Nausea, headache, dehydration, or maybe the prevailing sense of blasé. These are all well and good proposals for the title of the hangover’s most vile element. All such suggestions, however, are most strikingly trumped by the addition of your mother.
I’m no stranger to excessive alcohol consumption. A twelve-pack predrink (of good, strong Canadian beer) before a night on the town isn’t a foreign concept to me. I say this not to brag, but simply to convey that post-party vomiting, immobility, and desire for death are all readily familiar to me. And yet, without question, I would take all of these, ten-fold, well before introducing even a moment of my family’s presence.
I don’t live at home, which thankfully means these sorts of hangovers are few and far between. This rarity, however, makes them all the more unbearable. Visiting home – be it for Thanksgiving, Christmas, a birthday – always presents a similar ritual: exactly one and three quarter hours of pleasurable, heartfelt conversation, followed by seventy and a quarter hours of doing everything in your power to fight off the increasingly rational argument for suicide. And thus, copious drinking commences. Typically at that bar you used to go to when you were underage because you don’t actually know where “people” go these days, or in your old friend’s parents’ basement where nothing has changed and it’s sort of cute but mostly just pathetic, or in an alley amongst heroin users, bums, and other people in a more positive emotional state than you. And you get shitty.
Peeling your eyelids back in the morning, you’re awoken not by the sound of your roommate unloading one his infamous beer shits into the toilet, but to your mother singing along to Alanis Morissette. It’s already eleven thirty. If you were at your place, you’d sleep for another two hours. But your parents can’t know that. They need to think you’re a legitimate, functioning human, and getting up at eleven thirty, you’ve convinced yourself, will surely convey that. And so you meet your makers.
Your mom was up at six today. Three mile jog! Did you want coffee? Sorry, it’s already cold. Second pot, too! You look like you had a rough night. Dad’s friend is about to pop by, so you might want to put on a shirt. You smell vaguely of vomit. Did you hear your sister placed second in regional gymnastics? Are you going to be able to come for lunch at Bob and Susan’s? We’re leaving in exactly nine seconds.
You’re a piece of shit, and everyone knows it. You halfheartedly attempt to imply you might be coming down with something, as if smelling like tequila, vomit and cheap cigarettes are all symptomatic of that bug going around. Your family all joke about how you’re still “young at heart.” There’s definitely a subtext to it, but at this point of your hangover, you can’t even be bothered with it.
And so you tread up to the bathroom, do your dirty roommate proud, and then fall half-asleep in the shower twenty minutes. Your dad comes in and pees while you’re in the shower. You accidentally see the silhouette of his penis through the curtain.
Home sweet home.
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