I was talking to a friend recently about addictive behaviors and he introduced me to the phrase “catfish bottom”. It’s well-known within the twelve-step programs that an addict needs to hit “rock bottom” before he can truly have the desire to change. (Not everyone agrees with that; here’s an alternate perspective.) What my friend told me about was “catfish bottom”, where you get about as low as you can go but you’re still functioning, albeit imperfectly. A lot of people can spend years at catfish bottom.
Those of you who knew me circa 2011-2012 would have seen the “catfish bottom” me, particularly with respect to both drinking and relationships. I never missed a deadline or lost a job because of it but I was certainly exhibiting some remarkably addictive behaviors. I can distinctly remember a night when I was in my 911, trying to make it from one “hotel date” to another one, doing maybe 110 on a mostly but not entirely empty freeway, and screaming at the windshield because I’d underestimated my travel time and I was about to be caught out in a lie by Date Number Two. Right as I was executing some 6,900-rpm outrageous six-lane swerve pass on a bunch of tractor-trailers, I had this moment of clarity: “I’m not even having any fun doing this. It’s like a job. It’s like working fast food, except I can’t be sullen when I’m serving the customer.”
Luckily for me, my date was running even later than I was… well, either I was lucky or she was being just as bad. I think she blamed it on her husband at the time, which is the Cheating Wife’s Adamantium Excuse and usually just means she had an extra drink before leaving the house. But that’s a discussion for another time.
Anyway 2018 feels like “catfish bottom” for racing addiction here at Casa Baruth. Between endurance racing, SCCA, NASA, PWC, and vintage, I’m on the hook for 24 days under green. Add Time Trials and noncompetitive stuff; that’s maybe another 14 days on track. A whole month in pit lane. As with alcohol, heroin, or sex, the obsessive pursuit of auto racing can force you into some bizarre behaviors and some even more bizarre justifications. The difference is that if you’re doing it right you wind up surrounding yourself with good people and making memories that fill you with satisfaction instead of unsteadiness. But I’d be surprised if we did this much next year.
After the jump I’ll have some photos of those good people, taken at the recent AER event, plus a link to what Bark and I wrote this week.