I grabbed the toilet with both hands and blew chunks, while my friend Chad made wisecracks about me not being able to hold my liquor. He was in the shower. I was on the bathroom floor, teary-eyed and out of breath. We had spent the previous evening celebrating a childhood buddy’s bachelor party by trying to drink all the booze in Austin. I woke up feeling no pain, though once I started thinking about my best-man duties — getting fitted for a tux, the wedding rehearsal, potential impromptu toasts — a wave of nausea overcame me. There was no need to fight it; pulling the trigger was my only option.
And so began my punishment for breaking the laws of mixology: a gnarly hangover filled with puking spells on par with the pie-eating contest in Stand by Me. After several trips to the bathroom, I made it safely down the hotel elevator and outside into the Texas heat. Sweat beads blossomed on my forehead. Not good. I needed to get to where my girlfriend was staying. On her friends’ guest bed I could compact into the fetal position and close my eyes. (Hangover Treatment No. 1: Most hangovers are gone within 24 hours; rest is recommended.)
But first, five miles of open road. The thought of driving overwhelmed me. Or was it the loss of control during such queasiness? Obviously, a moving car is no place for an upset stomach. I cranked the AC and took slow, deliberate breaths. A headache emerged. In hindsight I should have stopped, right then and there, for a bottle of water. (Hangover Treatment No. 2: Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, preferably starting before you go to bed.)
Instead, I pressed on. Somewhere around the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an innocent clearing of the throat sprang bile into my mouth. I pulled the rental car off the road, opened the door and, you guessed it, heaved. This time white slivers of light, like tracers, appeared in my line of sight. Eventually, I arrived in Hyde Park. My girlfriend could tell I was hurting. She asked if I needed anything. I lied and said I was cool. That’s when her friend offered me some grass. (Hangover Treatment No. 3: While over-the-counter pain medications may provide some relief, marijuana always eases the head.)
The three of us lounged until we were scheduled to meet a friend for lunch, which I ultimately begged off, given that I couldn’t articulate a sentence and had no appetite. I retired to the guest loft, where I grabbed a Coke from the minirefrigerator. (Hangover Treatment No. 4: In order to get the alcohol out of your body faster, consume foods and drinks that contain fructose, such as fruit juice or honey. There is some evidence that fructose will help your body burn the alcohol faster.)
As I drifted to sleep, I dared not think about the drinks that would pass in front of me later that evening or the following night, after the wedding. There was only one thing to do (and perhaps it’s the best cure of all): Have a little of the hair of the dog that bit me. Bottoms up.