Hangovers, zombies and impulse control – Sonoma News – News 2011 – Sonoma, CA

Hangovers, zombies and impulse control

by Daedalus Howell
Dec 15, 2011 – 02:48 PM
Daedalus Howell

Daedalus Howell

I must have misunderstand my high school guidance counselor’s admonishment that I have ?poor impulse control.?

  It seems I might have heard it as ?pour impulse control,? because as soon as I discovered wine in my teens (courtesy of Carlo Rossi’s vin rose), I became really good at impulsively pouring glasses of the stuff. I ‘ve since tempered my rate of consumption, not for a lack of love but for a lack of my ability to remember anything that follows the second glass. For example, there was apparently this period in my life in the mid-?90s called ?college.? I have no recollection of it but every month a student loan bill arrives. It’s like paying a never-ending bar tab.

  This is why I ‘ve come to schedule my subsequent investigations into viticulture or vinification or vilification, whatever it’s now called ? winoism ? with at least two days of recovery time. As they say, ?when it rains, it pours,? to which I?ll add, ?when it brains, it sores.? This what the first phrase sounds like when wheezed into a paper bag between chunders.

  As humorist Robert Benchley opined, ?A real hangover is nothing to try out family remedies on. The only cure for a real hangover is death.? I’m inclined to agree with him, which either means I ‘ve never had a ‘real hangover,? or my name is Lazarus. I think it’s a bit of both. Being hungover is like being a member of the walking dead. As Sonomans, it’s something of a rite of passage to go from zinfandel to zombie and back again. If we were better organized we could stage a re-enactment of Michael Jackson’s ?Thriller? in the Plaza. Of course, this is the kind of idea that sounds brilliant about three glasses in. Then the next day, a single die-hard will find himself in front of City Hall with a red jacket and a mouthful of blood capsules who did not get the ?we’re sleeping off our hangovers? memo. I can tell you, there is nothing sadder than watching a lone zombie practicing his steps in the cold, light of day.

  If it is not yet obvious, I’m hungover as I write this. Which is why it’s taken twice as long to write half as much while sleeping past my deadline to the inevitable chagrin of my editors. Please know, I don’t fancy myself a Brendan Behan type ? ?a drinker with a writing problem? ? as I’m merely competent in either pursuit, if sometimes inspired. Neither drinking nor writing is particularly heroic ? both leave you broke and generally wistful. But if I had to choose, I?d choose the writing game. It’s less likely to lead to liver disease. The fact that I’m writing these observations in a bar called The Bookstore is an irony not lost on me. It’s the bar and grill of the hotel in which I’m staying while on assignment in Seattle. If I could get my forehead off my keyboard I might visit an actual bookstore (the Elliott Bay Book Company comes to mind). Or I might not.

  Where did I go wrong? Is it in my genes? Can’t I blame this headache on some erstwhile ancestor for introducing a mutant strain of winoism into the family tree? Perhaps I could blame my grandmother. On a family road trip to Disneyland, she revealed she was traveling with a mayonnaise jar she had re-purposed to hold vodka. Even at 8, I was impressed with her resourcefulness, which apparently proved handy when we were broken down just outside Coalinga.

  I’m too classy to travel with condiment containers of hootch. Besides, the TSA would just dump them anyway, not least because it might impact sales of those little plastic bottles of 2010 Sutter Home merlot on the plane. And with a wine list like that, who needs impulse control?

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This article appears in the News 2011 issue of Sonoma News

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