Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Turns out I wasn't hungover after all

"In twenty-seven years, I've drunk fifty thousand beers." --Silver Jews

Well, I'm a lot older than 27, and I've probably drunk 50,000 Old Styles and PBRs, plus lots of other so-called microbrews like Blue Moon, but last New Years, I realized that I've probably never really been hungover in my entire life. I'm a beer drinker, and beer just doesn't mess you up that much.

Here's how I learned what I learned. I went to Dublin, Ireland, for a week during winter break with my buddy Freshwater last year. Despite the unfavorable exchange rate, I drank a lot of Guinness. The goal, if I remember correctly, was to drink ten pints each night. We hit that goal a couple of times, came close a couple other times. Really the only things that kept us from drinking more were the lack of ATMs and the early closing times.

Anyway, with that much Guinness you might expect two things: big, fat bellies and big, fat headaches in the mornings. The thing is, according to recent advertising, Guinness has very few calories, so the belly remained where it started. And the other thing is, I never once felt hungover during a week of drinking in Ireland. As I said, I stay away from liquor, so that helps. But still, during the previous 15 years of my drinking life, I've felt pretty damn bad after nights of drinking beer in bars.

The biggest difference between Dublin in Chicago is that Dublin--well, all of Ireland--is smokefree. The pubs were packed, the people were amazing, even the smokers didn't seem to mind stepping out into the misty night for a fag. I could go to bed without a shower and wake up refreshed.

Since returning from that trip, every trip to a local bar for a beer has killed me little by little. I now realize how horribly allergic I am to smoke. No matter how much or how little I drink, I wake up in the middle of the night with a dry mouth and a deep, dull headache. That headache doesn't go away with an Aleve. The severity of what I've always thought of as a hangover has nothing to do with how much I drink but with how long I've stayed at the bar.

I've thought of a few options. Quit going out to bars. But that would mean stop having friends, since they're all alcoholics. Move to California, Vermont, or one of the six other states that has banned smoking in bars. But that would mean leaving Mayor Daley behind, and I don't think I can do that just yet.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the perfect solution for you. Start smoking yourself and you will become more tolerant to your allergy.

You have already had a similar remedy to another one of your allergies. You are allergic to cats and you ended up getting one.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous jenska said...

The only serious hangovers I have had have been after smoking. Ok, so it was sharing a whole pack with your sister that one time you had to pull over so I could puke on the curb...but even the times I've had only one or two cigarettes have had a major effect the next day.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you ever have a hangover ALEVE isn't the only remedy, but try drinking a banana shake, it'll help stop you from feeling sick.

7:31 PM  

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