Life

Hear Me Out: Some Hangovers Are Good

Please, quieten down and let me make my case.
29 July 2020, 9:17am
tom usher hangover
Photo courtesy of the author

I’ve been working on a theory for a while now. A controversial, divisive theory that challenges a notion humanity has held as fact for millennia. That theory can be summarised as such: hangovers are actually quite nice, as long as you’re in the right environment.

When I say this out loud, people tend to think that I’m: a) just being a contrarian dickhead, or b) have never had a “proper” hangover before. While I may well be a dickhead, let me dispel that second point.

Probably the most traumatic hangover I’ve ever had was when I downed half a bottle of vodka as a teenager, threw up in the car on the way home, threw up in my bed, slept in it, then woke up - on Christmas Day - covered in my own shameful effluence, my head pounding like a 24-hour gabber rave.

That, or the time I went to Zoo Bar in central London, sprinkled a load of MDMA into two bottles of white wine, drank all that white wine, then regained consciousness some hours later while throwing up the frothiest, most sulphuric bile to ever escape my body.

I’ll stop bragging about vomit now, but the point is: I know what a BAD hangover is like. The unrelenting and aimless fear, the sticky skin, the headache, the “you have entered your overdraft” texts, the brief flashes of what exactly you’d done the night before, which make your palms sweat and your eyes tighten and your toes involuntarily clench.

But what about a GOOD hangover? What about – whisper it – a nice hangover? Let’s dive in.

Yes, you are essentially in the same position as above. You spent too much money and you’re not feeling great, either mentally or physically. But it’s a Saturday morning. You’ve got no work, no places to be and no people to see for at least another 48 hours. You’re in bed, as you often are on a Saturday morning, but now you’re really in bed: at one with the mattress, the duvet your second skin, the pillows a soft, welcome growth protruding from the back of your skull.

You’re aggressively undisturbed, basking in the afterglow of a historically good night. Memories of the fun you had swill around in your brain like a marshmallow in molten chocolate fondant. Oh look, you’ve just been paid! That third round of Jägerbombs isn’t worth fretting over, and you now have the cash for a giant takeaway. Maybe a fuck-off pizza? Or a two-foot stack of Chinese food? Or an Indian? Ooh, you haven’t had that in a while.

This is a rare scenario where the fact you’re so totally depleted in every imaginable way is a good thing. If anything, hangovers are the one respite from a world that encourages you to damage your body at every turn – whether it’s via work, food or, erm, drinking – forcing you to actually self care.

By the time you can be bothered to roll over and down a Berocca-paracetamol breakfast cocktail, the takeaway’s arrived – “nice one, mate, have a nice day” – and you’re back to being cradled like a baby by an inanimate object, a vast amount of food purring at you from your lap. You’re now ready to settle into glancing between your phone screen and whatever Nicholas Cage film you’ve decided to half ignore for the next couple of hours. Bliss.

And listen, my friend: you can do this all day. That’s your god-given right as a Hungover Person. If anyone asks you to do something, no matter how inconvenient, you can just say: “Sorry mate, no can do, as I’m really, really hungover today.” That’s that. They’ll understand. They know about Nicholas Cage films just as well as you.

So, let’s take stock:

  • You’re extremely comfortable.
  • You have literally no reason to move.
  • You can justify doing absolutely nothing all weekend to both yourself and others.
  • You’ve got loads of food.
  • As long as you don’t make any sudden movements, you can mostly ignore the headache and the hot, bubbly stomach until they naturally subside.

Are you telling me this doesn’t actually sound quite nice? Are you telling me that, actually, the physical and mental lethargy and mild to extreme pain you get from a hangover can’t be effectively channelled into having a fairly relaxing and enjoyable time? Are you telling me that you can’t have sunshine without rain, pleasure without pain?

Are you telling me that our drinking culture and my relationship with alcohol in general has become so dangerously normalised and complacent that I’m able to write the best part of thousand words on how I actually enjoy the horrible withdrawal symptoms, and you’ve actually read it, and maybe even agreed with some of it?

Your honour, I rest my case.

@tom_usher_