Don't all hangover stories start with something yada something, "but it wasn't my fault"? As hollow as it may sound here, I feel the need to doubly express that my condition on a recent Sunday morning was not my fault.
I had innocently bellied up to the bar at Pier 247, the new casual seafood shack in Oak Cliff, and quickly made friends with two young guys that had just ordered their first-ever tray of crawfish. I showed them how to decapitate the critters, suck the fluids from their heads and squeeze the meat from their tails like toothpaste. They thanked me with a round of beers, and then with a few tequila shots, and then because this seemed like a wise thing to do at the time, a shooter of Red Bull and vodka. Who was I to turn their generosity down?
But that last shooter: the faint taste of crushed up Smarties riding on the angry burn of rail alcohol is the last thing I recall from that evening, because honestly, really honestly this time, I rarely do shots. I'm telling you I was gone, dunzo, FUBAR.
I forgot most of that night, but I have plenty to remember from the next morning, afternoon and evening. When I was younger, hangovers had the forgiving characteristic of making themselves apparent the second I woke up so the decision could quickly be made to stay low and hopefully sleep it off. These days, the waves of fatigue and nausea prefer to slowly sneak up on me sometime in the afternoon, when I'm very far from the safety and comfort of my bed.
On the Sunday in question, I happened to be downtown near Klyde Warren Park when the sledgehammer dropped, so I tried to right myself with Savor's Croque Madame. That classic, buttery, cheesy sandwich that's topped with an egg and should easily destroy the worst of hangovers, and it did, until it didn't. My head started spinning minutes after I left the restaurant, and this time the pain was significantly worse.
I tried a 40-something-ounce fountain Coke, packed to the lid with ice. I pulled on that straw like my life depended on it (and I was pretty sure it did) and felt rejuvenated, but that relief was short-lived, too. After a short nap I expected would completely restore me, I found myself feeling sicker than I had all day.
It was in that groggy haze as the sun started to set and I couldn't be sure if it was Sunday evening or maybe Monday morning, that the solution to what could now be officially classified as an epic hangover came to me like an epiphany. I knew beef fajitas would save me.
It makes sense if you think about it. Hangovers are evil. Tex-Mex is pure, delicious cheese-laden evil, and if you remember anything about algebra, two negatives cancel each other out and leave you with a positive. All my hangover needed was a gut full of queso.
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And as I started in on my first basket of chips and salsa at Mariano's on Skillman, I discovered that I was probably on to something. Each greasy chip cast off another layer of discomfort. When I got to the crumbled remains at the bottom of a second basket of chips, I dumped the crumbs directly into the queso bowl and fished them out with a spoon.
I don't even think I needed the fajitas at that point, but I can tell you when they arrived they produced a wave of euphoria, my mood carried upward on smoky wisps of fajita steam. The meat was salty and just a little chewy, and the peppers sizzled and blackened on the hot plate. The onions were the most intense I've tasted in a long time, but covered with enough guacamole and sour cream their harsh pungency was almost pleasant, like bitter medicine. I realized that my hangover was completely gone, eradicated with the first bite, but I pushed forward anyway, eating several tortillas filled with nearly everything in front it me.
The beer I slugged while I was inhaling food may have contributed, but I'm convinced that chips, salsa and queso, and buttery beef fajitas, comprise a foolproof hangover cure -- that it's physically impossible for the brain to process painful hangover symptoms while it's simultaneously stimulated by the multi-sensory experience of fajita consumption.
At least that's my theory. I have no intention of further testing. I've learned my lesson with saccharine shots and I'm never going to drink like that again. Unless of course if I'm forced into it through some extraneous circumstances, which would clearly not be my fault. And if that behavior leaves me feeling a little sour the morning after, you can likely find me a Mariano's. I'll let you know how it goes.