Sessions From The Balcony: The Hangover

We all find ourselves on the wrong side of excess.
It starts out like a good idea . . . . doesn’t it?
But then the good idea turns and by the time we find out
it’s too late.

The morning after . . .

Eyes open slightly with face buried into pillows. The sudden awareness of pain surged up from the top of my neck—my head was heavy and the only smell was the remnants of last night’s remedy.
The sunlight that moved through the bedroom from underneath the curtain was too bright.
I knew that outside, life continued. There was no rest for the weary. At least, not in my case. I could still smell the alcohol and the aftermath of a drink that was thrown in my face.
To the best of my recollection, this was done by a girl who I apparently offended by opening my fly and fooling her by poking my finger through the hole in my pants.
I suppose saying, “Hey look,” and touching the girl’s leg—leading her to believe that I approached her, “Member first” was a mistake on my part.
I remember the beginning of the night. The middle of the night tended to gray. As for the end of the night; my memory is blackened with tiny mental pictures of finding myself leaned against a brick wall at a high school in a different town.

In times like this, any sound is too loud. Any smell is too offensive. It was to my benefit that the room was no longer spinning; however, the sickness had not subsided.
Anything at all could trigger another vomit attack. Any sudden movement; anything detected by my senses could have easily brought on another round of sickness.

Lifting my head, I became aware of the puddled stain of blood appearing to have leaked from my nose. The blood leaked down on my pillow and onto the cover sheet of my mattress. As seconds passed, I became aware of new pains, new bruises, scrapes, and the apparent evidence that I at some point, failed at trying to physically defend myself.

Aside from the sound and smells, my next enemy was the first sight of myself in the mirror. This is when I noticed the black eye and split lip. This is when I notice the earring in my left ear had been ripped from my earlobe. My long hair over that draped over my face and across the side of my nose was singed by a cigarette lighter.
I was unsure if the phone would ring. I was unsure if whomever was on the opposite end would be friendly or angry with a story from the previous night.

Same as everyone, I have heard stories of home remedies on how to ease the pain from a hangover. One remedy above all is called, “Hair of the dog,” which comes from the saying, “Hair of the dog that bit you.”
I suppose this had to do with using the hair from a dog that left a dog bite in order to heal the wound from the bite itself.
In this sense, or in the sense of alcoholic recovery; hair of the dog means drink what made you sick and it will somehow make you feel better.
After my own research, I can assure you this remedy did not and does not work. Immediately worse, the drink I drank led me to vomit out the bedroom window. As for why I chose the window; I chose it because the window was much closer than the bathroom. And I knew I couldn’t make the bathroom.

Even as a young man, I learned the valuable lesson that one cannot save their ass and their face at the same time. There is no saving grace. Vanity has no place in the room of  drunk sickness or hangovers. There is nothing pretty on this side of the drunk.
There is no one to impress.
And even if there was—even if the party was still on and the lights were still bright, the girls were sweet, the music was happening, and all the world was locked in a celebration, there is no way for man to preserve his own dignity while retching and hollering with his face in a toilet bowl. No . . .
When this happens, it is impossible to be dignified when placing your head someplace where the rest of the word puts their ass.

There is no pride here. After the fits of acid-like vomit spewed from the mouth, the stomach reversed and emptied—the drunk that I was slumped against the porcelain toilet with a long thing line of drool dangling from my bottom lip.
There is no dignity here. There is no way to salvage one’s self. The only redeeming quality is the cool feel of cold tiles against the head or face as I lie flat on the floor.

When the morning after comes, the pain is obvious. The details of the prior night remain a mystery and the frequently asked questions arise.
At first, I wondered the simple things like, “How the hell did I get home last night?”
Or, “Where did this pack of cigarettes come from?

I used to have friends that drank heavily. And by drinking, I mean they considered themselves to drink professionally. To these friends, drinking was an extreme sport.  It was full contact and take no prisoners.
To them, drinking was not to be taken lightly. To be a professional, one needed to know the rules of engagement. In order to drink professionally, one needed to understand what to mix and what not to mix.
I was never good with this

And tequila . . .
tequila can turn even a pacifist into someone dangerous and violent.
Southern Comfort leaves an unforgettable odor that once taken too far. Once sickened by this drink, Southern Comfort can be smelled from across the world. In fact, even decades later, my stomach still turns whenever I smell Southern Comfort.
I can say the same thing about Jack Daniel’s.
I have memories like this with Seagram’s and a bottle of Johnny Walker Red as well as Black.
I once stole a bottle of cheap wine. I have a memory of drinking the entire bottle in a series of huge gulps. I remember about 10, to maybe 20 minutes after. Then the memory grays. I become hazy with what happened. I only remember the fits of puke and waking up on the lawn beside the pool at Prospect Park.
However, on this morning in particular, as I woke to discover the pains and discomfort, leaning from my bedroom window to reject the contents of my stomach, I was cursed with the smell of Malibu rum and gin.

I remember swearing, “I’ll never drink again.”
But professionals never swear it off. They know swears like this are a lie.
The morning after, I was grateful to be alone.
I was grateful my eye was only swollen and the rest of my body was mostly unharmed.
My lip was split and my jaw hurt.
Wherever this fight happened; it happened in some other town, which meant I could make up a story to save my pride. I could say I was jumped. I could say I got the best of two or maybe even three of them before I went down.

It all seemed like a good idea at first.
The drink brightened the lights.
The girls were nicer.
The music sounded better.
There was no fear or pain.
There was no matter too pressing or issue to heavy.
Then the drunk turned.
The night spiraled and the next day, I woke up feeling like I was hit by a truck.

“I’m never drinking again!”

This is what it means to be on the wrong side of excess.



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