Man’s best friend isn’t the dog. It’s alcohol. Booze is the steady companion that we can always rely on to be there when we need it. Girlfriend broke up with you? There’s a drink for that. Aced your midterm? There’s a drink for that. Woke up at 1 p.m.? There’s a drink for that. It’s Wednesday evening? There’s a drink for that. Liquor is the spice of life, and it can be used to rejoice, console or entertain.

But all coins are double sided. This particular canine has teeth, and is not afraid to use them. There is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch, and those ecstatic moments of bacchanalian debauchery always, always come with a price. It is a foolish man indeed who thinks he can walk the slippery road of inebriation without paying the toll.

[media-credit id=20177 align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]In our free-spirited town, hangovers are public enemy number one. If you’re reading this and you’re feeling clever because to date you’ve managed to dodge the bullets of this nefarious crook, just wait. Your days of waking up bright-eyed and blueberried, feeling fantastic and unscathed are numbered. You’ll get older, or start drinking harder, and you too will begin to pay the price.

But for those of you who have wrestled with this fiend before, you and I both know that partying hard leads to a hard time the day after. I’ve been amassing a fine collection of hangovers over the years, and I’ve noticed a few interesting things about them.

1. For bad hangovers, there is no cure:  No amount of bowls, Vitamin B, hair of the dog, food or witchcraft is going to save you. You, my friend, are fucked, and the only thing that can cure you is time.

2. The best hangovers have the best back stories: The more epic the degeneracy, the more epic the punishment. It’s a rare and awesome hangover indeed that doesn’t come with a great set of circumstances — if you can remember them.

3. Manual labor sucks: This one might be a bit obvious. The first time I ever got really drunk, freshman year of high school, my friends and I got caught by my parents. My hair hurt I was so hungover. I prayed for God to take me and end my pain. We endured a blistering parental lecture, after which my old man thought it would be a clever punishment to make me do yard work. Screw you, Pops.

4. Cocaine-and-wine-fueled all-nighters are a bad idea: Let me just say, you will wake up feeling like a pair of pipe-hitting fellows are going medieval on the inside of your skull with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. Your first impulse upon waking up will be to blow your goddamn brains out. I guess it’s true what they say about getting burned when you play with fire.

5. Backup support is critical: Apparently, when the paramedics find a belligerently wasted but surprisingly well-dressed 19-year-old pole dancing on a street sign in the Tenderloin alone at one in the morning, they pick him up (we had gotten tossed out of a strip club earlier). I woke up with my shirt cut off, leads all over my chest and Dr. House asking me where I bought the ice I had been smoking the night before — I guess Adderall comes up as methamphetamine on a tox screen. The bros who thought it would be funny to leave me blacked out in the red-light district of San Francisco were predictably unreachable at six a.m., so I rang my little brother. That fucker was out there in 30 minutes with a bowl packed and ready to go. God bless his little heart. Reliable backup is, of course, doubly important when you wake up in jail. Nursing a bitter hangover in the drunk tank can be very unpleasant.

6. Great hangovers go hand-in-hand with great beatings: You would think that, with all the advances in medical technology over the years, they would have developed an alcohol that wouldn’t cause you to walk into walls, stumble and fall on your face every few feet or run your mouth to the biggest bro at the party. I truly believe that unless you’ve got a few battle scars to prove your valor from the night before, you just haven’t been having enough fun. Once we had a party and a girl woke up to realize that she had broken her arm on our counter. Now that’s a hangover.