1st Circle: The Ducked Bullet
No pain. No real feeling of illness. Your sleep was deep and all those carbo-loaded beers have gifted you with a week’s worth of misplaced energy. During lunch you torture your less fortunate coworkers, bragging about how you can pound booze all night, drink warm gin out of a dirty ashtray for breakfast, and still show up fifteen minutes early for work. You crave a steak sub and a side of gravy fries.
2nd Circle: The Thirsty Mongoloid
No real pain, but something is definitely amiss. You look okay but you have the mental capacity of a staple gun. You are definitely dehydrated and after drinking two Gatorades you still feel that way. You feel kinda dumb and you notice the temporary lowering of your IQ has made you more sociable and less concerned with workaday worries. You crave a fruity pancake from IHOP.
3rd Circle: The Headwound That Won’t Heal
Slight headache. Stomach is upset. You are definitely not the paradigm of a productive worker. Anytime a girl walks by you gag because her perfume reminds you of the warm gin shots you did at your friend’s apartment after the bouncer ejected you at 1:45 a.m. Memories of bad behavior seep in and you cringe with shame. Life would be much, much better if you were in your bed with a dozen donuts and a meatball sub watching Hogan’s Heroes reruns. You’ve had four cups of coffee, a gallon of water, three iced teas and a diet coke and you haven’t peed once.
4th Circle: The Hunchback of Cheap Champagne
You have lost the will to live. Your head is throbbing. You can’t speak too quickly or you’ll punctuate your sentences with vomit. Your boss has already lambasted you for being late and reeking of booze. The clothes you put on won’t win you any fashion awards and your face looks like a golf green mowed by a blind junkie (ladies, it looks like you applied your make-up with a shotgun). Your eyes are red enough to give your features a lizardish cast and your hair makes your coworkers ask if you’re starting up a new wave band. You vaguely remember doing some really dumb and embarrassing things last night and you don’t care. You would murder your favorite bartender for a foot-long Bratwurst smothered with dijon and fried onions.
5th Circle: Dr. Kevorkian’s Dream Date
You don’t feel human, you don’t even feel like a mammal. Your long morning shower didn’t take, no amount of soap could penetrate the coat of sleaze. You have a second heartbeat in your head which is actually annoying the employees sitting near you. You’re getting drunk from the vodka vapors seeping from every pore. You still have toothpaste crust in the corners of your mouth from the futile attempt to remove the taste of decaying rat. Your body has lost the ability to generate saliva, your tongue flops in your mouth like a nightmare-plagued wino thrashing around in his cardboard hooch. You’d cry like a baby but that would steal the last few drops of moisture left in your body. Death seems pretty awesome right now. You definitely don’t remember who you were with, where you were, what you drank, and why there is a stranger still passed out in your bed.
6th Circle: The Infinite Nutsmacker
You wake up on your bathroom floor, your arms death-locked around your porcelain lover. You would vomit but you quite apparently took care of that last night, with none too good of an aim. You turn your head too quickly and smell the funk of 13 packs of cigarettes in your hair. Suddenly you realize you were smoking, but not ultra lights—some sadist handed you a pack of Pall Mall nonfilters and you chain-smoked them like it was your full-time job, telling anyone who would listen that smoking filtered cigarettes is like drinking whiskey through a bar rag. You look in the mirror and find the Ready to Rock stamp has migrated from your right hand to your forehead with the help of Jager magic. You try to rehydrate but all you can stand is one cupped handful of brackish tap water. You crawl into the shower and the coldest water fails to revive your nerve endings as you mumble solemn oaths of never, ever letting a single drop of evil alcohol inside your body again. Ever .
If you could remember your behavior last night you would never step outside your apartment again, but the last thing you recall is accepting your ninth shot offer with the exhortation, “Fuck yes! Let’s get this party started!” Everything after that is a black vacuum populated with shifting, vaguely-menacing shapes.
Instead of yelling at you for being late, your boss solemnly invites you into his office to ask you if a parent or sibling passed away. Your super-sensitive ears pick up low talk among your coworkers about “interventions” and “rehab.” The cute girl from accounting you’ve been flirting with for three months looks at you like you’re a leprous hunchback who has come for her organs. You cannot bear to eat, the granola bar from the snack machine sticks in your craw like petrified log jammed in a woodchipper. You curse yourself for not calling in sick because all you can manage to do is sit in your chair and breathe . . . very gently.