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The Morning After the Night Before



melodi2, Stock.xchng, 2006

As a public service, we are pleased to cover this material as we enter the teeth of a season the likes of which even this almost-300-year-old town has not seen too often. Oh sure, I guess the news of the Louisiana Purchase caused more than a few parties to break out, and Andy Jackson’s victory at Chalmette was duly noted throughout the village, yet what we are about to experience is not just one event, but one darned event after another.

Sort of a long train of celebrations, which is nothing like the long trains through Metairie. Nothing.

Right on our doorstep is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, followed by New Year’s Eve, immediately after is the Sugar Bowl, which is then followed by Twelfth Night, and that is the starting signal for Carnival Ball(s) and parades, those annual rituals interrupted this year by Super Bowl, followed by Mardi Gras itself.

It’s a New Orleans truism that anything worth doing is worth doing to excess. Whatever the official motto is for this city, and I spent about 90 seconds trying to find it and could not, that sentiment about going overboard in every way is on-target depicting the reality of living here.

Somewhere during all of that celebrating, enjoying life to its fullest extent, and beyond, will come a retched reminder that we are not as young or as “good” as we used to be, or think we are. Good morning, Mr. Hangover.

A hangover is nothing like Carl Sandberg’s poem, The Fog. Hangovers do not creep on like little cat feet. Hangovers stomp all over you like an elephant that does not like you. Like a jackhammer that won’t leave your head alone. Like a queasy stomach that no amount of fizzy-tablets will begin to resolve. And sometimes like cramps in your calves that will bring you to your knees, just in case you were standing, which will only happen with the greatest degree of difficulty. If standing upright with a hangover were an Olympic event, the judges would not score you over a 1.7.  Even that would be a pity score.

To start at some point near the beginning of your road to de-gra-dade, alcohol is not the body’s favorite additive. Your mind adores the feeling of freedom, maybe even euphoria, brought on by alcohol but your body is fighting alcohol every step of the way.

Part of that resistance is the continual attempt by the body to rinse the toxin out the door, as it were. And that explains why there are always lines for the restrooms in bars, at festivals and sporting events. The more you drink, the more ya’ gotta go.    

Your feeling of fatigue, headaches, dry mouth and general discomfort is a tired, dehydrated body’s response after trying to save you from yourself. At this point even the brain is in a recovering state from all that lovely, happy emotion. You are not a bad or mean drinker, are you? With alcohol, you do become a more charming and beautiful person, don’t you?

The next morning, or maybe even in the night as you try to sleep, your various muscles and organs that depend on liquids for proper functioning are gasping for anything that lubricates….except alcohol. Remember, alcohol is a diuretic. It’s a drying agent. That’s why you are in this shape in the first place.

Despite popular opinion, and that can mean what we really want to believe even when it flies in the face of reality, the next day “hair of the dog” will not by itself accomplish the right result. Yes, I hate to hear that as much as you do.

Your mind will enjoy the uplift, again, and so you will “feel” better, but make no mistake about this, you are not better. Drinks like Bloody Marys or Screwdrivers feel right because there are fruit or vegetable juices as the base, but they have alcohol, don’t they? That really is not the way to resolve your hangover. Still, you are on the right track.

Fruit juices in large quantities are excellent hangover remedies. Water is also good. Get those liquids back into your system as soon as you can. Don’t hold back. Drink a bunch. And stay near the aforementioned restrooms. Baños. Becausah. Terlet. Your Call of Nature will not be long distance and it will be stronger than Jack London’s.

Over-the-counter hangover medications, comprised of lots of vitamins and minerals, are not bad. Yet they are, in the final chapter, not going to accomplish any more than just putting healthy liquids back into your system.

Then there’s the matter of time. And in most cases it comes down to time. You will best overcome your hangover by doing the liquid routine, resting and allowing the passage of time to do its work.  

You no doubt have friends who swear by some elixir, based on many experiences and experimentations, which will hasten, they say, the return to normalcy. Maybe it works for them. And it may even work for you. If feeling better quicker is the real goal, then give it all a try.

But the real solution is to drink plenty of fresh juice and lay that aching head down for a nap.

To minimize the effects of what alcohol does to a body, while you are drinking whatever adult beverage you choose at the moment, drink water, too. Maybe not on a one-to-one ratio, but the closer you come to that equation, the lesser the negative effects will be going through the night and into the morning.

Of course, you will be excusing yourself from the proceedings with greater frequency to charge towards the door with the outline of a man or a woman. Try not to confuse the two, although sometimes the distinctions are not that clear. After going through the door, you’ll figure it out soon enough, or someone will do the figuring for you.

Anyway, given the upcoming gauntlet of holidays, festivals and days of celebration, it is a good idea to at least know when to say “when,” to know what you need to do to stay in a rational state of mind, and to recognize what needs to be done to get you rolling again the next day.  

There is no substitute for common sense. Yet, if we had that, would this be the right place to live? I choose New Orleans every time. Crank up the fruit juicer.

 

                                                            -30-

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about

Tim learned to appreciate wine from his wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, and it has been a fascinating 35-year journey for the couple. Tim graduated from Jesuit College Prep in Dallas, then earned a journalism degree from the University of North Texas. He came to Louisiana because of his love of New Orleans, then fell in love with Brenda and simultaneously fell in love with all things wine.

Tim and Brenda travel the world with the grape and have made many friends because of wine. Tim is a past board member and two-term president of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience; former officer in the New Orleans chapter of Chaine des Rotisseurs; past president of the American Wine Society in New Orleans; and, with Brenda, currently serves on the board of the Museum of the American Cocktail. Tim lectures on wine and wine history twice each year at the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, as well as judging professional wine competitions in California and Florida.

Tim writes a monthly feature about wine and spirits for New Orleans Magazine, and is a weekly contributor, writing about wine and spirits, to MyNewOrleans.com. He is also executive editor of Gulf Coast Wine + Dine Magazine, and hosts "The Wine and Spirits Show with Tim McNally" from noon to 3 p.m. every Friday on 1350AM. The show is also streamed live on espn1350.net.

Click HERE to listen to "The Wine Show."

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