The morning after


The Poles wake up to what they say is a howling of kittens. The French greet the morning with a wooden mouth and a hair ache, while the Danes get carpenters in the forehead.

English speakers the world over call that mix of mortar-blast headache, queasiness, Sahara thirst, uncertain recollections of the previous evening – I didn’t, did I? – and a brooding sense of of guilt as simply a hangover.

Just as there are many descriptions for hangovers, there are as many so-called cures.

According to American writer Joan Acocella, Africans suffering from too much hilarity eat peanut butter, Germans eat pickled herring, the Japanese eat pickled plums, Russians go for pickled brine (perhaps to put them off drinking forever), Moroccans do penance by chewing cumin seeds and if you beg for help in Vietnam they’ll give you a nice helping of wax-gourd juice.

There’s the hair of the dog that bit you. English author Andrew Irving, in his “How to Cure a Hangover,” suggests the “Corpse Reviver,” a concoction of Pernod, Champagne and lemon juice. If that doesn’t do the stunt, Irving says, try two Alka Seltzers dropped into two shots of tequila.

But if you’re seeking sudden death, go with the “Suffering Bastard,” an unkind potion of gin, brandy, lime juice, bitters and ginger ale.

And then there’s the Bloody Mary, with its myriad variations and promises. But all hairs of dogs might just be an excuse, in the guise of self-medicating, to put yourself at sea before the sun is over any yardarm.

Doctors will tell you, however, that the passage of time and lots of water is really the only path to take you out of the pain of a hangover.

Strangely enough, there will be some who will mourn if hangovers disappear.

English novelist Kingsley Amis, who knew a thing or two about hair ache, had a grudging admiration for the morning after. He described the sensation as “a vast, vague, awful, shimmering metaphysical superstructure that makes the hangover a (fortunately) unique route to self-knowledge and self-realization.”

A Happy New Year to all, along with peace, prosperity and health in 2021.