I Tried the Hangover Cures of the One Percent
Could anything beat my patented classic: the banana, Alka-Seltzer, black coffee, and more booze combo?
The internet is bizarre, in that it provides a semi-permanent record of your state of mind. Take for example this VICE piece from February 2016 about writers' relationships with booze where I said: "Bar the occasional blowout, I usually only drink a couple of glasses." I also said: "Maybe when I'm rich and famous I'll be throwing up my stomach lining in an SUV." Fast-forward to July 2017. I may not be rich and famous yet but, I am more settled into a full-time job that pays actual money, my mental health is better than it's ever been, and I'm single. Combine those factors and you can understand why I am laughing at the fact I ever said "a couple of glasses." I can drink any man into the ground.
My hangover cure is so good I should patent it. Genuinely, fight me if you believe you have something better than the following formula: a very strong black coffee, a banana, Alka-Seltzer, and three Tylenol. Later on in the day: I will have a Diet Coke or two, and then, as soon as possible, start drinking again. Throughout: Drink all the water as you can chug.
That said, I do not have access to all of the world's hangover cures every Saturday morning. Maybe the perfect bourgeoisie hangover cure really is simply to float on the rooftop pool of a fancy hotel sipping Bloody Marys. In an effort to see if money really could buy me happiness, and to test if anything could beat my winning formula, over a few weeks I tried out some favorites.
A Literal IV Drip
It is post-Glastonbury festival and to give you a colored tapestry of my emotional state, I have sobbed about the following things in quick succession: a dry heave over my dirty toilet bowl; listening to "Hero" by Foo Fighters on the way to McDonald's, pausing the song in an attempt to stop crying momentarily, which made it worse; knocking over the potions and lotions on my dresser; being inside my small shower and having a minor existential crisis that swung into a wet panic attack after my mind sat for a moment on the idea of human beings coming into life alone and leaving it just the same; my favorite grocery store worker, a lip-glossed middle-aged, brassy, and happy woman, smiling at me maternally and calling me "babe"; fluffy animals. I am in so much despair that it feels like my soul is being sucked slowly out of my asshole. I am reasonably concerned that I've broken my brain and now, like a track-switch that's been pushed by an evil bandit, the train of linked synapses has gone off on a wild journey across my cerebral cortex, and only the heart of misery and madness lies this way. I am broken. I suffer.
Two nice men in scrubs from "The IV League"—like Ivy League but for IV drips, get it?—came to the office with lots of equipment. Two other volunteers heard about the offer of an expensive quick-fix and joined me. We sat there and I told the men everything that I'd put into my body and they nodded seemingly without judgment, and took my vitals. As the doctors plunged the needles into our flesh, I heaved again.
"This is the sesh," said Sienna, one of the other women who had volunteered. "No," replied the man, hooking up my drip onto a makeshift lampshade drip-stand. "This is the anti-sesh."
The drip contained paracetamol, ketorolac, ondansetron, and saline solution. All of these things were supposed to rehydrate me, be anti-inflammatory, and make me stop wanting to throw up. Although they could not promise that I would stop crying, they did mention that feeling physically better would help me mentally. I could feel the solution being pumped through my veins. The bag was huge and I didn't think all that liquid could fit in my shriveled body, but it did.
Lastly, they added magnesium, somehow. I'm not quite sure because I was too busy taking Instagram stories. Suddenly, there was a firey burn across my chest. "Is it normal to feel like my chest is going to burst open and a phoenix is going to come out?" I asked my man. "Yes," he assured me. "You are that depleted of vitamins and minerals."
Did It Work, Though?
The smugness of knowing I was getting private treatment from a doctor at work, on work time, made me feel a little less sad. I got some superb engagement on my Instagram stories too. But it was the next morning that the magic happened. I woke up—still utterly miserable—but without a headache and without sickness. In fact, feeling physically better than I had in a while. If I had $130 to blow a few times a week on that I surely would. 9/10.
Clean Eating and Other Joyless Foods
You always think there'd never be situations in which you'd find yourself drinking alone, and then you're four beers deep, watching some crappy late night TV show, having bailed on a date who probably secretly hates you now because you forgot you're supposed to be waiting up until two in the morning to let in your baby brother, who has just come back from Lithuania after meeting the girlfriend he met on World of Warcraft for the first time. You wake up next to a sweaty eighteen-year-old with a hangover that feels underserved and said hangover increases after your brother punches you in the tit because you accidentally asked a question about Latvian customs, simply mistaking one Eastern European country for another. Then you go off to therapy and spend an hour trying not to cry, which is almost worse for a headache than actually letting it all out. This is a hangover tinged with shame.
Anything can be found in Selfridges department store. Now, you can enjoy a glass of no dosage, sugar-free champagne and a side of kimchi while buying your Le Creuset oval casserole dish and little Jimmy's Hugo Boss back to school backpack, because the Hemsley sisters have set up their very own in-store cafe, aptly named Hemsley + Hemsley.
I expected everything to be vegan so I would be safe, but as it turns out there wasn't much I could have. I opted for a "Go to Green smoothie," "Buckwheat granola with fresh British berries," and an "Activated charcoal latte". Everyone around me was naturally tanned and slim and beautiful and probably didn't have a hangover to cure at all. This food wasn't meant for me but I consumed it regardless.
The smoothie was fine—just like thick liquid vegetables—nothing to report. I don't know how they managed to make granola taste like musty wood shavings but I suppose that's what happens when food doesn't really have anything in it. The gray latte, though. Sick, sick, sick. When it came it looked like a goblet of silver gel pen ink. I gave Ruchira, our intern, a taste and she jumped. "It's the strangest sensation…" she murmured, staring off into the distance. "You're waiting for the taste and there's... nothing there." I had a sip and confirmed it—there is a texture but absolutely no discernible taste, fragrance, or feeling. Witchcraft. Afterward, I felt full because I have the British conditioning that says you have to eat everything on your plate even when it's foul and your body can barely, physically accept it—ESPECIALLY when you've paid 20-something dollars—yet it was as though I'd eaten nothing. No aftertaste, no joy, and no warmth.
Did It Work, Though?
To get to the Hemsley + Hemsley cafe you must pass through the very expensive underwear and bikini section. It's surely subconscious trickery to transport you into the Alice In Wonderland world of wellness, some light foreplay before fisting you with coconut flour. This made my hangover worse, something only compounded by the cafe looking and feeling like a minimalist airplane lounge playing elevator pop music. All I walked out feeling was a vague sense of dread that somehow I'd lose the receipt for all this buckwheat and wouldn't be able to refund it. The free water I was drinking at the table was probably the most effective in ridding me of my sins. No, this is a lifestyle, it is not a hangover cure. 2/10.
A Spa Day in Wales
Imagine if you will one of the hottest days of the year, and just to be miserly, you have bought a Friday night rush-hour Megabus coach ticket to Cardiff from London instead of a train ticket. You arrive at the bus station to crushed, heaving bodies and a mood similar to that on theTitanic when everyone is scrambling for the lifeboats. Within minutes, you have witnessed a man whack his child embarrassingly hard on the ass, someone looming expectantly over an impromptu sick bag, and a lot of ominous-looking Tupperware threatening all sorts of smells once you board the coach. When you arrive in Cardiff, five hours later, and after a lot of bad traffic, you are greeted by a family who pour you several large wine glasses of Prosecco. You keep downing full glasses of Prosecco because your aunty tells you there is much, much more where that came from. You end up smashed within the space of two hours and have a minor disagreement with your mother. You go to bed with a hangover. You wake up, predictably, with a mouth like you've licked a cat and a screaming headache.
Luckily, I was in Cardiff for a spa day to celebrate my cousin's 21 birthday. It's so hot in the cafe-slash-waiting room-slash-gift shop, I'm almost sick to my stomach after sniffing a Yankee Candle. Not a good start. But once I changed into a robe and soft hotel slippers, I'm led into the cwtch, which my Welsh cousin informs me has no literal translation but means something like "safe space." With twinkly lights and what sounds like The BFG soundtrack playing, the cwtch is not unlike a return to the womb. I sip a hazelnut latte and feel at peace with abstract thoughts of death. This is how you know life is not all that bad.
Sadly, I couldn't use the sauna and steam room because the heat made me sick, but I did have a facial. I fell asleep for a few minutes in when the woman started stroking my chest and shoulders, I was so tired, so devoid of intimacy and comfort. I woke up an hour later, hot and clammy, with a stiff neck and my headache twice as bad. "Drink tons of water," she told me. I did. I felt a little better. Again, is it literally the water?
Did It Work, Though?
I was right back at it, thrusting to The Killers performing "The Man" with a beer in hand a matter of hours later. 7/10.
"Limonata" San Pellegrino and Bougie Dates
This round of boozing began on a solo trip to the movies. Does it count as drinking alone when you're surrounded by dozens of people, who may or may not be compatible enough with you to be your friend in another life? It does. Do not enable me. Drinking continued at home with a friend and let us be clear that the "beer than wine, wake up fine" saying is fiction. This is a hangover that actually feels like a slow-burning culmination of weeks and months of debauchery. A bit lifeless. A dull headache. A feeling of both believing you won't eat a thing for days and considering eating everything in sight.
Every snob I have ever known loves to lift that canary yellow and baby blue can to their lips and say, "It's just DELICIOUS." Every person living in their parents second flat in London will poo-poo a can of Diet Coke, telling you it's no San Pellegrino. "Oh my GOD," they swear at the corner store when you're both hungover and you are grabbing any old soda. "Limonata is the one for a hangover cure. I swear by it." San Pellegrino's Limonata is a very sugary lemonade, a 7UP in a little suit. It has added sugar by the bucket-load but because the branding is pleasant—almost like a beer, rich people think it's not like other fizzy drinks. Let me tell you, "Limonata" is overrated. I do not like it. But seeing as rich people call it a cure, I buy a can. I remember a girl in college whose father invented something very, very famous indeed—I won't tell you what because that's probably unethical—always buying in some fancy dates for whenever she'd drank too much Grey Goose.
Horrible Limonata. Horrible dates—sticky, fibrous, confusing little bastards with lots of lumps beside the seeds, which I'm always a bit uncertain if I'm supposed to be swallowing. The perfect sickly sweet accompaniment to the sickly sweet drink.
Did It Work, Though?
Of course, it did not. 1/10.
Nothing will ever beat my hangover cure. None of these expensive activities or edibles touched it. Central London snobs with mortgages—have your financial security, have your stability, have your Soho house and your San Pellegrino, because I have my 99 cent filter coffee and my banana that I get free from my place of work. And really, after all, I'm just a fleabag with a throbbing head and misplaced sense of guilt just like you.
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