I used to wonder why people would want to get so drunk they black out.
You hear it on the radio, all the pop singers singing their party anthems. Don’t think, just drink, don’t stop, dance ’til you drop, and wake up tomorrow with a fresh tattoo, someone else’s clothes and no memory of the previous night.
Why do we want this? Why have fun that we can’t remember? I think I’m beginning to understand. I’m not there yet, but I can empathize.
We aren’t becoming the hangover generation because we like being drunk. We’re the hangover generation because we’re afraid of being sober.
Sobriety brings awareness, reflection, introspection, and all the ugly truths that these uncover.
Drunkenness could bring anything.
The lost weekend could be anything you can imagine. Maybe you did a triple handstand. Maybe you pissed in Brad Pitt’s pool. Maybe you had the best sex of your life. Who can say you didn’t?
But whatever it was, it has to have been better than all those shitty weekends you do remember, right? Why would I get so wasted if if wasn’t worthwhile?
Even the hangover headache has its purpose, because on some level, we believe in a kind of endorphin karma. If I feel this bad now, I must have felt that good then. And wasn’t it worth it, if at some point, for just a moment, life felt meaningful again?
I now understand the joke, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.” I’d thought the joke was just in the wordplay, but there’s a deeper truth in there. We’re looking for a way to forget, to take away our self-awareness, and if one method takes an ice pick up the nose and the other takes a few fifths of Jack, well…it’s an easy enough decision to make.
Listen to those songs again: Do you hear it? Under the ecstasy, the undercurrent of desperation, fear, denial? It’s the first stage of a generation’s grief, realizing they’re never going to be any happier. That life is all there is. That the American Dream is one you don’t wake up from.
We’re discovering that the ladder we’ve been climbing–the ladder that was supposed to bring happiness and fulfillment–is pasted to the inside of a hamster ball. We climb as fast as we can, and the scenery changes, but no progress, no promotion, no change in our external world does a thing to change what’s inside, to satisfy the ravenous emptiness that chases us down dark alleys.
So we stop climbing. We stop rolling. We stop moving.
And after we sit there a while, we figure, if there’s no point in the climb, maybe a drink will make things just a little bit better.
And just one more drink.
Just one more drink.
If that doesn’t work, maybe one more joint of weed.
And just one more joint.
Just one more joint.
Maybe a little hit of something stronger will do the trick.
And just one more hit.
Just one more hit.
Just one more