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Hangover House

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Hangover HouseI clamber to my feet and stretch.

Not in a “rise and shine” kind of way, but more of a “did I sleep in a trunk?” kind of way. Hungover and the stretch makes me dizzy. I sit down on the bed.

It’s chilly. My room is cluttered. I can feel it—the inevitable slump that would have me crawling back under the covers and pulling the thick quilt over my head. This is when the inner dialogue begins:

“It’s 12:45.”

“I know what time it is.”

“Stand up.”

“Go to hell.”

“Kinda let last night get away from you, huh?”

“You were there.”

“You have to get up. You’ve already slept too late and now you’re going to be up all night. We have to work tomorrow.”

Something unintelligible.

“Fine. Do what you want.”

We reach an agreement; I will motivate myself, as long as I am allowed to be a jerk all day, and if need be, all day tomorrow. Deal.

Feeling around with my toes, I locate what is either a slipper, or a rabbit. Slipper. Just once I want it to be a rabbit. I put them on, stand, and wrap my bathrobe around me. This is my Sunday regalia.

I shuffle from my chambers, passing a mirror in the hallway. I stop to take in the sight, and have to chuckle. On Saturday night, you sparkle, it’s when you present the finest “you” you can package, the show-model. This is typically the best you look all week. That’s why it’s funny that Sunday morning is typically the worst you look all week. In the course of the evening, a slow but steady transition takes place; although last night the transition happened rather abruptly.

Here’s the recap of my evening: We arrived at our favorite rock-n-roll lounge. It was packed, but a good crowd. There were a lot of people I knew, so I could keep on the move. I like that. I met a young lady, and we seemed to hit it off. Good back and forth. I went to the restroom, came back, and found her sitting at a booth with some guy who looked like a mannequin that escaped from an Abercrombie and Fitch window. Here I was trying to showcase some gallantry and wit (and I had her giggling and   everything), when it turns out all I really needed was an empty seat and a collar. I didn’t have the energy to keep looking, so I focused on playing pool and drinking. And it went downhill from there.

So now I stare in the mirror. A mess. I don’t care. I see the bags under my eyes and laugh, “You call those bags? I thought they’d be bigger. That’s nothing.”

The taste in my mouth is wretched. My fingers smell like smoke. Hair, well, the hair I’ll admit is very entertaining. But overall, a mess, and I paid good money to feel like this. My head pounds.

I go to the kitchen, find a bag of coffee, and take a whiff, just like in the commercials. Yes, people really do that. Well, I do. I may be a clown, but I’m a clown even when the cameras are off, if that means anything. I start the brewing process.

Thirsty, I pull the stupid water filtering pitcher thing out of the fridge, the one I always forget to refill because you have to add water to it every fucking time you use it because the filter part takes up half the goddamn volume of the pitcher itself and I’m just lazy in the first place which explains this long bitchy run-on sentence with no punctuation except for this period right here. Coffee takes a very, very long time to brew. Drip. Drip.

I fill the rest of the glass with tap water and chug. As I’m gulping I notice the familiar fuzzy black ink square on the top of my hand (see, they stamp you so the next morning you can remember where you were the night before. It’s the least they can do). It will be there till Monday. I feel a chill and cinch up my robe.

It had snowed the day before. We got about two inches. It was freezing outside. Giving up on the coffee for the moment, I make my way to the living room and stand over the heating register by the window, probably the best place to stand in the entire house. When the heater kicks on, it fills your robe like a hot-air balloon. It’s almost euphoric and is the only time I allow myself to use the word “toasty.” Unfortunately the heater was in between kicks. So I am basically standing on a cold metal grate.

Now, I’m just staring out the window at the barren trees, at the grey, which you can spell grey or gray, but I choose to spell it grey because it doesn’t seem as dreary when you spell it gray, and when you’re talking about grey, you’re typically not talking about cheerful things. There are exceptions, but, another time perhaps.

Now what am I going to do with my day? Everything I think of sounds arduous. I might just stand here at the window all day. I might just stand here at the window forever, if the heater ever kicks on.

I remember I have to be at a dinner party in five hours, and I actually do look forward to it. I love my friends: amazing people; perfect for a Sunday, like this. We’ll have some fantastic food, drink some good wine. I’ll be funny, whether I care to be or not. That’s my part, which I am happy to play. At least I have a part.

I lean forward against the window pane, feel the iciness on my forehead, and exhale heavily on the glass causing it to slowly fog over. With my finger I draw a large smiley face in the moisture, and look through it, outside, at the snow…

The trance is broken by the sound of the coffee maker, completing its task with a few sputtery coughs.

I arrive back in the kitchen just as the heater kicks on.

My head throbs. And I am trapped inside it. As the winter marches on…

—Randall Greenland II