Most of us enjoy a drink now and then. Some of us enjoy lots of drinks. And some of us have trouble drawing a line between “A few snifters down at the country club” and “Holy crap I just drank a scented candle.”
For these stalwarts of self-destruction, the hangover is nature’s way of saying “Dude, seriously,” and reminding us that few excesses come without a price. However, most people suffering a hangover aren’t in the mood to be philosophical. Most people with a hangover have more pressing concerns, like…
For some of us in the brethren of booze, waking up with a patchy memory about the Night Before’s events is par for the course. Whether it be a case of “I remember everything right up until that Parking Attendant slapped me” or “The only reason I’m sure I went out last night is because I woke up cuddling a traffic cone,” memory loss is by far the most unsettling thing about the hangover experience.
But never fear! Providing you didn’t wake up in a cell and you’re not covered in blood, vomit or any other worrying bodily fluids, the chances are that your evening turned out okay. (If you are covered in any of those things, then for pity’s sake take a shower, man. Ugh.)
In previous decades, puzzling out the gaps in your memory required some detective work– asking around and putting clues together until you were satisfied you had the whole story, or else suffering the embarrassment of the sudden crystal-clear realization a few days down the line when, in the middle of the office, your face suddenly pales and you moan “Awwwwww, that sexy clown was a dude.”
Thankfully, these days we have the internet, where pretty much every incriminating aspect of your leisure time has undoubtedly been catalogued and posted on Facebook by your helpful, terrible, friends. So have fun catching up on what you missed while you pray quietly for the ground to open up and swallow you whole.
This really is a case of cause and effect. Fill yourself with gallons of sticky-sweet poison and your innards will eventually rebel. So now you feel like some tiny, inexplicable witch is stirring your guts with a spoon, cackling all the while. This feeling is often exacerbated by the fact that- with your judgement impaired by alcohol–street vended fish kebabs suddenly seemed like a really good idea at the time. That time is gone. It was not a good idea.
Now you’re left with two options, or rather, two orifices. That whiskey-soaked fish is coming out one way or the other and mumbling prayers into your toilet bowl won’t change a thing.
If you opt for puking, kudos on your efficiency. Puking is a generally quicker way of purging yourself, endorsed by super-models the world over. If you’re not a fan of hanging your head over the toilet, I suggest a fun game to take your mind off of things. Try sounding a letter from the alphabet each time you hurl! (Spoiler alert: things get tricky at ‘F’ and ‘S’.)
If you opt for option number two then the whole experience gets drawn out and stinky. If you’re a lager drinker then you can look forward to being strangled by your own beer farts for the rest of the day. If you’re a stout drinker…well, grizzled Alaskan fishermen sing sea-shanties about what stout drinkers go through in the bathroom.
“Arrgh!” You say, unhelpfully. “Arrrrrrgh!!!” And you’re right, your head suddenly is too small for your brain. This is because, scientifically speaking, your brain is swelling like a fat lady’s ankles in the sun. Booze affects your kidneys’ ability to deal with diuretic substances, and for every gram of alcohol you partake, the amount you urinate increases by 10 milliliters. In layman’s terms, you done gone peed out all your good water.
The dehydration effect can be lessened by drinking plenty of water along with your booze. Did you do that? No? Too bad. Have fun feeling like your brain is going to ooze out through your eye-sockets like Play-Doh.
You’re still drunk!
If you woke up in the morning feeling suspiciously at ease, its probably because you’re actually still drunk. Did you know it’s currently believed that it takes about an hour for your liver to process one unit of alcohol? So unless you slept well into the next evening, chances are that you’re still, technically, $&!£-faced. You should bear this in mind before you do anything stupid like getting into a car or continuing your job as a neurosurgeon.
Take a day off! The advantage of waking up still drunk is that you have a little bit of time before the real hangover kicks in. Now would be a good time to clean up, make yourself a bacon sandwich (the only scientifically recommended hangover repellent) brush your teeth and scrub the vodka sweat out of your pores. Then you can go back to bed and weep quietly for the rest of the day.
There is no cure!
There are plenty of home-spun remedies and dubious wisdoms for dealing with hangovers– from the ancient Romans, who recommended eating owl eggs and fried canary, to modern scientists, who recommend not listening to the ancient Romans.
Pretty much all supposed hangover cures have been disproven in medical trials, with doctors coming to the conclusion that you should suck it up and be a man, or, alternatively, try not drinking like a ballistic idiot.
There are a few things you can do to make yourself feel halfway human again. For instance, we’ve already mentioned that drinking water regularly during the boozing experience can lessen the effect of dehydration, and that a bacon sandwich is a delicious way to prime your gut with the protein, carbs and vitamins it needs to replace the energy you lost dancing the macarena on top of that taxi. Other suggestions involve taking a long, thorough shower, and participating in some gentle outdoor exercise. These wont cure your hangover, per se, but they will stop you being a stinking recluse.
And no, hair-of-the-dog is certainly not a cure. You’re just waylaying your hangover in favor of a bigger hangover later on. And no, you can’t keep on drinking your hangover away indefinitely. Well you can, but you’re courting a lifestyle where brown paper bags and dumpsters feature heavily.
Hang in there, buddy. Chances are you had a good time last night, and the remorse and pain you’re feeling right now is just a side-effect. Don’t see your hangover as a curse, but as a gift. A moment of fragility in which- nerves raw to the harshness of the universe- you can look upon your place in the world with somber, quiet reflection. Take this time as time for yourself, to indulge in restful hobbies as you prepare to rejoin society once again as a sober, useful human being. You can’t party all the time.
On the other hand, I hear they’re showing the game down at O’Malley’s tonight. And there’s supposed to be this wicked-sweet party afterwards, at that one girl’s house? You know the one. Yeah. What are we waiting for, bro? Let’s go get smashed!
If you have to test your dexterity to know if you’re okay to drive, you’re not okay to drive. Why not stay home and play racing games instead? Steve tested whether ’80s video games made us better warriors or worse people with Harsh Life Lessons learned from Classic Video Games. It’s not one of the Five Worst Hangover Activities, so go ahead.