That Last Hangover

people often change, but, memories of people can remain – Ray Davies


The last time I woke up with a hangover was going to be the last time for good. It’s a headspace I can’t take anymore. I’m too old to be feeling like I’m dying from the inside out; heart pounding, head pounding, stomach folding into itself. Each day is too valuable to waste even one of them sitting around with a headache, sour gut, and general chemical malaise. That last hangover was back in September of 2016.

It was a Saturday night putting down lagers with one of my oldest friends. It was a scene that’s transpired many, many times over the last nearly 20 years. We’d get together, drink, have dinner, watch a movie, and listen to music on Youtube till one of us said “uncle”. Just harmless fun. The next morning was usually a bear, but we had a hell of a time. Laughs were had and spirits were enjoyed(maybe even exorcised.) We’d get together at least once a month, if not more in our 20s. Once kids came into the picture for me the drinking evenings became more scarce, but when we’d find the time we’d make the most of it. But that Sunday morning in September I knew I couldn’t do that anymore. I was done tempting fate.

Over the last few years our get togethers were getting less and less. Kids get older, things come up, and that’s just how it is. But even over the last few years I’ve found myself not really enjoying that next day. It took longer and longer to completely recuperate from a night of “beering” it with the pal. Then early last year I had back surgery. I didn’t drink from February till the end of April as I was on pain meds, and since I’m not cool I didn’t mix booze with pills. I found once I’d healed up that I just didn’t have the stomach for drinking like I’d had in the past. I started wondering “Did I have a drinking problem and not know it?” “Was I relying on alcohol too much?” No, that wasn’t the case. It was that I’m middle-aged and I can’t take that sort of Olympic drinking anymore. I love a pint or two on a Friday night with some records spinning. I adore having a drink with the Mrs when we’re out to dinner. I just can’t sit and make 6 or 7 hours dedicated to downing beer after beer. The sloppiness of the whole thing just really bothers me nowadays. Binge drinking in your 40s isn’t smart(well, duh).

I’ve never liked going out to just specifically drink. Even when I’d turned 21 the whole bar scene bugged the hell out of me. People for the most part are absolute shits when they’re drunk. The myth of the happy drunk was created by other drunks. Drunks are plain obnoxious for the most part. The idea of the local pub and friends gathering is all great and good until you go one pint over, then shit gets ugly. What’s one pint over? You don’t know till you’re already there(or the next morning when you can’t recall how you got home or why you’re wearing underwear that doesn’t belong to you or why your car is parked at the neighbor’s house.) In 1998 I was in a rock band that played local bars. In that year alone I was sicker than I’d ever been in the last 6 years prior. Respiratory illnesses, ear infections, asthma,….in my opinion the cause of hanging out in dank, smokey bars till 2 am playing Doors covers and lousy original songs. I just always felt like I wasn’t quite sad enough to be sitting in a booth at a local bar drinking a Coors Light and listening to some guy sing Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” at Karaoke. I had a home. I had a life. I didn’t need to be there. But I was young and figured that’s what I was supposed to do.

I’m older now. I’m at the age where I like being home. I’m at the age where I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. Saying no when I really mean it, and not saying yes when I don’t. My guilty pleasures are lawyer shows and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, not a long line of rum and cokes. If I’m going to have a drink on the weekend it’ll be sitting in my chair with my wife. Watching a movie, or making a pizza. Spinning records, or playing video games with my son. That’s where I need to be. That’s where I want to be. If I’m going to feel like shit it’s going to be because I’m feverish or I’ve got a chest cold or I put in a good workout the day before. I want my Sunday mornings to be me worshiping at the alter of dark roast and Miles Davis with a side of hotcakes. Not having that burning sensation in my lower intestines and belching up hops. The last hangover I’ll ever have was in September of 2016.

This past Saturday I got together with my old pal. We had a couple beers, watched a couple movies, and had hamburgers on the grill. It was a pleasant evening. Dare I say, a mature display of grown men enjoying each others company?(nah, don’t say that.) By 9:30 pm I was home, Ben and Jerry’s in hand, watching a movie with my family. Sunday morning the dark roast was perfect, as was the french toast. No headaches, no gurgling bowels, and no regrets. I’m changing. I’ve been changing for the past 7 years. It’s not always easy, but for the most part the evolution of me has been enlightening. When you get to the point in your life when you’re ready to move on and leave bad habits in the rearview mirror, it’s a pretty amazing thing. Life feels more vital, and the idea of drinking to the point of blotto isn’t even the remotest options.

My name is J, and I’m an adult. Finally.

Editors Note:

Writing this, I was reminded of the Kinks’ song “Do You Remember Walter”. When I first heard it, back when I was 19, I always identified with the Ray Davies character. He’s talking to his friend Walter. He says “Walter, remember when the world was young/And all the girls knew Walter’s name?/Walter, isn’t it a shame the way our little world has changed?”, as if Walter can’t or won’t remember the old days. Later Davies laments “And if I talked about the old times you’d get bored/And you’ll have nothing more to say”. Nowadays though, I seem to identify with Walter more and more. “Do you remember, Walter, how we said we’d fight the world so we’d be free/We’d save up all our money and we’d buy a boat and sail away to sea/But it was not to be, I knew you then but do I know you now?”

“I knew you then but do I know you now?” Hell, I barely knew myself. 




40 thoughts on “That Last Hangover

  1. I can relate to this. I decided a while back that drinking too much just wasn’t for me. Feeling like Darth Vader was twisting me all ways with his dark side voodoo just wasn’t doing it for me.

    Don’t get me wrong, there have been occasions in that time where my judgement was skewed and I let the good times roll. As you do, y’know? But, I don’t much like the heading our for the evening. I tend to enjoy a few and then home for a cuppa and chat about the day. If I’m out meeting up with friends these days it’s mostly for a coffee or two. I just can’t face hangovers. And, well, I can’t really say I fancy ruining a morning, or day, I could be spending with my family. Need to opt for what nourishes me, right?

    Anyhoo, I do like a wee beer or two, but, much like you, that’s at home. Spinning records. Some pizza or the likes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There comes a time when enough is enough. I’m an idiot enough on my own, I don’t need any help in that department. I truly enjoy a beverage, but in moderation. I prefer a cup of coffee. Nothing better than riding a coffee high and working in the studio.

      Happy to hear we’ve both had that realization.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll be RIGHT OVER! Oh man that stuff is my kryptonite…

        I have a co-worker who grows her own zucchini and they are HUGE. She gave us one this year that yielded about 8 cups of shredded zucchini!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Those are the best, aren’t they? You can feed an army with some of those zucchini! I go to a little farmer’s market about 5 miles from my house in the summer for my produce. He has the best zucchini!


      3. Yeah! And my co-worker says that so long as I bring her some of the loaf we make with what she gives us, she’ll hook us up this year too… 😉

        I had a client at the bank who gave me about four huge zucchinis like that, one year. I had to give most of it away because we couldn’t even use it all…

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Those are the best co-workers!

        I think you can freeze it if you shred it. I’m pretty sure the wife did one summer. Just a thought in case you hit another zucchini bounty.


      5. Oh for sure, no problem. Shop around, I think we paid about $5 for ours.

        I remember reading in the book that came with it that similar servings dropped from about 800 calories (with pasta) to about 60 calories (with zucchini), or something crazy like that. And jst as filling!

        PS I love how a conversation about drinking turned into kitchen tips about zucchini.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This post is sooooo good. I wish I could Like it 1000 times.

    Congrats on realizing where you want to be, and learning moderation. That’s real, valable insight, that is!

    And I totally get you… I’ve certainly had my times of tying one on a wee bit too much (James will remember – I don’t – my rant about the Communist Manifesto whilst bollocksed on tequila) but that night was so rare. Usually, two (maybe three) drinks and I’m done. I just don’t want more (or I fall asleep – I’m really a lightweight, and a cheap date!).

    But I think you and I are of an age (I’ll be 43 in July) and you’re absolutely right that there reaches a point where it just seems dumb to go to excess, and watching other people do it and try to force it into being a good time when it maybe isn’t just is no fun anymore.

    With this new approach, you will go far, young man! Kudos to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, sir.

      I like my mornings too much to feel like a dumpster fire two days later. I also enjoy having the same liver. It’s good to grow up, whether we know it or not.

      Tell me more about this Communist Manifesto you speak of…


      1. It’s true, we gotta live. And I often thing people mis-apply the word hammered. Hammered isn’t how drunk you are at the time, hammered is how you feel the next morning. Like hammered sh*t, for example.

        As for the Communist Manifesto, you’d need James to tell the story. All I know is we were going to Mexico, so about a week prior we had James over for tequila (to try it and get used to it), chips and salsa, and Scrabble. We did the lime, salt, the whole deal. At a certain point, though, I abandoned the lime and salt and was doing straight shots. At some point we went and bought more tequila at an off-license, and smoked cigars while we walked there. And at some point my memory fails but James swears I grabbed my crotch and yelled “I’ve got your Communist Manifesto right here!” Later on, I vomited from every orafice in my head. And when we got to Mexico, I couldn’t even look at tequila, let alone drink it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It sounds like a pretty great night, up to the shots. That’s really when things start to go downhill. The bulletproof mentality kicks in for me and I’m suddenly Hunter S. Thompson looking through my trunk for the mescaline and a machine gun. Things just get ugly….hence this post I suppose.

        Staying away from the tequila in Mexico was probably a good idea.


      3. Well, even the shots were OK, as an experiment. But I told this story because it was about an excess… at a certain point in the evening, a filter got shut off and the shots went in over top of objections from the part of my brain that knew better. So there ya go.

        I suppose I became Thompson too, if he was so violently ill that even moving hurt.

        We drank other things in Mexico (not the water, obvs), but we did indeed avoid the tequila.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Weird thing is, I never even used to drink at all. I don’t even remember when or why I had the first one, but I was well into my 20s. I did university and college not drinking at all. I know, a freak. 😉

        Haha Thompson. Man I love his books. 59 is a good guess.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’ve been drinking since before it was legal for me to, but I never got out of control. I think I just hit “that” age where my body said “Hey a**hole. We’ve got a few years left in this body. Let’s make the most of it, shall we?”


  3. Hi!

    My relationship with alcohol built from a negative place but I can relate to that pleasure of chilling with some drink at home or with friends but its the not being able to stop that is the issue for me. I just keep going & come Sunday morning I ‘m hungover for the first half of the day & looking forward to getting wasted that night. Its no life, its not fair on my family. I see I am not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No you’re not alone. It’s a vicious cycle, and one that leads to self destruction. For me it’s not an issue of not being able to stop, more than it was realizing I’m not 23 years old anymore and grown adults with families and responsibilities shouldn’t drink like that anymore. My body has told me “No more.”

      I’ve seen first hand what alcoholism can do. My mother in law died almost three years ago from it. It’s a sad and destructive thing to see. I hope you can find a way out of it. Have you tried counseling or AA? There are people out there that can help you. People that love you and want to see you healthy and happy.

      You are not alone.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your reply. I went to my GP over a week ago & I am looking into counselling. I am a weekend binge drinker half of which I will do in secret. I finally came clean to my husband & I am in the process of working on it. I don’t think AA would be for me I would prefer one on one counselling. I am also looking into The Sinclair Method. Have you heard of this? I am glad you are also on the right track.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good for you. One on one might be what you need. You can get to those underlying causes that push you to drink. I know that AA works for some, but others need a more personal approach to help. I hope you get the help you need. The Sinclair Method is where you take a pill that helps diminish the desire to drink. Sounds promising, just do some research on it before trying it. It seems to deal with the physical aspect more than the emotional. Find a good therapist and counselor and you might be on your way to some real help.


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