53.6 F

Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Going horizontal

I’m writing this horizontally, which is to say, I’m lying on my bed, typing with the laptop on its side. It’s Sunday.

My hangovers always isolate in the stomach. No headaches, just horned animals, knocking their heads together and scraping their hooves against my stomach lining. Sometimes the collision is especially violent, and that’s when I stop typing to stare at the wall, waiting for it to pass.

Who knows how I’d feel if I hadn’t vomited yesterday, twice. First, in front of Ali Baba’s, my head in a bush. Second, while face down on the grass near the Segundo Dining Commons, maybe 15 minutes later. I was resting in the darkness behind my eyelids, waiting for the cavalry to arrive, but my friend Ignat was worried because I wasn’t responding to his questions. By then the rest of our posse had gone home, taken the bus, as we had all planned to, until I complicated things by fleeing the scene toward Segundo, my mouth full of spit.

There are 11 dots on my hand, drawn with permanent marker. I don’t drink alcohol often, and when I do, it isn’t heavily. My tolerance isn’t high. But these dots were made yesterday in the hour between noon and 1 p.m., which is too much tequila too quickly, especially for me, a fellow who can’t handle himself. My friend Josh drew dots with me. But Josh didn’t have his head in his hands at Ali Baba’s while everyone else ate. Josh didn’t stumble outside to void his stomach into the bushes, or flee the bus stop while everyone else boarded. Josh weighs less than me. And Josh woke up this morning with 21 dots on his hand.

I stumbled downstairs this morning for a piece of bagel. The mess starts in the kitchen and spills into the living room. Beer cans. Shot glasses. You can’t put a dinner plate down without knocking over an empty fluid receptacle. It was 7:30 a.m. but my friends from back home were already gone, their makeshift beds folded up and tidy.

Neither of them drew dots on their hands but one of them cut his eyebrow on a tree, which tells you something. His name is Ethan and he was running, did a 360 and slapped a NO PARKING sign in midair before hitting a tree face-first. This is how he explained it; I wasn’t there to see. I was somewhere else, probably with my own problems, with my head in a bush instead of a tree.

My memory of yesterday is full of holes, and the chronology is broken. Ignat, who just came into my room, says I was dancing, not puking, when Ethan smashed himself. Then he asks if I remember Ethan hurting himself earlier in the day, which I don’t. This is what I do remember: Waking up. Drawing 11 dots on my left hand. Walking to campus. Doxie Derby. The Quad. Ali Baba’s. The bush at Ali Baba’s. The bus stop. Escape from the bus stop. The parking lot near the Segundo DC. The grass, up close, near the Segundo DC. Flinging myself onto the living room floor. Waking up a couple hours later.

It’s nice, that circularity. Waking up is always a good way to start anything, which is why hangovers are so wretched. They take that sweet moment, the moment when your eyes open but you don’t yet have to get up, and inject pain into it, terrible pain. This is why I don’t drink often, and don’t drink heavily. It isn’t worth ruining the waking moment, which happens every day as long as you don’t muck around with it.

There’s half of a burrito in the refrigerator – mine – a remnant of yesterday’s dinner. I’m going to eat it tonight, for the sake of circularity. But tonight is a long ways away, and the amount of work to be done in the meantime is staggering. Downstairs, Ignat is hitting some cymbals. Ethan is gone. Josh is gone. My other friend from home, Anthony, is gone. The kitchen and living room are filthy. Animal wars rage on in my stomach. In terms of consequences, yesterday was a complete disaster.

Yet we went through it anyway, and not without an idea of how things might end up. So what is our justification? I don’t know exactly, but I spoke to Ethan a while back, before yesterday, and I think he was on the right track.

“You puking tonight?” I asked.

“I’m down,” he said.

“I’m not joking around,” I said.

“I know. Why not? I’m not afraid.”


KOJI FRAHM hid his stomach contents around campus. Report lost articles to kcfrahm@ucdavis.edu.


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