in which the naked chimp is unmasked, his machines debugged, and his bugbears debunked

Friday, January 16, 2009

Well Hungover

If the silly season sucks, at least you know you’re going to get blown out the other end. And here we are, far, far from the pointy end of the year that was only yesterday, last week, or… sometime. It’s difficult to remember. In fact, I’m finding it difficult to remember almost anything. And this is because I am, in seasonal style, well and truly hungover.

Today, the hangover I have given myself is damp, foggy, and right behind my eyeballs. I don’t feel that I’ve been hit by a bludgeoning object so much as I’ve become one myself: man as mallet. The other day, it was a head full of rusty nails scraping down the raw folds of swollen brain meat hard against my temples. A few days before that, I had a hangover that was like a succession of hot knitting needles being pushed in one ear, then pulled out the other. Then there are the throbbers: I had a soft throbber on NYE, and a hard banging throbber on NYD.

In the week before Christmas I twice suffered from a particular favourite: the motion sensing hangover. Turn your head to the left even just a bit too quickly and the suffering comes at you in a surging, rushing toxic lurch. Shake your head in a way that might express emphatic refusal (say, at the sight of another tequila shot, ever), and you’ll be spraying acid-washed technicolour chunks through both nostrils with such great pressure and volume that the stinging stench it leaves in your nose an mouth makes you…. retch again, inducing more shaking, which causes more retching, etc, etc…

Then there are the weird, once in a lifetime hangovers. I had one that was like a massive gas-filled zeppelin inside my head cavity. The engines were on, and it was trying to fly west (the direction of my eyeballs) but, being prevented by the head cavity, was rendered ineffectual, left to buzz and bump its soft head against my tender one with a dull machinic hum. I once had a hangover that didn’t hit until 2 o’clock, and when it did, it was like being bashed by a cucumber (just one decisive blow), with enough force to break it, leaving sticky cucumber juice to trickle down my scalp… until beer o’clock.

But I like hangovers, and not only because they’re almost the only ‘memorable’ things of this time of the year (in that they’re about all I can remember). Why do I like them so much? Well, there are so many things in life where the punishment is deferred, implied, indirect or merely possible. Smoke your whole life, and the odds of cancer are good. But you might be one of the freaks. You probably won’t, but you might. It’s possible. And in the interim, you can kinda sorta kid yourself, kick back, and enjoy one sly fag after another. With anything like this, there is the added need to punish yourself for what you’ve done. You’ve been a very naughty boy; feel bad about yourself for a while. Not so with the hangover. There it is, your head on the plate. No need to feel bad… the hangover will do it for you. It comes on like a curse and passes like a blessing, reminding you with exquisite horror what your wallet already knows: how much you’ve lost, what a fool you were, and how much fun it all was. There there.


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PC is an animal of the antipodes believed to be related to a gibbon.