Ray Bong, S. Creamcheese, ‘Competitive Non-Drinking’

Ray Bong at Mrs. Taco, Vista/The Grapevine
About a dozen years ago, my friend Suzy Creamcheese and I discovered the most brutal sporting concept known to the human race, we call it “Competitive Non-Drinking”. 

At that time, I smugly informed him that I had made a great achievement– I had gone for two weeks, 14 whole days, without taking a drink of alcohol.  He nonchalantly replied that it had been 20 days since his last tipple, and it was ON!  I felt the rush of competitive verve, and ever since, have experienced the benefits of this serendipitous realization.

I bring it up at this moment, because of my disgust over articles that are published this time of year, both on the interwebs and in the local “newspaper” (as it usually referred to by the bored and uninformed masses) about “dry January”, or else Lenten quests bent on avoiding the use or abuse of alcohol, which, more often than not, devolve into discussions regarding limiting alcohol intake generally, or, God forbid, giving up drinking entirely.  I humbly submit that the venue of Competitive Non-Drinking is eminently more suited to addressing the need that reasonable people may feel for “moderation” or “control” of this vital function.  Let me explain how it has happened to me!

First of all, let’s take into account the absolute basis for all this:  drinking is the allowable method of modifying the human condition, and we live in the city with the culture that has refined this method to a fine art.  I am not one who believes in “social drinking”, although, when one is partying where one’s boss or supervisor can see them, or when enjoying a glass of wine with the ‘rents or the grands at the family gathering, something like that is called for.  No– drinking is there is to save the day, change the mood, make the love or disgust flow, etc.

Because of where we live, it is our responsibility to raise this culture to its highest level of refinement, in fact.  Perhaps, or probably, many of the world’s greatest practitioners of the art have chosen to relocate here.  I therefore maintain that Competitive Non-Drinking’s greatest feature is the improvement of the enjoyments and skills of Drinking.  How could it be otherwise that it has been around this long?  Like most of you, I am easily disaffected with stuff that is stupid.  There is a Real Reality, after all.

Taking all this into account, it should also be admitted that there are certain considerations related to drinking that we are all aware of.  These include gaining weight, spending all your hard earned cash on liquor, missing on a poorly considered swing leading to a vicious beatdown, or dare I say it, a meeting with the man leading to unplanned expenses for bond and lawyers, etc.  Also, there is the occasional feeling of regret that may be accompanied by a hangover that was not expected, although, these things are not always necessarily a bad thing…while twisting off now and then is bound to happen, it is habituated drinking that has to be squelched.

Suzy Creamcheese/Facebook

On top of all that, everyone knows that it is easier to see that one’s friends are drinking to much, rather than being able to detect this possibility about one’s self.  The problem that is exposed, is that there is seldom a reason not to drink, especially around here.  Competitive Non-Drinking provides the necessary juice.  Sure, there might be some wagering involved.  If you have a gambling problem, there are 1-800- numbers on billboards all over the place.  Call one.

It should be pointed out, now, that Competitive Non-Drinking is not for problem drinkers or non-drinkers.  It should come as no surprise that ONLY people who really enjoy drinking can compete.  Did I mention that this a brutal sport?  Non-drinkers– they have their own universe that people like us can never understand. Those who have lost their privileges, by harming their own lives, or the lives of others, and must never drink again have A.A. sponsors.  It’s an entirely different competition with themselves, and I wish them all the luck & support they need.  What I am describing is a way of having FUN.

What you need, then, to enjoy C.N.D. (we had to have a shorthand reference, since it’s such a frequent subject– you know, the way some people can’t stop thinking about the NFL, or golf, or soccer, or sex, et. al.) are a love of the drinking arts, and friends, or drinking buddies.  Of course, eventually you find that you are actually in competition with Number One, always trying to establish a new personal record.  Like most truly difficult sports, it takes a long time to reach the heights.  That makes it meaningful!

Psychedelic guru Ray Bong played Escondido’s old Metaphor Cafe shortly after he played Rush Limbaugh’s
Hurricane Katrina’s lies up close and personal/The Grapevine

By now it should be obvious that C.D.N. makes the DRINKING involved all the more fantastic.  Habituated drinking is just so useless by comparison.  The habitual drinker never experiences the joy of drinking for a good reason.  It just always has to be done, every day, at a certain time, usually, and it really does start to look like some kind of, what do they call it?  oh yeah, ADDICTION.  Great.  I am not one to criticize.

It’s just that…where is the FUN?  But look, how can one brag about how long it has been since they had a drink among a bunch of people who are only worried about where the next one is coming from & when?  Only the superior knowledge that a celebratory bonfire of C.N.D. points is always on the horizon makes such a thing possible.  The real danger is that the friend group will start trying to line up designated driver gigs for you.

What are the rules of C.N.D.?  A point is earned for every day in which one does not drink, and wakes up the next day, after not taking a drink the night before.  There are no “half-points”.  It’s the entire day– in our town this must be stressed, since all hours of the day are considered drinkable.  There are two separate types of competition– there is what we call “innings”, in which consecutive days of non-drinking are counted, for example, in the present inning, as I write this, Creamcheese and I are locked in an 8 to 8 inning (I am sure to win this one, I can tell that he want to drink SO BAD); and then there is the Annual Competition, in which you will see how many days out of the year you can rack up points.  (My own personal record is 220 points in 2020, although in 2017 my score was “only” 54).

However, if it is discovered that a competitor failed to drink on an occasion when drinking was definitely called for, e.g. a champagne toast at a wedding, or a friend you haven’t seen in years comes to town and you meet up at the bar, or your sweet significant other tells you to take your B.O. and your dog and hit the road, then you will be disqualified by The Commissioner.  Additionally, anyone who scores 365– by not drinking on New Year’s Eve– will be summarily kicked out of the league.  THAT is considered non-drinker behavior, and it will not be tolerated.

You best believe me when I say that a dedicated lover of the drinking arts will be genuinely proud the first time they make a score of 100 points in either competition.  A score of 100 in the Annual Competition is a pretty great achievement.  Sorry, no trophy, no coin, or whatever,  Just the joy of burning down 100 points with a shot!

So the next time you hear someone bust out the weak sauce about Lent or “Dry January”, challenge them to a bout of Competitive Non-Drinking.  Go ahead, make it interesting with a little betting action.  Get an annual pool bet going with your league (i.e. drinking buddies).  Did I mention how much more fun this makes it to try and make your friends drink when they are trying not to?  If anyone tries to tell me that they have scored 300 or more points, I will give them the side eye.

I close this essay by remarking that Competitive Non-Drinking creates the frame for truly enjoying the drinking experience.  The attendant risk of feeling depressed after burning down a cache of points and as a result, getting shit-faced and majorly hung-over is just one of the potentially hilarious play-by-play stories that life can hold, among others that did not exist before one has taken up the gauntlet.

This is NOT about giving up drinking– I’m not going to say that I have blood oath that requires someone to run over me if they ever determine that I have done so, but you might want to consider this for the sake of your own soul.  No one can explain how it is possible to live in this dimension without the salve of drinking.  In my own opinion, it is our solemn duty to continue to do research in a never ending journey of consciousness lowering!

— Contact Ray Bong via bongolloyd@gmail.com

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