If you’re in any way hungover stop reading this. Spare yourself. Do not be a hero. If this advice happens to fall on deaf ears, that manageable headache and nausea will tailspin into a gruesome, godsplitting, knee-shaking, life questioning hell. One of those post binger mornings where you look in the mirror and your skin looks like a manilla envelope used for interoffice mail for several years. Nails frayed and hair as brittle as uncooked spaghetti noodles. Several texts on your phone from unknown numbers saying “We need to talk…” That type of hell.
There are certain rare instances where drinking and not sleeping for two straight days can create some very uncomfortable circumstances. Flight 1256 McCarran Intl Airport to O’Hare Intl Airport at 6:28 AM PT was one of those circumstances. It felt like several eternities, sitting there like a pathetic squirming insect at gate that I can’t recall. C29 seems familiar but then again so does E45 and F92. Completely broken and waging a relentless bloody war with consciousness in the godforsaken city known as Las Vegas. What was I mourning again? Or maybe I was celebrating, that had to be it, celebrating something.
The grip on consciousness was fading fast. Several clumsy and full face-plants in the security line had seemed to go unnoticed, but a full on pass out would almost certainly guarantee banishment from the gloriously parked silver bird to freedom sitting eagerly on the runway. The migration from belligerently drunk to violently hungover generally mercifully occurs whilst asleep. Since this wasn’t an affordable luxury, I sat, and patiently awaited the turn. The transition was instantaneous. Either the hangover had found its host, or some prankster had spiked my Arctic Chill Gatorade with 7-11 chili cheese sauce and taken a run on the back of my head with a sock full of quarters. The beeline to the airport bathroom was swift and purposeful.
No sooner had I left the friendly confines of the seat, an incomprehensible drone seemed to beckon me back. The boarding call that I had once longed for coming at the most inopportune of times. The guts evacuation would be postponed, but for how long? How long could shear and utter human will outlast nature? How long could I keep the monster at bay? Scratching and clawing its way to the surface with every painful, dragging footstep.
“I may pass away on this flight.” I dryly murmured to the United Air flight attendant. “Not on my watch honey!” she responded with a certain confidence that made me momentarily believe I was going to make it through this hell. Sitting in the seat of a flight packed to the brim, the massaging of my temples became more frequent and furious. At this point the concept of time was non-existent. I was in the clutches of that seat for 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, 5 years. The sirens song of a hole to evacuate my stomach in became to overwhelming to ignore. In the bathroom stall, I planted myself on the ledge that the toilet rests in to balance myself, slouched partially over the sink. The severe nausea had momentarily passed, and the thought of the flight at some point ending was an agreeable prospect.
That prospect was short-lived, as everything came crashing down. The gradual tilting of the plane became more and more pronounced. First attributed to dizziness caused by the hooch, it was only when I was at a 45° that I realized my unfortunately timed bathroom run. Takeoff. As the plane climbed, my head spun. The altitude and level of nausea seemed to be growing in unison. The inevitable uncontrollable eruption happened immediately and furiously. A seafood tower and 18-27 Bud Lights covered the walls. Not a morsel in the toilet or sink. A portrait of Vegas excess. A tribute to Sin City. The sheepish retreat back to my seat was surreal. As I sunk in and attempted a complete disappearance. A futile effort because the odors being emitted even caused a college bro to comment “Dude commeeee on!” Soured milk. Sleep must have taken over at some point because the next thing I heard was the beautiful sound of the wheels caressing the Chicago pavement. The flight had ended.