Just in Time for Christmas

Anna Hezel

Food 52. Quercus Books. Anna Hezel was the first friend I made when I moved to New York and I mispronounced her last name on stage, which was embarrassing. Read her piece below, it’s awesome.

Hark! The Herald Angels Barf
by Anna Hezel

The first time I had a hangover, I was sixteen, and it was a week before Christmas.

My friend Megan worked at the Pizza Hut in our town, and after visiting her one night for some free pizza, we somehow convinced her manager to buy us a 12-pack of Labatt blue. I know this doesn't sound like a cool time, but in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY, in the dead of winter, a teenager's options for a Friday night are fairly limited.

Back at my house that night, my friends and I put "Road Trip" on the TV in my room and cracked open the beers, guffawing here and there at stoner jokes that we barely understood. I drank eight beers in quick succession like they were water. After the third, I began to feel my lucidity slipping away from me, and I felt warm, and good, and tilt-y. And then I began to puke.

In the morning, instantly concerned about what I'd done, I straightened myself out, ushered my friends out the door, and began frantically cleaning up the beer bottles and puke. I'm not sure exactly how my parents found out.

Maybe they were just suspicious that their lazy, shitty teenager was suddenly very adamant about cleaning her room. Or maybe the conversation went something like:

Dad: Hey, does it smell like pizza pukes and Labatt Blue in her room?

Mom: Yes.

However it was that they found me out, they were furious. As punishment, they made me chop wood for the fireplace (we weren't Amish, just to clarify--they just thought this punishment made sense).

After a few agonizing hours of axe-heaving and dry-heaving in the snow, my dad came to check on me. He looked at me with an expression I'd never seen on my dad's face before. He didn't look mad anymore, just kind of worried. I was too sick to be mad. He said, "Hey. Why don't you come inside and have some breakfast."

I realized, in this moment, his sympathy for me outweighed his disappointment in me. He was mad at me for doing something dangerous and stupid to myself, but also compassionate about my terrible hangover. Even as a self-involved teenager, I realized that this was the best Christmas gift he could give me.