Take these easy steps to handle that hangover

January 03, 1994|By MIKE ROYKO

Mike Royko is on vacation. In his absence, some of his favorite columns are being reprinted. This column first appeared on Dec. 27, 1974.

This is the time of year when all sorts of advice is written about hangovers.

The articles usually touch on three key points: What a hangover is, how to avoid one, and how to cure it.

Defining a hangover is simple. It is nature's way of telling you that you got drunk. I've never understood why nature goes to the bother, since millions of wives pass on the information.

Except for abstinence or moderation, there is no way to completely avoid a hangover.

But there are certain rules that, if followed, will ease the discomfort.

First, stick with the same drink you started with. By that I mean that if you started the evening drinking champagne, beer and frozen daiquiris, stick with champagne, beer and frozen daiquiris the rest of the evening.

Drink quickly. If you can do most of your drinking within the first hour of the party and quickly pass out, you will have regained consciousness and be well on your way to recovery while others are still gadding about. By the time the Rose Bowl game comes on, your eyeballs will have come out from behind your nose.

Be careful what you eat, particularly later into the night. Especially avoid eating napkins, paper plates and pizza boards.

If you follow these rules, you'll still have a hangover. So the question is, how to get through it with a minimum of agony.

It should be remembered that part of a hangover's discomfort is psychological.

When you awaken, you will be filled with a deep sense of shame, guilt, disgust, embarrassment, humiliation and self-loathing.

This is perfectly normal, understandable and deserved.

To ease these feelings, try to think only of the pleasant or amusing things that you did before blacking out. Let your mind dwell on how you walked into the party and said hello to everyone, and handed your host your coat, and shook hands, and admired the stereo system.

Blot from your mind all memories of what you later did to your host's rug, what you said to that lady with the prominent cleavage that made her scream, whether you or her husband threw the first punch. Don't dredge up those vague recollections of being asleep in your host's bathtub while everybody pleaded with you to unlock the bathroom door.

These thoughts will just depress you. Besides, your wife will explain it in detail as the day goes on. And the week, too.

If anything, you should laugh it off. It's easy. Using your thumb and forefinger, pry your tongue loose from the roof of your mouth, try to stop panting for a moment, and say: Ha, ha. Again: Ha, ha. Now pull the blanket over your head and go back to sleep.

The other part of a hangover is physical. It is usually marked by throbbing pain in the head, behind the eyes, back of the neck, and in the stomach. You might also have pain in the arms, legs, knees, elbows, chin and elsewhere, depending upon how much leaping, careening, flailing and falling you did.

Moaning helps. It doesn't ease the pain, but it lets you know that someone cares, even if it is only you. Moaning also lets you know that you are still alive.

But don't let your wife hear you moan. You should at least have the satisfaction of knowing you are in agony.

If she should overhear you moaning, tell her you are just humming a love song the lady with the prominent cleavage sang in your ear while you danced.

Some people say that moaning gives greater benefits if you moan while sitting on the edge of your bathtub while letting your head hang down between your ankles. Others claim that it is best to go into the living room, slouch in a chair, and moan while holding a hand over your brow and the other over your stomach.

In any case, once you have moaned a while, you can try medication.

Aspirin will help relieve your headache. But it might increase the pain in your stomach.

If so, Maalox will help relieve the pain in your stomach. But it will make your mouth dry.

Water will relieve the dryness in your mouth. But it will make you feel bloated.

So it is best to take the aspirin, the Maalox, and just hold your tongue under the kitchen faucet. Or rest it in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator.

If you don't like to take pills, then the headache can be eased by going outside and plunging your head into a snowbank. BE SURE IT ISN'T A SNOW-COVERED HEDGE.

If you eat, make it something bland, such as a bowl of gruel. I don't know what gruel is but it sounds very bland. If you don't know what gruel is either, then just make something that you think it might be.

Most experts recommend a minimum of physical activity, such as blinking your eyes during the bowl games, and moving your lips just enough to say to your wife: "Later, we'll discuss it later."

On the other hand, you might consider leaping out of bed the moment you open your eyes, flinging the windows open to let the cold air in, and jogging rapidly in place while violently flapping your arms and breathing deeply and heavily.

This will make you forget your hangover because it will bring on a massive coronary.

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