But help is at hand -- and not just in that nearby bottle of aspirin. All those worries about Y2K sending us to the technological dark ages are a year behind us; in 2001, even the pathetically hung over should be able to rustle up some cyber-remedies. If you're able to stand upright, it's time to stumble over to your computer, log on and begin your search for salient advice.
Sadly, your first stop is likely to be hangover.com, where you will be greeted by the following message:
"You have reached HANGOVER.COM, please go away with your pain. I cannot help you anymore. All I can leave you with is a smiley face. 8-)"
But don't be discouraged. Other sites remain up and running -- unlike your body. Some are professional, others are very personal. For example, estronaut.com, which bills itself as "advice for women," offers the following:
Usually your body will crave just what it needs. A method that combines all of these helpful hints:
Step 1. Start with Pepto-Bismol
Step 2. A large glass of water (16-32 oz -- a standardized canned drink is 12 oz) OR a large glass of orange juice, if the stomach is OK (with or without extra sugar added)
Step 3. A big chocolate chip cookie or brownie
Step 4. Followed by two ibuprofen
Step 5. Remember this moment
Step 6. Repent
Step 7. Unhook the phone, go back to bed
Other sites have less laudable agendas than simply feeling, or sharing, your pain. There are pages selling Sob'r-K, "the only product guaranteed to combat the adverse effects of alcohol," as well as Hangover Relief and Hang-In, "the long-awaited answer" to hangovers, "comprising over ten specially selected vitamins & minerals." But at least hang-in.com also offers an explanation for why you feel so awful: "The alcohol converts within the body into toxic by-products, especially one called acetaldehyde. Without realizing, you are gradually wearing yourself out with your regular "happy hour' social and business entertainment schedules. The body, after countering the toxicity of these by-products and being dehydrated in the process, is eventually depleted of some essential nutrients and minerals; hence explaining the tiredness and lethargic feeling the morning-after. Over time, the body takes its toll without proper care and nutrition. The underlying theory of hangover alleviation is to augment the body's natural detoxification mechanisms for the by-product of alcohol..."
It's enough to make you wake up and smell the coffee. But wait! According to drinkease.com, "Alcohol is a diuretic, i.e., a drug that increases urination and flushes fluids from the body. Drinking coffee the next morning only increases this problem, as coffee is also a diuretic." This killjoy site also provides the helpful information that "the British Medical Journal did tests that showed drinking bourbon whiskey is twice as likely to cause a hangover than the same amount of vodka."
Useful advice, but a little late.
From askjeeves.com comes this handy hangover stew recipe -- handy, that is, if you happen to already have the ingredients in the house:
3 small red potatoes
1 small leek
2 peeled tomatoes (you can use canned)
1/4 cup thawed green chile
salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce (to taste)
3 cups water or broth
Coarsely chop all your veggies and throw everything but the chiles in a pot. Bring to a slow boil and add your chiles. Don't add them all at once, add a little at a time, and taste it. They will get hotter as they cook, so don't add too much. Let it simmer for an hour or so, until the potatoes are soft. It should be hot enough to make your eyes water, but it shouldn't be painful. Make this before you need it; no one wants to cook while hung over.
Again, this tip comes a little late.
A sure cure, but one even less practical than a recipe that calls for some advance work, is suggested on h2g2.com: Kidney dialysis. According to the site, "Since you cannot depend on your kidneys to filter your blood properly after a binge, you could get a machine to do it for you. Admittedly, most people don't have access to a dialysis machine, but if you can stand getting hooked up by nurses armed with needles while still drunk, you can be sober in four or five hours without any ill effects."
By far the most amusing Web sites devoted to this sorry subject -- if you're in any position to be amused -- are hairytongue.com and hangoverguide.com. On hairytongue, you'll find not only cures, but a hangover glossary and photo gallery, too. There's all that and more, much more, on hangoverguide, a site devoted to celebrating drinking (users can post their favorite bars around the world). But you'll also find plenty of hangover cures here, including such global solutions as white willow bark (it contains salicin, which can be used much like aspirin), and kudzu, a popular Chinese remedy -- information relevant to your current situation only if you happen to have those botanical specimens lying around. But the site also provides this formula for Aunt Emma's Hangover Cocktail (it appears on cocktails.about.com, too), which calls for fairly common ingredients:
1 large can of tomato juice
3 tablespoons vinegar
4 slices of onion
3 tablespoons of sugar
4 stalks of celery
2 teaspoons of Tabasco sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Unfortunately, this recipe also suggests that you let the ingredients stand overnight after mixing, so some advance planning is called for.
Ultimately, the wisest counsel comes from hangoverguide.com: "Remember, a hangover is just the second side of the medal!" Sure, you've got a world-class headache, but you probably had a world-class good time last night, too -- and that's something to celebrate.
So as soon as you can stand, get off the computer, get out the door and go for a surefire Denver cure: menudo. Although some people swear by any good, greasy breakfast, there's something about this Mexican brew -- a frightening mix of tripe, hominy, chiles and you don't want to know what -- that's downright magical. And while your favorite neighborhood Mexican joint may not be open on New Year's Day, we have it on good authority that Benny's Cantina, at 301 East Seventh (303-839-5488), plans to be ministering to the shaky and infirm.
And if you can't stomach the thought of tripe soup, well, a couple of cervezas and a breakfast burrito may do the trick, too.
Happy 2001. You've lived to see it.