Hangovers and Nonsense: Misadventures of a Birthday Steeped in Beer

Birthdays were much easier when I was in my twenties; hungover and unredemptive, I would head out early the next day with energy to spare. Now I want to be in bed early, contemplating what needs to be done the following day. Responsibilities are tantamount to a contract with myself that won't allow me to go wild, but to cower in corners, shielding my eyes from the light.

This year, after much bitching about the Star Wars holiday and acknowledgment of celebrity birthdays, among them Mike Dirnt and Audrey Hepburn, my wife and I headed out for drinks and dinner. We sampled food and alcohol at Hopvine Brewing Company in Aurora, where I consumed a flight of all but one  of the beers on the menu, and then dutifully recorded them on Untappd, the perfect app for documenting my drunkenness, as my colleagues keep telling me. I'm seemingly the only one around here that checks off the boxes and tries a new beer at every sitting, except for many of my Wisconsin friends who shall remain nameless. My wife drank three overpriced, yet satisfying, cocktails and undoubtedly shook her head as I tossed back craft beer in seeming penance for my years. 

Then we consumed some fabulous burgers before trekking to World of Beers in Naperville, where I proceeded to drink three more tasty beers, while watching the New York Rangers get slaughtered by the Penguins. Carrie was bored and wanted to go home, but I had to get a few more in, staring glossy eyed at various screens and ordering another rare beer. What a menu! If you have a chance, I do recommend Maine Brewing Company's Lunch, a pretty tasty IPA named after a Whale that roams off the Maine coast and has been surfacing in those waters since 1982, Fruity and hoppy, the beer was a highlight of my night, and I should have stopped there. The bottle cautions that it should be consumed fresh because "hoppy beers don't age well." After this stellar beer I tried He'brew's Messiah Nut Brown, and it was good too. But I had overdone it at this point and my stomach began turning in circles.

I have never been the type that would drink myself into a stupor, always avoiding the fortified wines, bad malt liquour, and keg parties that mark most people's twenties. Still I always prided myself on my ability to drink a lot and never appear too drunk. Last night I got kind of sloppy, and I was glad that my wife said she would drive, although I didn't tell her that at the time; I figured you have to keep up a front of being a model citizen, even through a haze of suds.

She drove and, of course, my car acted up. After stopping to top off the oil that the beast burns on cue, we drove the 30 or so miles home so she could do homework. I told you that we resemble responsible adults. At least I resemble one, while she does the role justice. 

I promptly passed out while she studied, only to wake up around 3 and regret my decisions. I'm just not as young as I used to be. Maybe the craft beers and the navel gazing adequately point that out. As heartburn raged, I vowed to take it easier from here on out. When I finally did sleep, I slept until noon, one of the few perks of the grad student schedule. I am only now feeling better as I write this hours later. To make use of an overused joke, the fourth just wasn't with me. I guess I'm thankful that I didn't see anyone dressed as Jabba the Hut, but I'm going to plan accordingly for next year. If I do, I'll just go home early; they sell beer at the store and I want to be in bed before midnight.


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