Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oh, to be hungover in Houston

On a day when the snobby elites -- and by snobby elites I mean anyone getting paid to opine -- are expounding on presidential primaries, leap year trivia and the poser power of Angelina’s right leg, I choose to celebrate nostalgia.


Who else besides me misses a really good hangover!


I knew you were out there.


Understand, I don’t mean someone else’s hangover, something we all enjoy. It’s human nature to revel in the self-inflicted misery of our fellow man. In fact, one sure hangover cure is put yourself in the vicinity of anyone whose hangover is worse than yours.


A body seems to draw strength from the suffering of another, especially if the two of you spent the previous night together getting all gassed up on the same portions of poisons.


I think it’s because we were all raised to care for any naturally sick loved one -- even when we know they’re bound to be a huge pain in the ass.


“Dear, my throat’s sore. Will you get me some tea?”


Yes, dear.


“My stomach’s upset. Will you please make me some jello?”


Of course, darling.


“Honey, I need you to come empty the slop bucket. Now!”


That’s one you learn from bitter experience that can’t wait until Tiger attempts his birdie putt.


There’s no such spiritual obligation to help the hungover. On the contrary, people think it’s acceptable to torture us.


They make loud noises intended to startle. They cook big portions of aromatic foods and insist we partake. They invent cruel situations that normally require alcohol consumption to survive -- like the forced mingling with in-laws.


I miss the pre-kid days when I could just allow the hangover to naturally dissipate.


My hangover heydays were about 15 years ago when my wife worked 9-to-5 in Pittsburgh and I worked 11-to-3:15 from home.


I’d wake up with a near-crippling hangover and surprise her by springing out of bed to do things like make her breakfast or scrape frost from her windshield.


“Wow,” she’d say. “I can’t believe you’re even upright. I figured you’d really be hurting today.”


Me? I’m fine. I plan on jogging, cleaning the gutters, re-shingling the roof . . .


If I could survive that 20-minute burst of activity it took to fool her about my condition, I’d be in the clear. The second her taillights left the driveway, she’d be on an hour-long drive to Pittsburgh and I’d be on my way to the only place a hungover man can go to recover.


Yes, I’d spend the day in TV Land. Every golden episode, from “Green Acres” to “The Munsters,” feels restorative.


I can’t afford to have wasted days like that anymore. I have responsibilities, places to be, and precocious children that jump on the bed anytime they find me alone and trying to relax in it.


That’s why I’m thinking of moving to Houston for my next bender.


This from today’s Houston Chronicle:


“City officials plan to open a ‘sobering center’ at the Star of Hope Mission downtown later this year. It would be an 84-bed facility that would allow people whose only offense is being drunk to bypass jail.

“Houston police arrest 19,000 people a year for public intoxication, racking up $4 million to $6 million in jail costs. A sobering center aims to divert drunks from jail and free up cells for more dangerous offenders. Dropping off a person at the center, instead of booking him into jail, also would let officers return to patrol more quickly.

“A person brought to the sobering center would have to stay at least four hours, until he sobers up, and would not have an arrest put on his record.”

In my dreams, I imagine everyone at the sobering center wears slippers, is never impatient with the milk shake nurse, and no one ever talks during “The Andy Griffith Show” marathon that plays in a continuous loop.

The wisdom and humanity of this solution restores my faith in a state that foisted both George W. Bush and Rick Perry onto our national conscious.

So I plan on leaving for Texas in the next day or so -- and not just because I’m looking for a good, safe place to sleep it off.

I plan on opening a tavern right next door, The Hair o’ the Dog Saloon.

Yes, America, this Otis has finally found his Mayberry!

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