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bio: stu

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Notes on a Pandemic
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Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
It's coming up on two years since my first first absinthe "experience," and I have as much trouble remembering it as I did that foggy morning after. A night of absinthe abuse doesn't really ever stick in your mind as a memory, per se; more as a vague sense of having been present for a series of events.

Like a memory of watching a video that's been viewed too many times.

Or maybe not; perhaps the legend that absinthe burns holes in your brain isn't too far off.

For those lucky enough to have gone without for so long, absinthe is an extraordinarily powerful green colored alcohol, coming in colors ranging from Mountain Dew yellow to radioactive forest green. The alcohol content is, at the minimum, 110 proof, but it normally weighs in at 140 proof. The drink is anis based, but the herb in absinthe that interests most drinkers is wormwood. Poisonous in large doses, wormwood contains thujone, a chemical that allegedly acts on the brain in a similar manner to THC.

Admirably, the elements in absinthe that you think would be the greatest drawbacks have been transformed into a strength. At 70% alcohol, absinthe is frightfully easy to set on fire, and also tends to taste rather nasty if consumed straight. To compensate, absinthe is normally set on fire, mixed with sugar, and then diluted with water. So, each drink of absinthe not only tastes deceptively sweet and weak, the preparation also takes on some of the aspects of a performance.

(It can also talk you into trying to blow a fireball like a circus performer and consequently set your hand on fire, but that is neither here nor there.)

All in all, a bottle of absinthe split between three or four friends can lead to a rather exciting and memorable--for those watching, if not for those drinking--evening. Sadly, the effects of the thujone seem to be rather overstated; over the dozen absinthe nights I've had in the last two years, the only abnormal effect it's had on me is that I've found myself embracing people a lot more, telling them that I loved them, and that I can't BELIEVE I'm this drunk!

There has been one questionable "Am I stoned or not?" absinthe moment in my experience, and this leads us back two years ago, to my first night. Or rather, the morning after the first night. I had the strangest dream (yes, I know, no one really cares about the dream's of others, but humor me; this leads right into my next absinthe-related point). Half-dressed hare krishnas painted entirely smurf-blue (in honor of Lord Krishna, I suppose) were pelting me with strawberries and shouting 'Uhura ahkbar!' But even though they were only using the berries to throw at me, when I bent to pick one up and pop it into my mouth, they slapped it out of my hand and started kicking me, screaming, 'You can't eat those! Those are the Lord's berries!'

I finally woke just as one of the hare krishnas was ripping out a giant marble water fountain (never watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest while under the influence) and was preparing to drop it on top of my head.

This leads right into my next and final point; absinthe hangovers are quite possibly the worst hangovers in existence (I'm going through different types of alcohol to test this out; check back with me later). I awoke the next morning confused and in pain. At first, I thought my dream was real--that I'd just had a marble water fountain dropped on my head. The only other explanation I could come up with is that, at some point in the previous evening, I became a vampire and suffered a concussion. Had I passed out in a tanning bed or something?

And why did my tongue itch? Is that even possible?

I pulled the covers over my head, and, oddly enough, began to think about the goddess Athena. You see, one day the king of the Greek gods, Zeus, had a particularly difficult headache, and instead of taking an aspirin or a drink of the hair of the minotaur that bit him, he gets one of his fellow gods to bash him on the head with a hammer (the Greeks had such interesting solutions to common problems). Understandably, his skull splits open, and out springs a full-grown beautiful naked woman, none the worse for being stuck between Zeus' frontal lobe and pineal gland (though, if this and other stories about Zeus are any indication, there was probably plenty of breathing room in the frontal lobe area). This woman is Athena, the goddess of justice and law.

For a brief, semi-coherent moment, I hoped that this was my problem. But I quickly realized that, even if I were a Greek god, rather than a Scotch-Norwegian mutt with a pray-for-death hangover, I didn't particularly want my brain creased by a literal hammer on top of the figurative ones. And I wasn't really in the mood to deal with a nude authoritarian woman, beautiful or otherwise (unless by 'deal with' you mean 'quite possibly vomit all over'--a particularly bad way of dealing with women, even the mythological ones).

I spent the rest of the day in bed, drinking liters of water and hissing at everyone who tried to turn the light on or open the curtains I had bravely ventured out to close.

So, let this be a lesson unto you. Don't drink absinthe in excess. Share some with the rest of us.

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