Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Can a person get a "contact hangover?"

I assume that many of you will be familiar with the expression "contact high" -- not from experience, of course, but, rather, from your wide and deep reading in American culture.

Middle Son had heard of that concept, but he had not seen how it might work until one night, a few years back, when he ushered a Rolling Stones concert at Soldier Field. Many of the concertgoers were smoking cigarettes in which tobacco was not an ingredient. What particularly surprised and alarmed Middle Son was that many of these same concertgoers were clearly as old as -- or older -- than his own parents.

But today's essay is not about "contact highs." It goes back, instead, to last week when, as you may recall, Younger Daughter celebrated her 21st birthday. I mentioned at the time that all my kids of legal age (and Hank and Abby, my son-in-law and daughter-in-law) decided they would take Younger Daughter out for a celebration after Youngest Son's Friday night football game.

All were gathered, then, in my living room, after the game. It was nearly 11:00pm. I was standing up only because, if I sat down, now that I was safely in my own house, I would surely go right to sleep. Abby, I noticed, was nodding over on the couch. Oldest Son, her husband, said he was feeling tired, too, and therefore needed to start drinking. Older Daughter and her husband Hank weren't saying much -- but, then, they'd driven up from Indianapolis already today. They certainly looked tired. I made a suggestion about getting a quick one in the neighborhood and calling it a night -- but that plan was swiftly voted down.

The delay was caused by Younger Daughter's insistence on changing outfits -- from football chic to something more appropriate for nightclubbing. With a mom, a sister, and a sister-in-law available to critique the results, this was not an easy process. In my exhaustion, I may have missed one, but I'm sure there were at least two complete outfit changes before a consensus was achieved. (Long Suffering Spouse, I recall, was most insistent that Younger Daughter wear shoes. The cold front hit during the second half of Friday's game and the temperature had plunged. Flip flops, she said, simply would not do.)

Eventually, with the costuming issue resolved, the group left. There was one further debate, about whether they should take the family van or whether they could all fit in Middle Son's car. There would have to be two lapsitters in his car (they were picking up one of Middle Son's friends en route) but Middle Son's car would be easier to park in the Lincoln Park area, where they were headed.

We expected Older Daughter and Hank to return, and Younger Daughter, of course. But, on the way out, Middle Son advised he'd probably be coming back to the house as well. I suggested it might be easier if everyone stayed in the City -- Oldest Son's apartment is small... tiny, even... but bunking there might be better, I thought, than trying to navigate the roads after this late night frolic. My suggestion was considered -- and rejected.

The group did go to Oldest Son's apartment before and after but, after their revels, everyone except Oldest Son and his wife came back to my house... in a cab.*

In a cab, via Taco Burrito King.

Taco Burrito King -- or TBK, as it is more colloquially known -- is the after hours place to go for today's Chicago Nocturnals. In my day, it was either White Castle or some place called Dewey's (that I never actually saw) where one would get "a bowl of red" (chili) or "a bowl of red with eyes" (chili with two fried eggs on top). Personally, back in my drinking days, I never saw much virtue in mixing food with my liquor. But that was a matter of personal taste. Many people -- my kids included -- like to end a spree with a meal. Thus, TBK.

Anyway, I heard noises around 5:00am. "Who's there?" I hollered. There was no reply. I heard more noises, put two and two together, and went back to sleep.

I slept in on Saturday, in deference to my houseguests. I managed to stay in bed until 8:00am or so. By mid-morning, nearly all of the Nocturnals had awakened, to one degree or another, and were regaling me with tales of their grand adventure the night before. It's the kind of stuff you've all heard before: Shots of various liquors, beer pong, transvestites posing for glamor pictures on the stairway in a bar.... I won't bore you with the details.

But as the stories went on and on, I began to feel worse and worse. And, so, it occurred to me: Can you get a contact hangover? Because I think that's what happened to me Saturday.

* I wish to stress my approval and appreciation of the cab idea. Oldest Son brought the car back later Saturday.

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