H IS FOR HANGOVER
By Matthew Latkiewicz
H is for hangover. The great white whale of the drinking world.
There is no cure for your hangover. You are a small human in a tiny boat. It is a demon from below. There’s nothing to be done. You drank too much and had three pieces of cake or whatever and you didn’t drink water and you took a shot of Jameson right before leaving the party.
No magic potion or gas-station pill is gonna fix that. You deserve the punishment meted out by the morning light and it’s awful, awful cacophonies.
Hangovers follow the immutable laws of the universe. For every action, there is an equal and horrifying sensitivity to light. We may hate them, but we need them because hangovers keep the world in balance. You can’t have Superman without kryptonite. And just like kryptonite, we don’t actually understand the hangover all that well. The latest science points to some toxic blend of dehydration, internal inflammation, hormonal alterations, imbalances in electrolytes and blood sugar swings. Which when you put it all together means “you poisoned yourself you dummy and this is your body dealing with it“.
This has not stopped humans throughout our drinking history from trying to cure the hangover, of course. You know, make it go away. Since we’ve been boozing, we’ve been trying totally random shit in the slimmest of hopes it will just make the next day a little easier.
Recently, there’s been a flood of hangover prevention and remedy miracle products advertised – at least to me – which I guess is revealing. They range from transdermal patches, to pills, to sodas by XTesla engineers,
to these in your home IV treatments. Which completely freak me out. The whole thing just seems like the
beginning of a black mirror episode. But apparently they’re all the rage and celebrities are doing them to keep
up with their hard partying lifestyle. So I don’t know, Maybe IV’s actually work? Maybe that’s the IV’s miracle cure? I’m not gonna try it though, but whatever, live your life. Me? I’m gonna deal with my hangovers like my kind have been doing for millennia. I’m gonna eat or drink something super weird in the slimmest of hopes it will make the goddamn room stop spinning.
Every era and region of humanity has had their own special hangover dish which is both delightful and pathetic. Ancient Assyrians consumed a mixture of ground birds beak and myrrh, for some reason – while
ancient Greeks and Romans both swore by boiled cabbage before and after drinking. European doctors in the Middle Ages recommended raw eel in the hopes (and I swear I read this somewhere) it would come alive inside of you and drink the rest of the alcohol (which is hardcore – but whatever because) Mongolians ate pickled sheep’s eyes and Bolivians apparently still eat caldo de cardan, which is bull penis soup. If this is true, then my hat’s off to you Bolivians. You are truly brave and fearless in your quest to kill the hangover. In America, we invented the slightly less disgusting but still disgusting enough prairie oyster – a raw egg with a dash of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. While the Scottish make a cornstarch and buttermilk drink called the Highland Fling. You get the idea.
We will eat pretty much anything to get rid of our hangovers. The modern American version of this is the Greasy Brunch. Of course, a meal time basically invented by the British for the purposes of hangover damage control. In an 1895 opinion piece titled “Brunch: A Plea” which already makes it the greatest piece of writing of all time. Guy Beringer not only coins the term Brunch, but also ascribes to it its sacred duty. By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday Brunch would make life brighter for Saturday nights carouses.
How are there not statues of this guy in every city in the world?
Then of course, there is the one cure we all know cannot work, but still pretend sort of works, hair of the dog. The thinking here is that your body is going through alcohol withdrawal and so it needs more alcohol, but also with somewhat healthy things like tomato juice. Doesn’t smell right to me, but I won’t turn down a Bloody Mary on a bad morning. I know it’s not some cure like these IVs and patches purport to be, but it cuts the edge, that’s for sure. Along with an irresponsibly dense Brunch, it stretches the hangover into a manageable shape. An all-day, storage wars marathon kind of shape. And that’s how I’ll take my hangovers
like the indulgent punishment I deserve for overly indulging. Like a foe, I’ll never defeat.
H is for hangovers.
Bottoms up and hold fast.