As with AIDS, when it comes to curing the dreaded morning-after malady known as the hangover, the scientific community has consistently fired blanks. Maybe that's because folks can't even agree about what a hangover is. Is a hangover stamped by dehydration? Usually. Headache? Occasionally. Barf? Sporadically. Intellectual atrophy? From time to -- uh, what's the word I'm looking for? -- time.
Fortunately, there are folks in this world willing to selflessly sacrifice their bodies for journalism. You're welcome in advance, then, as I provide you with a detailed overview of all the purported hangover remedies I subjected myself to during a week-and-a-half-long winter bender.
So when you're walking your crochet-sweatered pug before noon some fine Saturday while your friends stumble around like seasick zombies, remember who got you there, all bright-eyed and sweaty-assed.
Alka-Seltzer Morning Relief
Big ups to Alka-Seltzer for airing a no-bullshit ad in which a polyester-clad party animal imbibes heavily beneath a disco ball before waking up to a screaming alarm clock with scoops of Mr. Sandman caking his bloodshot eyes. Honesty is the best policy for Morning Relief, a caffeine- and aspirin-packed dissolvable tablet that plops and fizzes like its antacid grandpa. The result is as close as the hangover sufferer can legally get to snorting a rail of coke off the bathroom sink in the morning: For a few hours you'll feel like you've got the world beaten. Then the buzz wears off and you're back to guilt, depression -- and wanting another bump. I mean effervescent tablet.
Chaser Plus for Wine Headaches/RU-21
There is nothing so brutal as a daylong wine headache, which speaks to the theoretical genius of Chaser's wine-specific stab at hangover prevention. Here's how it's supposed to soothe: You take a one pill with your first glass of wine (or if you're using Chaser's general formula, with your first alcoholic beverage of any type) and -- voilà -- no hangover. Too bad it doesn't work for shit. Yeah, I know: This product, like its kin, RU-21 (tried it en route to the Kentucky Derby; fat chance), is not intended to combat the negative side effects of excessive amounts of alcohol. Well, that's hella ironic, because the only people who'd ever consider buying these products are premeditated lushes.
Stuffed Giraffe on Forehead/"The Bone Zone"
A close acquaintance of mine has this stuffed giraffe named Pokey that she wears like a Lone Ranger mask on her forehead the morning after a stern drunk. She says it works wonders. I say it works wonders only when followed by exhilarating morning sex in a walk-in closet dubbed "The Bone Zone." Making use of the Bone Zone in the morning is tantamount to slamming three cups of coffee. Wears off in about the same amount of time, too -- but at least you got laid, baby.
Soldiers of Fortune
Per my friend Jason, whose bro recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq: "My little brother's got probably the best overall hangover cure, thanks to Uncle Sam. Apparently he and his [Army] Ranger buddies would come in the morning after a royal bender and grab saline IVs from the medics, inject their forearms and squeeze the hell out of the IV bag -- basically rehydrating in under a minute. The downside is if you place the needle badly, you get a grapefruit-size purple bruise that lasts a week. When they're really on the go, they just tuck another bag in their armpit; and if the hangover starts hitting again they give a squeeze. Ever since he told me about it -- and he swears it's the miracle cure -- I've been wondering how civilians can get in on the action."
Sublingual Vitamin B12 Lozenges
Whoever decided it was a savvy idea to move cyanocobalamin, a.k.a. vitamin B12, from horse-pill form to tasty flavored lozenge ought to be lynched. What was once a failsafe slice of damn fine, neon-green-piss-inducing therapy is now by and large wasted in a pool of saliva that either never makes it down one's throat or takes way too long to get there. Lozenge, shmozenge -- we're not fucking babies, we're drunks. Give us back our horse pills.
Glaceau Stress B Lemon-Lime Vitamin Water
Who'da thunk we'd have to resort to a liquid to replace the brute force of our erstwhile horse pills. Not I. But call me a convert: This vitamin water -- spiked with vitamin B's 2, 3, 5, 6 and 12 (not to mention a pinch each of St. John's wort and kava kava) -- is almost as good as the B12 of yore. Almost.
Chopped Banana, Cabbage and Tomato Salad
Not as appetizing as, say, a meatball grinder, but if you want natural, this remedy's for you. These are the three fruits and vegetables universally believed to have the most effective anti-booze attributes. Tomatoes and bananas go surprisingly well together, especially with poppy-seed dressing -- but eating raw cabbage is like teething on leather. Best when combined with a remedy like...
The Republican Workout
You sell junk bonds and/or Christianity, and you've only 45 minutes to right the ship the day after a very unholy broth of bourbon and boinkin'. Where you gon' go? The steam room of your local downtown YMCA or white-collar athletic club. Very simple, really: The steam causes you to sweat out nasty toxins, which you in turn replace with revitalizing liquids, such as Propel Fitness Water or V8.
Invented in 1906 in rural North Carolina, this archduke of synthetic hangover cures looks like, tastes like and is packaged (in gum wrappers) like cocaine. But, unlike Morning Relief, the results are more level and sustained, if still a smidge cracklike. Why? Because BC Powder eases the throttle on caffeine dosage while smartly including a heaping helping of potassium, a natural booze combatant. Bonus faux drug-dealer attribute: The contents of one box equal roughly one eightball. Sell at your own risk. (Attention North Carolina hoops fans: BC Powder is the "Offical Pain Reliever" of the Tar Heel Sports Network.)
Pho Vietnamese Noodle Soup and a Blowjob
Sucking, searing proof of the overriding lesson of hangover cures: To each his own. One of my two brothers (see if you can guess which one, Mom!), swears the soup/head combo (which he collectively refers to as "Bijou Phillips") is the crème de la crème. "They're hot, soothing and orgasmic," he says, "depending upon the Vietnamese restaurant."
The most seasoned drunkard in America is a burly Midwestern newspaper editor we'll call "Pete," who offers the following winning formula for drinking immortality: "My biggest cure for a hangover is sleeping in and showing up late for work. But I usually don't get hangovers; I try to keep my body jammed full of toxins at all times so it isn't a shock when I drink too much Jamieson."