I have had plenty of hangovers in my time. Mostly manageable, sometimes a bit grotty, but on the whole, not too life-zapping. However, in the 21 months since the dawn of Monster Minor, I reckon I could count my hangovers on one (ok, maybe two) hand(s), and they are increasingly SHIT!
Gone are the days of sleeping until midday, waking only to devour a full fat coke and McDonald’s delight. Nowadays my hangovers consist of two main ingredients: Guilt and Regret. This spirit-zapping recipe has led me to wonder – is it really worth it?
Catalyst number one for the feelings of guilt and regret is children. Those pesky little buggers that came into my world and refuse to go away. The reason I (am forced to) wake
at a stinking, ridiculous time every morning and the last thing I think of before I fall asleep. Excessive drinking is frowned upon when you are being relied on for the wellbeing of these little tiddlers, so you must, inevitably, find alternative provision. In our case, usually grandparents. Herein lie the origins of ingredient number 1: The Guilt. You feel guilty that you’re leaving the children to go and be irresponsibly hedonistic. Even if you escape this guilt by convincing yourself that you deserve it because it’s been a crappy week/it’s your friend’s birthday/it’s sunny/there’s an International Prosecco Shortage, chances are you’ll feel The Guilt on some level. Guilt that you’re having to burden the babysitters with the quarrelling sprogs, AGAIN, because you just can’t miss this opportunity. Guilty that you’ll be doing something fun and totally unparenty as they watch the fifth episode of Thomas and his wanky friends whilst wondering if they need a little calpol to calm the littlest down. You’ll either send a million text messages to try to convince them (and yourself) that you’re still thinking of the children, and that in some way, you’re still being responsible. Or, you’ll do what I usually do, and forget all about them, and then have to bluff a loving, sober bedtime text and hope it’s coherent enough to come across as caring.
But The Guilt the next morning. Bloody hell. That’s fairly major. It usually begins soon after waking for me. Often triggered by the response to my ‘how was your night?’ text to babysitters. Hearing that they had to respond to 3 night wake ups and a 5.17am breakfast demand, sends The Guilt into overdrive. In spite of the room spinning, the alcohol still causing me to slur and a breath that smells like a speakeasy bar mat, I will insist that we need to get back to the boys as it just isn’t fair on the babysitters.
And here begins The Regret. That nasty, bitter emotion that judges and condemns your decisions. From hearing the ‘Mummy, Mummy, Mummmmeeeeeeeyyyyyyy’ cries as you wait for the door to be answered, hoping that you can walk in a convincingly straight line, you know that you should’ve skipped the shots last night. The human climbing frame role begins, and you wish you’d have stopped before the drinking games. And then, the daddy of all the hangover regret cards, the nappy. That smell. If there’s anything to make you never ever want to drink again, it’s the smell of my Monster Minor’s excrement on a hangover. And you can’t mutter ‘wtf’ at him and ignore it, because you’re showing the babysitters that you can be responsible and of course you don’t feel too bad because you drank water between each drink, like they advised you to. And then you have to leave the babysitters and try to function as a human being. All the while, being grilled by two miniature Vlad the Impalers as to why they can’t activate all their electronic toys at once, and why you can’t get up off the sofa and why you’re insisting they just sit down and watch Minions just one more time. Their concerned little faces when you try to explain that ‘Mummy is a little poorly and tired,’ are the final thing to brand Guilt and Regret onto your soul, and you resolve never to put them, the babysitters or yourself through this idiocy again.
Catalyst number two in the recipe for hangover hell, is the calories involved in drinking. I always need to lose weight. It’s a given since the birth of Monster Minor (sensing a theme here…?) that I won’t fit into anything pretty or young and my pre-pregnancy clothes are just a joke that won’t even fit past one knee cap.
So you can imagine my instant remorse upon learning the calorific value of alcoholic drinks. It’s something I never paid any mind to, pre-Monsters. It was a given part of a night out. And it’s not even like I drink beer or alcopops. But unfortunately, it seems the Gods of Fun were on strike the day they put the fattening laws on booze and my beloved wine and cocktails are laiden with tummy-wobbling qualities.
But the alcohol calories alone are not enough for Guilt and Regret. Because, obviously, if you don’t want to get too sick, you must Line Your Stomach. And lining it with kale and pomegranate seeds just doesn’t work. If nothing else, they taste minging when they come back up later on. You must eat carbs and plenty of them. And then, because I’m a classy bird nowadays, most drinking sessions involve some kind of meal out. Which is wonderful and my favourite thing ever, but it’s soooo stressful. The food chosen at this meal has to fit three criteria: it must be stodgy enough to assist in lining, it mustn’t be so stodgy as to bloat you and misplace the strategically positioned pleats in your outfit, and it must be sophisticated enough so that no one realises you’re just a porker who wants to eat burgers all day. As if all that gorging isn’t enough, the night will inevitably end by sitting on a kerb, eating a takeaway. Normally for me, it’s some kind of pizza. But this weekend, I truly outdid myself. Kebab (well, falafel kebab, small mercies), garlic bread with cheese (and mushrooms, wtf!?) AND chips.I have a vague recollection of tearing off and tossing aside excess naan bread, claiming it was ’empty calories’… yeah like that’s gonna make a difference when you’ve been drinking for the last 18 hours.
And then, of course. The nail in the coffin. The hangover food. Guilt and Regret main station. It can’t be healthy. It can’t be light. Hangover food must be mostly beige, mostly carbs and mostly processed. And you’ll feel sick from eating it which makes you eat more to take the sickness away and you only don’t feel sick when you’re eating so you eat and eat. And then you’re so tired and so you eat to give you energy and then you eat because you’ve come this far, you may as well fully commit and before you know it you’ve eaten a a whole pack of samosas, two frozen pizzas, a pasty, a Subway footlong and a McDonald’s extra value meal for dessert. What a dick.
So, all of the above taken into consideration, I have been left wondering why I do it. Again and again. Why haven’t I learned my lesson? These hangovers are getting worse and The Guilt and The Regret are increasingly rife. I plan to give my body and babysitters a bit of time off. Well, a few months off. Actually no, a couple of weeks. Oh shit, I’ve made plans to be back on it tomorrow… whoops.