Photo by / Iryna Zhezher

Middle Age Hangover

I remember back in the day when I could spend the evening at Revolution or The Otherside and bounce back for Sunday brunch at My Sister’s Room. It didn’t matter what I drank, somehow my body could absorb some Tylenol and bread before bed and sleep it off. Now in middle age, strategic choices have to be made in order for me to function enough to get home safely.


That’s because I usually don’t get truly intoxicated unless I’m on a trip. The worst in recent memory was my 30th high school reunion before the pandemic. I went to high school in Tennessee, about a four-hour car ride from Atlanta. The event ended with a bash at a local hangout, live band and open bar included. I was lucid as I headed out the door back to my hotel; then someone told me that I forgot to say goodbye to one more person.


I said goodbye to that one friend, only to be coerced by more to continue the evening at another location. I agreed, but that one more bar turned into going to someone’s home bar afterward. That, in turn, resulted in my waking up in a strange bed without my original clothes on. I nervously checked and fortunately, I’d woken up alone. I learned the owner of the house had offered a change of clothes that was more comfortable to sleep in.


Hugging those who remained scattered and passed out around this place, I took my leave back to the hotel to check out. That old self that could easily jump up and begin a new day was long buried, and the nauseated train wreck was now barely getting herself around town. When I called a friend in Atlanta for moral support, she directed me to the nearest store to get Coke and Pedialyte. Sipping that all the way home, asking God not to laugh too loudly at me, I got back to my own bed to nurse the remaining hangover away.


Thanks to that experience, when a friend’s 50th birthday was planned for this month back in Tennessee, I had some decisions to make. I arrived the day before the crowds and the bars due to my kidney transplant and COVID-19 and hung out with the birthday girl and a couple people at the hotel. Another main difference: I stuck with good old-fashioned beer. As everyone else drowned in a mixture of various cocktails, I stood firmly with only Mr. Yuengling, knowing I was doing myself a favor the next day. And it proved the correct move, since I was up and pepped to head home without a headache or a prayer.


It’s easy to complain about changes in your body as you get older, but I instead take the “classic car” approach. New models now look the same to me, with bland shapes and colors. But when a classic rolls by, I admire the unique body and ignore the burning oil from the tailpipe. This 1970 model might be rusting in some parts, but she’s still got some miles left in her … especially if you put the right fuel in her tank.