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After a three day Fourth of July weekend, there’s a chance you still don’t feel quite right. There was a time in my life, not so long ago, that I would’ve taken that weekend and strung it out into the next so as to put off facing the pain of coming down from alcohol. When your profession allows you to make your own hours for the most part, it’s entirely possible to turn a three day bender into a ten day problem without a boss asking where the hell you are. Around day ten, you start to understand what being an “alcoholic” is, as opposed to being a “good time drunk.” It’s when “want” turns into “need.” I call it, “The Darkness.” As in, “hey man, will you just hang out with me for a little bit? I can’t be alone. I’ve got the darkness.” It’s a true feeling of impending doom. And here’s how you get there.
I don’t get stomach sick from drinking. I don’t get headaches. Or other symptoms that can be cured with coffee, Ibuprofen, a fatty breakfast, or a nap. My gift and curse, is that I can wake up after a severe bender of any concoction, and immediately take a bottle of your cheapest rotgut booze to the head, chasing the warmth at the end of every sip. And that’s how hobos get made. So I don’t do it anymore. Usually. Okay, sometimes I’ll have a few supervised IPA’s over lunch with my lady friend because she can stop on a dime and it’s no fun to keep going alone. But that’s it. For the most part, I’d rather punish myself with exercise when I’ve had too many. I call it “Ric Flairing.” Or maybe go see a shitty movie.
But that’s not to say I don’t miss the days when I could nurse four Bud Lights, chug some water, eat some Taco Bell, take a nap, and wake up with the ship evened out. That works great for the first day of a hangover. If you can stop there. But eventually, I’d start waking up from the nap and drinking six more. Then, day two of the hangover, I’d get a twelve pack to start the day, then a second dozen at 6pm. Around day five I’d start mainlining (Drinking it straight. “I’ve gotta mainline, domestos ain’t workin’ no more.) whisky at home and watching copious amounts of soothing television because blaring music has lost its luster. Day six, I’d start going to bars to day drink, because it feels better to be outside of the house with other day drunks, avoiding The Darkness. Days seven to ten get extremely blurry, where you’re chasing a feeling of comfort so hard, having exhausted all of your natural endorphins and their reserves. I recall one of these outings with my cohort of binge debauchery that ended at ESPN Zone, where we both needed to feel some sort of joy, lest our judgement cometh, and that right soon. ESPN Zone is a happy place to me, with giant televisions, sports memorabilia, chicken wings, cheeseburgers, attractive waitresses, and other excessive stimulus. If those things don’t fix your little red wagon, you are in severely bad shape. We were. Feeling nothing but The Darkness after eight screw drivers, and the sliders & fries I hardly touched, we moved to Trader Vic’s in desperation for mai tais. Four of those. Nothing. They’re strong as fuck. Panic sets in. We order double rocks glasses of my oldest friend, Dewar’s. Then a second. Then, there it is. Brain sunshine. But it only lasts for a short while, because after you leave the bar to finally come down with more Bud Light, they literally can’t be ingested fast enough to maintain the standard you’ve set, and your body needs more poison. So it’s back to the liquor store for a bottle. Jack this time. A Stone Cold Steve Austin DVD gets put on. The bottle gets cleaned. The couch becomes the bed.
In the morning (technically, three hours later), The Darkness has reached its peak and regained strength throughout the night. It’s ten days in and you understand why rock stars get hooked on drugs to keep this cycle at bay.
That’s when it’s time for an emergency shrink visit to get Xanax and a talk down, then sleep (barely) and sweat like Chris Rock in New Jack City while the poison leaves the body. The Darkness will not go quickly or quietly. Pure mental torture for 48 hours.
Five days later of living clean, fifteen days from where I started, I finally felt normal. Lying to myself that I’d never behave in such a manner again.
But I did. A few times after that. Because I’m stupid. But eventually it just got old. Or I did. For the most part, now I just get shit housed on Thursdays.