I would always rather have a comedown than a hangover
They’re superior in every way
Would you still drink if the hangover came first, followed by the part when you’re happy and wasted?
I’m not entirely sure that I would. Pain first, then pleasure? I doubt anyone would sign up for it. Think about your worst hangover, the MVP hangovers you’ve had, where you can’t see, where you can’t speak, where you feel like a trip to the fridge will be enough to make you simultaneously vomit and shit yourself.
A comedown has never made me feel like that. Ever.
But we love hangovers more than comedowns don’t we? We fetishise them, glorify them. There’s a self-pitying element to them that’s almost sweet, that you can indulge and wrap yourself in. There is a deluge of writing out there about hangovers, and yeah, this body of writing knows hangovers are awful, but it also wants you to find them funny.
This is Tom Wolfe, in his novel The Bonfire of the Vanities:
“The telephone blasted Peter Fallow awake inside an egg with the shell peeled away and only the membranous sac holding it intact. Ah! The membranous sac was his head, and the right side of his head was on the pillow, and the yolk was as heavy as mercury, and it rolled like mercury, and it was pressing down on his right temple… If he tried to get up to answer the telephone, the yolk, the mercury, the poisoned mass, would shift and roll and rupture the sac, and his brains would fall out.”
Ha ha ha. Here’s Helen Fielding, in Bridget Jones’s Diary:
“11.45pm. Ugh. First day of New Year has been day of horror. Cannot quite believe I am once again starting the year in a single bed in my parents’ house. Having skulked at home all day, hoping hangover would clear, I eventually gave up and set off for the Turkey Curry Buffet far too late. When I got to the Alconburys’… I was still in a strange world of my own – nauseous, vile-headed, acidic… I leaned against the ornament shelf for support.”
Hangovers are part of our lives and our culture. They’re accepted as a necessary evil, celebrated as comedy. What about comedowns? Where is the writing about comedowns? Why is nobody pointing out what is so palpably true: comedowns are superior to hangovers in every way.
Nasty physical details out of the way first. Comedowns don’t make you throw up. Comedowns don’t make you crap yourself, they certainly don’t make you piss yourself. And that nightmare trinity is a cornerstone of the hangover – and people just laugh about it. But with comedowns you’ll hear people talking about them like they’ve survived something significant. They’ll look out of the window, puff out their cheeks, shake their heads. What a comedown that was. They claim a clarity of vision that can only come from doing something illegal and therefore glamorous. When they talk about their comedown they sound like they’re telling a story about escaping the South Tower on 9/11; they look like they were there on the first day of the Somme.
But it’s all bullshit.
Comedowns are pleasant. My worst was the one where I sat outside a Starbucks in Bristol, utterly convinced that I could feel my fingernails growing. Someone bought me an iced coffee and I calmed the fuck down. We walked around, smoked weed, bought a pizza and watched football. Nobody was ill, everyone operated within an atmosphere of being at home in the world. Even when I’m on my own I can still face whatever the next day brings, no matter how much crappy London white I’ve shoved in my body the day before.
Look, I’m aware that there are many deeper structural problems facing civilisation than this question of hangovers and comedowns. I’m aware that many grosser violations of human rights are being perpetrated as we speak. I know that you’d rather deal with the big questions, because you’re young and smart and good-looking. But seriously, the next time someone tells you about a terrible comedown or bangs on about how hilarious their hangover was, ask them if they’re really thinking, if they really have a clue what they’re talking about.