As I understand it, a hangover is supposed to last a day at most. Mine has started its third day, and I have learned why I do not normally drink hard alcohol. Like Bertie Wooster, I’m evolving various metaphors to express the hangover experience. A favorite: my skull is made out of crepe paper; the contents have turned to egg yolk; if I move my jaw while speaking, some of the yolk may escape thru the vent just over my ear.
by Tom Crippen
My condition contributed to an unpleasant moment at the Second Cup. The place is lovely in the morning, lovely and quiet. But if one person speaks loudly, their voice is inescapable. This morning the person who spoke loudly was one of the girls on the cafe’s staff. Normally she is uncommunicative and busy cleaning. But lately she’s changed gears, and it turns out she has a voice like an auto collision with words set to it. To try another line, if a car alarm could say, “I mean, what is that?” it would sound just like this girl.
After a couple of hours, I shuffled over, excused myself, and intruded in her conversation. I tried the diplomatic approach: “Because of the acoustics here, your voice kind of bounces around.” Her, after a moment’s thought: “Okay! I’ll turn up the music.” To be fair, I don’t think she was being stupid, just rude in a quick-witted way. I shuffled off again, and from that moment she was quiet. Not that a lot of moments were left, since her shift was almost over. I had waited a long while, subjectively the equivalent of years.
Now I’m at a different Second Cup, more crowded and in some ways noisier, but the noise is ambient instead of being focused, and it doesn’t talk, just grinds coffee. But the yolk is still sloshing about, and I miss my old Second Cup. I’m going to try the old place again and if necessary ask one of the other kids on staff to act as go-between so that a settlement can be reached with the noisy girl. Because, make no mistake, the kids are still great.
UPDATE: The hangover symptoms I describe are “the worst,” according to the boy who was sweeping the hallway outside the bathroom at my fallback 2nd Cup. He confirmed that a hangover lasting three days is highly unusual, not to say unheard of, and suggested that I might be suffering an allergic reaction to hard alcohol. The allergy would explain a lot, including my uncharacteristic good sense in staying away from hard alcohol for most of my life.
UPDATE 2: 10:30 pm, Montreal time. Coming here to the Cafe Depot, I found Ganesh and Pariabas, two young fellows in my building, hanging out on the front steps with Kevin, another young fellow but not normally one of their buddies. Ten minutes of discussion on the origins of my hangover, why I had drunk so much, funny things said by various parties while drunk, what I should do to avoid hangovers (water), and how Pari had drunk half a bottle of scotch for three weeks without any side-effects because it was during a leisurely vacation somewhere and he had been in a good frame of mind. I move on with the gratifying sense of having been the center of attention. Maybe that’s why my hangover sticks around; on the other hand, sitting down here I found that I lowered myself into place like an old man with vertebrae that might pop their strings and scatter on the floor; so the effects are real and they linger.
A cheerful note: my favorite barista is behind the counter; usually she works the day shift. She’s a pretty, dark-eyed, good-natured girl with a boyfriend who loves Watchmen. She likes it too, but the book is really his obsession, not hers; I guess that’s suitable, seeing as how he’s the guy. They read it because of the movie, which they both liked a lot. I take this as a testament to Alan Moore: in however distorted a form, his story breaks thru to a new audience. I was going to say “gets thru to a new generation,” but Roger Ebert and (God, again) Andrew Sullivan both liked the movie too.
UPDATE 3: Now into day four. All that’s left is an ache over my right eyebrow, and I’m starting to think that’s because of the overstuffed chair I use at my fallback 2nd Cup.
UPDATE 4: My hangover was officially gone as of yesterday morning, when a Cafe Depot barista (not my favorite) remarked that I was singing. A four-day hangover — not bad!