I woke yesterday morning with what felt like a world class hangover. I can't remember the last time I was drunk, but I can pinpoint the last 5 or 6 times I had a hangover. You know what's worse than a hangover? A hangover without having drank to excess.
Renowned drinker Kingsley Amis divided the hangover into the the Physical Hangover and the Metaphysical Hangover. The meta hangover is when, “that ineffable compound of depression, sadness (these two are not the same), anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear of the future begins to steal over you.”. I did not suffer from a metaphysical hangover, I only suffered from the physical side effects, specifically, I couldn't stop touching my forehead above my left eye, despite how I felt, every time I checked, there actually wasn't an icepick sticking out of my temple.
Two beers over the course of five hours with snacks and a meal, only to end up incapacitated the next morning - This is offensive, an outrage, an attack on everything that is right and true. Unfortunately this isn't the first time the results of alcohol have been disproportionate to the input. About a dozen years ago I started getting a tickle in my throat and welts on my arms after drinking red wine. One night after a glass of Chilean red, I don't know was the actual cause of what transpired, but I'm going to posit that a $4 bottle of wine from a part of the world where one can still purchase DDT in the hardware store is not maybe the best way to tempt the good health gods - I broke out in hives, my throat constricted to the point it required a trip to the emergency room.
It was many years before I sipped red wine again, trips to the ER will do that. Eventually I eased myself back into the occasional glass of red wine, always from a notable wine producing area – Napa, Oregon, France instead of the Croatian-Icelandic mix they sell at Trader Joe's (but it's so cheap). Even if caution and responsible drinking kept the hives away, the morning after one stinkin' glass of wine, I noticed I couldn't do my usual run at the gym, my lungs hurt so much. Was this a histamine reaction to allergies? Food allergies are extremely difficult to diagnose despite what your cousin's coworker's naturopath says. Possibly this is/was a reaction to sulfites, which can trigger an asthmatic response? Reasonable guess, except white wine contains more sulfites than red and it's never an issue with white. So rather than trying to CSI this mystery, I avoid red wine, something I enjoy, but don't love. It isn't a sacrifice to go without.
But beer, giving up beer that hurts. About 3 years ago, I would get blinding headaches within 12 hours of drinking a, single beer. White pain. I eventually cut out beers on tap, unfiltered beers, beers with wheat in them, beers that use rice as an adjunct, beers from Utah, beers from Laos and most so called microbrews - I was down to cans of Miller, sipped cautiously. While uncomplicated lagers have a place in the hot sun, they just aren't worth drinking in the middle of winter.
Technically a hangover is equal parts mild withdrawal from alcohol ( your body gets used to its presence, then its gone - fever, sensitivity to light: This is where the theory of hair of the dog comes into play). That and dehydration combined with the physiological fact alcohol enlarges the cranial blood vessels (caffeine constricts them). So maybe what I am suffering from is something that isn't a hangover but just feels like one.
For the time being, Black Butte Porter out of bottles is my safety net and right now with my head still not back to normal, it might a while before I am ready to sip one of those – I got sick from mayonnaise when I was 5, still can't stand the stuff 40 years later, why does it only take 2 days to forget what alcohol does. Greyhounds for the time to come.