Doing without drinking

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Don't get me wrong, I love getting smashed just as much as the next Northeast Ohioan, but this daily bar ac tion is getting old seriously old. The other day I called roughly a dozen people to see if they wanted to take advantage of the late summer by bike riding or walking through the Metro Parks. Nope. Not one person took me up on my offer. Instead, they saved their energy to line up at the Noisy Oyster at around 7 p.m. for beer after beer after beer, to do what? Tell a different version of the same story they've been telling for the past five years. I love my dudes, but I can only drink so many pitchers over the same old jokes. Plus, it doesn't take more than a few trips to Nickelby's to realize that eight hours of drunken conversation gets you into trouble . If you, dear reader, are feeling similarly uninspired by booze, you can find other shit to do. Maybe get a friend in AA to tagalong: The MetroParks are hosting their 43rd annual Fall Hiking Spree. If you walk eight of the 14 designated trails, you get a merit badge and walking stick. Yeah, the souvenirs aren't soooo exciting, but after every hike you complete, a park ranger signs off on your park passport, which makes you feel accomplished in that eight-year-old at Walt Disney World kind of way. Fall drives are the best. Nothing beats loading up on coffee, charging up the iPod, and driving down the Lincoln Memorial Highway (Rt. 30) into northern Appalachia. Here you can find real greasy spoons ) perfect for consuming patty melts and packs of cigarettes, as well as tons of flea and farmer markets, where the veggies don't resemble East German swimmers. Getting wasted by the fire is so much better than drinking at the bar. Journey isn't being played at 800,000 decibles. And staring at flames is much more fun that watching drunks. Plus, you can, like, roast chestnuts, make smores, and warm up some cider with spiced rum. If you don't want to drink the rum, you can throw the bottle in the fire and watch it explode. Go to see CSS and Ladytron at the Beachland Ballroom on October 4. You may have to get wasted to do this, but at least you'll have a damn good reason to dance it off. ...any other ideas? -- Denise Grollmus
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