Friday, November 12, 2004

Here Comes Everybody 

Everyone knows there are at least three kinds of hangovers.

The first is the physical. Throbbing head, unruly stomache, blurred vision and unquenchable stench of the distillery wafting from the pours.

The second is the metaphysical. The worry that friends have been alienated, hearts have been broken, kindness and cruelty inflicted in inverse order of desert and looming dread.

The third is theological. You swear to God that you’ll never drink again.

When I woke up this morning (let’s just pretend it was morning rather than 12:30 in the afternoon), I discovered a fourth. The joyous hangover. I was covered in bruises, my folding money had been reduced to the jingling kind, clearly wasn’t going to work at any respectable hour, pretty sure that folks who used to think I was this charming fellow who was fun to drink with had reached the conclusion that I was just a sorry and scary drunk, forgotten all the rules to a drinking game Jill and her friends taught me last night. The city was covered with gray as if an ashtray had been overturned on it. I was prepared for a dark day of the soul.

SwampCity was on the phone. The cab driver had found her wallet and was promising to return it. She couldn’t remember anything from the night before, except that I had clearly failed in my promise to “take care of her” after I talked her into buying into the all you can drink special at the Cellar. I mumbled something about my bruises and the drinking game, and she was surprised we were even in the Royal Oak for long enough to have had drink. “I’m pretty sure everyone we were with was falling-down drunk by the time we rolled in there,” she said. I told her I was pretty sure it was just the two of us.

The night before had begun at the White Horse tavern for birthday drinks for Suburban Linda. Our ever-present, canary colored designated drivers escorted us to the Cellar, which was packed. There occurred a series of improbable meetings with folks I hadn’t seen in ages. I discussed the events of Sunday night and discovered that no-one blamed me for the troubles. There had been plans to eat dinner but we decided that ice counted as food because it is crunchy. Mr. Jameson, who had been holding back his whiskey, opened the casks and filled our young hearts with until our identities and locations became blurred. The scene shifted from northeaster fourteenth street to Williamsburg. Drinking games were played and lost. There was talk of swords. People pretended not to notice that we were foolishly intoxicated.

By rights it should have been a morning of mourning. Pain. Humiliation. But I was happy. For the first time in weeks, I woke to the day with the feeling in my heart that a strong man feels before a race. Sometime in the last month I had fallen into a dark well of noontime demonism. Now I felt myself floating buoyantly on a sea of whiskey. I suspected I was still drunk but I wasn’t. I was just happy.

As is usually the case, the explanation for this is much clearer in the original greek. I’m only kidding. You don’t need me to translate passages from the Symposium to understand happiness. You get it. That’s why you’re here.