I’m guessing that the conversion rate would be something on the order of 3.62 metric shit loads to one US shit load. This of course segways neatly to the assload. Metric assloads are known to be notably smaller than the US equivalent. Suffice it to say, that drinking in the US standard of assload, will result in at least 3.62 metric shit tons of hangovers.
    I think i’ll have another beer.

  • Hugo Walker says:

    Dear Sweet Dog I can see it now: there goes Wanky off the front of the Spy Belgian Waffle Ride, emboldened w/ the knowledge that he will get a t-shirt and ALL THE WATER HE CAN DRINK at the finish!!

    March 22, 1984 was the night I drove home drunkazshit and saw the note on the kitchen table. Somehow I was able to read and discern that we were out of diapers and formula and wouldn’t ya know it? …Pissed to the Gills Hugo had just spent all the money ’til payday…

    Howling and sobbing and wailing I woke up my wife and swore I would never drink again. And I didn’t. It sucked. It blew chunks. But One day after the next and so on, thanks to my friends in and out of The Rooms I am not drinking today. I didn’t stop my 2 pack a day Camel regulars habit ’til 1996 while watching the Eco-Challenge on the Discovery Channel. “Oh yeah!! I am a fuggin’ athlete”, I remembered. My bike helped me out there…

    Now I ride my road bike and run the trails a lot here in North County, and don’t think for a moment that your words aren’t with me on many of those days. My thoughts will now be with you too.

  • T3 says:

    Monsieur Wanky,

    I’ve been not drinking (or getting high) today since 1975 when I was 17 years old. Not to dis what obviously works, but I also have not availed myself of AA much in the 40 odd years between then & now. From the beginning I was much more into using my pals than, “the group”. They were living the life that I wanted in the first place, riding bikes, laughing & shit giving…participating in life & having fun that didn’t leave me remorseful. Thanks to them, I made it through all of my adult relationships & experiences including college & graduate school, and all of my jobs including my current career, without pills, nips, or tokes.

    Sometimes I hear that I couldn’t be a “real” alcoholic since I stopped so young, but when I look at the life I have & remember the “life” I was heading toward, I have to agree with the guy above who said that few people regret stopping drinking.

    Mostly I want to remind you what you already know. There are many paths to enlightenment, and I endorse the one that you are on. Especially, because its working for you.

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