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Let us talk about hangover
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-01-03 11:00:26
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There are many serious things going on now all around the world, naturally most of them depressing; but there is one thing that caught my eye mainly because it was nearly in most of the news sites, blogs and journals. There was a variety of headers but the main message was, hangover cures, Christmas hangover, holiday’s hangover, after the hangover, what to do with the hangover and the everything around getting drunk and the hangover aftermath!

I got drunk twice in my life and I remember them well. The first time I was very young – remember that I grew up in a very different era where there were not all these restrictions – and it was some kind of birthday party with older kids involved. I have no memory of the name of the kid that celebrated his or her birthday, I have absolutely no memory on what happened in the party, who was there, no names, no faces but I remember even now, decades after in detail what followed. I was sick for two days!

My father did not say a word for those two days, just helped me go through and it was bad. I am not going to go into details but you can imagine. After two days when I started recovering and I started eating soups and something light for my stomach, when the world stopped going around and I could focus, my father just asked me if it was worth it. I didn’t answer but you can guess what I was thinking!

A few years after during my college years, I did exactly what the book says for college students and this time it lasted more than two days. Actually even writing about that I feel dizzy and the funny taste in my mouth. In this second time, I had moved in the second stage mixing drinks. Beer, whisky, tequila and vodka! Wow! That’s the only way to describe it and apparently, these are the drinks I remember drinking that night. That time I also made some …non-scientific discoveries. For example, I discover that the earth moves around herself faster than sound! I discover that letters in books occasionally dance can-can and there is nothing inside me I hadn’t seen! I discover that campus libraries are not the quietest places but that turning pages can be very noise business. Most of all I discover – and answered to my then late father – that it was not worth it!

Nowadays I really enjoy a good glass of white or red French, Italian or Greek wine. I love a good bourbon, a nice vodka, definitely a pint of bitter especially if it is from Yorkshire and occasionally a cocktail but as I said, I enjoy it! I am not drinking often but when I do, I enjoy the experience and I learned to appreciate it. I learned to appreciate the whole ceremony of a good wine, the smell, the touch on the throat, the soft burning and sometimes when I have a good book late in the evening I put Keith Jarret on and enjoy a glass of bourbon. What I’m trying to say is that a drink has become part of the joy and relaxation. In addition, the joy is bigger when friends can join and appreciate the same way a good drink.

What I described before, about the soft feeling on the throat, the smell of the oak and wild flowers in a good white wine is something that getting drunk you will never feel. So why to get drunk? Why instead of preparing people to have a hangover all these sites didn’t spent the time to teach them about good wines and the best way to enjoy them? And I’m sorry but I don’t get why to spend so much space on hangover cures? Have garlic before going out, a spoonful of olive oil, a glass of milk! But all that means that you are going out to get drunk and then have a two days hangover! I’m really sorry but that sounds to me like masochism and not like fun!

I’m not going to go to the dangers alcohol brings, the number of accidents due to alcohol on the news is enough to say everything I could write but here I’m talking about fun, having fun. Apparently something else that usually comes when I start this conversation. Yes, French wine, good bourbon and a nice vodka don’t come cheap but when it is compared with the cost of a hangover – physical and mental - and the cost to get there doesn’t matter how cheap the drinks were …it comes way …cheaper.

And since the last days I had a fantastic Irish single malt the best way to finish that is …cheers!

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Emanuel Paparella2010-01-03 15:08:58
Ah wine! I think it was William James who said that most people don’t like the taste of alcohol, they like what it does to their brain. And here is the rub: a Buddhist monk can achieve the same results of feeling of euphoria, and in a much cheaper mode, by simply sitting and meditating. We in the West call it “fun,” and need all kinds of drugs and subsequent hang-over to achieve it, the monk would simply call it “joy.” Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics recommends “virtue” for the achievement of happiness but surely he was not leery of participating at a symposium from time to time . C.S. Lewis wrote a book titled “Surprised by Joy.” The operative word there is “joy” which refers to his conversion experience (he was an atheist for a good number of years of his life) but was also the name of the woman he married in his advanced age. Once those surprises arrived he stopped trying desperately to achieve fun and began experiencing genuine happiness. The same can be said of Graham Green who used to play Russian roulette with live bullets to relieve his boredom. May we all be surprised by joy! [continued below]

Emanuel Paparella2010-01-03 15:09:51
And here is a personal anecdote on wine. A few years ago I was called for jury duty for a trial concerning a man who had run over and killed somebody while driving intoxicated. The defense lawyer began the process of interrogation of prospective jurors. My turn came and the lawyers asked me bluntly: sir, what is your attitude toward wine? I replied that it was similar to that of most Italian-Americans. Could you spell that out, retorted the lawyer. Of course, I replied, within Italian culture good wine is considered a sort of food, it belongs on the table together with good food, not in the closet, and it goes a long way in augmenting the feeling of friendship, comradery and solidarity that go with a good meal, as in an ancient Greek symposium. As the reader can probably surmise by now, I was one of the eliminated jurors; I was found to be too Apollonian and not enough Dionysian in a society obsessed with alcohol’s effects. Had I wished overtly for that outcome, which perhaps I wished subconsciously, I could not have imagined a better answer to the lawyer’s question on wine.

ap2010-01-03 16:09:02
There is no great surprise there, of course people drink to forget because they are uncomfortable and many also embark on marketing strategies of the brands, which sell 'guaranteed fun'. The Mediterranean countries, where the culture required a certain place for a drink, a ritual, after successful anti-alcoholism campaigns in the 80's and 90's, assist today to a fanfare, especially among the youth, of unbridled consumption of white spirits and 'drunkness as a virtue'. Drinking is something about which people must be educated. If we let profit and private interests superimpose themselves to common education and public health, we glorify unconsciousness, stupidity and alcohol not as a pleasure but as a (fake) remedy.

Emanuel Paparella2010-01-03 18:08:40
Indeed, Aquinas had it on target: the abuse does not take away the use: that applies to wine as well as religion and many other thing that is good in moderation and intrinsically.

ap2010-01-03 19:16:47
Why not gather both: the sect of the holy Port?

Emanuel Paparella2010-01-04 06:41:25
There is a better fusion, that of the holy calf, the idol worshipped by many "enlightened" moderns and post-moderns who belive religion an anachronism of sort. Indeed, willy nilly religion comes back in rather distorted ways. Perhaps the Spanish and Portuguese autos de fe were a throw back to the good old pagan ways when the Celt's Druids performed human sacrifices by the hundred of thousands. Port for thought.

ap2010-01-04 18:40:26
Celtic druids performing human sacrifices by the hundreds of thousand in the Iberian peninsula is new information for me... But to compare the Inquisition with the celtic sacrifices sounds anyhow slightly... forced. The reason for the deaths by the Inquisition was not only religious fanaticism, it was private and institutional convenience, as you know (besides pure sadism). But if you equate both, there's no reason then to take into account any of the fantastic advantages of Catholicism as a faith, which you continuously expose with great detail.
I was serious Mr. Paparella, Fraternities of (several kinds of) Port in fact exist (also in England), when they gather they perform rituals and incorporate a religious aspect in the act of drinking wine. Sadly, no human sacrifices have been reported.

Emanuel Paparella2010-01-06 00:36:58
Please do not put into my muuth what I did not say. Nowhere the Iberia Peininsula is mentioned in my remarks; I was talking of the pre-historic customs of a whole continent called Europe, of do you consider the Iberian Peninsula not part of Europe? Once again,you are preaching to the choir. The Inquisition was certainly a barbaric institution but Europe only sixty years ago performed actios that makes the Druids and the Inquisition look like a picnick in comparison. Does that kind of abuse justify the removal of the use of religion. Only to the biased mind out to grind an ax, I would submit. One would have to be blind to all the positive contributios of Christianity in givin the cotinent a common culture.

Emanuel Paparella2010-01-06 00:40:28
Errata: mouth, or, actions, contributions, continent.

ap2010-01-10 03:21:14
It still surprises me that people consider culture as something 'common' instead of 'diverse'...

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