The anniversary of my first hangover

Not overcast enough

hangoverThe first hangover I ever had was on June 9, 1976, 44 years ago. Why do I remember? It must be the numerical flow: 6/9/76.

I never drank any alcohol before I was legal, which was 18. Then and now, I thought it was appropriate. Best I can remember, I had my first drink in a bar called Amps on Clinton Street in Binghamton, NY. In my recollection, my sister Leslie’s band Crystal Ship was performing. This took place a few months after my 19th birthday. It was a Tom Collins. Tasty, so I believed.

I went to college that fall, and I had the occasional drink. It was usually a simple concoction, rum and Coke, rye and ginger ale. I’d have a screwdriver, though when I started boycotting orange juice c 1977 because of Anita Byrant, I switched to a greyhound.

My choice of wine was white, or later, rose, because the tannins in red wine gave me a raging headache after one glass. I never acquired a taste for beer, which was a drag. Everyone else at the table in a bar was sharing a pitcher or two, but I’m drinking Something Else. It was also more expensive.

Mike Royko would have been proud

The Okie and I split in late 1974. Soon after I returned to college, I got involved with a student newsletter called the Wind Sun News. It was daily for a short time, then weekly, before it finally reached a thrice-weekly schedule in the spring of 1976. The newsletter came out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, so we worked on it the nights before. Then my friend Bernadette and I would drink every MWF night like I heard real, hard-drinking journalists operated.

Without question, she could outdrink me. One evening I had four mixed drinks – tequila sunrise or maybe daiquiri or white Russian – and she had four double shots of vermouth. I never developed a taste for vermouth or Scotch.

On June 8, we were out drinking again, and I thought I had consumed more than enough. So I switched to ginger ale or maybe 7-Up, and I’m CONVINCED that was the culprit. And the next morning… Oh. My. Goodness.

It was overcast, yet it felt as though there were two suns up at once. For some reason, I had to go to both my savings bank and the place with my checking account. They were at either end of the village, not terribly far apart on most of the time, but the Bataan death march that day.

The worst part was that we had agreed to go horseback riding. There are very few things less pleasant when hung over. Anyway, I remember the only time I took horseback riding lessons, because of that painful convergence.

LaMBS is 60

Lynn was one of my best friends in college, then we lost touch for a good long while.

When I was in college, I was co-editor of a thrice-weekly newsletter, inexplicably called the Wind Sun News, sponsored by the Student Government. They instituted this publication in no small measure because the editors of The Oracle, the student newspaper, decided that political issues such as American involvement in overthrowing Chile’s Allende in favor of Pinochet were more important to cover than the prosaic issue of college governance.

I had a very good friend then, who I’ll call Lynn, mostly because it was her name. She had been kvetching about turning 20. It was a Wind Sun News night, when a bunch of us would work from 8 or 9 p.m. until around 2 a.m., and occasionally later. Normally, Lynn would be there, but her friend Pam convinced her to go out to dinner with her because she “needed” to talk to Lynn about her relationship with her boyfriend. It was an effective ruse because Pam apparently DID talk to her about the beau.

Lynn came back to the office just before midnight, glum because the staff was still all around, which she assumed meant the newsletter wasn’t done. Except that it WAS done, since the other co-editor, Kevin, and I had hustled to do so, largely that afternoon. The staffers were all there to put together and celebrate Lynn’s birthday.

At some point, around 2:30-2:45 a.m. on what was by then her actual natal day, everyone had left the office except Lynn (who fell asleep on some furniture), a Vietnam vet I’ll call Paul, who was in love with Lynn and kept staring at her, and me who kept watching him. Finally c. 4 a.m., he left. I locked the door and slept on a chair or sofa.

About 7 a.m., Lynn wakes up and says, “Roger?” (It’s pitch-black in the room – no windows – so one can’t see anything). I must be half-awake & say “Yes?” We take the newsletter to the printer, go out and eat breakfast at the Plaza Dinner – not unusual – then later pick up the newsletter to distribute. Lynn was one of my best friends in college, then we lost touch for a good long while. But we’ve been in e-mail contact the last couple years. I always remember her birthday because it’s an arithmetic sentence: 4X14=56.

So happy birthday, Lynn, 40 years after that night still stuck in my memory.


The graphic is a blend of two different iterations of the WSN.

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