my hangovers through the years:
a personal journey

After a decade spent with a hangover nearly every Saturday morning, you'd think it would get tedious for me.  Luckily, as a courtesy and to avoid boredom, my body has gradually changed the nature of my hangovers over the years, so it's always fun to see what's going to happen next.

When I first started drinking, my body tended to be able to get by with pretty much no hangover at all.  I would stay up until all hours in college, drinking cheap beer, then spring out of bed a few hours later, just aching to take some thrilling notes in class.  My tolerance was much lower then, so I didn't drink as much.  I attribute this uncanny "springing out of bed" ability to that.  Nowadays, I don't spring at all for any reason, let alone out of bed.  That's ridiculous.

A few years into my drinking career, I started to notice my ability to spring decreased considerably after a night of over indulgence.  I call this phase of hangover the "UV Activation Phase".  I would wake up feeling okay, sit around my apartment drinking coffee and feeling okay, then get slammed with a headache and nausea the minute I stepped outside the house and exposed myself to the Ultra Violet Rays of the Sun.  Science, please do me a favor and figure out why that is and failing that please destroy the sun.

Notice that, apart from the unusual activation mechanism, at this point my hangovers were pretty standard. Which leads me to my next hangover period, which I call the "Standard Hangover" period.  The morning after getting drunk, I would always wake up with a dry mouth, a spitting headache, and a desire to just sit someplace in the dark, holding a cool, damp cloth to my forehead.  This is my Golden Age.  Enough comeuppance to feel like I've done something naughty, but nothing a few Advils and a tall glass of water won't fix.

After a few odd permutations (including the "Aching Joints and Muscles" phase, and the "Uncontrollable Sweating" period), I finally entered my most recent, and most disturbing hangover phase: the "Existential Void" period.  Now when I drink too much, I tend to wake up gripped by an all pervasive depression and ennui.  I don't feel sick.  I don't have a headache.  I just spend the entire day questioning my rightful place in a senseless universe.  It's not a pretty picture.

Also disturbing is my tendency to have a kind of latent hangover, which doesn't manifest itself until the proper stimulus is administered.  For instance, I felt fine all morning of the Saturday before last, until I accidentally walked past a certain brightly colored public sculpture on the wall of New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal.  I was instantly hit by a terrible hangover, and I think it was the sculpture that caused it.

So that's about it.  The depression thing is pretty bad, but by late afternoon, I'm usually a little less gloomy, and by the next day I'm fine.  The sculpture was pretty unbearable, though.

I'm hoping that if my hangovers keep evolving, eventually I'm going to enter a "Psychic Powers" phase, and hopefully one day a lucrative "Financial Planning Acumen" period.  Until then, I've got my Advil and my Camus, and a tall glass of water. 

Chris Messick is a co-founder of  Check out more of his writing here.