There are a few subjects on which I consider myself near-expert level, but after my latest hangover, I certainly have become a leading expert on the subject. Lo the ‘wrath of the grape and grain!’
As I sit here in the office, head hung low, a freezing can of Monster pressed against my throbbing forehead (and 2 already down my throat), it can only be divine providence that ensured that I have nothing urgent to attend to today.
Those who have read my historical articles about what I drink, how much I drink, how frequently I drink, and how fairly unscathed I come off from these excesses will wonder how it is that I sit here now writing with a head that feels triple its normal weight. I did something utterly stupid: I exercised after I drank.
A bottle of wine is nothing to me. That is how I merely prime the engine on most of my weekday sessions. But I’ve never done grueling exercise after downing a bottle of wine. I learned something about myself … and the pain is imprinting it in memory under the label ‘CRITICAL KNOWLEDGE!’
The evening started with little stress. I was not going to go for a new high with the fermented brew, so I uncorked my favourite Australian wine and just moistened my throat a bit. As of the last week I’ve been exercising to retain my youthful physique into my approaching 30s.
After the wine it was time to hit the weights. Still being only 29, I don’t warm up; I just slam on the highest weight I can handle and hammer it till I’m shouting in pain like the Hulk. After the first three sets I did … an instantaneous cold feeling overtook my entire body and the walls of the room started to throb and warp in my visual field!
I was as drunk as only a warlord is after a major conquest like invading a peaceful village and raping, murdering, and pillaging the whole day.
It seems that what I thought was my unnaturally high tolerance to alcohol is merely a decrepitly slow digestive system that retains much of what I drink and slowly releases it into the bloodstream. Doing exercise pumped that alcohol into my brain at a rate I have never experienced, and produced inebriation that frankly left me retarded … and now with this, the mother of all fucking hangovers!
Even a mosquito passing by my ear sounds like a jumbo jet! I can’t feel where my fingers end and the keyboard begins. I tried to read a message on my phone but my vision keeps jumping up and down like an the image on a failing CRT monitor.
I’m at the office, but I don’t know how the hell I managed to get this far without rivers of vomit trailing me. I kept tasting myself as the thought of wine entered my mind. Every step took preplanning and committed attention to execute. My shirt was soaked in sweat just from walking the usually five-minute journey (it took me 15 minutes today) from the train station to my office.
My eyes have big blue bags below them, and when I can manage to open my eyelids for the briefest time, I see eyes that should not be seen on a Homo Sapien: all bloodshot, lifeless, and with dilated pupils and an unnerving ‘twitch’ to them.
My breath is like that of a dragon’s, and my teeth are stained purple from the wine. I never got to brush my teeth last night, nor could I this morning, for the thought of having that buzzing sound of my electrical toothbrush near my pounding head would be rubbing salt into my own wounds. Mouthwash was the alternative, and its usually bright, fresh smell and taste took on the odour of piss and tasted much the same.
From a scientific perspective, I really should not be surprised. If you burn more fuel in a shorter amount of time, you get a much bigger explosion. The exercise accelerated the alcohol through my body at a rate that’s probably 10X faster than usual, so I got 10X drunker than usual, and suffer 10X more after-effects than usual.
Urghhhh … here comes another wave of nausea and a burp that smells like the business end of a skunk…
I almost feel like praying to god to see me through this one, even though I am an atheist and I don’t actually believe in him. This is the stuff of religious conversion, folks—take my word for it.
If I quiet my thoughts, I can almost hear voices on the other end calling me to join them.
It is now after lunch (1PM), and while I packed in carbs, fat, and protein plus a few bottles more of distilled water, I can’t say I look or feel much better. Even the ultra-spicy Clear Tom Yam soup hardly left my mouth with any sensation.
My thirst is unquenchable, and the taps can hardly flow fast enough. Despite having guzzled litres of water already, my mouth still feels dry.
On my way back from the hawker center, my feet feel as if they began treading cement. My arms ache unceasingly from the brief but intense exercise I did before alcohol flooded my combustion chambers and fouled my sparkplugs.
It feels like I slept in a jar of pickle juice, and it looks like it too: My face is unrecognizable to me still, and my skin is of ashen complexion. I know I’m a primate, but I look much less advanced and upright than a Homo Sapien should.
For those who have wondered what The Last Contrarian really looks like, I assure you that the picture of Christopher Hitchens that I decorate my profile with is not far from it. Though he looks to be suffering no discomfort from his excesses. My face, however, is not so resolute—choosing rather to switch between contortions exposing my agony, and lifelessness detailing my total surrender.
This, surely, must be what it feels like to be old. I really want to do nothing other than shout at someone younger than me and die subsequently. I finally get it why I’m so ‘popular’ with old people on News24.
But in all perils we face, there is a lesson. Perhaps, with some dying effort, I could reach for a lesson and maybe spare others this same fate.
It really is a sobering thought to think that I had been wrong about my ability to drink, all this time. I prided myself on being a hard drinker, a mixer, a human sponge capable of absorbing the most toxic of liquid spills. I thought myself more god than human, and I proved it to fellow hard drinkers every occasion I got. I have bragged and boasted about my many victories against my private stash, and how I have left bars because they ran out of stock from my indulgences.
But I now realise that I had nothing but a false sense of ability. It seems that I either have a very long intestinal tract, or my intestines are simply better at forming an impermeable barrier between their contents and my bloodstream. A bit of weightlifting and elevated heart rate sure demonstrated to otherwise to me.
After all, one can’t call yourself a guzzler unless your fuel pump is working. And it is with this realization that I now hang my head in shame. The men who drank with me and lost to me were the real deal. They felt every kick, every slap, and every hangover … and probably with this intensity. Yet they shoulder their crates every weekend and do the same for years (sometimes decades) on end.
This is the big one, and I’ve had but one hangover like this and I almost feel like accepting Jesus back into my life again and hanging up my corkscrew—forever.
As I cast my thoughts back in the past, I recall that I always had fun ‘bottle in hand.’ But now this experience washes the colours out of those fond memories. What a lesson in humility this has been—and from a lousy bottle of wine of all things!
And that will have to be it. This is as far as I can drag the weight of this pen. This article is provided ‘voetstoots’ (as is), for I won’t even attempt to proofread it...
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