Monday morning, 6am, high-pitched alarm piercing through my ears and an uneasy overwhelming feeling of nausea and self-commiseration I can only embrace. We have all been through it and one thing I know - you never experience the same booze-induced affliction twice.
Oh, hangover! A cocktail of messy hair, smudged make-up, paranoia, guilt, regret and sometimes thirst for more – hair of the dog can indeed be a blessing in disguise but, like everything else associated with the consequences of alcohol consumption, it can certainly lead to a Withnail and I-esque path of long-term self-destruction. Perpetuating inebriation is a merry-go-round of abuse… then why does it feel so tempting to down a bottle of whiskey to maudlin songs after a hard day at work? Tom Waits voice and the seductive sound of that golden liquid gurgling and screaming “pour me another!” A hip flask to quench both thirst and temptation. Going back to stage 1, when the ethanol euphoria kicks in and reactions range from romantic disco duck to agressive sleepyhead. Naggin in my back pocket, just because.
No matter how fragile we become on the day after, most of us keep on drinking on a regular basis, for different reasons. Some love it, others need it. I personally see it as a Dubliner-ish lifestyle that just keeps being part of our daily routine and it also depends on the current circumstances and context that leads one to get drunk.
I was on my way to work this morning, struggling not to barf as I navigated between Piss Lane and Shit Street, trying hard to keep my crampy legs moving. Cold sweats bringing a vinegary scent to my runny nostrils, stout residue expelling out of my pores and my clammy skin enduring a calvary worthy of The Passion of Christ. Do I still expect to get away with it year after year in a city where there is no street without a pub to embellish it and inviting the passerby in for a treat of pints, snug and that perfume of oak and ale by the fire? I suppose so.
By now, I’m acquainted with a few different specimens of The Fear, all of them majestically crippling in their own fashion. There is the one you can get rid of with a few Paracetamols to relieve that classic pounding headache that can only happen as a response to extreme dehydration. A head that feels like Baghdad but you’re still functional. Sometimes you find yourself devoid of memories as you spent the last 48 hours on a bender… only to get terrified by the occasional surprise of a flashback. Sometimes, you just feel exhausted and trapped in this lazy lethargy; takeaway and a comfy bed are the cure. There is, of course, the whirlwind of vertigo we all know as Vomitville. Nothing really works until our stomach lining is ready again and filled at last with a potassium, vitamin C and iron fuelled meal – think steak, poached eggs and fresh orange juice.
The worst case scenario is, as I mildly put it, The Death by Hangover type – a cross heavy to bear, enough to keep drinkers away from their bottles for certain periods of time. With it comes the intestine meltdown (it’s a miracle I haven’t yet shat my pants!), the shivers down the spine, the dead rodent breath, the constant cold that turns summer into winter and a complete brain glitch that is beyond incapacitating. Not to mention the booze blues brewing in, along with a depressive state spiralling downwards. You pray for your liver and also for your life. Another day goes away, wasted by a mood, mindset and physical status that could’ve been avoided if priorities were reasonably set. If we survive the mother of all hangovers, we rise again like a recovering phoenix who will eventually repeat the same mistake over and over again until it’s too late for a drastic change of bad habits and impulsive/compulsive behaviour.
So, here I am, with my eyes puffy and my face withered. I reach for the glass of water, then look in the mirror and say to myself for the countless time: “I’ll never drink again on an empty stomach. Big fuckin’ mistake.”