“the tarry shingle of the morning…”

This morning I got up early, made my coffee, checked the news (yikes) and, for some reason, thought about gratitude.  I mean, there is the war in Ukraine and gas has reached prices that make really make one contemplate how badly one needs to use their car.  Inflation is ramping up and set to snowball.  Things are so bad people have finally just decided to no longer make a big deal out of Covid.  So, what reason do I have to be grateful?  Well, my family and I are healthy.  I have a job and the means to feed, clothe and educate my children… you get the idea…But this morning I thought about something I haven’t thought about in a longish time.  Man, it’s great to not be hungover on a Saturday morning and know that I won’t be hungover tomorrow or the day after that.  This is, in fact, a gross understatement.  If you have never suffered a hangover, allow me to explain:

In theory, people drink too much to “let their hair down”, to party, to briefly liberate themselves from their fears and anxieties. Well, ain’t nothing in life for free.  So, genius, you wanted to use a substance to feel better and ease  your anxieties?  Well, that will work briefly, but let’s not forget Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Therefore, what you will experience when you wake up (possibly in your bed or somebody else’s, or in a hedge somewhere) is concentrated physical pain and anxiety (aka “hangxiety”).  The pendulum’s gotta swing, baby, so buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Of course, there is the all time best description of a hangover in Kingsley Amis’ book “Lucky Jim”.  This passage is to hangovers what Hamlet’s soliloquy is to existential dread:

Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth has been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by a secret police. He felt bad.” 

When I used to binge drink, my life was a constant cycle of damage control.  The upside of drinking too much, it seemed, was “fun”?!?!  The downsides were, let’s see,  possible physical injury, blackouts, engaging in stupid, dangerous and/or embarrassing behavior, damage to reputation, financial costs (I’m not just referring to the cost of alcohol), and of course, the hangover itself.  Pro tip;  If you drink so much that you black out, people love, and I mean love, to tell you in excruciating detail what an ass you made of yourself the night before.  Let them.  They are not doing it for the right reasons, but it’s unintentionally in your best interest.

In light of everything I just said, I don’t how or why it took so long it took me so long to get off the hangover merry go round.  It was excruciatingly awful.  Look, if you want to have a few beers or glasses of wine, be my guest.  If, however, you are binge drinking and constantly walking up hungover, I can save you some valuable time.  It’s not “fun”, it’s not enhancing your life.  It’s like gambling, you will never “beat the house”.  It is not, and will never be, worth it.

 So, yes, I am grateful this morning to wake this morning, healthy and feeling good about myself.  I’m grateful that I stopped doing something that made me miserable.  I’m grateful that I didn’t wake up this morning, using a slice of pizza as a pillow and peeling my tongue off the roof of my mouth.  It’s the little things, y’all .

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