This morning there was a T. Rex inside my skull, with my goddamn brain in its jaws, stomping thunder and belching lightning. It must have sauntered on in through my ear some time between the fourth or fifth double vodka last night. Never saw it coming. Fuckers are quiet when they want to be.
I don’t know what time I fell asleep, but I awoke fully clothed, in my dress pants and geriatric-couture cardigan, at nine a.m. My internal clock is officially set to the working world. Regardless of what I do the night before, I wake up no later than nine. I may only be operating on muscle memory, unable to form words, and mix up my deodorant and toothpaste, but I am awake.
I made it through half of a too-sweet granola bar before a pretty compelling surge of nausea convinced me to lay back down. Never before had the white of my walls been so bright. My eyelids had the opacity of tissue paper and everything, EVERYTHING, was a big bright “fuck you, Mr. Justice.”
I eventually tied a bandana around my head to shield my eyes. But it’s like the light had already made it inside my head, and just got brighter and brighter and brighter as it continued to bounce around inside with nowhere else to go, with nothing else to do all day but hurt me.
At some point, between the first and second nap, I actually felt around my head to make sure I did not have a gaping wound or that I was not a victim of one of those freak accidents where somebody with a nail gun and itchy trigger finger fires an errant round into a passerby’s skull, and he walks around for hours in pain, not knowing he’s destined to end up in numerous medical journals.
My hands found no nail, no surprise arrowhead.
And then there was my mouth, which ached like there was some second wave of wisdom teeth coming in. And those wisdom teeth had their own wisdom teeth, and those smaller wisdom teeth had more tiny little wisdom teeth. And those last little wisdom teeth had HUGE, shitty hangovers.
To make matters worse, my beard hurt. And wanted something to drink.
Around 6 pm came acceptance of the possibility that the headache would be something I now had to live with forever – my head permanently running through a gauntlet of mallet-wielding banshees, all wailing at maximum volume while pummeling mercilessly, and without fatigue.
I would go to work with this pain, I would eat breakfast tacos with this pain, would go on first dates and try to sound interesting with this pain, I would project an air of confidence and competence during job interviews with this pain, would discover the thrills of mortgages and insurance bureaucracy with this pain, would celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with this pain, I would have other, regular headaches with this pain.
I would die with this pain.
Realizing the only thing I’d eaten was a granola bar, I decided the best thing to do was drive to P. Terry’s, order a burger, drive home, eat said burger, and call it a night.
Little did I know the drive to that fine burger stand would yield fruitful scientific information that has eluded scientists studying inebriation for years. Tuning to 90.5 KUT-FM, I discover it – all fiddles and flutes and guitars, the answer to a question too painful for most drunks to even ask: What kind of music is the most cripplingly painful when you have a hangover?
Answer: Celtic music.
Celtic music is the most painful genre to hear when afflicted with a hangover.
After thirty seconds of bravely facing those insane fiddles, all in the name of science, I knew radical measures had to be taken.
So, I ordered not one, but two veggie burgers. With fries.
And a strawberry milkshake.
I ate one burger on the road. It was not pretty. Somewhere in my car is a piece of rogue lettuce turning evil. But, I didn’t care how it looked to fellow drivers. My pride did not survive intact, but that was kind of a mercy killing anyway.
It may have been the greatest burger of my entire life, and I don’t say that lightly. I don’t say it rashly, either. I thought about it; I slept on it.
Yes, there was a post-burger nap, followed shortly by a post-burger-nap burger.
That burger was good, too.
Funeral services for my pride will be held later in the week.