Earlier this week my good friend Kevin came rolling into town on the railroad. I worked with Kevin several years ago on a boat that roamed between Alaska and Mexico. Over our time working together, as well as in the intervening years, we’ve had our share of sillinesses—jumping off the fantail of our boat for a night-swim in the 55-degree waters of Alaska; sitting astride the gunwales of a white-water raft on the Deschutes river sharing strips of bacon and silver-dollar pancakes that one of us had stored for hours in his wet-suit; being serenaded like lovebirds by two gap-toothed homeless Mariachi singers in a cafe in Mexico. The list goes on and like any good list, quickly falls into the un-publishable.
One of the things I enjoy most about my friendship with Kevin is our propensity to act as foresight-inhibitors upon one another. In other words, we have fun together, and the momentary-fun that we’re having blocks out any thoughts or concerns about the practical things that will occur once the fun-time is over. As fate would dictate, we both enjoy drinking fermented beverages in each others’ company, and often the enjoyment we’re having while consuming said beverages is so great that we fail to stop and think about the exigencies (small details such as employment) that will arrive once the drinking-time ends.
This past Thursday we went out, and as some say, we got after it (I’ve never been able to un-roll the literal meaning of that expression, but I like the way it sounds, and I know without literal-ness what it means). I needn’t detail a list of our consumption—there’s nothing glamorous nor worthy of bragging in two 30-something men drinking themselves inchoate. But we wouldn’t have done it if it hadn’t been fun at the time, and while that can’t justify everything, it was sufficient grounds to floor our evening.
The following morning I stumbled out of my bedroom, my stomach a boiling cauldron, my head pounding like the inside of a bass-drum. Kevin was a few steps ahead of me. I could hear him fumbling about in the kitchen, groaning like a bloated cow. I felt like shit and told him so. He wasn’t inclined to argue. He looked up at me, his brown hair greasy and flopping before his eyes, and he whined, in the voice of a little boy whose older brother has once again broken his favorite toy:
I don’t know why, but somehow I thought this time we would feel different.
Of course it will never feel differently. There’s no Surprise, This Time’s Hangover Free! pill waiting at the bottom of that bottle of tequila. You don’t get a Thanks for Patronage – Your 10th Visit is Pain-Free! pass from the fine folks at Jim Beam. If you’re fortunate alcohol’s only frequent-flyer rewards are regrettable decisions and the damaging of important internal organs. But even though we knew it in advance—even though the outcome was completely, non-debatably, 100-percentedly predictable—we went at it like boys who’d only just discovered the entire enterprise.
I don’t drink like that often anymore, and it’s not something I’m terribly proud of when I do. I spent the entirety of Friday feeling like Satan had shat little turds of battery acid into my blood. But—and this is the bottom line for me on this one—the night was fun as hell, and in the end I can’t disagree with Kevin, who texted me later that day:
“Feeling the way I feel is totally worth it… really. I mean really, there’s no way we could’ve had as much fun and avoided feeling like this.”