Part 17: Hangovers

This morning I was a very, very brave girl and managed not to do a sick made of all the wine I drank last night on my friend’s new beige carpet. Of course, I’ve spent the day nursing a grey, empty guilt and supressing stabs of panic by making my brain think about unicorns dancing on pink clouds (I swear it works, try it!). Alarmingly, I’ve also had a new symptom: when I glanced at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, my skin appeared to have transformed into flaky, crumbling pastry, like the crack-head lady in that Ed Sheeran song.

The hangover: proof that that the Lord, should he exist, is indifferent to human suffering. That He will offer pleasure with one hand (in the form of fizzling, crystal sharp prosecco), and snatch it away with the other (in the form of seven shades of vomit jumping from your mouth and into the downstairs toilet, while an evil micro-pixie drives a screwdriver into your brain tissue). Yes, life is cruel and unfair – but we shall not be down-hearted! The spite of the Lord and his universe fairies will not defeat us. This very night I have plans to consume even more alcohol, and tomorrow I shall laugh in the face of the pain. I’m on a mini-break, don’t judge me.

I have to admit that the one good thing about being in a relationship is that you can have sex in the morning, after a heavy night, in order to take your mind off of the herd of baby mices trampolining on the taut membrane of your stomach.

After that though: no. I prefer to have my hangovers in total solitude. Other people are useless to me. Yes, I suppose the idea of having someone who loves you there, by your side, holding your hair out of the loo, bringing you glasses of water and whispering gentle words of comfort is appealing. However, this in no way matches any reality I have ever experienced. It is not at all agreeable to have someone looking disapprovingly over your crumpled, broken body while you heave into the toilet bowl and then rest your cheek against the cold floor tiles.

Even those who are supposed to care most about our welfare are very unlikely to be sufficiently sympathetic regarding hangovers. As I discovered on the occasion of my first, aged 14. I had been naughty and syphoned large volumes of vodka from my Nan’s larder into my bloodstream, via my mouth, at a family ‘do’. I had got very drunk and run around Nan’s house stark-bollock naked, vomited on an elderly man’s trousers, and punched my aunty in the gob. Well, this is what I’m told. My recollection of the event is zero. What I do recall is sobbing and retching into the toilet bowl the next morning, while my mother – rather than offer comfort or support – stood over me snarling ‘proud of yourself, are you?’, as members of my extended family clicked their tongues and shook their heads in disgust.

Also, other people, people without hangovers, or who say they have hangovers too but are obviously lying because they can move more than three meters without vomiting, often want to make you undertake challenging tasks. Like sitting up on the sofa and watching an old movie, or getting dressed and going out for pizza. And they never give the correct answer to the question ‘did I make a total dick of myself last night?’

I have never found lovers to be any more considerate of my simple hangover needs (cold floor, water, lucozade, sympathy, toilet bowl, moderate room temperature, silence) than the average friend or family member. Lovers are not, in my experience, likely to feel inclined to bring you water and gently kiss the top of your head to magic the horrid pain away. They are sometimes actively angry with you for trying, in the debauched craziness of the previous evening, to snog their friend when you went for a fag in the beer garden.

Today, I discovered, yet again, the unparalleled ability I have to respond appropriately and with compassion to my own needs. I was able to lie myself down on an icy stone floor until the hangover waned, give myself little sips of coca-cola to drink from a can, stroke my own poorly belly and then go and get a shiny manicure in Big Apple Red to make myself feel all better. If you can find me a man who’d be willing to do the same, I might be open to having a re-think about the whole single thing.

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