Years before “The Hangover” there was…the hangover

Once upon a time on this date, I was alone in a Brooklyn apartment so pathetically hungover that I was calling my mother and father – who knew a lot about hangovers – and asking them for the quickest way to unscrew the vise grip that was squashing my skull. I vaguely recall whispering (yes, whispering, because even the sound of my own voice was too loud), “Whatever the cure, it can’t involve eating or drinking anything because I think I’m going to be sick. Again.”

Why had I drunk so much the night before that I was sending out this mayday to my hard-drinking parents? Because I had been at a bachelor party. My bachelor party. I was calling now because I was getting married in about six hours and I wanted to be sure that I could proceed up the aisle of an aristocratic Manhattan church without depending upon a walker. Without begging the organist to shut it down because already my head was going to explode.

Yup, today is my lovely bride’s and my wedding anniversary.

Now, what had transpired the night before was not precisely a bachelor party. No strippers. Just drunks. I had told my brother – my best man – that I didn’t want a bachelor party. But at the end of the rehearsal dinner, my groomsmen rebelled at the idea of going home, and insisted we find a bar and have a drink. So, we went to the sort of dive on (I believe) Third Avenue where the other bar patrons were ensconced in their newspapers – and I mean that literally. They were using their newspapers as pillows and blankets. According to my brother and my friend, Adam, some hours later they poured me into a taxi and paid the cabbie a little extra to make sure that I got home safely to Brooklyn.

I don’t recall what my parents recommended as a hangover cure, but it worked. I knew I could depend on them: For years my father had played tennis every Sunday morning with a group of guys whose perspiration, like his, could have been bottled and sold as 100 proof alcohol.

When I look back on our wedding – and the miracle of my recovery – I am struck by my bride’s spectacular equanimity and good cheer that day. She hadn’t a bridezilla cell in her body. Didn’t flinch when the photographer confessed sheepishly that he only discovered he’d forgotten to put film in his camera halfway through the service. She merely shrugged when the wrong wedding cake arrived in the ballroom – a cake that lacked the porcelain and fabric feline bride and groom she had meticulously crafted herself for the top. (We never did learn which lucky couple got the cats she’d made.) And she only laughed when, during our first dance, we discovered that the Lester Lanin Orchestra – the sort of tuxedo-clad New York society band that you never see twerking on MTV’s Video Music Awards – had no idea how to cover “our” song, Rikki Lee Jones’s “We belong together.” The band squeaked like third graders at their first music recital.

My point? I am a very lucky man.10634_139986273996_649308996_2697799_56257_n

That night when we were flying to Boston for our honeymoon, I told her how hungover I’d been when I had awoken that morning. She already suspected as much because some of the groomsmen had confessed they had been terrified the night before that I was never going to get home. It was an indication of how hammered they were that they thought it had made sense when they were packing my corpse-like body into the backseat of the cab to use twist-ties to attach the morning suit I had rented to the clothes I was wearing. She was. . .unflappable.

And while I’ve never drunk anything like that amount ever since, one thing hasn’t changed. I am as in love now as I was the day we were married – even more if that’s possible.

Once again, happy anniversary to my lovely bride.

(This column appeared originally in the Burlington Free Press on October 13, 2013. Chris’s new novel, “The Light in the Ruins,” was published in July.)

Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is the author of nineteen books, including his forthcoming novel, The Sleepwalker. His other novels include the New York Times bestsellers Midwives, The Sandcastle Girls, The Guest Room, and The Double Bind.