Early in the morning in Kobe, Japan, I witnessed my friend puke in an alley behind our hotel while our host yelled “Futsukayoi!” over and over. Multiple mornings over this past, particularly heinous weekend, I noticed many people wake up, drink a beer or slap a bag of wine and get immediately hammered. Hell, Monday morning I crashed my bike into a fence on the way to class. The culprit in every inexplicable instance of immediate inebriation? The sponge effect.

The sponge effect is a mystery force in any boozer’s life, but the process is relatively simple. It’s basic alcohol arithmetic: If Sally drinks on Thursday night, passes out at 4 a.m. with 12 drinks in her system and wakes up four hours later to go to section, how many drinks has she had the next morning? Assuming Sally’s hardened liver can still process a drink an hour, she’s probably still struggling to take sociology notes with eight leftover drinks swirling through her brain. Eight shots of Taaka should mean you’re drunk, right?

Thus, the true dilemma of the sponge effect is apparent. On one hand, taking advantage of last night’s leftovers is more efficient, and in today’s monetary climate, cutting booze expenses is always prudent. When you wake up half – or fully – drunk, you’re only two beers to shitfaced. It’s the reason the mimosa was invented.

I mean, waking up pre-faded usually means that your hangover has penciled in a meeting with you sometime that afternoon unless you start chugging water like a Chico State pledge. However, if you take a little hair off the dog’s back by sipping on a glass of breakfast Franzia, you’ll be back in your groove in no time. Hell, you’ll probably be uncontrollably drunk after just a drink or two. By harnessing the power of the sponge effect, you’ll be dominating morning class discussion with the arrogance of a true rummy without having to buy more than a drink or two at Dublin’s on the way to class.

Of course, people rarely wake up simply belligerent. I’ve spent a long time searching through all manners of electronic databases for the real reason why you can sleep or power-nap after heavy boozing and wake up feeling relatively sober, even when you are decidedly not. There is a mountain of personal and anecdotal evidence supporting this hidden side of the sponge effect, but scientifically, I can’t find info on it. Maybe your brain is just convinced that waking up permed is normal, and acts accordingly. I kind of doubt it, but oh well, what the hell. It happens anyway.

The sneaky drunk is pretty dangerous, though. I remember wandering around in a haze my first year and striking up a chat with some haggard old man, and soon the guy started telling me his life story. It was a hell of a yarn indeed, but what stuck out was his tale of getting pulled over for speeding in the afternoon after a night of drinking that ended in a trip to the drunk tank. After the cops smelled booze on his party clothes, he agreed to a breathalyzer, assuming that he couldn’t be inebriated after so much sleep. Of course, he failed and slept in a cell for the second night in a row.

I never fully believed that bum’s tale, but in the past couple years I’ve heard the same thing from a few too many friends. It’s always the same situation. You wake up early after drinking. Later, you need to get somewhere, and since you feel fine, you drive. But if it ends in a call to the DUI King, you’re hosed. My only advice is to remember that addition and subtraction lesson that Sally enjoyed so much in her shitty – yes, that’s a bad pun – section.

The second-day-drunk is still a relative mystery to me and to most of the people I have hooch-related discussions with. It is a source of immense amusement when you see your roommates staring wildly at an IHOP menu, which last night’s Night Train is still preventing them from reading. Plus, the craze that comes with a solid bout with sponge effect is the perfect excuse to act like a jackass all day, whether that involves riding your bike nude around the neighborhood or heading to the liquor store for breakfast 40s. But, as my oft-unintelligible Friday class notes can attest to, the sponge effect isn’t always a good thing. I’ll take advantage of it, but I still don’t fully understand, so I’m hardly going to trust it.