I remember it pretty well: I went to a bar with my friend and Himalayan club colleague (also a boss) Sergey Vertelov, its president, to meet some of his buddies/clients.
This was right in the center of Moscow, not far from the KGB headquarters on Lubyanka, April 2012.
There were around six or seven people, I didn’t know anyone except for Vertelov. We were chatting, drinking vodka (I don’t personally like it, I’d prefer beer, but it was the choice of the company). Mostly this was a company of businessmen, business owners, quite rich dudes that could afford some luxury adventures in places like Nepal of Africa. With a little help of Sergey Vertelov and the Himalayan club.
Slowly but surely I was getting into darkness: loud music, vodka, people in front of me could barely hear… To me, the right way to get drunk, as instead of true communication, you drink instead as you’re basically alone because of the deafening indoor noise. Plus, like I have mentioned, I’m not a great communicator when it comes to talking to people you’ve never met before in a bar. One shot, one more, another one, there you go!
One of the guys was another of Sergey’s friend, a tall dude in his 50s, an owner of some publishing house. He was sitting to the right of me: we talked, too, just a bit. His nickname was a bit weird, Kusya, don’t remember his first name anyway.
Then we moved to another venue: some people left, but four of us: Sergey, his friend, that guy Kusya and, surely, me, stayed. Why? It was long overdue. It was time to go home. You know, some men always keep asking themselves afterwards.
This was my big mistake. I have to admit that I wasn’t emotionally stable at the time and more drinking could turn me (not always but pretty often) berserk.
We moved in there to have some Jameson, I’ve had two double shots and then there was a blackout. I only remember some scenes of me outside, some bits and pieces of some street fight I was taking part in.
…next morning I woke up at home, with my forehead cut with a visible scar right near my left eye.
My wife was very silent: she took me to a hospital to help me fix this injury. She was very silent and when I got the treatment, she told me that I could leave.
Other news coming up that morning: Sergey phoned me and said: “Dude, don’t you remember anything?” I said: “No.”
He then told me that I and Kusya went outside to wait for a taxi. He stayed in. When he got out he saw a shocking scene: I was fighting with the guy, then with something like a right hook knockin’ him out and then falling down myself (to get that scar, I suppose). Lots of blood from my cut forehead.
We’ve never discovered what was the reason for the conflict with the guy: not him neither, we just didn’t remember it.
I fixed the scar: you wouldn’t notice it now. Kusya and me got along together later pretty well. I fixed my relations with my wife after that event. I might forget it now.
The only thing I can’t forget is the feeling of desperation early morning: looking at myself in the mirror, seeing this bloody scar, and my head just exploding because of the hangover. But the biggest thing was the feeling of shame.
Never say never but I’m 99 per cent sure such a thing won’t happen to me again.
P.S. For Sergey Vertelov it is still such big fun to recall this thing over the years: I think he actually was proud of me sending the guy down: something like ‘the black belt in action’ but… this is a completely different story.
My worst hangover…
It happened over 40 years ago, but I’ve never got even close to how I felt that day, and that night.
It was my last day at what was only my second full-time job. I left the company despite really enjoying my work, negotiating uninsured loss claims against third-parties. (Something to do with not being able to get to be managing director within a reasonable time-frame, ie the next year or so…)
Anyway, I worked the morning as normal, and then my colleagues made a small presentation to me, after which it was off to the pub next door. For lunch. Or rather, drinks.
One of my gifts was a rather fetching half-pint metal tankard. Because I was young, extremely stupid, and of course totally indestructible, I accepted the challenge of filling this tankard full of whisky, (they paid), and then drinking it as quickly as possible.
Done; that was easy, wasn’t it? As soon as I stepped outside into the fresh air, my body started to complain. I felt nauseous, my head started pounding, and I quickly realised that what I had just done was not the best idea I’ve ever had. I could barely stand up, and spent the afternoon lying down in the company’s medical room. I was woken up at 5pm, and can’t remember getting home.
But the worst was still to come. It was a Friday evening, and my semi-pro band had a gig. An extremely loud gig, at a large hotel in Bournemouth. Feeling as ill as I could ever remember, I had to load my van up with equipment, drive to the venue (don’t even go there…) then haul my keyboard and massive organ speaker up a flight of stairs, set up, and then endure a 3-hour performance where every chord, right through the evening, sent giant slabs of pain right through me, ending up in my head. I thought I may well die there, on stage.
Of course I survived, and as always, made the vow never to touch another drop of alcohol, ever. And I didn’t for at least 24 hours……
As I write this, I feel quite woozy just remembering the self-induced torture through which I had put myself. Ah, what it was to be so young, so naïve, and so utterly stupid. There are things about my approaching old age that don’t seem quite so bad now.
My Worst Hangover…
I know there are things worse than a hangover: There’s Ebola, some folks get hit by trains, and I’m informed that childbirth is less pleasant than it sounds. Even with these trivial exceptions in mind, I will argue that a hangover is one of the worst things to befall the average sixteen year old boy.
And when will people get it into their thick heads that even the smell of the drink that made you sick to start with will make you toss your cookies before you can reach the safety of the smallest room in the house? The hair of the dog that bit you is not a cure.
I believe my worst hangover came when I was about twenty years old. I had too much to drink one night and I needed to go buy a new car the next day. I had gone to the same Sales Rep at the same Mazda Dealership for like three cars in a row.
I felt just awful and my stomach was seriously over my tomfoolery. But for some reason that escapes me now, I needed to go buy this car that morning. I didn’t throw-up at the dealership but I must have been a calming shade of green because the salesman asked me if I was sick. I did buy my car and I did make it home. But I did not repeat my drinking performance again for a while.
I really don’t get hangovers but if I drink too much wine I’ll have a headache the next morning. The cure is simple: don’t drink too much wine, stupid! I’ll have beer if I’m out during the day but I’m really not a beer fan, so two or three is about all I really want.
I will normally have something to drink during the evenings but I don’t get drunk unless I’m with some Russian friends. Them boys still live in Russia so I don’t see them often; something I should be thankful for. Of course, with the virus, I haven’t seen them at all for almost two years.