They were “there” in high school, but only in theory. While you wanted one — so you could, you know, say you had one — your 16-year-old body operated with the impenetrable inner mechanisms of a stallion and you went for a run the next day and then sat in a classroom from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. the next day, because, again, stallion body.
They’re here now. Hangovers are death that comes with an intangible cloudiness, a tidal wave of nothingness and everythingness that converges into silenced internal chaos, plucking at the functioning parts of you that remain and making sure any shard of productivity turns into mush (until the mush mushes slowly toward the next episode of “The Haunting of Hill House”).
Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Pirate Willie Stargell once said that getting a hit off of Hall of Fame Los Angeles Dodger Sandy Koufax was “like trying to eat soup with a fork.”
Nursing a hangover when you’re not a super young person feels like eating soup with a fork, except the soup is definitely of a Matzah Ball variety, injecting its rocket-high salt content into the frayed and dehydrated shell of human that’s somehow still in there somewhere.
Really, I think I’ve come to accept hangovers for what they are: warning signs that arrive and linger with a familiar banality of doom. They hit everyone differently; rather than a more enjoyable straw-drawing or Tap Roulette. Leaving this up to chance doesn’t translate to nervous excitement as much as the harsh reality that strikes between sips: Someone will be holed up for many hours tomorrow, someone else will see weird dots out of the corner of their eye for some reason and omelettes that might not, um, settle.
Is that just me? Maybe that’s me. All three things definitely happened, all at the same time, to me, this morning.
We then search for the cure, or things to proactively do before drinking. I don’t know if these solutions exist. I’m beginning to doubt they do.
Pedialyte first comes to mind. The friend who initially recommended this allegedly magic mix became a drinking buddy demigod with its early success. The company behind the stuff — which was intended to be hydration fluid for sick children — soon recognized its exploding market and adjusted accordingly, leading to Costco-sized Pedialyte boxes appearing in college residences across the country. But the body ultimately adapted to kiddie potion. Your friend became less cool, and your hangovers became way less manageable.
A Google search for hangover cures reveals the following tips: Limit your alcohol intake (OK), avoid drinks with congeners (don’t know what “congeners” means), eat a good breakfast (doesn’t work), get plenty of sleep (unrealistic), stay hydrated (I do!), have a drink the next morning (seems like bad advice but it gives me an excuse to reference my favorite scene in “The Shining”) or take supplements like red ginseng or prickly pear (Oh! Well I guess I need to try that one.). These “fixes” are all disqualified, however, because I declare that none of them work, and maybe I want to keep wallowing here anyway.
Yes, that’s it. We can keep wallowing. Our worst nightmare is confirmed — hangovers know no defeat — but just as Willie Stargell remained steadfast in his attempt to eat soup with a fork, we should also stay the course, because there’s a day after this one that won’t feel like booty, and I consider that a silver lining.
I’m not thankful for hangovers this year, but I am thankful for how they make me feel, because I’ve learned to embrace the wallow. It seems to be the (most) correct antidote for a permeating poison that can only be described with “ugh,” “yeesh” or an otherwise unintelligible mumble. When the bother does in fact arrive, I won’t have dispensed any applicable health or wellness advice to apply, but that might be OK, because the hangover probably incapacitates you from reading words in the first place. Godspeed, mush people.