Thursday, June 30, 2011

On stopping dopping

I once gave up drinking for five years.

This after about a decade happily, nay, gloriously on the sauce.
Some of the funnest things I’ve ever done happened when I was a little bit pissed.

And some of the awesomest stuff happened when I was totally cunted!

This one time at the cricket we must have finished twelve draughts. We got into it about an hour before the start of play, put up our deckchairs next to this cute tattooed couple on the boundary at Castle corner and set a decent pace.

Halfway through the second innings, I was suddenly so smashed I started imagining the tattooed people were getting ready to rob me. Just because I’m pissed. They know my guard is down, I’ve had twelve draughts, I can’t sit so lekker and they’re looking at me funny. Especially when I say something seductive to the girl, and the guy starts checking me out. I know they getting set to rob me.

I can feel the evil. So just as Herschelle starts closing in on his fifty, I make my escape. I get up and sprint out the back of the stadium. And the guy follows me! He’s right behind me as I exit the turnstiles! I can almost feel his breath on the back of my neck! Still pretty much able to stay upright, I lurch across a pedestrian path and dive into the undergrowth by a palm tree.

The tattoo guy catches up with me as I’m about to lose consciousness. He reaches down to me where I’m cowering under an ivy path and tunes, “Here, you forgot your wallet.”

This other time we finished a scrotum bottle of OB’s between Port Alfred and Bathurst, then took all our clothes off and stood on the side of the road naked. Whenever a car came past we’d pretend to be wanking. Well, technically we were wanking.

And we don’t want to talk about the time we started a rock band, or when we went bungee jumping on mushrooms, or when we snogged Miss Taree, or the time we bought that babe home to pomp, and she quickly popped downstairs in a T-shirt to get something from her friend’s car and her friend left and then we passed out and she couldn’t get back in the flat and she had to walk four kays back to her house in just a T-shirt with no panties on during morning rush hour.

Let’s not go there.

But eventually, dopping got boring. For every occasion pomping this babe you met at hip-hop night loudly on the lawn in front of a beachfront hotel at 6.15am, there’s sitting on your ace in the lounge, all wasted from watching the rugby alone, channel surfing crap TV because you’re too drunk to do anything else.
Sure, there’s kak vibes too. There’s that old chestnut the night in jail, the broken ankle, the facial roastie, the genital wart, but more than anything, dopping gets boring.

You find yourself in the same situations, the same pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants, pretending that the evening, the night, the day, the morning stretches out before you wide and limitless, ready to fly upon the wings of coincidence. Meanwhile you’re just dopping.

And pretty soon you’re too pissed to drive. But it’s such an inconvenience that you drive anyway. And most times, thank the angels, you make it home.

Those rock ‘n’ roll moments when wild things happen of their own accord become less and less frequent, because in fact you need to go out and make them happen. And it’s so much simpler to just get your booze on at your local than to trek across town to some underground event that might be awesome, but might suck. You might as well stay close to home.

…At your local Baron, where you’re in a mayorship duel with Tobias T, where you know the manager by name, where Innocent starts pouring your Amstel Draught the minute you walk in the door. Where every night flows pretty much the same.

Some lovely conversation with the same acquaintances, a game or two on the big screen, a hake and chips, three last aylies for the road, a sneaky bottle of red to take home, a skelm blunt, or two before bed, and then some morning-after miffness.
As Gogol Bordello put it, “How was your blackout?”
As Jaco & Z-Dog point out, “Fokkin’ boring”.

So, as with a deep, decade-long romance that’s lost its spice, you call it off. You stop dopping.

And the primary benefit of this gigantic lifestyle change?

More time.
For the simple reason that you spend less time drinking, and less time recovering from it.

You wake up at 5.30am and go to gym, and then you go to work and actually work, with effortless application, to the best of your ability, until your day is done. Then you come home and pen an article for That’s How It Is. You watch some TV, go to bed and read Bleak House by Charles Dickens until you fall asleep.

You become interested in your health, so you start watching what you eat. You have Greek salads for lunch, hold the feta. Soya-mince pasta for dinner. Some almonds as a midday snack…

Going out? Well, maybe for a bit. You start yawning after ten, and people start repeating themselves after a while, which gets tedious. And you’re meeting your trainer at six.

Your drink of choice? Rooibos.

Rock ‘n’ roll? Well you go and check some bands, pop in at a club night… But you seem to get all analytical about it. About a lot of things, actually. Where the drinking you would have been in the pit, taking elbows to the face, twisting an ankle and being offered a free shag on the stairwell, the straight-edge you is a far more circumspect.

You’ll find yourself against the wall near the back, nursing a sparkling water and commenting to the guy next to you how they seem to be writing better songs on their third album, and adding a second guitarist has made their sound so much fatter.

You’ll be on the dance floor, but with an indulgent smile on your face, steadily running out of people to talk to.

By the time the band play their last encore, you’re already on the highway home. After all, once the band’s finished all that’s left is the drinking, so why stay. Or you’re the driver, patiently waiting for your companions to have had enough. Praying to yourself, “please let this be their last round, so I can at least get home before four.

All terribly logical, but tragically, so boring it makes your teeth ache.
And so very poetic. Your reason for stopping dopping is your reason for starting again. Boredom.

The seed of your damnation lies in your very salvation. Which is which? The dopping, or the stopping dopping?

Will the sheer boredom of sobriety drive you back to drunkenness? Or will its clarity make you realize your true nature? And what if that nature is to fuckin’ rock, not to sit at home drinking tea and reading Dickens? And if drinking is not a part of rock ‘n’ roll, what the hell is!

Well, that’s up to you. What are you trying to do, rock, or talk about it?
At the moment, I’m not dopping. But I reserve the right to start again.
It’s one of the eternal ironies of drinking that you need to be able to stop drinking to prove you’re not an addict. But if you’re able to stop, then you’re not an addict, and do you really need to stop?

But labels are odious. I am a sovereign individual
Maybe a bit less so when I’m pissed, but I’m more fun to hang out with.

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