Two or three things I know for sure, one of them is that hangovers were created by God to punish people for having fun. Newton’s 3rd Law states that each action has an equal and opposite reaction. I would like to build onto it with Corbin’s Hangover Corollary, which states that the amount of enjoyment you receive from drinking is followed by an equivalent amount of nausea, pain, and sweatpants-wearing the following day. Sometimes, in extreme cases, there are no pants at all.
There was a time in my life (college) wherein my body and organs were made of titanium and I was capable of ingesting large amounts of beer and liquor in an evening (or early afternoon on the weekend) and wake up the next morning fully capable of hard labor and long division. Somehow, the lost art of alchemy would take place in my body and turn the alcohol into pure badass energy. Those glory days are gone. Somewhere between 22 and 23, some jackass executive in my liver divided by zero and now anything over the equivalent of four beers is enough to give my body and mind a one way Strugglebus ticket to Useless-Town the next day.
The solution, one would think, would be to not binge drink. This is clearly the easiest and most sensible option. It’s also fucking impossible in conjunction with a social life. As any red-blooded American will tell you, binge drinking is the way that our culture celebrates basically anything. Football team won? SHOTS! Wedding? OPEN BAR MUTHAFUCKAH! Made it to Friday night without killing anyone or yourself? I SHALL KILL MY LIVER INSTEAD!!!
I discovered this upon going out to the bars last night with my shiny new co-worker friends. I was all happy and enthusiastic about the prospect of reviving my social life, so I had no problem with the first round of shots. Or the second. Or third. All in the space of ten minutes. Five minutes into our second bar, I was already five drinks deep and had a Long Island Iced Tea in my hand. I am officially not in Santa Fe anymore. If I hadn’t spent the last five years drinking at altitude, I would probably be in jail right now for tackling a street performer. I think I avoided blacking out because my liver was in a state of shock from ingesting more shots in an hour time period than I had taken in the last three months combined. Long story short: Colorado likes to fucking drink.
As I slept on my couch of shame that night, the evil witches from Macbeth began casting their evil spell on my body. When I awoke this morning, I knew that I was in for a world of pain.
To paraphrase Tolstoy, all happy bodies are alike; each unhappy body is unhappy in its own way. Through years of painstaking research, I’ve been able to chalk my hangovers into four basic phases.
PHASE 1: STILL DRUNK
The first, and shortest, phase is the still-drunk phase. This is a result of my body being extremely bad at processing alcohol while I’m asleep. I don’t sleep in, ever, and so I will still wake up early even if I fell asleep at 4 with the room spinning like a top. I’m an asshole to myself in this way. After first making sure that I’ve awoken in a place that seems familiar, I check my wallet and phone to make sure that I didn’t leave my card or ID at the bar or text any voodoo curses to ex-girlfriends or known enemies. If so, I immediately proceed to Phase 2. This is not typically the case though. My enthusiasm at not fucking up my life for the day is supplemented by all sorts of weird energy and a sense of invulnerability. After approximately ten minutes (usually after I struggle to make a Pop-Tart) I realize that I’m not some sort of awesome hangover-proof mutant. I’m still fucking drunk. And I can’t actually eat this Pop-Tart. I begin mentally preparing myself for the marathon of shit that my day is about to become, but try to at least ride the sensation out via Youtube videos, coffee, or attempting to fall back asleep (this never works). This phase usually lasts about an hour or two before a dark fog settles over my consciousness and I begin Phase 2.
PHASE 2: THE INFINITE SADNESS
As my drunken euphoria is replaced by the slowly growing pains in my head and stomach, I begin to reflect on the pit of snakes in my body and enter a period of self-hatred, guilt, and shame for every real or imagined sin that I have committed the night previous.WHY DID YOU SPEND SO MUCH MONEY? WHY ARE YOU TREATING YOUR BODY LIKE SHIT? WHY DID YOU TRY HITTING ON THAT GIRL WHEN SHE WAS CLEARLY NOT INTO YOU? WHY DID YOU SING ALONG TO KATY PERRY’S FIREWORK?! YOU ARE POND SCUM. As Phase 2 intensifies, the darkness begins taking stock on every dumb financial decision, failed relationship, and near-death experience I’ve ever had, framing them in my mind as if all of these things were leading up to this: the very bottom of rock bottom. During this time I’m prone to all sorts of self passive aggressive behavior, such as staring blankly into space for hours or listening to Sun Kil Moon’s entire discography. Occasionally I will re-read the ending of Old Yeller just to further reinforce the sadness. Needless to say, this is the worst time to engage with me as a human being. Depending on my behavior the previous night, this can range from one to three hours. After that, I am no longer capable of any kind of human emotion: negative or positive. There is only the pain. Enter Phase 3.
PHASE 3: A WORLD OF PAIN
The most barbaric of the stages. At this point, any trace of inebriation is gone and it has taken my physical well-being with it. I am now a walking Pepto-Bismol commercial. My stomach feels like it’s filled with formaldehyde and I can’t eat anything. My head is throbbing and bright colors upset me. My brain is cottage cheese and even simple arithmetic is exhausting. I am consciously aware of my heart thumping in my chest like a hyperactive heavy metal drummer. I won’t even get into what takes place in the bathroom. None of this is pretty. In Phase 3, my body can best be personified by the guy in Edvard Munch’s The Scream. I am also most likely to make the statement that I will never drink again; a statement I have made far too many times to be taken seriously in retrospect. The longest and most arduous of the phases, I am most likely to be found laying on the couch or the closest floor available, doing my best to not move a single muscle for fear of triggering a heart attack. This will last the grand majority of the day. It is not until the sun finally goes down and I have choked down something resembling food that I enter the fourth and final phase.
PHASE 4: NOTHING IS GOOD
I have survived, but not unscathed. By this point, my entire day has been spent wallowing in emotional and physical misery. It is, for lack of a better word, wasted. I am capable of human interaction and basic functions, but nothing ambitious. Like a replicant, I’m capable of putting on a good show of humanity that will not actually stand up to scrutiny. Writing this blog post is the most productive I’ve ever been with a hangover. My stomach is still queasy from a combination of nausea and lack of nutrition. The concept of drinking and having fun are dismissed as childish and pointless. My ears are sore from all the Elliot Smith and emo I’ve listened to in the past twelve hours. I am openly fantasizing about the world I will awake to tomorrow in which I will be hangover free and capable of laughter and joy again. At least until the next night out.