REGULAR VISITORS to this space know there is no end to the things I do for my readers.
I have stood in test tunnels and endured hurricane-force winds, ridden in the Goodyear blimp (even though I hate flying), attended cat shows (even though I hate cats), endured mimes and accordion players and fat guys in Speedos at health club pools, all to bring the stories to light, often at great personal risk.
Then, the other night, came the ultimate sacrifice.
I got loaded for my readers.
OK, I didn't really get loaded-loaded, because I am 120 years old and can no longer stand to wake up with a pounding headache and nausea and lie on the couch all day whimpering for someone to shoot me.
But I did have a few beers in order to test something called Chaser, which bills itself as "America's No. 1 Hangover Prevention" and is getting lots of publicity in the few months it's been sold here.
Oh, I know, I know ... hangover remedies are a crock.
That's basically my feeling, too. My feeling is, if you want to have fun and feel chipper in the morning, dive into a quart of Breyer's ice cream instead of a six-pack or a bottle of wine.
Otherwise, be prepared for the pain, baby. And even though there have been thousands of folk remedies and "medically proven" remedies over the years, none has ever emerged as a consensus hangover cure.
For me, the only thing that helps is fistfuls of aspirin and many hours in a prone position with the remote on my gut.
But Chaser claims to work by absorbing the elements in beer, wine and booze that cause a hangover. It calls these elements "congeners" and says they're the byproducts of the fermentation process that gives alcoholic beverages their flavor, aroma and color.
When released into the bloodstream, these congeners cause inflammation and pain -- in other words, your basic screamer of a hangover. But Chaser claims it absorbs these congeners and keeps them in your digestive tract, where they're harmless.
Anyway, the product has been test-marketed in Detroit and Chicago over the past two years and is now being sold nationally at area pharmacies.
"We're the first hangover product to be embraced by the mass market," Carl Sperber, Chaser's marketing director, said over the phone from the company's headquarters in Michigan.
Yeah, yeah, I thought. The stuff isn't cheap -- $24.99 for 40 caplets of 480 mgs each. When I bought mine in a GNC, I was reading the label and doing my usual eye-rolling as I approached the counter.
There, I asked Rob Viau, the general manager, if he thought the stuff actually worked.
"It does work," Viau said quickly. He added that he sells "500 bottles of this, easy, for spring break," to college students, who make up the bulk of the Chaser buyers, although older people "who are going out for a night on the town" will also buy it.
Chaser comes with the usual 10,000 warnings and disclaimers, this one being the most noteworthy: "Chaser will not prevent intoxication and is not intended to treat or prevent the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption."
So no one's saying you can go on a bender and this stuff will make you want to jump out of bed the next morning and knock off 50 pushups.
Anyway, to test Chaser's effectiveness, I enlisted my wife Nancy and my friend Rob, whose wife Paula was the designated driver.
We each took two caplets with our first drink and then two more caplets two hours later, as per the directions. (Although my feeling is: if you can remember to take two more two hours later, you're not drinking enough to need this stuff in the morning.)
Anyway, we had a few beers and a few laughs, and then we had a few more beers and a few more laughs, and the night slipped by in fine fashion.
Again, the things I do for you people.
And now for the results: Chaser didn't do a thing for me. And it didn't do a thing for my wife. The next morning, I felt the same way I always feel when I have too many beers, which was: not tops.
Oh, my head wasn't pounding -- we hadn't been draining kegs at a Toga Night, after all. But I had a slight headache and the usual fuzziness about the brain and the overall feeling that it would be great to lie down somewhere. My wife reported the same symptoms.
But when Rob checked in by phone later that day, he said: "You know, I think that stuff really worked."
He said he felt fine when he woke up. He wasn't rushing out to the gym, but he said he felt way better than he normally felt after a night of Heinekens, which tend to beat him up.
So there you have it: another product tested under the most rigorous, scientific standards for the readers of this column.
You deserve nothing less.