Monumental Hangovers, Monumental Drunks, and the lessons I have learned

Supposedly, I did the ol’bump and grind with the groom’s mother. Supposedly, I attempted to go swimming in a pool that was closed for the season. Supposedly, I attempted to use a corner in my hotel room as a toilet. The only truth, and really the only memory I do have, is that the bride and groom fed us pumpkin sorbet as a dessert during the wedding reception… and supposedly I voiced my angst over being served pumpkin sorbet.

I had begun drinking early afternoon prior to the outdoor wedding. It was a nice fall day in eastern Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay was a few miles away… touched by the river that was state of the wedding. Perfect bourbon weather… perfect bourbon event. I was liquidly smooth during the wedding… bride and groom escaped to have pictures taken and the bar opened… the open bar opened wide… I fell into the neck of a Jim Beam bottle. The groom is my best friend and he ensured there was plenty of bourbon. While bride and groom posed and smiled, me and other bourbon drinking friends began to imbibe. I remember very little following the first steps to the open bar and getting my first bourbon.

This was a monumental drunk and I know this because I don’t remember it. There are photos of me dancing very seductively with the groom’s mother… so I guess I did rub my parts on her. In the pictures I am wearing a red bandana on my head like a crazy pirate while I am soaked in alcoholic sweat. I have to trust what other people tell me about my drunk. Monumental drunks are not remembered, they are told to us… but the hangovers are remembered. I rode two hours back to DC the following morning curled up in a fetal position in the back of a car vomiting in a trash bag and wondering WTF I had done. The bride and groom were embarked on their honeymoon… it would be a week before I could apologize… this monumental hangover informed me that I needed to apologize.

When people tell you stories about how drunk you were on certain occasions… realize they are only stories… there is no way to ensure the truth. What they are really telling you are stories. Friends and victims recount the drunk escapade. It is not the traditional sense of lying, because when there is a monumental drunk there are monumental stories… however, those stories have to come from others. Monumental drunks are actually remembered through monumental hangovers. If someone says they don’t have hangovers… that person has never had a monumental drunk. Hollywood got this right with The Hangover and Hangover II… putting the puzzle pieces back together the next morning is the sign of a monumental drunk. I am, however, saddened by the fact that I have never had a Hangover type drunk.

What good drinking story isn’t related to college or military service… at least mine are usually from these periods. In a quick succession, I would like to recount the hangover and then provide what I think happened, or what I was told happened… and the lesson I learned.

Never Trust a Fart.

Advise from older men should never be discounted. The Duke of Wellington once supposedly told a soldier “piss when you can,” and an older colleague of mine once told me that as you get older “never waste an erection, piss when you can, and never trust a fart.”… wise, very wise advice. In high school, I trusted a fart. I do not remember the drinking on the farm… around a campfire under beautiful and crystal clear stars. I do remember waking with the scary knowledge that sometime during my drunken sleep that I trusted a fart. Thankfully it was not an explosion and more of splat… I drew mud.  I remember the evening beginning with some friends, an underage purchase of a case of Bud, and an attempt to burn as much as possible as quickly as possible. Small burn marks on my face, clothes, and sleeping bag coupled with the remnants of a ruptured cans of pork-n-beans also informed me that we placed said can on the fire… and said can exploded. I believe we also threw a single and bound square bale of hay on the fire… my drunken memories seem hazy with a whoosh and an immediate blazing of hay. The hangover was intense, pain of headache and scorched skin… muddy underwear… monumental headache that could only happen from a monumental drunk.

Never Consume Fruity Alcoholic Drinks to Excess.

It seems my fraternity had a propensity to have what we called “Chicken Blood.” Chicken Blood was the result of the brothers and pledges bringing a pint of any clear alcohol… any clear alcohol… I shiver thinking of it now… and mixing large 5 gallon metal trash cans full of these clear alcohol pints with cherry Kool-Aid and bags and bags of sugar… then thrown in for good measure was old apples and oranges. I remember pouring in my pint of clear alcohol, I remember assisting in the stirring and serving. From there on there is no memory… the story goes that is that I went home with a female guest. This must be true because I did awaken in an unknown apartment beside a young lady. As she slumbered beside me in her own awful cherry Kool-Aid nightmare, I stumbled to her bathroom to rid my system of red-stained alcohol. The horror in her bathroom made me beat feet as quickly as possible. The bathroom had been wallpapered by her, me, or both of us in red and chunks of fruit. There was no inch of that bathroom that had not been painted in red vomit. No matter the pain I felt at the time… I knew I could not remain. This young lady and I never looked each other in the eye ever again. Monumental hangover, monumental drunk.

You Can Trust Hungarian Waiters.

After six months of a deployment to Bosnia, I rated a 48 hour R&R trip to Budapest, Hungary. A long… multiple hours… bus ride from Tuzla, Bosnia, to Budapest, Hungary, ended with me leaving muddy Balkan fields behind and changing into clean civilian clothes in a grand European city. Quickly I found a bar, a strip club, and multiple restaurants that were more than happy to provide as much alcohol as I could consume. After the first bar and plenty of female Hungarian attention… American soldiers always have money, American soldiers always spend it loosely. After the bar and the female attention that always ended in their disappointment… I left alone… I moved to a strip club with a bunch of other American soldiers. Here is where the drunken evening gets hazy. I remember being amazed at the beautiful Hungarian strippers, I remember being amazed at their attempts to fondle me as I sat there drinking Hungarian beers… then I remember waking up in my hotel room. I quickly searched my wallet and saw that I had not spent or lost all of my money. I was alone and I did not stink of cheap Hungarian perfume… so I know that I went to the hotel alone… thankfully. What I do know is that my head felt like it was going to explode, I felt like my stomach was hijacking all my senses. I made my way down for my free breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant… but when I entered it the smell of cooking eggs and meat immediately made my bowels churn. I ran as fast as I could to the nearest restroom. Inside a Hungarian waiter was washing his hands, and I was leaned over a clean sink trying to rid myself of poison. I don’t speak Hungarian… I have a passable conversational German ability. The waiter immediately realized my situation and began to provide immediate advise. I had no idea what he was telling me… but I know I began to suspect I was about to become the victim of a robbery or a rape… or a combination. I was defenseless… this waiter could have done anything he wanted and I was powerless to stop him. Fortunately, this was an angel of Hungarian persuasion. After he realized my inability to comprehend his words, he grabbed my wrist and stuck it under an icy blast of cold water from a faucet… immediately my nausea subsided and the sweating stopped. Within minutes I felt refreshed and ready to begin day two of drinking. I still use this hangover remedy. Monumental hangover, monumental drunk.

Remove Your Shoes Prior to Attempting to Removing Your Pants.

When you change jobs in the Army, your colleagues and subordinates feel the need to celebrate. As the single lieutenant in charge of 40 enlisted soldiers, I was fortunate to have a great platoon led by a great number of NCOs. As a farewell to Lieutenant Sublimemonkey, my sergeants decided to do a “I quit drinking party.” A “I quit drinking party” is when you gather all the alcohol in your home and gather with your friends… then all of you consume the gathered alcohol regardless of type or brand. Me and my 5 sergeants consumed an ungodly amount of gin, vodka, cognac, whiskey, bourbon, and wine. Glass after glass led to picture after picture of us in different states of intoxication. These pictures are the only memory I have of the I quit drinking party that began immediately after the work day (5pm) until I was driven back to my home. Since the drinking began immediately after work, I spent the evening in my camouflaged uniform and boots. The next morning at 5:30am, I found myself on my couch with my uniform pants around my ankles and my boots still tightly laced to my feet. I pulled the pants up, grabbed my physical fitness uniform (shorts, t-shirt, and running shoes) and headed to work. My head was pounding… but a quick wrist under a cold tap fixed enough for me to get to work. I have no idea when I got driven home, I don’t know who drove me home, I don’t know how I got to my couch, and I don’t know if I tried to take my pants off or if someone else did. Whomever de-pantsed me decided the boots were a bridge too far though. Monumental hangover, monumental drunk.

Now I am older and wiser. I rarely drink to excess. I have learned how to consume alcohol over a long period without careening into the unknown territory of drunken stupor. I have learned to watch alcohol, water, and food intake. I have learned to maintain a buzz without becoming stupid. I, however, know that I am capable of getting a monumental hangover and I have drinking partners that are capable of filling in the gaps… or at least lie to me in a manner that lets me know that I had a good time.

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