“Wow, I feel a lot better than I thought I would.”
“My tolerance is really high, so it makes sense.”
“You know, actually I kind of feel great!”
The denial stage of a hangover is something that manages to fool its captor nearly every time. While we may not recall anything about the night before, or be able to explain the strange bruises on our bodies, the fantastic feeling on a non-hangover morning is enough to get anyone up and running.
Unfortunately, this fantastic feeling is nothing more than the seeping effects of the last drops of alcohol coursing through your bloodstream. In the same way that whiskey makes you the most confident of Casanovas in your nightlife, it’s diminishing effects in the morning will fool you into thinking you’ve eluded the trainwreck of a hangover that you inevitably deserve.
“Well since I feel okay, I can definitely run all of these errands.”
“Guess I should head to the library to start studying for that final.”
“What does it mean when your pee looks like green Four Loko?
After the deceptive nature of Stage One, often times the hungoveree will get a surge of motivational energy, and begin to plan out the most effective use of his or her daylight hours. Little do they know, as each minute passes the aura of their intoxication slowly fades away.
As your 80-proof bloodstream dilutes with each fluorescent piss, the desire to accomplish anything becomes more and more distant. While you may have a list of things you’d like to achieve in the next few hours, it is almost certain that you’ll never get far past the planning stages.
The most experienced of drinkers will recognize the signs of the impending skullfuck of a headache. Often times, we will rally and begin drinking immediately to crush the hangover into a submission, as if the beer were Dez Bryant’s fists and our livers were his mother’s crack-addict face. While this will no doubt eventually lead us back to Stage 1, at least you have the option to postpone the pain.
“I don’t know, man, I’m starting to feel rough all of the sudden.”
“I’m not sure if I can make it to the gym at 2 today. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to stand.”
“Maybe it would be a better idea to study at home.”
Like the final turn on a rollercoaster, the Decline is the end of any excitement, and the beginning of the blur that is a debilitating hangover. If you didn’t choose to start drinking in Stage 2, the menacing grip of the third will wrestle you into a lifeless ball of dehydrated defeat.
As you begin the overly-ambitious plans you created in Stage 2, your body replies with a simple but stern “No fucking way, dude.” Simple motions become more difficult. Standing gives you a whirlwind headrush that nearly sends you gagging to the nearest bucketlike receptacle.
Reading a textbook during this stage feels a lot like reading the 264,861 words of James Joyce’s Ulysses (if the book was handwritten in Chinese, by Michael J. Fox). Comprehension fades away as the bubbling sensation in your stomach reminds you of the exorbitant amount of shots you carelessly threw back the previous evening. The further you decline, the more you realize the complete impossibility of productive studying.
Even something as simple as a trip to the grocery store seems like an insurmountable task, akin to stopping Team USA from scoring in basketball. As it slowly dawns on you that the rest of your day will be spent laying in the fetal position, you come to Stage 4…
“I just burped and it tasted like whiskey. Then I threw up.”
After several failed attempts at productivity, the wheel has stopped turning and you find yourself deep in the chokehold clutches of a hangover. Usually, this stage coincides with a cascade of yellow pizza-vomit spewing from your mouth.
Just like your pledging days, you’re at the mercy of something greater than yourself. Back then, it was a 250lb Jäger breathed sixth-year nicknamed “Thor.” Now, you’re essentially your own brain, liver, and stomach’s bitch. They won’t make you do wall-sits, but bows and toes on the toilet can be expected.
As the realization sinks in, the first three stages are lost in a blur that accompanies the semi-automatic throbbing of your skull. As you curse your night, swear “I’m never drinking again,” and lay your head back on the pillow, the fifth and final stage approaches.
“No chance I’m getting a damn thing done today.”
“Don’t let me sleep too late, we gotta do this again tonight.”
In the epic nightly battle of You vs. Alcohol, the liquid poison has claimed victory yet again. While you surely enjoyed its socially lubricating benefits, and you’ll surely drink again after you recover, the painful nature of a hangover is enough to put you on your ass for the next few hours.
With a 2-liter gulp of Gatorade and 9 or 10 ibuprofen, you swallow down the regret and make peace with the fact that this is your punishment. The worse the hangover is, the more fun you probably had. The only possible solution is to set your alarm several hours ahead, admit defeat, and sleep away the remaining torment. With any luck, you’ll be prepared to hop back on the blackout train come nightfall.